SA-YC Simplified

Part 1

Revised and Simplified by Wayne Flournoy

and Anna Marsh (OKbridge user-name: "ana") - Further revised June 2002 with the help of Paul Hightower

Originally developed as ACBL Standard Yellow Card.

To view this document you will need to have Netscape 3.0+ or IExplore 3.0+ (IE5+ recommended)

Click either logo to go straight to the download site.

IE5+ Recommended

This document has been divided into 2 parts - Part 1 covers the SAYC bidding system and Part 2 covers a few of the optional conventions used on OKbridge.

Main IndexStandard SA-YC Conventions Index
Standard SA-YC ConventionsJacoby Transfers to Majors! Jacoby Xfer to Minors! *
General ApproachJacoby 2NT! *
Responses and Later Bidding after 1NT Opening4th Suit Forcing! *
2NT and 3NT OpeningBlackwood
1st Level Bidding/Responses/RebidsQuantative 4NT
Strong 2c.gif - 0.11 K OpenerDOPI *
Slam Bidding ConventionsControl Showing Cuebids
Defensive BiddingGerber *
Balancing Seat BidsGrand Slam Force! *
Competitive BiddingWeak 2/3 Bids
Leads and Signals2NT! Response to Opening Weak 2
Document Links, etc.Raise only Non-Forcing (R-O-N-F)
OKb SAYC CCUnusual NT! *
Note: ! = Alert throughoutMichael's Cuebid! *
Note: HCP=Actual High Card Points: Points=HCP+distributional pointsNegative Doubles!
Note: *= Possible Optional Convention (see below)SOS Redoubles


Part 1 describes the SA-YC bidding system as played on OKbridge. SA-YC is normally a "five-card majors" bidding system, but players may exercise their own judgement to open a good four-card major in third seat. A few sequences are defined in the later rounds of SA-YC auctions. Players are free to assign "forcing", "invitational", or "non-forcing" meanings to natural calls in such sequences.

All artificial bids/conventions mentioned in Part 1 are standard SA-YC. A novice player may arrange with his partner not to use some of the standard conventions, but the partnership must agree explicitly which conventions are to be excluded. Suggested standard conventions for novices to specifically omit are marked as "1-Star" ( * ).

goto Index

General Approach
  1. Normally open five-card majors in all seats.

  2. Open the higher of long suits of equal length: 5-5 or 6-6.

  3. Normally open 1D with 4-4 in the minors.

  4. Normally open 1C with 3-3 in the minors.

  5. Notrump openings show a balanced hand but can be made with a five-card major or minor suit.

  6. 1NT = 15-17HCP

  7. 2NT = 20-21HCP

  8. 3NT = 25-27HCP {See also Part 2 Gambling 3NT}

  9. Strong artificial 2C Opener = (22+ HCP)

  10. Weak two-bids in diamonds, hearts and spades. (5-11 Points, 6 card suit)

Responses And Later Bidding After 1NT Opening


A response of 2C after a 1NT opening by partner is Stayman. It shows 8+ HCP and at least 1 4-card major, or an unbalanced, game-forcing hand with 5+ in a minor, with or without a side major. Stayman is normally avoided with 4333 or 3433 shape, just raise to 2NT or 3NT Opener must rebid 2D (denying a 4-card major), 2H, or 2S. If responder then rebids three of either minor, it shows game/slam interest and at least 5 cards in the bid suit.

If responder has 5/4 or 4/5 in the majors he can rebid the longer major when the response is the shorter major or denial of a 4-card major to show 5: eg., 1N-2-2-3(showing 5xhearts and 4xspades) or 1NT-2-2-2(showing 5xhearts and 4xspades)

Note 1: If opener has 4-4 in majors, opener bids 2H first: if responder's suit is spades, he will rebid 2NT and opener can then bid his 4-card spade suit if he feels a suit contract is best. For example:

1NT2COpener has 4/4 majors, minimum/maximum NT opener
(not forcing)

Note 2: Stayman can also be used in cases where responder has fewer than 8 HCP and intends to pass any response, e.g. if responder has 4-4-4-1 shape (the club being a singleton), any response can be passed to, hopefully, improve the final contract. {see also Minor Suit Stayman}

goto Index

Jacoby Transfers to Majors ( ! )

Jacoby transfers (Xfers) show a five-card major suit:

2D is a transfer to 2H
2H is a transfer to 2S
Opener MUST accept the transfer although he can jump to the three level with 17 points and four-card support for responder's major. {see also Jacoby Xfer to Minors, Minor Suit Stayman and Minor Suit Transfer Bids}

Example A
1NTPass2D! (with any HCP)Pass
2H (normal acceptance of Xfer)PassPass (content to play in 2H)Pass
Example B
1NTPass2D! (with any HCP)Pass
3H (17HCP+4xH)
PassPass/3NT/4H (sign off) Pass
Example C
1NTPass2D! (with any HCP)Pass
2HPass2NT (promising 5)/3H (promising 6+) (invitational)Pass
Example D
1NTPass2D! (11+HCP)Pass
2H 2S) 5-5 in the majors, invitational (NF). The sequence 1NT-2!-2-3 is 5-5, (GF), while 5-4 and 4-5 hands should use Stayman rather than a Jxfr
3C/3D (natural GF - possible slam try)
3NT (asks for pref of game in 3NT or 4H)

Note 1: Jacoby Transfers are used also over openers of 2/3NT
Note 2: Jacoby Transfers are "off" altogether if the NT opening is overcalled

Jacoby Transfer to minors (J4xf) ( ! ) ( * )

Used if responder has a long minor, less than 8HCP, limited entry making a NT contract undesirable.

After a 1NT opener, a 2S! response is a transfer to 3C, which can be passed with clubs or responder can rebid 3D if his suit is diamonds.

Note: Jacoby Transfer to minors is "off" altogether if the NT opening is overcalled or doubled. J4xfers are also on over openers of 2NT. Over 3NT, 4 is to play unless you have agreed J4xfer on over 3N openers.

Other Responses to 1NT

1NT2NT8-9HCP usually denies 4-card major
but can be used on v balanced hand
3C/3D6-8Points, 6+ minor suit - limited entries (NF)
3H/3S6+card suit and slam interest (GF+)
4S/4H/5D/5C6+card suit no slam interest
and limited entries for NT (NF)
4CGerber asking for Aces
4NTQuantative not Blackwood:
opener bids 6NT if max, Pass if min

Interference After 1NT Opening Bids

If Opponents Double, Stayman and Jacoby Xfers are "on"


OpenerOppResponder Response Shows
2D/2H!Xfer to 2H/2S

If Opponents Bid over NT Opener, Stayman and Jacoby Xfers are "off". Bids are natural except for a cuebid (ie. a bid of opp's suit), which can be used with game force strength as a substitute for Stayman


OpenerOppResponder Response Shows
1NT2C/2D3C/3D 4/4 majors, opener bids 4 of a
4-card major or 3NT if no 4-card major or a pref for NT
2H/2S3H/3S4 of the unbid major,
opener rebids 4 of the unbid major with 4
or 3NT without 4 of the required major or a pref for NT

If Jacoby Xfer is Doubled

Opener's Possible BidsResponder's Possible Bids
  1. Make natural bid
  2. XX
  3. Pass (to play)
  4. Bid 2 of a major (sign off)
XX (strong holding in dbled suit)
Complete Xfer to show 3+ trumpsPass or bid on
Jump to 3 of suit

If Jacoby Xfer is Overcalled

Opener's Possible BidsResponder's Possible Bids
  1. Make natural bid
  2. X to show strength
  3. Pass
X for penaltyPass or bid on
Bid 3 of major with good supporting hand

If Stayman is Doubled

Opener's Possible BidsResponder's Possible Bids
Pass with 4 x clubs
  1. Make any natural rebid
  2. X for penalty
XX with 5 x clubs or 4 x good clubs
Make any natural rebid

If Stayman is Overcalled

Opener's Possible BidsResponder's Possible Bids
  1. Make a natural rebid
  2. X for penalty
X for penalty with 4 of opp's suit
Bid 4-card major at 2 level

Responses to 2NT and 3NT Openers

Stayman and Jacoby Xfers are "on". J4xfers are on over 2N not 3N unless by arrangement

OpenerResponderResponse Shows
3D/3H!Xfer to 3H/3S
3S!J4Xfer to 4C, adj to 4 if necessary
4NT Quantitative, invites 6NT if max
4D/4H!Xfer to 4H/4S
4NTBlackwood (not Quantitative since 4C
has been used for Stayman

goto Index

Responses/Rebids to 1 of a Suit Opener

Responses to 1 of a major

Example Responses to 1H Opener
OpenerResponderResponse Shows
1H1Smin 6 Points, at least 4xS. Unlimited bid does
not necessarily deny 3x H
1NT6-10HCP and balanced hand. Denies 4x S and, usually, 3x H (NF)
  1. 6-10 Points + at least 3x trumps. Limit bid,(NF)
  2. Over opener of 1S would show 5-card heart suit,
    11+Points. Unlimited bid
2C/2D11+Points and 4+card minor suit.
2NT! J2NT ,13+HCP asks partner to show short suit while agreeing trump fit (GF+)
Note:If not playing J2N, responses of 2NT and 3NT are defined in SAYC as standard, 13-15 and 16-17; however, many OKbridge players prefer 2NT=11-12 and 3NT=13+, so you should agree 'forcing' or 'limit' 2NT response or else you'll have to guess.
If in doubt try to find a new suit bid and then bid 2N/3N
2S/3C/3D(Jump Shift) 17+Points (forcing+)
3H10-12 Points + at least 3 x trumps. Limit raise (NF)
3NT15-17HCP, balanced hand, at least 2 x hearts (NF)(see also "2NT" above)
4H usually 5+ hearts, a singleton or void, and fewer than 10 HCP (NF)

Note: In an uncontested auction any new suit bid (where it is not preemptive) at the 3 level is 100% forcing - This applies to both openerís and responderís calls. SAYC, in common with all versions of Standard American, adheres to the new-suit forcing principle, ie., a new suit by responder is forcing for 1 round, unless reponder has previously passed or either player has bid notrump. Having said this, very few 1st/2nd round bids in uncontested auctions are 100% forcing in SAYC Ė J2N, a jump shift, and a new suit bid at the 3 level are forcing. If responder makes a 2 level first round bid then he usually promises a rebid. See also Part 2 Splinters

Responses to 1C/1D Opener

A 1D opener suggests at least 4-card D suit, since 1C is preferred on hands where a 3-card minor suit must be opened. The exception is a hand with 4-4-3-2 shape, which should be opened 1D. Responses and later bidding generally follow the same principles as "Responses to 1 of a major". Bidding at the one level is "up-the-line" in principle ie., bid next-ranking 4-card suit if no 5+-card suit to bid.

OpenerOpp1ResponderOpp2Responder Shows
1CPass1DPass6+ Points, 4+diamonds, does not deny the majors
or a club fit (unlimited hand)
1H6+ Points, does not deny 4 diamonds,spades
or a club fit (unlimited hand)
1S6+ Points, does not deny 4 hearts/diamonds or a club fit (It is normal to respond 1 with 5/4 or 5/5 majors) (unlimited hand)
1NT6-10 Points, denies 4 diamonds, 4 hearts, 4 spades
and 5 clubs (limited hand, NF)

Note 1: Over a 1C/1D opener, without a higher-ranking 4-card suit to show, responder needs 5 trumps to raise 1C, or 4 trumps to raise 1D, (one less trump will do in a competitive sequence)
Note 2: Responses of 2NT/3NT are standard: (ie., responses of 2NT and 3NT are defined in SAYC as standard, 13-15 and 16-17; however, many OKbridge players prefer 2NT=11-12 and 3NT=13+, so you should agree 'forcing' or 'limit' 2NT response or else you'll have to guess. If in doubt try to find a new suit bid and then bid 2N/3N)
Note 3: There is no forcing minor-suit raise. {See also Part 2 Splinter bids, Inverted Minors and Bergen Raises}

Opener's (non-artificial) Rebids
13-16 PointsNT at cheapest possible level (NF)
Rebid own suit at cheapest available level (NF)
Raise Partner's suit at cheapest available level (shows 3+ trumps) (NF)
Bid "up the line" (eg.,1D-P-1H-P-1S) has a wider range of 13-18 points.(NF)
Non-reverse bid in a new suit (has a wider range of 13-18 points)
(forcing if bid at the 3 level)
17-18 Points Jump in own suit (invitational, NF)
Bid higher-ranking 4-card suit (this "up the line bid" has a wider range of 13-18 points)(NF)-If bid at the 2 level over a 1 level response, it is a reverse, 17-18 points, 1st suit longer than 2nd (NF): if bid at the 2 level over a 2 level response, 17+ (GF)
Bid a lower-ranking 4-card suit at the two level (also 13-18 points), NF over 1 level response, forcing after 2 level response since responder promised a rebid
Jump in Partner's suit, invitational with 3+ trumps. (NF)
Bid in a new suit at the 3 level without jumping(15+points)(GF)
19-22 PointsJump in NT (forcing)
Double jump in Partner's suit (strongly invitational if not game call)
Double jump in own suit (strongly invitational if not game call)
Jump in new suit (forcing)

Note: After a rebid of 1NT by opener, a reverse or jump shift by responder is forcing (poss slam interest), (eg.1C-P-1H-P-1NT-P-2S or 3D). {see also Part 2 Splinter bids}

General Comment: The above rebid structure is peculiar to the OKb version of SAYC and should not be assumed when playing elsewhere. In particular, OKb suggests opener rebid the cheapest of his two suits with any weak hand lacking 3 card support for responder's first suit; so after 1-1-2-2!, opener's 3 could be a minimum with 2254 shape, while 3 would promise extra shape and strength.

When playing SAYC outside of OKb, opener should just rebid naturally, jumping to show extra values.

Jacoby 2NT (J2NT) ( ! )*

If responder jumps to 2NT over a 1H/1S opener, it is J2NT asking opener to show a singleton or void. It shows 13+Points, support for opener's suit and is game forcing. Opener rebids as follows:

OpenerResponderOpenerOpener ShowsResponder
1H2NT!3H!Max hand, 18+Points and strong suit
but denies short suit
Either sign
off in game
or look
for slam
3C/3D/3S!Singleton or void in bid suit
3NT!Medium hand, 15-17 Points, denies
short suit (artificial)
4HMinimum hand and denies short suit
4C/4D/4SStrong 5-card side suit

4th Suit Forcing (4sf) ( ! ) *

When responder is an unpassed hand and rebids the 4th suit in an uncontested auction, it is game forcing and may be artificial.(eg. 1D-P-1H-P-1S-P-2C!-?). Responder is using the 4th suit to indicate a good hand with 11+ points and no attractive rebid. Opener should respond with a natural bid that further describes his hand. Taking the above bidding sequence as an example, opener should rebid as follows:

Opener's RebidShows
2DRebid own suit with weak hand (NF); semi-artificial, does not promise extra length
2HPrefer reponder's 1st suit with 3+ trumps and a minimum (NF), jump with 15+ (GF)
2SRebid second suit showing 6-5 and good hand (forcing)
2NTBid NT to show stop in 4th suit and a extra values, jump with exceptional strength (19+?)
3CRaise 4th suit with 4+ and extra strength
3DRebid of opening suit showing extra length and strength.
(Jump rebid would show extra values)

4SF does not apply in the following situations:

  1. In an "up the line" bidding sequence, e.g., 1-1-1-1. This is peculiar to OKbridge and not so in the original ACBL SAYC booklet. When not playing on OKbridge, it is forcing and could be 4+ spades with 6+ points or it could be 10+ without spades.
  2. When responder's rebid is a jump bid in the 4th suit, e.g., 1-1-2-3. The jump rebid of the 4th suit is undefined. We recommend it show invitational values and at least 5/5 in the bid suits, so that a bid and rebid of the 4th suit would be natural and game forcing. Since 1 is treated as always natural (on OKbridge), it is sensible to play responder's jump to 2 (after 1-1-1, opps silent) as 4SF, eg., xx-AQx-AKxx-xxx. Opener's 4th suit bids are natural.
  3. In competition, do not count the opponent's suit as one of the first three, e.g., 1-(P)-1-(1); P-(P)-2: responder's 2 bid is forcing (new suit), but natural. Experts commonly use the cue-bid of the oponents suit as a general forcing bid (2 in this case) such as with a balanced hand lacking a stopper in spades.

Strong 2C Opener

In general a 2C opener shows 22+ points, and is forcing to 3 of a major or 4 of a minor. If opener rebids 2NT after a 2D response, showing 23-24HCP and a balanced hand, the same responses may be used as over a 2NT opener There are exceptions to the number of HCP needed for a 2C Opener. The following are guidelines only:

  • 23HCP at least if hand is balanced
  • 17HCP at least if 1-suited hand within one trick of game (9 playing tricks)
  • 21HCP at least if hand has 8 playing tricks

    OpenerResponder Response Shows
    2C2DArtificial negative, (usually less than 7HCP
    but may be "waiting" with a good hand unsuited to
    a positive response)
    2H/2S/3C/3D8+HCP (or 1.5 honour tricks) + 5-card suit
    headed by Q or better
    2NT8+HCP, balanced hand

    goto Index

    Slam Bidding

    Blackwood Convention

    Blackwood 4NT is used to ask for Aces. Responses to 4NT show the number of Aces by steps. A 5NT bid that follows Blackwood 4NT asks for Kings.

    Blackwood asking for Aces
    4NT 5C0 or 4 Aces
    5D1 Ace
    5H2 Aces
    5S3 Aces

    Blackwood asking for Kings
    5NT 6C0 or 4 Kings
    6D1 King
    6H2 Kings
    6S3 Kings

    Note: Although not always possible, if the Blackwood bidder wishes to sign off in 5NT, he should bid an "unplayable" suit at the 5 level (ie. an unbid suit or opp's suit) and the responder is obliged to bid 5NT
    eg. (assume opps pass) 1H-2D-3D-4NT-5C-5S-5NT.

    {See also Part 2 Roman Key Card Blackwood}

    Quantative 4NT

    A direct raise after 1NT/2NT to 4NT is Quantitative and invites 6NT if opener is maximum or Pass if minimum. Also applies over partner's direct overcall of 1NT if no interference from RHO.

    DOPI *

    "Double with 0 Aces, Pass with 1". Allows response to Blackwood over opponent's interference

    The Bids Are:
    Double0 Aces
    Pass1 Ace
    Next available bid2 Aces
    2nd available bid3 Aces
    3rd available bid4 Aces

    Control-Showing Cuebids

    A control-showing bid may be used to find 1st and 2nd round controls once the trump suit has been agreed. The control-showing bid is a non-jump bid in an unbid suit at or above the 3-level (if agreed trump suit is a major) or the 4-level (if trump suit is a minor) . (Do not muddle "trial bids" with control-showing bids, eg., 1H-P-2H-P-3C would be a trial bid, usually shortage, asking if responder can help in that suit)

    Rules for control-showing bids:

    1. Never pass a control-showing bid

    2. With two controls, it is usually better to first bid the one that keeps the bidding lower. In some cases it is better to reverse the order, i.e., 4C-4H-4S rather than 3S-4H-5C.

    3. Bid suits first that have not been bid by your partnership. Bid Aces 1st, Voids 2nd, Kings 3rd. An exception, is to bid a 2nd round control in an unbid suit before cueing 1st round control in a suit that has been shown or denied. Avoid bidding a singleton or void in a suit bid naturally by your partner.

    4. Return to the agreed trump suit (below game if possible) to discourage a slam try. A bid above game by partner is a strong slam try and you should return him to the agreed trump suit - any other bid would show acceptance of the slam and possible grand slam aspiration. {see GSF below and Part 2 Voluntary Bid of 5 of a Major}

    5. If a control-showing bid is doubled, redouble shows 2nd round control of that suit. A pass encourages partner (versus a return to agreed trump suit to discourage).

    6. Control-showing bids above five of the trump suit are a try for seven.

    7. If either partner is able to judge the correct final contract he should bid it as soon as possible.

    8. The partnership is committed to playing in the agreed trump suit once a control-showing bid is made.

    Gerber *

    Gerber is used to ask for Aces and Kings over an opening 1NT or 2NT bid by partner or a rebid of 1NT or 2NT by partner. 4C asks for Aces and 5C for Kings.

    Responses to Gerber are:
    asking for Aces
    4D0 or 45C
    asking for Kings
    5D0 or 4

    Note: If the Gerber instigator makes any bid other than 5C, it is to play (including 4NT)

    Grand Slam Force (GSF) *

    A bid of 5NT without the preceding 4NT Blackwood bid is a GSF and asks partner to bid 7 of the agreed trump suit if he has 2 of the 3 top trump honours (ie.A,K,Q)

  • Bid 6 if you have less than 2
  • Bid 7 if you have 2
    {See also Part 2 Voluntary Bid of 5 of a Major}

    goto Index

    Defensive Bidding

    Defensive Overcalls after an Opening of 1 of a Suit
    at 1 level
    with 8-16 Points
    1. bid good 5-card suit. Suit quality depends on HCP
    2. bid a very strong 4-card suit if max HCP
    at 2 level
    with 8-16 Points and a substantial suit or excellent distribution
    (e.g. 2x 5-card suits)
    1NT15-18HCP with stop in opener's suit. (Jxfers are "off" Stayman is "on")
    DoubleOpening hand possible shortage in opener's suit
    8+Points. Michaels Cuebid asking for takeout in majors
    10+Points. Michaels Cuebid showing 2-suited hand
    (Other major + unidentified minor suit)
    Jump in a suitPre-emptive: same values as opening pre-empts
    2NTUnusual NT showing 8+Points and at least
    5/5 in the lower 2 unbid suits

    Responses to 1 Level Overcalls
    Raise6-11 Points and 3+ trumps
    Jump Raise10-12 Points and 4+trumps
    Raise to Game 1. Weak distributional hand with v good trump support
    2. Strong HCP and adequate trump support
    New Suit9-13 Points, usually denies fit in partner's suit (non-forcing)
    Jump Shift12-14 Points with good 6-carder
    1NT9-12HCP, balanced hand.Implies stops in the unbid suits.
    Guarantees stop in opp's suit
    2NT (non-jump)11-13HCP, balanced.Implies stops in the unbid suits.
    Guarantees stop in opp's suit
    2NT (jump)13-15HCP, balanced.Implies stops in unbid suits.
    Guarantees stop in opp's suit
    3NT15-16HCP, balanced.Implies stops in unbid suits.
    Guarantees stop in opp's suit
    opp's suit
    Asks pard about strength of his overcall (forcing 1 rnd, invitational)
    1. Bid 2 of own suit = minimum overcall
    2. Any other bid = 11+Points

    Note: Responses to 2-level overcall may be made with a weaker hand, since overcaller has indicated a stronger hand.

    Pre-empt Bids

    Pre-empt bids are weak 2 (except 2C)/3 bids showing a 6/7-card suit of reasonable quality and 5-11 Points. If the hand also has a 4-card major then pre-empt bids should not be used. Pre-empting is intended to keep the opposition out of the bidding, not one's partner. It is better to wait until your partner has passed before pre-empting.

    Note: A 4H or 4S opener is pre-emptive but stronger than an opening 2 or 3 bid and should have good distributional values. A double over an opening 4H/4S bid is for takeout but can be passed if you think penalty would be more profitable. 5C/5D openers are also pre-emptive, but a double over such a bid is penalty oriented.

    Responses to Opening Pre-empt Bids

    Over an opening 3 bid, partner should pass unless he has 15+ points.
    Over an opening weak 2 bid:

    1. 2NT response is forcing and shows game interest (even if the opps intervene). Opener should show a "feature": ie. a suit with Ace or King. With no feature, rebid suit or raise to 3NT. {See also Part 2 Ogust}
    2. 3NT is to play.
    3. A raise in opener's suit is invitational but not forcing. {See R-O-N-F below}
    4. A new suit response (5+carder) is forcing for one round. Opener can bid a 4-card minor (headed at least by Q) or bid NT showing 8-11 Points, support partner's suit (if 3 of them or dblton with honour), rebid own suit (showing minimum 5-8 Points)

    Raise Only Non-Forcing (R-O-N-F)

    A method of responding to weak 2 openers which utilises both 2NT and a new suit as forcing responses. Hence, the raise of partner's suit is the only non-forcing response below game.

    Unusual NT( ! ) *

    1. A jump overcall of 2NT over a 1 of a suit opener is Unusual NT and shows at least 5/5 in the lower 2 unbid suits. It is normally used defensively with a weak hand (8-10 Points in the 2 suits).
    2. After a strong 2Copener, an overcall of 2NT may be used in the same manner but should have 16-19 Points
    3. A jump overcall of 2NT followed by a raise of partner's suit, or a cuebid indicating control in opp's suit, shows a strong hand (16-18 Points)

    Responses to Unusual 2NT are:

    1. Preference bid
    2. Jump preference bid (mostly pre-emptive)
    3. Cuebid for game or slam invitation
    4. Bid another suit (non-forcing)
    5. Bid 3NT with stops in the other 2 suits and enough entries for the long suits
    6. Bid 4NT which would be Blackwood

    Note 1: Except 3NT, any other NT bid after both opponents have bid and partner has passed can also be considered as Unusual NT
    Note 2: A 4NT bid over opp's opener of 1 of a suit should also be recognised as Unusual NT

    Michaels Cuebid ( ! ) *

    The Michaels Cuebid promises a 2-suited hand.


    Opp1O/CallOvercall Shows
    1C2C!8+Points showing both majors
    1D2D!8+Points showing both majors
    1H2H!10+Points showing spades and an undisclosed minor
    1S2S!10+Points showing hearts and an undisclosed minor

    Note 1: A response of 2NT over the major suit cuebid asks partner to bid his minor

    Note 2: In a competitive auction, if 2NT is unavailable, responder can bid 4C (non-forcing) or 4NT (forcing) to locate the minor. 3NT is always to play.

    Note 3: The strength of the Michaels Cuebid follows the same guidelines as used for Unusual NT overcall. It is more "shape" than HCP that counts

    Note 4: Michaels Cuebid typically shows at least 5/5 shape, but over a minor-suit opening, just 5/4 shape in the majors is permissible so long as the 4-carder is reasonably good.

    Note 5: Novice players may choose to use the Michaels Cuebid overcall for the majors only ("higher-suits cuebid"). ie. When opps have bid 1 of a minor, a cuebid of the minor shows at least 5/5 in the majors


    Opp1O/CallOvercall Shows
    1C2C!8+Points and 5/5 in the majors
    1D2D!8+Points and 5/5 in the majors

    goto Index

    Balancing Seat Bids

    You are in the balancing seat after a bid (usually an opening bid) followed by 2 passes: you may double for takeout or overcall with a weaker hand than you would in the direct seat. Partner should recognise this and adjust his reponses accordingly.

    Note: After 2 passes, in the third seat, you may open 1 of a suit with a weaker hand than normal - again, partner should recognise this and adjust his responses accordingly: your rebid will tell him your strength. A useful and simple convention is Drury (or Reverse Drury), which can be used by Responder to find out if the Opener has opened 1 of a major in the 3rd seat after 2 passes, with a full opener or a light balancing opener

    Balancing Bids after Opener Followed by 2 Passes

    Opp 1Pard 1Opp 2Pard 2Pard 2 Shows
    1HPassPass1S Can be weaker than in direct seat
    with 5-card suit or good 4-carder
    1HPassPass1NT10-15 Points + heart stop
    1HPassPass2SAt least 13 Points and good 6-card suit
    support for the unbid suits
    1HPassPassX19+Points with stop in hearts
    and balanced hand
    1HPassPass 2NT(!) Unusual NT! or, if not playing Unusual NT,
    balanced hand, 15-18HCP + good heart stop
    1HPassPass2HStrong hand with 2 good suits,
    void in hearts (or AH single)
    1HPassPass3NTTo play
    1HPassPassX Blackwood asking for aces


    Opp 1Pard 1Opp 2Pard 2 Shows
    1HPass2HPassThis is also a balancing seat situation for
    Pard 1, since opps have limited their hands.
    If Pard 1 passes then it is a balancing situation for Pard 2 but
    bear in mind vulnerability and the possibility that your side
    may be better off passing and that your pard didn't balance!

    goto Index

    Competitive Auction

    Since there are almost endless possible sequences, it pays to have simple guidelines to prevent bidding misunderstandings. Bids have the same meaning as they would have without the interference bid. ie.they do not guarantee extra HCP: however, there are one or two extra bidding options now open to both opener and responder:

    Example A
    Pard 1Opp 1Pard 2Opp 2Pard 2 Shows
    1S2C3CPassThe 3C cuebid is game forcing
    and indicates support for pard's suit
    1S2CX!PassNegative Double

    Example B
    Pard 1Opp 1Pard 2Opp 2Pard 1 Shows
    1DPass1S2CWith a holding of, say,
    and no interference your correct rebid is 1NT.
    Since Opp2 bid 2C and you do not have a club stop, you must bid your 2nd choice of 2S, even though your pard has only promised 4 x spades

    Responses (by an unpassed hand) after Opp's Overcall of 1 of a Suit
    X!Negative Double, 6+ Points (see Example A above)
    Raise6-10 Points + 3 major- or 4 minor-trump support
    Game Bid10+ Points with 4+ trumps (usually signoff)
    Jump Raise10-12 Points with 4 trumps (invitational)
    New Suit at 1-level8+Points and 4+-card suit (unlimited forcing 1 rnd)
    1NT8-11HCP balanced with stop in opp's suit (not forcing)
    2 over 19+Points, 5-card suit (forcing for 1 rnd)
    2NT12-15HCP, balanced with stop in opp's suit (invitational)
    Jump Shift17-19 Points with support for pard's suit or 5-card suit
    (forcing to game)
    Cuebid17+Points, support for pards suit + 1st or 2nd rnd
    control in opp's suit. (forcing to game, slam invitation)

    Responses (by an unpassed hand) after Opps Overcall of 1NT

    Double 9+Points and can be penalty oriented
    Raise5-8 Points with 3+ trump support
    New Suit5-8 Points with good 5-card suit
    PassNo support for pard and no good suit

    Responses after Opp's Takeout Double

    Pard 1Opp 1Pard 2Pard 2 Shows
    1DX1H/1SUnlimited (forcing 1 rnd)
    1NT6-8HCP denies 4 diamonds, balanced (NF)
    2C6-10 Points + 6-carder or v good 5-carder (NF)
    2NTpromises 10+HCP,4+trumps(limit or better raise)
    XXpromises 10+Points, without support(NF)
    Note:it is better to make a more descriptive bid of 1H, 1S,or 2NT
    unless you are preparing the way to double opps
    2H/2S/3C6/7-card suit, pre-emptive (NF)
    3DLess than 10 Points + good trump support(pre-emptive)(NF)

    Bids over Opponent's Pre-empt

    1. Double for takeout {See also Part 2 Lebensohl}
    2. Overcalling a suit or NT is natural and non-forcing
    3. Cuebid (minor)! is Michaels Cuebid
    4. Cuebid (major) Strong showing good stop, single or void in opp's suit - asks partner for his best suit (game forcing+)

    Takeout Doubles (t/oX)

    The double of an opening suit bid at the 1 or 2 level or over a pre-empt bid is a takeout double. Minimum requirements vary, depending on distribution and the level of bidding at which partner must respond.

    1. A hand that has at least 3 cards in all the unbid suits may bid a t/oX with 13+Points
    2. A hand that has at least 4 cards in all the unbid suits may bid a t/oX with 11+Points
    3. If the doubler has previously passed, a t/oX promises 9-11 Points and 4 cards in the unbid suits
    4. With 17+Points you can use the t/oX with 1 or more very good suits (or NT stops in all the suits). The t/oX is followed by a suit bid to indicate a strong hand.
    5. A jump bid after the t/oX is forcing.
    6. A 4NT bid after the t/oX is Blackwood

    Responses to partner's t/oX if RHO passes

    Minimum bid0-9 Points
    1NT6-10HCP balanced with stop in opp's suit
    Jump bid (below game)10-12 Points (invitational)
    2NT10-12HCP with stop in opp's suit and no 4-card major
    Cuebid13+Points or 10-12 Points with 2x4-card majors (forcing)
    Double JumpLess than 10 Points with 6-carder (pre-emptive)
    PassAt least 5 of opp's suit. Guarantees 3 trump tricks

    Rebids by Takeout Doubler after Minimum Response

    Pass15 Points or less
    Raise16-18 Points + 4-card trump support
    18-20 Points if raise is at 3 level in non-competitive auction
    Jump Raise18-20 Points + 4-card support
    New Suit18-20 Points, 5+-card suit.
    Fewer Points if also has 4-card unbid major
    Jump Shift6+card self-sufficient suit and strong hand (not forcing)
    2NT19-21HCP if non-jump or 21-22HCP if jump
    3NT9 playing tricks
    Cuebid of opp's suit21+Points, slam interest

    Negative Doubles ( ! )

    A double at the 1 or 2 level after partner has opened and RHO has overcalled, is a Negative Double and is used to indicate a biddable hand, promising the other 2 suits and leaving bidding room for partner.
    Note: Bidding a major at the 2 level or higher shows 11+Points and a 5+-card suit.

    Use of Negative Doubles

    Pard 1Opp 1Pard 2Pard 2 Shows
    1D1HX!6+HCP and 4(+) S/.
    (A bid of 1S is "up the line" at least 4, 9+points).
    Note: If pd's next bid has to be at the 2+ level eg.,1-(2)-X!, then 9+points.
    1D1SX!6+Points and 4+ H/
    1C1DX!6+Points and 4/4+ in the majors
    1H1SX!4/4+ in the minors

    Note: A direct double over opponent's opening of 1NT is usually penalty oriented.

    Responses to Negative Doubles

    Minimum (below game)upto 16HCP (non-forcing)
    Jump16-18 Points (non-forcing)
    Cuebid of opps suit19+Points (forcing to game)
    Pass (rare)For penalty

    Note 1: All rebids by the Neg Xer below game are non-forcing, except a cuebid of opps suit.
    Note 2: Using Neg Xes means that partner is unable to double for penalty. Therefore, when an opp's suit overcall is followed by 2 passes, opener should try to re-open with a double, if he has 2 or less cards in the opp's suit, since partner may have passed with a good hand for penalties.

    Penalty Doubles

    If your agreement is to play Negative Xes through 2S then a penalty oriented double would be:

    1. X of a 3+ level bid (except over opp's preemptive opener when double is for takeout, see t/oX above)
    2. Direct X of a NT bid
    3. Direct X of opp's overcall of 1NT
    4. X after partner has accurately described both his strength and distribution
    5. X after either partner has made an earlier redouble
    6. X after either partner has made a penalty X earlier or passed a takeout double
    7. X of any artificial bid (eg. Stayman,Cuebid, Blackwood) or responses. This is also lead directing
    8. X of an opening game bid in the minors
    Note 1: Be wary of doubling for penalty on the strength of partner's overcall
    Note 2: Unless noted elsewhere, any bid or double by the opponents cancels any convention intended for non-competitive auctions
    Note 3: If the opponents use a convention (such as Michaels or the Unusual NT), you can double the artificial bid to show at least 10HCP or cuebid one of the opp's shown suits to force to game
    Note 4: A forcing pass is used when opps are clearly competitively bidding for pre-emptive reasons and you are unsure if you should double or bid higher (usually past game). A pass forces partner to either double or bid.


    A redouble can have 5 different meanings:

    1.4S+ XXXPassPenalty to play
    2.1NTPass2D!XPenalty - good diamond suit
    3.1SXXXPass10+HCP - to play
    4.1DPassPassXSOS-responder cannot stand the X but can support at least 2 of the unbid suits
    5.1C XPassPassSOS-Opener does not relish playing in 1CX and is asking pard to bid his best suit
    XXPass-?- -?-

    Note: SOS redoubles are recognisable if you remember that there would be no point in redoubling a cheap contract since it would force the Opps to enter the bidding.

    goto Index

    Defensive Leads and Signals

    Defensive signals when following suit or discarding are High Encourages, Low Discourages
    Leads are Top of Touching Honours. {See also Part 2 Lavinthal Discards and Odd/Even (Roman) Discards}

    OKbridge SA-YC CC Default Carding
    Carding High discard encourages, Low discourages: infreq count signals
    Suit-leads 4th best, Kqx, Qjx, Jtx, T9x, kJtx, kT9x, qT9x, xxX, xxxX, xxxXx, aKx
    NT-leads 4th best, aKjx, aQjx, aJt9, aT98, Kqjx, kQt9, kJt9, kT98, Qjtx, qT98,
    Jt9x, T98x, xxX, xxxX, xxxXx

    Pairs may choose to change these options and mark their leads with a "circle". Where no card is marked with a "circle", those marked in "bold italics" will be presumed to be the agreement. Some choices to consider are:

    1. Which card is led from AKx
    2. Which card is led from AK. Does the reverse sequence indicate AK doubleton?
    3. Which card is led from xxx, xxxx, xxxxx
    4. Whether 3rd and/or 5th best leads are used
    5. Whether 3rd best is led from KJ10x, K109x, or Q109x (or from AJ10x or A109x vs. NT)
    6. Whether or not infrequent count signals are given
    Note 1: Normally do not lead unsupported honours from a suit not bid by partner
    Note 2: It is Declarer's responsibility to look at opponents' carding agreements.


    Omitting Jxfer to Minors, J2NT, Michaels, Unusual NT, Gerber, GSF, DOPI, 4th Suit Forcing (4sf)

    System Standard American Yellow Card
    NT 1N=15-17: 2N=20-21: 3N=25-27: JXF to Mjors: 3C/3D= invitational
    Majors 5cm: Direct Raise = limit (pre-empt over X)
    Minors 1D shows 4/4432: DR=limit: 1N/1m:6-10: 2N/1m:13-15: 3N/1m:16-17
    Strong 2C shows 22+ balanced or 9+ tricks, 2D response artificial, may be waiting
    Weak 2D, 2H, 2S shows 5-11 hcp, good 6 cards, RONF, 2N reqs feature
    Overcalls 8-16 HCP: cue is 1 Rnd force: jump overcall is pre-emptive
    NT-Over 1N=15-18, 2C= Stayman, other systems off
    Doubles Negative -> 2S
    VS.Doubles New Suit Force 1-level: 2N = Limit raise or better
    Preempts May be light
    Vs.Preempts Dbl is takeout at 2 and 3 level, 2N/weak 2 = 16-19 HCP Bal
    Cuebids Natural
    Slam-Bids Blackwood
    Suit-leads 4th best, Kqx, Qjx, Jtx, T9x, kJtx, kT9x, qT9x,
    xxX, xxxX, xxxXx, aKx
    NT-leads 4th best, aKjx, aQjx, aJt9, aT98, Kqjx, kQt9, kJt9, kT98,
    Qjtx, qT98, Jt9x, T98x, xxX, xxxX, xxxXx
    Carding High discard encourages, low discourages: infreq count signals
    Misc(insert any non-standard SAYC conventions agreed upon)

    1. To include Jxfer to minors add to "NT", "2S forces to 3C/D"
    2. To include J2NT add to "Majors", "J2NT"
    3. To include Unusual NT add to "NT-Over", "UNU NT for lower 2 unbids"
    4. To include Michaels add to "Cuebids", "Michaels, Natural if opps have bid 2 suits"
    5. To include Gerber and Grand Slam Force add to "Slam-Bids", "Gerber over NT, GSF"
    6. To include DOPI add to either "Slam-Bids" or "Misc", "dopi"
    7. To include 4th suit forcing add to "Misc", "4sf"

      homeSA saycPT2 complete homeANA
      2-1green-new.jpg - 9493 Bytes

      Useful Links


      ACBL HomePage

      FifthChair Organisation

      Bridge Forum on the Go

      Page Designed by
      Anna Marsh (a.k.a. Ana)

      September, 1996: last updated 21st July, 2002
      Any Queries, suggestions, etc, email Fifthchair

      All Rights Reserved © Anna Marsh 1996-2005