Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge



Cappelletti (also known as Hamilton and Pottage)

Cappelletti is possibly more common across the Atlantic in the world of the strong no trump.

It is a defensive method in as much as the philosophy which usually accompanies it is more concerned with disruptive and competitive bidding than with locating a game contract.  This will be the standard mind-set against a strong no trump.

Unusually, though, for defences which are frequently used against a strong no trump it incorporates a strong (penalty) double.

There is no reason why it should not be used with a more positive mindset when playing against a weak no trump.

It is a popular defensive method, concentrating particularly on two-suited holdings which include a major.

It is a little more proactive than ‘D.O.N.T.’ in that it is prepared to compete at the three-level.  For this reason it demands a 5-5 shape for any two-suited combination (other than both majors when the auction can be completed at the two-level).

You would, of course, instigate such an auction only with good reason when vulnerable.

Following the opponents opening bid of 1NT the scheme of responses is:-

double   penalty (typically 16+);

2        any single-suited hand (5+ cards);

2        at least 5-4 or 4-5 in the majors;

2        at least 5-5 in hearts and a minor;

2        at least 5-5 in spades and a minor;

2NT      at least 5-5 in the minors.

Many partnerships will specify that one or more of these bids will promise a range of about eleven to fifteen.

I prefer to define my requirements in terms of suit quality with an eye on the vulnerability, but in practice this will probably not differ greatly from the point-count suggested above.

Q T 6 3 2

A K 7 4

Q 6

8 5

You have four hearts and five spades.

The hand is at the bottom end of the range, but at least you can show both majors without pushing the auction beyond the two-level.

Bid 2.

Q T 6 3 2


A K 7 6 4

Q 5

You 5-5 in spades and diamonds.

The hand is at the bottom end of the range, the quality of the spades is poor, and you might have to reach the three-level.

Personally I would pass when vulnerable and bid 2 when not vulnerable, but it is a matter of partnership style.

Intermediate and above

My thoughts

I have not played this convention with a regular partner and so my thoughts can have only limited validity.

Note that single-suited hands in diamonds, hearts and spades can be shown at the two-level, but that a single-suited hand in clubs must reach the three-level.  Appropriate care should clearly be exercised with such a hand.

The inability to distinguish between 5-4 or 4-5 shape in the majors (as is possible in both Landy and Asptro) is to me a significant shortcoming.  It will be far from unknown to finish in a 4-2 major suit fit.

There is something to be said for interchanging the 2 and 2 bids to overcome this problem, at which point you are playing something close to ‘Multi-Landy’.  Note that if you take this option then you will not be able to show your single-suited hand in diamonds below the three-level.

I also miss the ability to show a four-card major and a five-card minor, as in Asptro.

I prefer either Landy or Asptro as a basic method, but this convention is played by some of the world’s best, and so it clearly has considerable merit.

Advancer’s next bid

Context - Acol bidding - overcaller - opponents opened 1NT - conventional methods.