Theory and Conventions



M J Bridge



Extending your methods

Note that I do not include standard four-ace Blackwood in these lists at any point, although you will almost certainly be forced to learn it at an early stage by some partners.  There are better ways to bid suit slams.

Feel free to add four-ace Gerber opposite an opening 1NT, 2NT or artificial 2NT sequence (only) whenever you like, but again, it should not be your first port of call in the search for a slam.

First additions

The methods in this first list should be added as soon as you are ready for them.


standard four-card promissory Stayman over 1NT (to include invitational major suit sequences);

standard four-card promissory Stayman over 2NT (note that this will be modified in due course).


red-suit transfers over 1NT (note that this will be extended in due course);

red-suit transfers over 2NT.

Considerations of reverse bidding

There are various possibilities as described in the main text.

Strong reverses is the method most frequently adopted by experienced players,

but there is much to be said for the more recent variation of ‘modified’ strong reverse promising sixteen points over a one-level response or fourteen points over a two-level response, forcing for one round and shape-suitable.


2NT game-forcing response to one of a major (or alternatively a high-card ‘limit or better’ raise).

Protective seat

modify your minimum requirements.

The next stage

Aspiring partnerships may choose to include the following at a relatively early stage.  Others should adopt these, or some variation on them, as they look to move beyond an ‘improvers’ level.  Note that they do not all have to be incorporated at one time.

fourth suit forcing;

unassuming cue-bid (by advancer, showing a good raise of overcaller’s suit);

simple five-card Stayman over 2NT;

splinter raises;

transfer breaks;

Simple four-suit transfers over 1NT;

3 response to 2NT to show five spades and four hearts;

natural shape-showing game-try trial bids following one major - two major;

natural shape-showing slam-try trial bids following one major - three major (or alternative form of trial bid);

control showing cue-bids in extended slam search sequences;

Roman key-card Blackwood, with the emphasis on locating the trump honours in a slam-try;

redouble to show a good non-fit hand.

Further extension

Beyond the list above you should feel free to plough your own furrow.  The following suggests some likely routes which you might well choose to follow:-

incorporate evaluation by ‘losing trick count’;

showing a good raise after partner opens one of a suit and opponents double;

positive responses to 2 (either AK positives or ‘source of tricks’);

alternative forms of slam-try trial bids - in particular the ‘How good are you bid?’ and ‘control-showing’;

Redwood or kickback as alternatives to RKCB;

Voidwood (exclusion Blackwood);

two-tier minor suit transfers over 1NT;

puppet Stayman over 2NT;

Smolen (or Quest) over 1NT with 5-4 in the majors and invitational or better values;a different system of two-level opening bids, possibly including a multi-2 and/or weak two-suited openings;

two-suited overcalls;

some kind of wriggle after 1NT, x;

South African Texas transfers over 1NT and 2NT;

fit-showing jumps, particularly in the competitive auction.

A beginning method

This page last revised 25th Nov 2018