Theory and Conventions



M J Bridge



A beginning method

Remember - this page is no more than a suggestion - but I believe that it contains a sensible set of agreements for any partnership setting out on the road to good Acol bidding.

When you are ready to add to your methods then look at the page ‘extending your methods’ for some suggested priorities.

Note that the following is no more than a list.

For fuller details refer to the main body of bidding theory on this site (follow link above - centre right).

The following is based on a weak no trump, four-card majors, ‘three weak and one strong’ bids at the two-level, and ‘non-strong’ natural reverses by opener (although this last will be modified in my first set of suggested extensions).

Opening and responding

Balanced opening hands

(all 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, and 5-3-3-2 hands)

12 - 14   open 1NT

quantitative raises in no trumps based on 25 points for game and 33 points for a small slam;

new suits at the two-level are natural weak take-outs;

new suits at the three-level are natural and forcing based on a five-card suit.

20 - 22   open 2NT

quantitative raises in no trumps;

new suits at the three-level are natural and forcing based on a five-card suit.

15 - 19  open one of a suit with a planned rebid in no trumps.

open a five-card suit if you have one;

otherwise open the higher of four-card suits;

except when holding 4-4 in the majors when you open 1.

For responses to one of a suit openings see ‘unbalanced hands’ below.

23+      open 2 (artificial - see below) and rebid in no trumps.

Unbalanced opening hands

Open one of your longest suit (five-card or more - minimum strength ‘rule of twenty’) with a planned rebid in mind - with two five-card suits open the higher ranking - the emphasis should be on showing the shape of the hand in two bids - my choice is to play non-strong natural shape-showing reverses at this stage (but I will prefer a strong reverse as we proceed).

quantitative raises in opener’s suit:-

raise to two = 5 to 9 points and 3+ support in a major or 4+ support in a minor;

raise to three = 10 to 12 points and 4+-card support;

raise to four = 13 to 15 points and 4+-card support.

new suit at the one-level promises five or more points - forcing;

new suit at the two-level promises rule of fourteen (points + suit length) - forcing.

respond in:-

your longest suit;

or the higher of two five-card suits;

or the lower of four-card suits

(provided such a bid is available).

Respond to a suit with a suit whenever possible - raise with a sufficient major suit fit or bid a new suit otherwise.

1NT response promises 6 (5) to 9 points and no available bid in a new suit.

an immediate response of 2NT should be all but unknown.

Strong opening hands

Open 2 on any hand of 23+ points, and also on any hand of 16+ points with at least a 6-card suit and no secondary four-card suit, and worth 8½ or more playing tricks.

Partner always relays with 2.

rebid in no trumps with the balanced hand;

rebid in your suit otherwise;

(These rebids will be modified in due course.)

Weak opening bids

2, 2, and 2 are weak twos - 5 - 10 points and a six-card suit.  2 and 2 will not usually contain four cards in the other major.

Three of a suit is weak - about 5 to 9 points - based on a seven-card suit.

All weak options suggest some sort of suit quality, particularly if vulnerable:-

responder raises preemptively to the level of the fit, or bids a likely making game contract.


Opponents open one of a suit

A 1NT overcall shows 15 - 18 points with good stop(s).

It may not be completely balanced.

A suit overcall is based on suit quality with the primary aims of indicating a defensive lead and suggesting the possibility of competing competitively to a higher level.  It should be at least five-card with a SQOT count of 7 for the one-level and 8 for the two-level. Vulnerable overcalls at the two-level should be on at least a six-card suit.

The overcall is not primarily searching for a making contract and may be considerably below opening strength although it could be as strong as eighteen points.

Double is for take-out.  It suggests no more than two cards in opener’s suit, at least three cards in each of the other suits, and around opening points (say 11+ or better, but it will not necessarily be an opening hand.)

Alternatively it might be the first move on a single-suited or balanced hand of nineteen or more points.

Opponents open 1NT

Double shows 16+ points.

Two of a suit shows a good suit- at least 5-card if non-vulnerable and 6-card if vulnerable.

Advancer (responding to an overcall)

Respond to a 1NT overcall as to an opening bid of 1NT with the points suitably adjusted.

Respond to a suit overcall purely on length in the bid suit, raising to the level of the fit.

You will have noted that there are agreements involved in the above, particularly regarding the strengths associated with various responses and rebids.

There are, though, only two artificial conventions - the take-out double and the 2 opener - not even Gerber or Blackwood are included.  These tend to divert the beginner from learning how to search for a slam in a constructive manner.

Extending the method

This page last revised 25th Nov 2018