Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge



Conventions K to P

Kabel 3NT

A convention in which an opening bid of 3NT asks for information about specific aces.


An alternative system of responses to 1NT, which does not use Stayman and transfers in the standard way.


A variation on Blackwood in which the asking bid is the suit above the agreed suit.

Kokish (or Kokish relay)

A relay method for showing balanced hands of twenty five or more points below the level of 3NT.


A convention similar to Blackwood which concentrates on asking for controls in the two suits of one colour.

This convention is now rarely encountered and is not considered on this site, although the name is sometimes used incorrectly as an alternative for ‘Voidwood’ or ‘Exclusion Blackwood’.


A conventional method of competing over an opening 1NT in which a bid of 2 promises both majors.

Last train

A term sometimes used to describe a ‘How good are you?’ trial bid when there is only one bid available.

This will usually follow either a splinter bid or a fit-jump.

Laving’s extension

An alternative set of responses to five-card Stayman opposite 1NT after responder has promised invitational values with his Stayman enquiry.

Leaping Michael’s

A convention promising 5-5 shape in the bid minor and the other major over the opponents’ opening weak two in a major.

(see also non-leaping Michael’s(below)).


A conventional method in which an artificial bid of 2NT helps distinguish between competitive and constructive bids in a new suit.

It is most commonly used by responder when partner opens 1NT and RHO makes a suit overcall,

but is also used when partner doubles the opponents’ opening weak two,

when partner doubles the opponents’ multi 2 opening,

and on responder’s rebid after three suits have been bid (this link takes you to the page following  a major suit opening).

Level of the fit

In a competitive auction it will in general pay to bid to the level of the fit - that is, for example, if you hold nine cards between you you should bid to make nine tricks.  You won’t always make your contract, but it will usually pay better than allowing the opponents to play the contract at a lower level, or bidding on.  Vulnerability will be a factor.

The link takes you to the situation in which advancer is raising partner’s overcall.

Lightner double

The double of a freely bid slam asking for an unusual lead.

Limit raise

This is a bid by responder which shows the maximum potential of the two hands if partner has no better than a basic holding for his bid.

Partner is invited to pass with a minimum or to raise if he has more than he has shown already.  The most common examples of such bids are direct raises facing opening bids of 1NT, 2NT, or one of a major.

Long suit trial bid

A style of trial bid, most frequently used in search of a game after a major suit has been agreed at the two-level, but can be used in other circumstances.

Losing trick count

A method for evaluating the potential of an unbalanced hand once a suit fit has been identified by either partner in the the side which opened the bidding.

Lucas twos

A convention by which an opening bid of two of a major promises a weak two-suited hand in the bid major and an unspecified lower-ranking suit.

Marx - Sharples

Jack Marx and the twins Jim and Bob Sharples were responsible for the invention of, the development of, or the popularisation of, a number of bidding conventions.

Amongst these were two-tier transfers into the minors in response to partner’s opening 1NT, and a relay transfer sequence to show the invitational raise and possible other stronger holdings.

Also sometimes known as Sharples-Marx transfers.

Mathe asking bids

A rebid by opener following partner’s invitational raise of his opening one of a major.  Responder will bid a void or singleton if he has one and sign off in four of the major otherwise.

Michael’s cue-bid

An immediate cue-bid in the opponents’ suit following their one-level opening.

It promises either both majors, or the other major and a minor.


Single jumps in a new suit which may in particular sequences promise support for partner together with either a singleton or a void in the bid suit.  These bids are usually played as forcing to the three-level but may be played as game-forcing.

They are most frequently played by opener on his rebid, but the link above will take you to their use by responder from where there are links to alternative contexts.

Minor suit Stayman

A bid asking partner to bid a four-card minor.

Most frequently this will be a bid of 2 facing partner’s 1NT opener

or a bid of 3 facing partner’s 2NT opener.


A variation on Blackwood in which four of the agreed minor is itself used as the asking bid.

Mixed (or semi-preemptive raise)

Somewhere between a preemptive raise and a limit raise.  Most commonly it will be a jump to three of partner’s major showing four-card support and about six to nine points.  The idea is to bid to the limit on a supposed nine-card fit, whilst having enough points to ensure that your opponents tread carefully.  This bid is particularly effective in spades.

Modernised Flannery

A variation on the Flannery convention.

An opening bid of 2 is used to show a hand of eleven to fifteen points with five hearts and four spades.


A convention by which an opening bid of two of a major promises a weak two-suited hand in the bid major and an unspecified minor.

Multi 2 - sometimes called the multi-coloured 2 - (The multi)

In this method an opening bid of 2 will show a number of hand-types, both weak and strong.  A typical agreement would be ‘a weak two in either major or a strong no trump range’.  Note that such bids incorporating both weak and strong meanings are not legal in some clubs and tournaments, and in others this bid may well be the only such permissible bid.  You may well choose to include this bid as you move towards more sophisticated systems of two-openings, but you should in any case have an agreed defence to this bid as you approach an intermediate level.

For a defence to the multi see ‘the Dixon defence’.

Multi cue-bids

See First or second round controls

Multi-Landy (also known as Woolsey)

A conventional method of competing over an opening 1NT.


An opening bid of four of a minor setting the suit as one of the majors.

Natural strong twos

These are opening bids of two of a suit which promise a strong hand based on length and strength in the suit bid.  Sometimes the bid will include the possibility of a two-suited hand, typically 5-5 in the two suits.  The bid is usually played as forcing for one round, but it might be non-forcing by partnership agreement or even game-forcing.

Negative free bid

A non-forcing change of suit by responder following intervention.

This agreement does not form part of my recommended methods.

It is discussed briefly in the following contexts:-

opening bid of one major - opponents doubled

opening bid of one major - opponents overcalled in a suit

opening bid of one minor - opponents doubled

New Minor Forcing

A conventional rebid by responder following partner’s 1NT rebid.  The convention enables responder to learn more about opener’s major suit holdings.

New suit at the three-level

Unless such a bid has been forced by partner, perhaps with a take-out double, then a new suit at the three-level will be forcing - usually game-forcing.  Frequently this bid will not show a genuine biddable suit but will promise only a sufficient holding to stop the suit in a no trump contract.

Non-leaping Michael’s

An extension of ‘leaping Michael’s’ (see above) in which an immediate cue-bid of the opponents’ weak three-level opening shows a specific strong two-suited holding.

Non-promissory Stayman

Many players use a direct raise of 1NT to 2NT as part of a transfer system.  If so they have to create an artificial sequence to show the balanced limit raise to 2NT.  The most frequent method is to make a Stayman enquiry of 2 followed by a rebid of 2NT.  If playing this method opener must not assume that responder holds a four-card major suit just because he started with a Stayman bid.

Non-serious 3NT

A convention to distinguish between a cue-bid with extras and a cue-bid without extras.

No trump stop

A style of trial bid though frequently not referred to as such.

It usually follows minor suit agreement and searches for a contract of 3NT.

Ogust responses

Following a single-suited weak two opening bid and an asking bid of 2NT responder these are a conventional set of rebids giving further information about opener’s strength and suit quality.

Opponents’ suit

A bid in the opponents’ suit, frequently referred to as a cue-bid, is invariably artificial and forcing and usually indicates a certain minimum strength together with some other feature of the hand.  The precise meaning will depend on the bidding sequence up to that point and might for example promise any one of the following:- support for partner’s suit; a first-round control; a desire to play in no trumps; a specific two-suited holding; or a general show of strength.  It is important that you are agreed as to which interpretation applies in any given situation.

Optional double

A form of take-out double not showing a holding in the enemy suit, but with sufficient defensive values for partner to pass for penalties if that is his choice.

Typically an immediate double of a preemptive opening at the three-level would come into this category.

Other major at the the three-level

Following an opening bid of 1NT, a Stayman enquiry, and a response from opener in a major suit then a bid in the other major at the three-level can be used to agree the suit and express at least a slam interest.

Partial stop

A concept which applies when the partnership holdings in a suit combine to give a certain stop in a no trump contract.

It is considered in this section, and at various points subsequently - particularly responder’s rebid.

Penalty double

Most doubles can be classified as either ‘take out’ or ‘penalty’.  Note that this will not depend on what the bidder wants it to mean at that particular moment - it will depend on a partnership agreement as to what that bid means in the particular bidding situation.  A penalty double suggests a holding in the opponents suit and invites partner to pass if holding suitable defence.  Typically it will be made after your partnership has agreed a suit and the opponents have bid beyond your making contract.


A conventional method for overcalling 1NT.

(Also known as Cappelletti and Hamilton)

Precision two clubs

The Precision system is a popular bidding system based on a strong artificial one club opening and five-card majors.

The bid is included as a possible use for an opening bid of 2, but it is unlikely to included as part of an Acol-based system.

Promissory Stayman

In its simplest form a responder employing the the Stayman convention (see below) will be guaranteeing a four-card holding in at least one of the major suits.  That is the promise in promissory.  See also non-promissory Stayman.

Protective seat

Where it is your turn to bid following a bid by your Left-hand opponent and two passes.

Psych (or psychic bid)

A bid which does not reflect the actual holding, usually made to mislead the opponents.

Pudding raise

A jump to 3NT facing partner’s one of a major showing four-card support in a 4-3-3-3 shape.

Puppet Stayman

A variant on five-card Stayman over 2NT which places the play more frequently in the stronger hand.

Occasionally played in a similar manner over 1NT.

Conventions 111 to C

Conventions K to P

Conventions QRS

Conventions T to Z

Conventions D to J