M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions




Once partner has made what might be a light opening in third (or fourth) seat then the Drury convention (or more probably a variation on it) is regularly employed in the expert world.  Its primary aim is to determine whether partner’s opening hand is light or full-value.

It comes in various manifestations.

The simple version on this page is more or less the original version of the convention, although some of the continuations have moved on since its creation.  It is not, though, my preferred version of the convention when playing a four-card major system (See below).

Following two passes partner might be below normal opening strength (particularly if not vulnerable).

Equally, he might be full strength for his bid - anything up to nineteen points.

With these possibilities in mind you will want to be able to stop at a suitably low level when partner’s holding is subminimum, but you must also keep a full array of constructive responses for those occasions when there might be a contract your way.

Major suit opening

In the present context of partner’s opening bid of one of a major in third (or fourth) seat, Drury places the emphasis on showing support for partner’s suit.

A response of 2 promises invitational values (e.g. ten to twelve points - but a good nine might qualify and twelve will be rare - remember that you have already passed) together with support for partner’s major.  Partner will then be able to sign off with a minimum or sub-minimum opening hand or go on to game if able to accept the invitation.

The convention emanates from the American game in which five-card major systems are the norm.  Because of this ‘support’ is frequently defined as ‘three-card’.  Playing four-card majors it makes some sense to promise four-card support in this basic version.

Opener will then distinguish between a full value opening bid and anything less than that.

He will do this with a system of rebids as discussed in the section on ‘opener’s rebid’.

Much has been written about the Drury 2 response, and the continuations.

Surprisingly little has been written about what to do when you do not have the hand for such a bid, other than that your change of suit is limited and may therefore be passed by opener holding a sub-minimum and some sort of support.

My interpretation is that other responses should be basically natural and full strength with the additional requirement that a change of suit at the two-level should be at least five-card.  These requirements make life much easier for opener both when he holds a full-value opener, and also when he is contemplating passing your change of suit response.

Linked to this are natural(ish) responses in no trumps which will be much the same as when partner opened in first or second seat, except that such bids will also have to cover those hands on which your natural response would have been 2.

2NT poses something of a question.

There is little point in giving it its usual ‘good raise’ interpretation - this hand has already been catered for.

I shall recommend a simple natural ten to twelve points balanced, but the bid will also on occasion have to cater for ten or eleven-point hands on which the natural response would have been 2.

So, with any other holding which does not qualify for the Drury 2 response responder will bid as below:-

direct raises of partner’s major will be ‘to the level of the fit’ with a maximum of nine points;

a new suit response at the one-level will normally show six to eleven points (or thereabouts) and at least a four-card suit;

a new suit response at the two-level will normally show a five-card suit and ‘rule of fourteen’;

1NT will promise six to nine points and no better bid as usual;

2NT will show any other hand of ten or eleven points.

Apart from the above you should retain a game-going splinter bid (perhaps a twelve-point 4-4-4-1 hand);

and also recommended is a fit jump at the three-level with four-card support and a good five-card side-suit.

Opener’s first bid

K 6 5 4

K 9 6

J 6 2

K 7 2

Partner opened 1 in third seat.

Bid 2 promising four-card spade support and invitational values.

K 5

K 9 6

Q T 6 4 3 2

7 2

Partner opened 1 in third seat.

Bid 2 - natural and ‘rule of fourteen’, but not forcing.

If partner is sub-minimum he is likely to pass.

K 9 5

K 9 6 2

Q 8 4 2

7 2

Partner opened 1 in third seat.

Bid 2, promising three-card support but less than invitational values.

9 7 6 2

Q 6

A K J 4 2


Partner opened 1 in third seat.

Bid 3, promising five diamonds, four-card spade support and invitational values.

Opener’s rebid

Intermediate and above

Weak holdings

There is a temptation to find a way of showing long suits in a weak hand in the expectation that partner will pass your change of suit.

Typically, such a hand would be shown by a jump in a new suit- the bid which I have already assigned as either a fit-jump or a splinter.

Indeed, some partnerships will agree such a method, and will always pass such a bid on a subminimum hand.

It is also possible to cater for these hands by starting with 2 and then rebidding in your long weak suit, but you are likely to get into difficulties facing some possible rebids from opener.  It is also possible to reverse the interpretations given to those sequences in which you jump immediately in your suit and those which travel by way of 2.

However, these approaches seriously undermine the partnership methods on those occasions when opener’s hand is full-value or better.

These approaches are not my choice, but they will appeal to some.

My suggestion is that, until such time as you are of expert standard and prepared to analyse every possible extended sequence, you should stick with the relatively straightforward and constructive method outlined above.


In principle this convention is recommended, but in our world of four-card majors I would suggest that you adopt ‘two-way Drury’ in either its direct or its reverse form.  These variations distinguish between three- and four card support on an invitational hand.

They add to the method with little additional complication.

Context  -  Responder’s first bid - partner opened one major in third seat - conventional methods.