l Introduction 1
2 Directives 2
2.1 Convention Cards and Disclosure of Systems 2
2.2 Definitions 3
2.3 Alerting 4
2.3.1 Card Play 4
2.3.2 Calls 4
2.3.3 Cue Bids 4
2.3.4 Pass, Double and Redouble 5
2.3.5 Unexpectedly Weak Bids 6
2.3.6 Unexpectedly Strong Bids 6
2.3.7 Special Understandings 7
2.4 Use of Bidding Boxes 8
3 Permitted Conventions in Bidding or Play 9
3.1 Aims 9
3.2 Partnership Agreements and Psychic Bids 9
3.3 Licensing Levels 10
4 Permitted Agreements at Level 1 11
5 Permitted Agreements at Level 2 13
6 Permitted Agreements at Level 3 14
6.1 General Rules 14
6.2 Opening Bids 15
6.3 First Overcall 16
6.4 Doubles and Redoubles 18
6.5 Leads, Signals and Discards 18
7 Permitted Agreements at Level 4 19
8 Permitted Agreements at Level 5 19
9 Application for Licence 19
1 INTRODUCTION 2 DIRECTIVES
2.1 CONVENTION CARDS AND DISCLOSURE OF SYSTEMS
§1 This handbook supersedes sections 5 and 7 to 13 of the Scottish Bridge Union §1 Both members of a pair must play the same system.
Rulebook for Competitions published in 1994.
§2 At the start of each round, you should exchange convention cards with your
§2 All information about competitions and the rules governing the running of opponents and inform them of
competitions will be published separately. This handbook defines the rules for • Your basic system
convention cards, alerting, the use of bidding boxes and permitted agreements and Examples: Acol, strong club, five-card majors with forcing no-trump
conventions in bidding and play.
• Any unusual aspects of your system.
§3 There are major changes in the rules for alerting. All conventional bids are List these items in a clearly identified area of the convention card. Examples:
alerted, while natural bids are alerted only if they are (a) unexpectedly weak or (b) canape (bidding a shorter suit before a longer one), strong two over-one
forcing raises of an opening One of a Suit. Doubles of a natural suit bid at the responses, artificial opening bids such as the multi-2, weak jump shifts,
one, two or three levels before the bidding has reached partner, or after he has weak jump overcalls.
done no more than pass without indicating values, is defined as “take-out”. All
other doubles are defined as “penalty” – including an expectation that a double §3 If you fail to provide two fully completed convention cards, then
of a conventional suit bid will show the named suit held. Any deviation from • If the opponents have been damaged by your failure
these practices requires an alert. (Amended May 2002) The Director will award an adjusted score and impose a Procedural Penalty.
§4 The World Bridge Federation (WBF) rules for the use of bidding boxes have been • The Director will instruct you to play the basic Level 1 System. You must
adopted. continue to play this system until you have fully completed your convention
cards. You will not be allowed any additional time to do so; you will only be
§5 The permitted agreements and conventions in bidding and play are broadly similar able to use time available between rounds.
to “Rulebook for Competitions”, published in 1994. The Licensing Levels have
been renamed. Levels 1 and 2 correspond to the old Simple Systems and Next §4 When the opponents ask for an explanation of the auction, they are entitled to a
Step Systems. Levels 3, 4 and 5 correspond to the old General, Restricted and full explanation of all bids, including any special understandings and negative
Experimental Licences. inferences, whether the bids are natural or conventional.
§6 Level 3 contains three changes that are intended to simplify the rules. First, §5 Similarly, the opponents are entitled to a full explanation of defensive card play. In
opening bids of l and 1 may have any meaning(s), provided that they all satisfy particular, it is unacceptable for a regular partnership to claim that they play
the Rule of 18 (see Section 2.2 §5). Second, players may use any methods for random cards. All partnerships develop implicit understandings of which cards are
responding to opening bids. Third, players may use any defence to conventional played in different circumstances; such understandings must be formalised and
opening bids. disclosed to the opponents.
§6 Directors and Appeals Committees will give the benefit of any doubt to your
opponents if your card contains inaccuracies or discrepancies, if it lacks relevant
information or if you have failed to disclose explicit or implicit agreements. Such
shortcomings will prejudice any claim that it was the call or play rather than the
explanation that was wrong (Law 40C).
2.2 DEFINITIONS 2.3 ALERTING
§1 A convention is defined in the Laws (Chapter 1 Definitions) as follows 2.3.1 Card Play
"1. A call that, by partnership agreement, conveys a meaning other than §1 Do not alert any conventions in the play of the cards.
willingness to play in the denomination named (or the last denomination
named), or high-card strength or length (three cards or more) there. However, an 2.3.2 Calls
agreement as to overall strength does not make a call a convention.
2. Defender's play that serves to convey a meaning by agreement rather than §1 A call should be alerted if and only if
inference." • It is a convention or
• It is natural but unexpectedly weak or
§2 A call is natural if it is any of the following • It is a direct raise of an opening One of a Suit that is forcing.
(See section 2.2 for definitions of convention and natural.)
• A no-trump bid that shows nothing other than a willingness to play in no-trump
• A suit bid that shows nothing other than §2 Examples of natural bids that should not be alerted
willingness to play in the suit or • An opening 1 or 1 that promises at least three cards in the suit bid
high card strength in the suit or • An opening One of a Suit that promises at least five cards in the suit bid
at least three cards in the suit • 1NT-2 (transfer)-2 where 2 is just a completion of the 2 transfer
• 1-2-3 where 3 is a game try that promises 3+ clubs
• A double (or redouble) that shows nothing other than a willingness to defend (or • 1 -2NT where 2NT shows 16+ HCP balanced
play in) play in the doubled (or redoubled) contract
§3 Examples of conventional bids that should be alerted
• A pass that shows nothing other than willingness to play in the last-named • 1NT-2 where 2 is Stayman, asking for a 4-card major
contract. • …4 or … 4NT where 4/4NT is Gerber/Blackwood, asking for Aces
• An opening 1 or 1 that may be as few as two cards
§3 A lead-directing double, including a Lightner double of a game or slam contract
• 1 - 1NT where 1NT is forcing (perhaps with 3-card support or a long suit)
asking partner to make an unusual lead, is classed as a penalty double since there is
• 1-2-3 where 3 is a game try that does not promise length (3+cards) or
no suggestion that partner should bid. It is treated as natural unless you have a
strength (high card) in clubs
specific agreement that makes it conventional. For example, an agreement that the
double in the auction (1NT) - (3NT) Dbl. asks partner to lead a heart is • (1) - 2NT where 2NT is unusual, showing at least 5-5 in the minors
conventional. 2.3.3 Cue-bids
§4 A double may show specific cards or holdings. For example, if the opponents §1 When looking for a slam, players often cue-bid to show first (or second) round
interfere over a Blackwood inquiry for Aces, you may agree that a double shows 1 control of a side suit. All such cue-bids should be alerted.
or 3 Aces. Such a double is treated as optional (partner may pass or bid depending §2 Examples of cue-bids that should be alerted
on his hand) and is therefore a convention. • 1-3-4 where 4 shows a control in clubs
• 1-2-4 where 4 shows short Diamonds (a splinter bid)
§5 The normal standard for an opening bid of One of a Suit is the Rule of 18 “the • 2NT-3-4 where 4 agrees spades and shows the Ace of Clubs.
high-card points plus the lengths of the longest two suits is at least 18".
So 6 AJ1075 K9872 84 is an acceptable opening bid (8+5+5 = 18), 2.3.4 Pass, Double and Redouble
but 7 KQJ652 Q83 985 is substandard (8+6+3 = 17). §1 The definition of a convention applies to all calls, including Pass, Double and
Redouble. These calls are conventional if they suggest anything other than
defending (or playing in) the last denomination named (see section 2.2).
§2 A double if it is a takeout double of a natural suit bid at the one, two or three • (2) Dbl. takeout
levels before the bidding has reached partner, or after he has done no more than
pass without indicating values”. This is considered” natural” and should not be §9 Examples of conventional doubles, redoubles and passes that should be alerted
alerted. All other doubles are defined as “penalty” – including an expectation • (1) Dbl. takeout (but failure to alert is unlikely to be penalised)
that a double of a conventional suit bid will show the named suit held and • (2) Dbl. takeout
should not be alerted . Any deviation from these practices requires an alert. • (3) Dbl. optional
(Amended May 2002 to cancel change of Sept 1999)) • 1 (1) Dbl. takeout (often described as negative or Sputnik)
• 1 (2) 2 (3) Dbl. a game try in spades
§3 A double is an optional double if it is somewhere between a penalty double and a • 2 P 4 (4) P if the Pass is forcing
takeout double - partner is expected to pass if suitable for defence and to bid • 1NT (Dbl.) ReDbl. if redouble is (or may be) the start of a rescue manoeuvre
otherwise. An optional double should be alerted.
2.3.5 Unexpectedly Weak Bids
§4 Confusion often arises when a player doubles a conventional suit bid. A double of §1 A natural bid should be alerted if it is unexpectedly weak. This includes a weak
a conventional bid is natural, and should not be alerted, if it is a penalty double. In two opening bid, weak jump raises, weak jump shifts and weak jump overcalls. It
most cases, a penalty double of a conventional suit bid shows length or strength in does not include bids that are strong but not forcing.
the suit but it may be just lead directing.
§2 Examples of weak bids that should be alerted
§5 A redouble of any bid, whether natural or conventional, is natural if it shows • 1 - 3 where 3 is a normal raise to 2 (e.g. inverted minor raises)
nothing other than a willingness to play there. • 1 - 3 where 3 is a normal raise to 2 (e.g. Bergen raises)
• 1 - 2 where 2 is a weak jump shift (a good 6-card suit and little else)
§6 A pass is conventional only if it suggests that partner should do something other • (1) 2 where 2 is a weak jump overcall (may be less than an opening bid)
than pass. In particular, a forcing pass, where partner is expected to bid or double, • (1) 1 (P) 3 where 3 is weak (e.g. stronger hands bid 2)
is conventional and should be alerted.
§3 Examples of bids that should not be alerted
§7 There is a common situation that arises when playing negative doubles. Suppose • An opening 2 where 2 is natural and strong but responder may pass
the auction starts • 1-1NT-3 where 3 shows a good hand but is not forcing
South West North East
1 2 Pass Pass 2.3.6 Unexpectedly Strong Bids
Dbl Pass Pass §1 A bid that is unexpectedly strong should be alerted only if it is a forcing raise of an
North's first Pass is either weak or a penalty double of diamonds (a double would opening One of a Suit. For example, you should alert
be takeout). It is not alerted (unless it is forcing) since it does not promise any • 1-2 where 2 is forcing (eg. inverted minor raise)
values. South's reopening double is for takeout and is alerted. North's second Pass but you should not alert
is natural, converting South's takeout double to a penalty double; it is not alerted. • 1 - 2 where 2 is forcing to game
§8 Examples of natural doubles, redoubles and passes that should not be alerted 2.3.7 Special Understandings
• (1NT) Dbl. shows a good hand (15+ HCP, maybe less with a good suit) §1 Many players are alerting natural bids for which they have any special agreement.
• (3) Dbl. for penalties Such bids should be alerted only if the special agreement is so unusual that the bid
• (1NT) P (2 transfer) Dbl. shows diamonds becomes a convention. Do not alert any of the following
• ... (4NT Aces?) P (5) Dbl. asks for a heart lead (possibly with a void) • A "wide-range" natural bid, e.g. 1-1-1NT showing 12-16 HCP
• 1NT (P) 2 transfer (Dbl.) Redbl. suggests playing 2 redoubled • A 5-card major opening bid
• (3) Dbl. (P) P the Pass converts an (alerted) optional double to penalties • A canape opening bid or rebid (bidding a shorter suit before a longer one)
• (1) Dbl. takeout (no longer alertable) • An opening 1NT that denies a 4-card major or may contain 5major332 or some
• An overcall that may be a 4-card suit or guarantees a 6-card suit 3 PERMITTED CONVENTIONS IN BIDDING AND PLAY
• An opening bid of 4 that denies certain features (perhaps an opening bid of 4
shows a better hand). 3.1 AIMS
§2 On the other hand, some agreements do make a bid conventional, for example §1 The main aims of the regulations are
• 1-3 where 3 shows 4+ spades but promises 5+clubs as well. • To allow the development of constructive bidding methods
§3 You must inform your opponents of any unusual aspects of your system at the • To restrict the use of methods that are purely destructive or designed with the
start of each round. primary intention of preventing simple counter-measures
• To keep the licensing rules as simple as possible
2.4 USE OF BIDDING BOXES
§1 The SBU has adopted the following procedures, as recommended by the WBF. §2 The SBU reserves the right to prohibit any methods that, in its view, violate
§2 Starting with the dealer, players place their calls on the table in front of them, these general principles, even if such methods comply with the letter of the
from the left and neatly overlapping, so that all calls are visible and faced regulations.
towards partner. Players should refrain from touching any cards in the box until
they have determined their call. A call is considered to have been made when the 3.2 PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS AND PSYCHIC BIDS
call is removed from the bidding box with apparent intent (but the Director may
apply Law 25). Note that some left-handed bidding boxes are available where the §1 The licensing regulations define the permitted meanings for calls or plays that a
calls are placed in a row from right to left. partnership may agree to use. For example, partners may agree that an opening
1 shows 11+ HCP with 5+spades or an opening 1NT shows 12-14 HCP with a
§3 Alerts should be made by use of the Alert card. It is the responsibility of the balanced hand.
alerting player to ensure that both his opponents are aware of the Alert.
§2 Such agreements in no way remove the right of any player to make a "psychic
§4 Before making a jump bid (i.e. a bid at a higher level than the minimum
bid" (see Law 40A), such as opening 1 with 5 HCP and a doubleton spade,
required) a player must place the Stop card in front of him, then place his call as
1NT with a void or even a game-forcing 2 with a balanced 5 HCP, provided
usual, and eventually remove the Stop card. His LHO (left-hand opponent)
that the bid is as much of a surprise to partner as it is to the opponents.
should not call until the Stop card has been removed. The Stop card should be
left on the table for about ten seconds, to give the next player time to reflect. It
§3 Regular use of a certain type of psyche creates an implicit agreement. Suppose
should not be removed prematurely.
that you agree to play five card majors but you (or your partner) quite often open
§5 After a jump bid, the next player must pause for about ten seconds before a four card major in third position. After the first few occasions, you will know
calling. It is an offence either not to pause or to show indifference when pausing. that a third-position opening may be only four cards and an implicit agreement
If the Stop card has been removed prematurely or has not been used an opponent has been created. It is important that the opponents are informed of this
should pause as though the Stop card had been used correctly. agreement and the simplest way is to make the agreement explicit by changing
the convention card to say "5-card majors except in third position".
§6 At the end of the auction the calls should remain in place until the opening lead
has been faced and all explanations have been obtained, after which they should §4 Some situations are more difficult. Suppose you agree to play a 12-14 no-trump
be returned to their boxes. and subsequently discover that your partner often opens 1 NT with a 4441 shape
§7 Calls made using cards are treated under the Laws in the same way as spoken in the 12-14 range. Again an implicit agreement has been created but this time
calls. Law 25A defines when a call may be changed without penalty. you may not make the agreement explicit since the licensing regulations require a
12-14 NT to be a balanced hand. It follows that a partnership may not open 1NT
§8 The Stop and Alert cards should remain in the bidding box when they are not in with a 4441 shape except on a very infrequent basis.
use. Do not remove them from the box and put them face down on the table.
§5 You must also be careful not to assume that your partner, rather than one of the 3.3 LICENSING LEVELS
opponents, has psyched unless there is clear evidence from the bidding (or play).
§1 There are different levels of regulation for different competitions. The organisers
Consider the following auction
of an event are responsible for defining the Licensing Level for that event. They
South West North East
may also, if they wish, allow additional named conventions to be played. Both
P P 1 1NT (16-18)
the Licensing Level and any additional conventions should be defined in
You are South and you hold K63 J1094 AQ93 J6. At this stage, there advance.
is no real evidence that anyone has psyched - if East has a minimum, there is
room for partner to have 13 HCP. So it is not acceptable at this stage to make a §2 General guidelines for the use of the Licensing Levels are as follows:-
call such as Pass or 2 that may protect you from a bad score if partner has
psyched. Such a bid is deemed to be fielding the psyche - the Director will not Level 1 and Level 2 are intended for use in simple system and individual events.
only award an adjusted score but also impose a fine. Assuming that partner has Level 3 is used for most pair or team events at club, district or national level when
an opening bid, your side clearly has the balance of high cards and the only each round consists of fewer than seven boards.
acceptable call is a Double. The auction continues Level 4 is used for most pair or team events at club, district or national level when
South West North East each round consists of at least seven boards. It is also allowed in the finals of some
P P 1 1NT national events with fewer boards per round (as defined in the competition
Dbl. Redbl. 2 P brochure).
P 3NT P P Level 5 is allowed only in high-level events such as the Scottish Cup Final and
Now it is clear that someone does not have his bid. Clearly it is not West. It some events played under BBL regulations - the last three rounds of the Gold Cup
could still be East but the evidence points strongly to North, who retreated to 2 and International Matches and Trials. In all cases the opponents must be given a
rather than passing West's redouble. Now it is quite acceptable to pass rather minimum of four weeks notice of any methods in this category, together with a
than double or bid 4 Partner knows you have a good hand and can double 3NT recommended defence. .
if he wants to.
§3 The Licensing Levels specify the conventions that are allowed. The only
restrictions on natural bids (for definition see section 2.2) are:-
• An opening 1NT contains at least 9 HCP
• An opening One of a Suit satisfies the Rule of 18 (see Section 2.2 §5)
4 PERMITTED AGREEMENTS AT LEVEL 1 §13 Signals
Signals are not compulsory. You may choose not to signal if you think it will
§1 §2 to §14 define the basic system. §15 defines permitted variations. help declarer more than partner.
§2 An opening One of a Suit shows a 4+card suit and 12+ HCP, perhaps less if the suit On partner's lead, a high card is encouraging and a low card is discouraging. On
is good. In response, direct suit raises and no-trump bids are limit bids. declarer's lead, a high card shows an even number of cards in the suit, a low card
shows an odd number. It is normal (but not obligatory) to reverse the count
§3 An opening 1NT shows 12-14 HCP balanced, usually 4333, 4432 or 5332 shape. A signal in the trump suit - a high card shows an odd number of trumps and a low
2 response is Stayman, asking opener for a 4-card major. 2, 2 and 2 card an even number.
responses are weak. No-trump raises are limit bids. A suit preference signal is used when giving partner a ruff. A high card asks
§4 An opening 2 is artificial and very strong, it is forcing to game unless opener partner to return the higher suit. A low card asks for the lower suit
rebids 2NT, showing a balanced 23-24 HCP. A 2 response is a negative or .§14 Discards
waiting bid. A high (low) card may have one of the following meanings
§5 An opening 2, 2 and 2 shows 8+ playing tricks and a 5+card suit. A response attitude high encouraging, low discouraging
of 2NT is a negative or waiting bid. All other responses are forcing to game. count high shows an even number of cards, low an odd number
suit preference high asks for the higher suit, low for the lower suit
§6 An opening 2NT shows 20-22 HCP and a balanced hand. A response of 3 is
Stayman. Responses of 3, 3 and 3 show 5+card suits and are forcing to game. §15 You may use any of the following in addition to or instead of the standard
methods defined in §2 to §14.
§7 Opening bids of Three of a Suit are pre-emptive showing a goodish 7-card suit and • A prepared opening bid of 1 or l , promising 3+cards in the suit.
not much else. Opening bids of Four of a Suit show an 8-card suit or a very good 7- • Five card majors - an opening 1 or 1 may promise 5+cards in the suit (but
card suit. you may not play a 1NT response as forcing)
• Any 3-point range for an opening 1NT, e.g. 14-16 or 15-17. The range may
§8 If an opponent opens One of a Suit, a suit overcall is natural. A jump overcall vary with vulnerability, e.g. 12-14 not vulnerable and 15-17 vulnerable, but
shows a good 6+card suit and a better than minimum opening bid. A 1NT overcall not with position at the table.
shows a (fairly) balanced hand with 15-18 HCP and a stop in the opponent's suit. A • Major suit transfers over 1NT: 2 shows 5+hearts, 2 shows 5+spades
double is takeout. A double is also the first bid on strong hands unsuitable for a
• Major suit transfers over 2NT: 3 shows 5+hearts, 3 shows 5+spades
• Baron 3 over 2NT, asking opener to bid his lowest 4-card suit.
§9 If an opponent opens 1NT, a double is for penalties. Overcalls are the same as over • Takeout doubles when partner has done nothing other than pass, e.g.
an opening One of a Suit but strong hands usually double. S W N E S W N E S W N E
§10 If the opponents open at the two-level or higher the same principles are used. A 1 P 1 Dbl 1 P 2 P 1 Dbl. 2 P
double of a suit bid is for takeout and overcalls are natural. P Dbl P Dbl
• Takeout doubles after an immediate suit overcall of partner's opening bid, e.g.
§11 In most auctions, 4NT is Blackwood. 1 (1) Dbl
§12 Leads • Fourth Suit Forcing
• A cue-bid of a suit shown by the opponents is strong and forcing
Lead the top of touching honours, fourth best from long suits, top of a doubleton.
• Gerber 4 asking for Aces
With three cards, lead low from an honour and top of small cards.
• Cue-bids showing side-suit controls in slam auctions
• Any defence to pre-emptive opening bids
• Lead second best from a bad suit
• Lead the middle or lowest card from three small
5 PERMITTED AGREEMENTS AT LEVEL 2 6 PERMITTED AGREEMENTS AT LEVEL 3
§1 You may play any of the following methods in addition to, or instead of, the 6.1 GENERAL RULES
methods defined at Level 1.
§1 The rules specify all conventional meanings that are allowed for various calls.
§2 An opening 2 or 2 may be any combination of strong hand types. The next Thus there is no need to license systems as such.
step, 2 over 2 or 2over 2, is a negative or waiting bid.
§2 All conventions allowed at Level 1 and Level 2 are also allowed at Level 3.
§3 An opening 2, 2 or 2 may be weak, showing a fair 6-card suit and less than §3 The rules only apply to
an opening bid. A 2NT response asks opener to describe his hand; the rebids
may have any defined meanings, e.g. • The opening bid
• The first overcall
2-2NT: 3 is minimum, other bids are maximum showing side values.
• Doubles and redoubles
§4 1NT-2 shows a weak hand with 6+cards in one of the minors. Opener always
• Leads, signals and discards. Apart from these, calls (including passes) may
bids 3 and responder passes or signs off in 3.
have any meaning(s), subject to §4 and §5 below.
§5 Splinter bids. A splinter bid is an unnecessary jump bid of a suit that promises a
§4 A random bid is a bid that has no meaning and is neither a relay nor an inquiry
singleton or void in the suit bid and a fit for partner's suit, e.g.
bid allowing partner to describe his hand. Random bids are not allowed. For
1-4 good hand, 4+hearts and shortage in clubs example, it is not permitted to overcall a strong opening 1 with a bid of 1 to
1-1-4 strong hand, 4+spades and shortage in diamonds show a hand with thirteen cards.
§6 Unusual No-Trump. No-trump bids may be used to show two-suited hands in §5 An encrypted bid is a bid whose meaning depends upon information known only
well-defined situations. For example, to one partnership. Encrypted bids are not allowed. For example, an auction
(1) 2NT may show 5-5 in clubs and hearts. might start 2-3-4, where 2 promises two of the top three spade honours
§7 Michaels Cue-Bid. This is a direct cue-bid of a suit opened by an opponent. It and 3 shows the third; now 4 would be encrypted if its meaning depended
shows a two-suited hand, where the suits and lengths are as follows upon who held the Ace of spades.
(1) 2 or (l) 2 at least 5-4 in the majors (5-5 if you prefer) §6 The definitions of the meanings of bids are framed in their most general terms
and players are free to be more specific. For example, an opening bid of 1 is
(1) 2 at least 5-5 in spades and one of the minors
defined to be natural and satisfy the Rule of 18 (see section 2.2 §5), but a
(1) 2 at least 5-5 in hearts and one of the minors partnership might restrict it to, say, 5+ hearts and 11-16 HCP.
§8 Unassuming Cue-Bid. This is a bid of a suit opened by an opponent after partner §7 Bids that show one-suiters may "happen" to contain a second suit. So you may
has made a suit overcall. It shows a goodish hand with support for partner's suit open 2, showing a weak major one-suiter, with A108652 7 98 53 or
(or any strong hand), e.g.
even AJ873 9 QJ987 72. However, the system may not contain methods
(1) 1 (any) 2 shows a good raise in spades (or a strong hand) designed specifically to cater for such hands.
§9 A cue-bid of a suit shown by an opponent may have any meaning(s) provided that it §8 A canape style, where a shorter suit is bid before a longer second suit, may be
shows a good hand (at least enough high-card strength to invite game), e.g. used for opening bids, responses or overcalls.
1 (2) 3 might show a good raise to 3 (or a stronger hand) §9 The lists of examples in subsequent sections are illustrative but not exhaustive.
1NT (2) 3 might be forcing to game and asking if opener has 4 spades There are many unlisted variations.
§10 5NT Grand Slam Force. A jump to 5NT asks partner to bid 7 of the agreed suit
with any two of Ace, King and Queen of trumps.
§11 Signals. A suit preference signal, where a high (low) card asks partner to lead the
higher (lower) of the other suits, may be used in any well-defined situations.
6.2 OPENING BIDS §8 Examples of opening bids that are permitted
§1 Some of the definitions in this section refer to strong hands. In this context, a • 1 natural or 11-13 balanced or any hand with 16+ HCP
strong hand is a hand that contains 16+ HCP or 8+ playing tricks. • 1 11-15, no 5-card major
§2 Opening bids of One of a Suit must satisfy the Rule of 18 (see section 2.2 §5). • 1 2-suiter with 4+ hearts
• 1 5+ spades
§3 An opening 1 or 1can have any meaning(s), subject to §2 above. • 1NT 9-12 balanced, may be 5332/5422/6322 with values in the short suits
§4 An opening bid of 1 or 1 is natural. • 1NT any strong hand
§5 An opening bid of 1NT has one of the following meanings • 2 11-16, 6+ clubs or 5+ clubs and another suit
• 2 12-16 any 4441 shape or 25+ balanced
• Balanced with a defined range, minimum of 9 HCP • 2 4-8 with 5+ diamonds or 8+ playing tricks in any suit
• Any strong hand. • 2 5-9 with 6-card major, 19-20 balanced or 8+ playing tricks in a minor
In this context, a balanced hand is considered to be 4333, 4432 or • 2 3-9 with 6+ hearts or 8+ playing tricks in a suit other than hearts
5minor332.You are free to restrict the hands in any way, such as not opening a • 2 5-10 with 5 spades and 5 of another suit or 21-22 balanced
12-count vulnerable or not opening 1NT with a 4-card major. You may also • 2 11-15, three-suiter with 3+ hearts (4441,5431 or 5440)
agree to open 1NT with some or all of 5major332, 5422 or 6322 shapes. Any of • 2NT weak minor two-suiter or strong minor two-suiter
these restrictions or extensions must appear on your convention card. The range • 3 any solid suit
may vary with vulnerability and/or position at the table. For example, the range
might be 10-12 in first or second seat non-vulnerable, 14-16 in 3rd seat at any §9 Examples of opening bids that are not permitted [with reasons]
vulnerability and 12-14 in all other cases. • 1 5+ spades [opening 1 may not be conventional]
§6 An opening 2 or any higher bid may have any number of strong meanings. In • 1 three-suiter with short spades [opening 1 may not be conventional]
addition, any such bid may have one weak meaning selected from • 1NT 12-14, balanced or 4441 [opening 1NT must be balanced (or strong)]
• 2 only: any three-suiter (4111, 5431, 5440) • 1NT 15-19, any shape [strong types are 16+ HCP or 8+playing tricks]
• 2 weak two-suiter, spades & clubs or hearts & diamonds [two-suited
• 2only: one-suiter with a major suit
hands must contain a specified suit]
• 5+ cards in a specified suit • 2 weak, one-suiter in hearts or two-suiter with spades & a minor
• Two-suiter, at least 54 shape, one suit specified suit[cannot mix one-suiter and two-suiter unless a 5+card suit is
• Three-suiter (4441, 5431, 5440) with 3+ cards in a specified suit specified]
• Any solid suit • 2NT weak one-suiter, clubs or diamonds [cannot mix one-suiters except in
The weak meaning may have any range, which may vary with vulnerability and the special case of 2 showing a major one-suiter]
position at the table. All agreements should appear on the convention card. • 3 weak two-suiter, two suits other than clubs [two-suited hands must
contain a specified suit]
§7 A special condition is attached to the use of conventional opening bids at the 2-
level or higher. If such a bid has a mixture of weak and strong meanings,
responder is expected to bid whenever game is possible opposite a maximum.
6.3 FIRST OVERCALL
§1 Overcalls may have any meaning(s) after
For example, if an opening 2 shows a weak major or 19-20 balanced, it is quite
acceptable to pass with 6 74 J987542 873. However, it would not be • A conventional bid by either opener or responder
acceptable if the 2bid might be a strong 3-suiter, say AJ87 AK104 AK43 • Opener's second call (including a pass), even if it is natural.
5. The rules for overcalls therefore apply only to an overcall of a natural opening
bid or a natural response thereto.
§2 An overcall may include any number of strong hand types (16+ HCP or 8+
playing tricks) in addition to, or instead of, the weaker types defined below.
6.4 DOUBLES AND REDOUBLES
§3 An overcall may have any meaning(s), provided that a suit overcall either shows §1 Doubles and redoubles may have any meaning(s), subject to paragraph §2 below.
4+ cards in a specified suit or denies 4+cards in the suit bid. When a suit overcall
shows a three-suiter the requirements are relaxed slightly- the overcall must still §2 A double of a natural bid may be for takeout, for penalties or somewhere in
show a specified suit but the suit may be only 3 cards. between. It is not acceptable for a double to cover too wide a range within this
spectrum. In general, a double should satisfy just one of the following
§4 A cue-bid of an opponent's suit may have any meaning(s).
• Takeout - partner is expected to bid (but may choose to pass)
§5 Examples of permitted overcalls over a natural One of a Suit • Optional - partner is expected to pass if suitable for defence and to bid otherwise
• (1) 1 5+ spades or 20-22 balanced
• Penalty - partner is expected to pass (but may choose to bid)
• (l) 1 three-suiter with short diamonds or strong with 6+ hearts
• (1) 1NT balanced 15-18 (a singleton is possible but not in hearts)
§3 A double may be lead directing or may show specific cards or holdings (see section
• (1) 1NT any one-suiter
• (1) 1NT weak takeout double of 1
• (1) 2NT any two-suiter §4 Other kinds of double, such as competitive, co-operative or responsive, are licensed
• (1) 2 weak two-suiter with spades and a minor or any strong one-suiter under the above headings. Any specific agreements should be alerted and, on
request, fully explained.
§6 Examples of permitted overcalls after a natural 1NT
• (1NT) 2 any one-suiter other than clubs
6.5 LEADS, SIGNALS AND DISCARDS
• (1NT) 2 diamond one-suiter or major two-suiter
• (1NT) 2 any two-suiter excluding clubs §1 Any methods are allowed provided that reasonable details can be entered on the
• (1NT) 2 three-suiter, one suit clubs (perhaps only a three-card suit) convention card, subject to paragraphs §2, §3 and §4.
• (1NT) 2 two-suiter, spades and another suit
• (1NT) 2 two-suiter, diamonds and a major §2 Odd/even signals are not allowed when one meaning based on parity (e.g. an even
• (1NT) 2 major one-suiter card is encouraging) is combined with a second meaning (e.g. a high card asks for
• (1NT) 2 two-suiter, hearts and a minor the higher of the other suits). This restriction applies only to signals, not to
• (1NT) 2NT any two-suiter discards.
§7 Examples of overcalls that are not permitted after a natural 1NT [with reasons] §3 Random plays are not allowed. All partnerships develop implicit understandings of
• (1NT) 2 any one-suiter [does not promise 4+ cards in a specified suit and which cards are played in different circumstances. These must be formalised and
may have 4+clubs] disclosed to the opponents.
• (1NT) 2 spade one-suiter or two-suiter excluding spades [does not
promise 4+spades and may have 4+hearts] §4 Encrypted plays are not allowed. An encrypted play is a play whose meaning
• (1NT) 2 any three-suiter [does not promise 3+ cards in a specified suit depends upon information known only to the defence. For example, the declarer
and may have 4+clubs] ruffs a club, so that each defender knows his partner's original club holding.
• (1NT) 2 either hearts and another suit or a club 1-suiter [does not Subsequent plays may not have a meaning that depends upon, say, a defender's
promise 4+hearts and may have 4+clubs] original length in clubs.
7 PERMITTED AGREEMENTS AT LEVEL 4
§1 The rules are the same as for Level 3 except for opening bids of 2 or higher
and defences to opening bids of 1NT or higher.
§2 An opening 2 or any higher bid may have up to three weak meanings, with at
most one meaning selected from each of the following categories
• One-suiter, 5+ cards, either a specified suit or any suit other than the suit bid
• Two-suiter, at least 54, either one suit specified or both suits other than the suit
• Any three-suiter (4441, 5431, 5440)
In addition, the bids may include any number of strong types (16+ HCP or 8+
§3 When an opening bid of 2 or higher is a mixture of weak and strong types, the
same condition applies as at Level 3 (see 6.2 57). Responder is expected to bid
whenever game is possible opposite a maximum opener.
§4 Any defence is permitted to opening bids of 1NT or higher.
8 PERMITTED AGREEMENTS AT LEVEL 5
§1 There are no experimental systems or conventions currently licensed.
9 APPLICATION FOR LICENCE
§1 Applications for licences for systems or conventions should be sent to the SBU
Secretary, who will forward them to the appropriate sub-committee.
§2 Applications should be on A4 paper, preferably typed, and should include a
logical defence to the proposed system or convention. Five copies are required,
accompanied by a fee of £5 for a convention or £20 for a system. The fee is not
refundable, even if the licence is refused.
§3 Any other comments or queries about the existing licensing arrangements should
also be addressed to the SBU Secretary. A single copy is sufficient and there is no