by Edgar Kaplan

K-S in Brief

Minimum balanced hands are opened 1 NT. Thus, minor-suited openings (1 m) show either unbalanced hands or strong ones if balanced. Major-suit openings (1 M) promise 5-card or longer suits. 1 m openings are always sound -- in points if balanced, in quick tricks if unbalanced. 1 M openings may be shaded. Strong major hands, very strong minor hands and balanced hands of 22 points up are opened 2 .

What's New?

This is all as it always was in K-S. The system starts with the framework, and tries to give definition to all auctions within it. Several sequences have been redefined over the years, and many new sequences have been added. All these "defined sequences," new and old, are described in the pages that follow.

Organization of Material

K-S is really a collection of "sub-systems," each inaugurated by a different type of opening bid, each with separate rules for which bids are strong or weak, forcing or nonforcing, artificial or natural. These are:
(A) The 1 NT Opening
(B) Minor-Suit Openings
(C) Major-Suit Openings
(D) Strong Openings
(E) Preemptive Openings

Each "sub-system" is treated separately, along with its defined sequences, which are numbered (thus, under "C-15" you will find a particular type of sequence inaugurated by a major-suit opening bid). In addition, there is a section (F), for the special sequences used in Slam Bidding.


The following abbreviations are used throughout:

"M" For "either major suit" or "the first one bid"
"m" For "either minor suit" or "the first one bid"
"OM" For the other major suit
"om" For the other minor suit
"X" For any strain
1 M - 2 m Opener bids one in a major. Responder answers two in a minor.
2 OM - 3 M Opener bids two in the unbid major. Responder bids three of opener's first suit.

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1 NT Opening

12 to 14; could be terrible 15 (with queens and jacks), or great 11 in aces and kings plus 5-card minor. Undistinguished 12 is often passed except on favorable vulnerability. Thus, a good 14 is OK for 1 NT. Almost never contains 5-card major. A very strong 5-card minor is preferred as opening. Very seldom on 5-4-2-2 pattern. Never with 6-card minor. 1 NT opening has been known on specifically 1-4-4-4 pattern, with spade honor, because of rebidding problems, but 1 is usually preferable if hearts are decent.

2 Nonforcing Stayman; bid any 4-card major; better first with both
2 signoff; often to get out of frying pan.
2 M Signoff, but opener may bid.
3 m Signoff; opener expected to pass.
2 NT Natural; opener passes only with 12.
3 M Forcing; good suit, choice of games
4 Gerber
4 In place of 6 NT; opener bids 4-card suits up the line; jumps to 6 in a good 5-carder.
4 M, 5 m Absolute signoff.
4 NT Quantitative; if accept, bid suits up the line.
5 M Need A-K of trumps; pass with neither; raise with one; cue-bid king with both; 5 NT with both and no outside king
5 NT Bid 7 with strong 5-card suit and maximum; bid 6 of suit with weak 5-carder and maximum; otherwise sign off at 6 NT.
6 X Absolute signoff.

1 NT - 2
2 - 2
Nonforcing; could be 4-card suit (4-4 in majors); only mildly invitational. Opener must run to 2 with doubleton heart. With 3 hearts, opener passes unless maximum. With maximum and fit, he bids:
2 NT - 4-4 in minors. Now, 3 or 3 is to play.
3 m - 5-card suit.
3 - (rare) top-card 3-3-3-4 or 3-3-4-3.

1 NT - 2
2 () - 2
Nonforcing; highly invitational, 5-card or longer suit. Opener can pass with minimum, but normally raises with 3-card fit. Other rebids by opener:
2 NT - maximum; doubleton spade.
New suit - 3 spades, doubleton in bid suit; strong invitation.
3 NT - (rare) 4-3-3-3 maximum; choice of games.
4 - (rare) tip-top maximum plus fit.

1 NT - 2
2 M - 2 NT
Nonforcing; not as invitational as direct raise. Opener goes to 3 NT only with full maximum. If opener has both majors, he presumes a 4-4 fit in the other and bids 3 OM with a bare minimum or 4 OM with an absolute maximum. 3 m is a short-suit try in the other major. Similarly, if responder rebids 3 NT, opener bids 4 OM if he has both.

1 NT - 2
2 - 2 NT
Opener has a raise to 3 NT, but he has 3 hearts and wants responder to bid 4 with a 5-card suit (or very strong 4-carder).

1 NT - 2
2 - 3
1 NT - 2
2 - 3 M
1 NT - 2
2 - 3
Forcing. Opener has no option. He must bid 3 NT with a doubleton, raise or cue-bid with 3 cards or more. Thus, responder should use the direct jump when he has 5-3-3-2 or 6-3-2-2 with a strong suit, and may want to play notrump even opposite a fit.

1 NT - 2
2 - 3
Forcing, presumably to game (but in all sequences in which the fit is in a minor, "forcing to game" auctions may be dropped at 4 of the minor in a pinch). Opener must bid 3 if he does not hold 4 clubs. Bids at 3-level show major-suit stoppers for notrump. Bids at 4-level are cue-bids for slam. Note that responder may be on a 4-card club suit, particularly when he has both minors and knows there is a fit in one of them. Similarly, responder's 3 after opener's 2 could be a 4-card suit. Again, 3-level bids are stoppers, 4-level bids cue-bids.

1 NT - 2
2 M - 3 m
Forcing. If opener now bids the other major, he has 4 cards there. If opener bids 3 NT he has other major stopped. If opener rebids his major, he is afraid of the other. If he is interested in a 4-4 minor fit for slam, he should bid 4 NT or 5 NT, or a direct 4 .

1 NT - 2
2 X - 4
1 NT - 2
2 X - 4 NT
Quantitative. Opener accepts by bidding unbid suits up the line.
1 NT - 2
2 X - 5 NT
Forcing. Opener bids unbid suit or 6 NT.
1 NT - 2
2 - 3 M
3 NT - 4 M
Some slam interest, 6-4 in majors. With no interest, bid 4 M over 2 .
1 NT - 2
2 M - 4
Slam interest in M, but weak trumps.

1 NT - 2 M
Opener usually passes, but can bid:
3 M - Primarily preemptive.
New Suit - Short suit game try.
2 NT - Rare game try on 4-3-3-3, with lots of quick tricks.

1 NT - 2 NT
Opener passes with 12 points, but can instead bid 3 with 4-4 in minors to play a part-score in suit. Instead of bidding 3 NT, he can bid 3 M - "I have two small in the other major - beware."

1 NT - 3 M
Forcing; strong suit (good 5-carder or better), often 5-3-3-2 to offer choice of games. Opener may bid 3 NT with support, or raise (or cue-bid) with good doubleton, at his judgment.

1 NT - Double - Redouble
1 NT - Pass - Pass - Double
Pass - Pass - Redouble
Business. Virtually all other redoubles are S.O.S. Responder may run to his shortest suit over double, then redouble for S.O.S.

1 NT - Double - 2 NT
Forcing. Opener treats it initially as a bad hand with minors, but if responder rebids it is a game-force with any two-suiter. I.e.,
A Q x x x K Q x x x x x x ---

1 NT - 2 - ?
If 2 is Landy, double shows cards, 2 or 2 is "cue-bid" - presumably stopper for notrump. All other bids are natural, nonforcing, limited by failure to double or cue-bid. If 2 is Ripstra, Becker, or any other convention that implies clubs, double shows cards but is negative - opener passes only if he has clubs. Bid of any suit overcaller has promised is "cue-bid" as above. All else is natural, nonforcing, limited. If 2  is Astro, 2  promises 4 spades. Similarly over conventional 2 overcalls.

1 NT - 2 M - ?
Suit at 2-level is nonforcing (but opener is a little more free to make game try). Suit at 3-level is forcing. Cue-bid is Stayman. Double is negative. 2 NT is natural.
1 NT - 3 X - ?
Suits are forcing, double is penalties.
1 NT - 2 - Pass - Pass
1 NT - Pass - Pass - 2

1 NT - Pass - 2 - Double
If double shows clubs:
Redouble - Clubs playable opposite two small.
Pass - Promises club stopper.
3 - Both majors.
Anything else - Normal, but denies good stopper in clubs.
1 NT - Pass - 2 - Double
Pass - Pass - 2
Nonforcing. Probably a bad hand.
1 NT - Pass - 2 - 2
Does not deny spades. Opener would rarely bid here.

Opener does not shade his 1 NT in 3rd or 4th seat, so all sequences are unchanged. However, responder's strong sequences obviously become "intended as forcing"; strongly invitational, but may be passed.

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Minor Suit Openings

1 or 1 opening bid is either 15 points or more, balanced, or a sound unbalanced opening. Equal short minors (3-3 or 4-4) are normally opened 1 (but certain 4-4's with 17, 18 points up are better opened 1 - see 2 -rebid sequences, B-16). Black 5-5's are normally opened 1 . Hands with a long minor may be opened one when the opening would be 2 if the suit were a major. Responder strains to find a bid.

8 points or less
  1. 1 M with 4 or more; normally 1 with both majors, but prefer 1 when 4-4 in majors if 6 or bad 7 points.
  2. Jump raise with 5-card support - could have 4-card major only if very weak
  3. 1 NT, if balanced, no major
  4. Other minor if unbalanced, no major, no big fit.
9 to 11, 12
  1. 1 M.
  2. Single raise with 4-card or longer support.
  3. Other minor.
12, 13 or more
  1. Long, strong side suit, even other minor. (But prefer single raise to other minor. I.e., with
    x x A x A J 10 x x K x x x
    bid 1 - 2 , not 1 ).
  2. 4-card major.
  3. Single raise.
  4. 2 NT.
  5. Weak side minor.

Obviously, jump shift is also available. The response of 3 NT shows 16 or 17 points with specifically 4-3-3-3 distribution, 4 in other minor. 2 NT = 12-15 or 18 up. The triple jump raise is preemptive. The response of 4 NT is Blackwood.

1 - 1
1 NT - ?
Opener has 15 to 17 balanced, and may well have one or both majors. Responder rebids:
2 Signoff; opener can safely bid 2 if his clubs are shaky.
2 Signoff.
2 M Natural, game-forcing, promises long strong diamonds, likely slam interest.
2 NT 9 points, balanced.
3 m Game-force. 3 likely 3-card support.
3 M Forcing, natural, 6-5 pattern.
4 Gerber.

1 - 1
1 M
Opener is almost always unbalanced, and is virtually unlimited. He may be on short major, as in reverse sequences (B-12). Responder, who should not pass, may bid:
1 Ambiguous, forcing; either very strong hand with long diamonds and secondary spades, or moderately strong hand without a spade stopper.
1 NT 9 to 11. Too good for direct 1 NT.
2 8 points or less, discouraging preference.
2 Nonforcing, but not discouraging.
2 M 9 to 11, 3-card raise.
2 (When M= ) game-forcing, long diamonds.
2 NT 12 up; forcing, natural.
3 Game-force, strong diamonds, could be on 3-card support.
3 Natural, intended as forcing.
3 M Game-force; very strong.
3 NT 16 or 17 points. Specifically 3-3-5-2 shape.
Opener should prefer to rebid 2 with 6-card suit or strong 5-carder when minimum, rather than 1 M.

1 - 1 M
1 NT - ?
Opener has 15 to 17 balanced, with no 4-card major (but after 1 m - 1 , 1 NT, he may have 4 hearts). Responses:
2 m Natural, nonforcing.
2 M Natural, nonforcing.
2 om Forcing, conventional (see B-5).
2 OM Forcing, natural (see B-6).
2 NT 9 points. M is 4-carder.
3 m, 3 M, 3 om Forcing, natural. M is 6-carder, om is 5-carder, m is 4-card support.
4 Gerber.
4 NT Quantitative.
5 NT Forcing; choice of slams.

1 - 1 M
1 NT - 2 om
Responder indicates a 5-card major with game prospects. The only bad hand he can hold is with a 6-card suit in the other minor. Opener replies:
2 (If possible) - minimum count, no fit for M, 5-card diamond suit.
2 (Regardless of M) - minimum, no fit for M.
2 (Regardless of M) - minimum, tripleton M.
2 NT Maximum, no fit for M.
3 (Regardless of m) - Maximum, tripleton M.
Over a minimum reply, responder's only forcing continuations are jumps or OM. Over a maximum reply, all continuations are forcing except 3 om (signoff). If responder bids 3 NT over fit reply, he is giving opener a choice of games - 5-3 fit or notrump.

1 m - 1
1 NT - 2
This rebid is natural and forcing, but not necessarily strong. Opener rebids:
2 2 or 3 spades, not 4 hearts; the normal rebid. Responder may now invite with 2 NT, 3 m, 3 or 3 . He may force with 3 om.
2 NT 1 spade, 3 hearts, 4-5 in minors, minimum count. Responder places contract. Rare.
3 m Same pattern as above, maximum count. Responder places contract. Rare.
3 om 4 hearts, maximum. Opener must pass a return to 3 .
3 4 hearts, minimum.
3 3 spades, super-maximum, rare.
Note that responder must rebid 3 directly with game going 5-5.

1 m - 1
Ambiguous strength; intended as forcing; could be 3-card suit (rare). Responder bids:
1 NT 8 points or less. No stopper promised in om.
2 m Normally 9 to 11. Opener passes only when minimum unbalanced.
2 om Forcing; natural in principle. Only nonforcing continuations by responder are 3 om or 2 NT
2 Nonforcing, but opener often rebids.
2 Normally 9 to 11. Occasionally 3 cards when 2 m is not available.
2 NT Forcing, 12 to 15.
3 m Forcing.
3 om Forcing, 5-5 two-suiter.
3 Intended as forcing. Opener may pass with minimum misfit.
3 Forcing, 4-card support.
3 NT 16-17 points. 3-4-3-3 precisely.
4 m, 4 om Singleton, spade fit.
4 , 4 Natural, distributional, no slam interest.

1 m - 1 M
2 M Value of 15-17, high cards plus distribution, normally 4-card support, could be 3 cards (rare).
3 M Value of 18-19. Always 4-card support.
4 M Value of 20-21. 4-card support. No singleton or void.
4 m 6-4-2-1. No high-card control in short suit.
4 om, 3 or 4 OM Double jump shift - void in bid suit plus fit. Not a great hand otherwise.
With singleton: reverse or jump-shift in fragment, then raise unrebid suit to game:
1 - 1
2 - 2 NT
Singleton diamond; excellent spades.
1 - 1
3 - 3 NT
Singleton diamond; not such good spades.
(See reverse auctions - B-12, 13.)

1 m - 1 M
2 M - ?
Usually 15-17, 4-card fit. Could be unbalanced equivalent. Rarely, 3-card support, too concentrated for 1 NT rebid:
A Q x x x x x x A K Q x x.
Responder bids with 8-9 points upwards:
3 M, 2 NT Game tries; nonforcing, but 2 NT rarely passed.
3 m, 3 om, 2 or 3 OM Game-force. Choice of games, or slam possibilities.
3 NT Choice of games. 4-3-3-3 usually.
Jump shifts Asking bids.
When there is an overcall over 1 M, the raise no longer indicates 4 trumps. Now, responder's 3 m is natural, progressive, nonforcing. Also, responder needs a point or two more to try for game as opener promises less. With 4 trumps and normal maximum single raise, opener jumps to 3 M.

1 m - 1 M
2 m
Severely limited; 12 to 14 and not 14 if good 6-card suit. Could be 5-card suit; if 6 cards, a terrible suit or a terrible hand. Responder's 2 NT or 3 m are nonforcing game tries; 2 M is mildly progressive. New suits are forcing, as is 4 m, or new suit followed by 3 m or 3 M. 3 M is "intended as forcing" but may be passed on minimum misfit.

1 m - 1 M
3 m
Very, very strong, game-forcing. A hand you would have considered opening with 2 had the suit been a major. If responder has 1-1/2 QT plus quality, slam chances.

1 m - 1 M
2 R
(R = suit of reverse)
Forcing, but not necessarily a monster, promises rebid over anything but 3 m. Promises length in m and strength, not length, in reverse suit (R). Could even be doubleton, with 2-1/2 m rebid, or 2-1/2 M with 3 trumps, or game raise in M with singleton in fourth suit. Responder's rebids:
2 M 5 cards or more; ambiguous strength. Any other rebid denies 5-card major. (Exception: 1 m - 1 , 2 - 3 .)
3 m 4-card major; under 7-8 points. No length promised in m; could be doubleton (conceivably singleton). The only signoff.
2 NT 4-card M; stopper in 4th suit; 8-11 or 15 up.
3 R 4 cards in M (see exception above), often 5 cards in R, usually no stopper in 4th suit. A strong rebid.
4th suit 4 cards in M, not stopper in 4th suit; not fit for R, so usually length in m but too good for 3 m. Becomes natural if rebid.
3 NT 4 cards in M; stopper in 4th suit. 12-14.
3 M, 4 m Game-force but not necessarily very strong. Emphasis on unusual honor-strength in suit of jump.

1 m - 1 M
2 R - 2 M
3 m Nonforcing; not monster, not fit for M; could have stopper in 4th suit, but minimum. If responder now bids 4th suit, he asks for stopper there.
2 NT Nonforcing. Better than minimum; stopper, no fit.
3 M Nonforcing. Not monster. 3-card fit.
3 NT Natural, extremely strong.
4 M 3-card fit; not singleton in 4th suit; strong.
3 R Natural; 6-5. Nonforcing.
4th suit Game-force; a Roth-Stone reverse; R suit likely natural; probably no stopper since then 3 NT. Responder makes his most natural rebid, with emphasis on 3 NT if stopper, or 3 M if good suit.
Jump in 4th suit Game-raise in M. Singleton (or void) in 4th suit.
1 m - 1 M
2 R - 2 NT
3 m Nonforcing; bare minimum; last chance at partial.
3 M Forcing; 3-card fit; singleton in 4th suit; look for 4-3 fit.
4 M 4-card fit; singleton in 4th suit.
4th suit As always, this shows the Roth-Stone reverse. Slam interest, probably in m, not M.
Jump in 4th suit 4-card fit for M, void in 4th suit, very strong slam interest.

1 - 1 M
Forcing. Strong rebid, like a reverse but does not promise long diamonds absolutely; guarantees a rebid. Responder rebids:
2 4 cards in M; ambiguous strength, no stopper in OM unless minimum; no diamond support promised; forcing - a neutral bid.
2 OM Natural. At least 5 cards in M; forcing.
2 M 5-card major; ambiguous strength; forcing.
2 NT 4 cards in M; stopper in OM, 8-11 or 15-up.
3 4 cards in M; good, long clubs; strong, forcing.
3 , 3 M Game-force; emphasis on honors in the suit of the jump.
3 NT 12-14 points, 4 cards in M; stopper in OM.

1 - 1 M
Minimum two-suiter in the minors; 5-5 at least. Nonforcing, non-constructive. New suits or jumps by responder are forcing.

1 - 1 M
2 - 2
2 OM Game-force; likely 2-2-5-4; no stopper in OM.
2 M Nonforcing, 3-card fit, 18-19 points, no stopper.
2 NT Nonforcing; 17-18 points; mildly unbalanced.
3 Nonforcing; strong 5-5 in the minors.
3 Nonforcing; 2-1/2 diamond bid.
3 M Forcing; 4 trumps, singleton in the 4th suit.
3 OM Forcing, like 3 M but void in OM; very strong.
3 NT 19-21 points; mildly unbalanced.
4 Forcing; monster two-suiter in the minors.
Note that
A K x x x A J x x A Q x x
should be opened 1 , not 1 , in case of 1 response.

1 - 1 M
2 - 2 M
Same as above, except:
3 M Nonforcing; 3-card fit; no singleton.
4 M Same, but stronger.
OM Like 2 OM above.
Jump in OM Fit in M, singleton or void in OM.

1 - 1
Responder has one of three patterns:
  1. Balanced; too good for 1 NT (he will rebid in NT).
  2. Diamonds & clubs; too weak for 2 , unsuited to 3 . (He will rebid in clubs.)
  3. Unbalanced, long diamonds.
    1. If weak or moderate, will rebid diamonds.
    2. If strong, will jump or, usually, reverse - only then may he have 4-card major.
Opener's rebids:
1 M Long clubs; unbalanced; could be honors, not length, in M, like reverse over major. See B-3.
1 NT 15-17 balanced. Could have majors.
2 Bare minimum; discouraging.
2 Like raise in major; good hand.
2 NT 18-19 balanced; could have majors.
3 Forcing; very strong; like jump rebid over major.
3 Forcing. 18 up; or unbalanced monster.
3 NT Long clubs, stoppers.
3 M Void in M; diamond fit.

1 - 2
Responder has exactly the same hands as those with which he bids 1 - 1 . Opener rebids:
2 Nonforcing; minimum, unbalanced. Responder can now force to game with a jump or reverse, or try with 2 NT or 3 , nonforcing. 3 is a signoff.
2 M Forcing. Long diamonds, feature in M, extra values. Responder may sign off with 3 ; anything else he bids is forcing.
2 NT 15-19 balanced, forcing. 3 is a signoff. 3 is nonforcing, a hand too weak for 1 - 2 . Anything else is strong.
3 Nonforcing; minimum unbalanced; prefers 3 to 2 as contract. Responder's 3 is a signoff.
3 Strong, but nonforcing.
4 Forcing; minor-suit monster. With less, reverse and then support clubs.
3 NT Long diamonds, stopper.

1 m - 1 NT
5-8, fairly balanced, stoppers not promised. Opener passes normally only with strong notrump.
2 m, 2 om, 2 M Natural; nonforcing. Reverses show extra values, long m, real second suit.
2 NT 18-19 balanced, or possibly semi-balanced hand with slightly lower count.
3 m Forcing; very strong.
3 NT Long m.

1 m - 2 NT
12-15, stoppers, no 4-card major; normally no 4-card support for m. Opener's rebids are all natural and forcing; 4 is Gerber; 4 NT is quantitative. 5 NT = pick a slam. Responder could have 18-up, balanced, and has if he bids over opener's raise to 3 NT.

1 m - 2 m
Responder has 8-9 points up, unlimited, at least 4 cards in m; no major. Opener rebids:
3 m Nonforcing, limited, unbalanced. "I would have passed a limit raise."
New suit Forcing (to 3 NT or 4 m). At least 4 cards in m, stopper, extra values (either 15-up balanced or unbalanced strong).
2 NT Forcing, 15-17 balanced. Likely 3-card m (could be balanced 15 with 4 cards, but poor for suit play). Opener may pass 3 m rebid.
3 NT Balanced, 18-19, always 3-card m. Responder's 4 is Gerber.
After opener's new-suit rebid, which has slammish overtones, responder should try to rebid 2 NT or 3 m when he has minimum values; a new suit by him suggests interest in big things.

1 m - 1 X
2 NT - 3
Forces 3 by opener, to sign off in diamonds or responder's suit. If responder does not sign off, 3 becomes natural.
1 m - 1 M
Jump R
One of two hands: a monster 6-5, or a game raise in M, singleton in 4th suit, more honors in R than in M.
1 m - 1 X
Jump shift
Often a game raise, singleton in 4th suit. If not, then a monster: a hand that others might have opened 2 - the suit of the jump shift is 4 cards or more (since 3 m is available for one-suited monster). (Not: 1 - 1 M, 3 .)
1 m - 3 m
4 m
Preemptive. To try for game, opener must bid a new suit (stopper).
1 m - 2 m
Jump shift

1 m - Double - ?
New suit Forcing. All auctions exactly as if opponent had passed.
Jump shift Preemptive. No game opposite a 15-17 balanced hand.
2 m Strong, forcing, unchanged.
3 m Preemptive.
1 NT 4-card fit in m; weak, balanced.
2 NT 5-card fit in m; semi-balanced, some stoppers, 9-10 points; game opposite notrump hand but preempt opposite suit hand.
Redouble High cards, probably balanced. At most 3 cards in m; penalty-oriented.

1 m - simple
- ?
2 m Forcing, normal.
3 m Preemptive.
1 NT Constructive, balanced, stopper. Good 8 to bad 11; opener normally bids with the balanced hand.
Double Negative; at least 4 cards in every unbid major; no relation to minor; if over 1 , specifically 4 spades. Not limited. Auctions exactly as if major had been bid. Thus,
1 - 1 - Double - Pass
2 Forcing.
2 Normal spade raise.
3 Spade jump raise.
1 "I would have felt like passing had you responded 1 ." Useless hearts, or 3 spades.
New suit Normal, forcing. Over 1 overcall, 1 M could be 4; denies OM. Over 1 overcall, 1 shows 5. Over 1 overcall, 2 shows 5. Could be shaded values; opener's 3 or simple rebid nonforcing.
Jump shift Preemptive. No game opposite 15-17 balanced.

1 m - jump
- ?
3 m Strong, not forcing. A hand worth 1 m - 2 m but that would pass a rebid of 3 m.
2 NT Forcing, natural.
4 m Forcing.
New suit Forcing, but does not guarantee rebid. Opener must not pussy-foot.
Double 1 - 2 - Double is negative; both majors at least 4 cards; unlimited. All other doubles of weak bids are for penalties. Doubles of strong or intermediate jumps are loosely defined as negative doubles. Double of any overcall in opener's minor - 2 m, 3 m, etc. - shows cards, not m's. That is, loosely defined as negative.
Jump shift Strong if jump overcall is weak; weak if it is strong or intermediate.

1 m - 1 NT - 2 m
Takeout for majors; nonforcing. 3 m is the weak raise.
1 m - 2 m - ?
If the cue-bid shows majors, 2 M is length in om (5 or more) plus tolerance for m, likely honor in M. If cue-bid shows major-minor two-suiter, 2 M (enemy M) shows at least 4 cards in OM plus tolerance for m. No matter what 2 m shows, the bid of the 4th suit is nonforcing, limited by the failure to double or cue-bid.
1 - 1 - Pass - 2
Pass - Pass - Double
Takeout. All competitive doubles of low contracts are for takeout after they (or we) have raised a suit. Typically, they say, as here: "For God's sake, let's not let them buy this hand so cheap."

Jump shift by passed hand is weak, no game opposite 15-17 balanced. If the weak jump shift is 2 M, opener's 2 NT rebid is forcing, a game try in M. Thus, his 3 M is primarily preemptive, not a game try.

All other auctions remain the same, but the "forcing" responses are obviously only invitational. With a monstrous fit for opener's minor, a hand with which you would be sick if you raised to 2 m and opener passed, bid 3 M - a major in which you have an honor, preferably. Thus,

Pass - Pass - 1 - Pass
= A x x x x K Q 10 x x x x x
Also, 1 - 3 . That is, any double jump shift. Not 1 - 3 -- a weak jump shift.

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Major Suit Openings

Lower limits, both top and bottom, than minor opening. I.e.
a. A J 10 x x x x x A x x x x = 1
b. AKQxxxx A x K Q x x = 2
where, if black suits reversed, (a) = pass and (b) = 1 .

Promises 5 cards, but may be strong 4 in three cases:

  1. Balanced hand, concentrated honors, 12-14 or 17 up.
    A K J x x x x x x x A x x
  2. Four good spades, five hearts, minimum values.
    K Q J x A x x x x K x x x
  3. 1-4-4-4 pattern, 13-14 points, so 1 NT rebid available to 1 .
    x K Q 10 x A Q x x Q x x x

All 5-5 two-suiters opened in higher suit, even - unless highly distorted.

5-6 two-suiters normally opened in lower 6-card suit, but touching two-suiters may be opened in higher 5-card suit with bare minimum to avoid reversing.

1 M - ? Responses:
1 Ambiguous strength, usually 5-card suit (1 NT with 4-carder unless strong), occasionally psychic.
1 NT 5 to 11 points, "intended as forcing" but may be passed.
2 m Usually 12 points up. Could be just solid (or semi-solid including ace) suit if rebid is 3 m.
2 (to 1 ) 9, 10 up, 5 cards or more.
2 M 5 to 9 points; 3 cards or more in support. If 5-6 points, 4 trumps or ruffing value (otherwise 1 NT).
2 NT 12 to 15 points, balanced, game-force. Rarely 18-19.
3 M 10-11 points, 4-card support or 3 cards and singleton, nonforcing.
3 NT Forcing raise, 12 points up, 4-card+ support, normally no singleton (except 1 - 3 NT could have singleton heart).
4 m, 3
(Double jump shift)
Forcing raise, singleton (at most) in bid suit. Not 1 - 4 (natural).
4 M Strictly preemptive, very weak distributional hand.
Jump shift Forcing, strong, slam-oriented.
4 NT Blackwood.

1 M - 1 NT
2 m Lower 3-carder on 5-3-3-2; 4-carder if available. Preferable to 2 M with 16 points or more.
2 (1 opening) Prefer 2 to 2 on 6-4; prefer 2 to 2 m on 5-4-4.
2 (1 opening) Nonforcing, but promises good 15, 16 points.
2 M Normally 6 cards at least, 15 points or less.
2 NT 18-19 points, normally 5-3-3-2 pattern.
3 M 17-19 points, strong 6-card or longer M, nonforcing but rarely passed.
4 M Gambling, freak hand too good for preempt.
3 NT Not points but tricks - long, solid M and stoppers.
Jump shift Game-forcing, always natural (4 or more cards).
Pass Not impossible. Likely, opener has 4-card major, 12-14 points. Conceivably, 5-card major but very weak suit, 12-13 points. Greater strength unwise, since responder may have good 11 points.

1 M - 1 NT
2 m - ?
2 M 6-9 points, normally 2-card support. If 3-card support, very bad hand.
2 NT 10-11 points, denies 3 cards in M, balanced.
3 M 10-11 points, 3 cards in M, no singleton.
3 m 8-9 points, normally 5 cards in m, likely singleton M.
2 or 3 (OM) Strong bid in OM, "impossible bid," is fit in m, like 3 m, but 10-11 points. Forcing one round, no relationship to bid major, artificial.
2 (when m=) Natural, nonforcing, 5-9, likely singleton M.
3 (when m=) Natural, nonforcing, long clubs, likely singleton M.
3 (when m=) Natural, nonforcing, 10-11, no stopper in OM, 6-card or longer diamonds.
2 (when M=) Natural, 5-8, could be 5-carder with doubleton spade, so opener seldom passes with singleton heart.
Pass Rare, 5-7, singleton M, fit for m; conceivably, doubleton M, 4-5 cards in m, very weak hand.

1 M - 1 NT
2 m - 2 M
2 NT Good 16, 17 points, balanced.
3 m 5-5, mild game interest; however, main interest may be safe partial (good m, bad M); not a minny.
3 M Strong game try, 16-17 points up. Usually 6 M, 4 m, could be 6-3, poor suit, good hand.
OM or om Strong game try, 16-17 up. Natural, but usually 3-card fragment, singleton in 4th suit.

1 M - 1 NT
2 m - 2 NT
3 m 5-5, signoff.
3 M 6-card suit, forcing, choice of games.
3 om If clubs, semi-natural, not encouraging. If diamonds, nonforcing game try, 5-4-3-1, singleton OM.
3 OM If hearts, nonforcing game try, 5-4-3-1, singleton om. If spades, forcing, short in om, could be strong 5-5.

1 M - 1 NT
2 M - ?
2 NT 10-11 points, often singleton M.
3 m Singleton M, long strong m, usually 10-11 points.
3 (M=) Long hearts (7 cards), weak hand.
3 M 10-11 points, often doubleton M. With tripleton M (thus 10-11 points), responder usually bids 4 M.

1 - 1 NT
2 - ?
2 Doubleton spade, but usually doubleton heart also; with 2-3 usually pass, unless fairly strong.
2 NT May be slightly weaker than normal, good 8-9 points.
3 m Natural, misfit.
3 Usually 4-card,/NOBR> fit, 8-10 points.
3 As over 2 m.
4 m 4-card heart fit, cue-bid with maximum.

1 - 1 NT
2 - ?
Pass Tripleton spade, bad hand.
2 NT No fit, not very progressive. 7-8 points at most.
3 m Misfit, long in m, not progressive.
3 Discouraging preference, usually doubleton.
3 4-card fit, at most 7 points.
Game 8-9 points, not slam try.
4 m Slam try, cue-bid presumably for hearts.
With 4 spades and 5 hearts, opener has 6 ways to go:
1 - 1 NT
Very good hearts, treated as 6-carder:
K x x x A K Q x x x x x x
1 - 1 NT
Very good spades, treated as 5-carder:
K Q J x K x x x x x x A x
1 - 1 NT
4-5-2-2 with honors all over:
K x x x Q x x x x A J K x
1 - 1 NT
2 m
With 3-1 in the minors:
K J x x A Q x x x Q x x x
1 - 1 NT
With 16 to 18; good 15 in a pinch:
K Q 10 x K Q J 10 x A x x x
1 - 1 NT
To force to game:
A K J x K Q J x x K x K x

1 M - 1 NT
2 NT - ?
3 m Signoff.
3 M Signoff, too weak for 2 M initially.
3 (M=) Forcing, natural, choice of games.
4 m Natural, 10-11 points, slam interest.
4 M Natural, 10-11 points, no real slam interest.
3 or 4 (when OM) Artificial strong raise in M, slam interest, no relationship to OM, forcing.

1 M - 1 NT
3 M - ?
3 or 4 (when OM) Artificial strong raise in M, slam interest, no relationship to OM, forcing.
4 m Natural, 10-11 points, slam interest if fit, forcing.
5 m Cue-bid, fit in M, forcing slam try.

1 - 1
1 NT 12-14 points balanced, could be singleton spade, denies 3. Responder:
2 m Nonforcing, natural.
2 10-11, too strong for direct 2
2 Signoff.
2 NT 11 points, game try.
3 X Forcing, natural, but 3 only "intended as forcing."
2 12-14 points,usually 6-card suit, seldom 3 spades. Responder:
2 Misfit, mildly encouraging.
2 NT 11 points, game try.
3 m Forcing, strong, semi-natural.
3 Natural game try.
3 Intended as forcing.
2 12-14 points, any 3 spades, could be 4 if very weak. Responder:
2 NT 11 points, game try, usually 4 spades.
3 m Game force, semi-natural.
3 Psychic spades - opener must pass.
3 11 points, game try, 5 or more spades.
2 m 15-up, semi-natural; or any true two-suiter; rarely passed. Often 3 cards, hand too strong for 1 NT, 2 or 2 rebid. Responder:
2 Encouraging, 10-11, too strong for direct 2 , may be strong doubleton, very rarely passed
2 Natural, limited but seldom passed.
2 NT Forcing, usually 10-11 points balanced.
3 m Forcing, usually natural.
3 Forcing, natural, slam implications.
3 Intended as forcing, hardly ever passed.
om Forcing, semi-natural, strong if at 3 level.
2 NT 18-19 points, balanced. Responder's only continuation not forcing to game - 3 - forces opener to rebid 3 and pass to 3 or 3 .
3 Like 3 M to 1 NT response; all continuations forcing.
3 16-17 points, 4 trumps, nonforcing. Now 4 shows psychic spades; opener must pass.
3 NT Running hearts.
4 Natural, distributional.
4 m Void in m, game raise in spades.
4 Not allowed. Opener may not rebid 4 . He must jump shift, then 3 .

1 - 2
2 Discouraging, nonforcing, 12-14 points, decent spades.
2 NT 12-14, cards outside spades, nonforcing, 1 or 2 hearts.
3 12-14, discouraging 3-card support.
3 m 15-16 upwards, semi-natural, forcing to game.
3 15-16 upwards, good spades, "intended as forcing."
3 NT 15-17 balanced, doubleton heart.
4 15-17, 3 or more hearts, not slam-oriented.
4 m Void in m, heart fit.

1 M - 2 m
2 or 3 (when om) Extra values, 15-16 up. But 2 may be minimum 5-5, if diamonds are rebid. Could be 3-card suit.
2 (when OM) Always 4 cards or more. No promise of extra value unless spade rebid next (good 6-4).
2 M Minimum values, no promise of extra length in M (could even be 4-carder in rare cases). Responder will bid again, but opener should not pussy-foot.
2 NT Extra values, 15-17, balanced with stoppers.
3 m Extra values, slam implication. With minimum plus fit, rebid M and then support next round.
3 M Extra values, slam-oriented, 6-card suit at least semi-solid.
3 NT 18-19 balanced, doubleton in m.
4 m Enormous support (5 cards usually), extra values.
4 M Distribution, not high cards. Not slam-oriented.
Jump shift To 3-level: natural, strong two-suiter.
To 4-level: fit for m, void in bid suit.

1 M - 2 m
2 M - ?
2 NT Forcing, natural, 12 points up. Responder may pass under game at his next turn if opener rebids:
3 m Opener was too weak to raise directly.
3 om Opener has weak two-suited misfit.
3 (OM) Opener has weak 6-4, spades and hearts.
3 M Long broken suit, very weak opening.
3 m Nonforcing, natural. Typically, long (semi-) solid suit headed by ace. Opener should try 3 NT with stoppers plus doubleton m.
3 om or 3 OM Forcing, strong, semi-natural. Often a stopper for notrump.
3 M Forcing to game, often slam interest. Opener should cue-bid if possible unless bare minimum.
3 NT 16-17 points, balanced. Mild slam try.
4 m Natural, forcing, freakish pattern not high cards.
4 M 10 cards together in m and M, usually 5-5. Strong, but below jump shift. No high-card control in OM or om.
4 om or 4 OM Good 3-card fit for M, slam interest, singleton in bid suit.

1 M - 2 m
? - ?
In general, the sequences following opener's other rebids have the same meaning as those given in C-14. I.e.:
1 - 2
2 - 2
Game-forcing (to invite game, responder must first bid 1 NT, then 3 ). If opener now bids 3 , that is not a cue-bid; it shows that his 2 was based on distribution rather than extra values.
Responder's rebid of 3 m is still nonforcing. I.e.:
1 - 2
2 - 3
Opener may pass, although he is unlikely to do so since his 2 rebid implied extra strength.
Responder's raise of opener's second suit, as in:
1 - 2
2 - 3
is forcing to game - 4-card support. A jump raise emphasizes the quality of the support.
Responder's 2 NT rebid almost always leads to game:
1 - 2
2 - 2 NT
This is now forcing, since opener would rebid spades before bidding hearts with a weak 6-4. The only nonforcing sequence:
1 - 2
2 - 2 NT
Opener has a weak 5-5; responder may pass, and opener may pass a preference to 3 .

1 M - 2 M
2 NT Forcing game try, usually balanced 17 up. With maximum raise (good 7 points up), responder accepts by bidding 4 M or, rarely, 3 NT, or more rarely still, 3 OM (natural, 5 cards, forcing). With minimum (5 to bad 7), he rejects with 3 M or 3 m (natural, nonforcing).
3 X (New suit) Forcing game try, singleton (void) in X. Responder needs 7 points outside of X (count the ace of X as 3, and 1-3-5 for shortness outside X) to bid 4 M; he may also raise X to accept: "I have 4 cards in OM; shall we play a 4-4 fit?" With fewer than 7 useful points, responder signs off at 3 M. If he bids a third suit, Y, he has singleton Y but too little for 4 M.
4 X (Jump shift) Forcing, natural slam try, a two-suiter in M and X. With useful values, responder cue-bids.
3 M Essentially preemptive, not a game try.
3 NT Natural, running tricks not points.

1 M - 3 M
3 NT Forcing, asks responder to bid a singleton, or to return to 4 M without one.
4 X (New suit) Cue-bid, slam interest.
5 M Go to slam with good trumps.

1 M - 3 NT
4 X Cue-bid, mild slam try.
4 NT Blackwood.
5 M Slam if good trumps.
4 M Minimum. If responder continues he has remarkably strong trumps, and chose this sequence (in place of jump shift) to reassure opener about M.

1 M - 4 M
5 X (New suit) Asking-bid. With no control in X, responder rebids 5 M. With king of X, he bids 5 NT. With singleton X, 6 M. With ace (rare) or void in X, he bids 6 X.

1 M - 2 NT
3 m Natural, primarily looking for 3-card support for M. Responder rebids:
3 M 3-card support (4 M = good trumps).
3 om or 3 OM Weak stopper in 4th suit.
3 NT All suits stopped securely.
4 m Maximum, good 4-card fit for m.
4 OM or 4 om Cue-bid in support of m.
3 M Choice of games; suit playable opposite 2 small. Now, new suit by responder is a cue-bid for M.
3 OM Natural, not extra values (even reverse). Responder raises with 4 trumps and minimum; a new suit is a raise with a maximum. Otherwise, he bids 3 NT or gives preference to M.
4 Gerber
4 or 4 Natural, strong two-suiter, slam interest.
4 M Very mild slam interest if maximum plus controls.
4 NT Natural slam try in notrump.
3 NT Signoff, balanced. If responder now bids 4 M, he has 4 small trumps. If responder bids anything else, he has 18-19 balanced.

1 M - simple
- ?
1 NT Natural, nonforcing, 8 to 10, 11 points.
2 m Strong, forcing, unchanged.
2 M Weak raise, may be slightly weaker than normal.
2 OM Forcing, 9-10 points up, does not promise rebid. Opener rebids as in C-12.
2 NT Strong, forcing, natural, unchanged.
3 M Limit raise, but could be 3 trumps balanced. Thus, opener's 3 NT is nownatural.
3 NT Forcing raise, unchanged.
4 m Fit in M, singleton m. Jump cue-bid is the same.
Cue-bid Old-fashioned = fit in M, slam interest, control.
Jump shift Preemptive. With normal strong jump shift, bid suit and next cue-bid.
4 M Preemptive, normal.
Double Penalties.

1 M - double - ?
1 NT 3 cards in M, 5-7 points, usually 4-3-3-3.
2 M Weak normal raise, some ruffing value.
3 M Weak distributional raise, much ruffing value.
2 NT Sound single raise (8-9), high card values.
3 NT Normal forcing raise.
4 m Fit for M, singleton m (also 3 , if M=).
New suit Forcing, unlimited, but does not promise rebid or produce forcing sequences (except later jumps or new suits).
Jump shift Preemptive.
Redouble If followed by single raise of M, 10-11 points in support. If followed by jump raise or new suit, forcing - a good defensive hand (high cards). Often no fit, penalty oriented.

1 M - jump
- ?
When the jump overcall is preemptive, responder bids:
3 M Natural, 8-10; with maximum limit raise, force to game.
2 NT Natural, forcing.
3 NT If jump, artificial forcing raise in M. If not jump, natural - to play 3 NT.
New suit Forcing, but does not promise rebid.
Jump shift Strong, forcing, normal.
4 M If double jump, preemptive. If jump, strong raise.
Cue-bid Old-fashioned.
Double Penalties.
When the jump overcall is intermediate, the following changes:
Double Negative.
Jump shift Preemptive.
When the jump overcall is strong, in addition to the two changes above:
New suit Nonforcing.
3 M and 4 M Weaker.

1 M - 2 NT (unusual) - ?
Double 10 points or more in high cards, the start of all strong sequences or penalty sequences. Subsequent new suits forcing.
3 M Weak raise (to invite, double first).
3 NT Strong distributional raise in M, probably 5-4-2-2 in majors.
4 m Strong distributional raise in M, singleton m.
4 M Weak distributional raise, preemptive.
3 m Limited, artificial (forcing). 5 cards in OM, tolerance (3 small, doubleton honor) in M. If later action inconsistent, then old-fashioned cue-bid, fit in M.
3 OM Natural, nonforcing, no tolerance for M.
4 OM Natural, nonforcing, no tolerance for M.

1 M - 2 M (cue-bid) - ?
Much the same as in C-24 above. If overcaller has shown two specific suits, the bid of one of them shows length in the fourth suit plus tolerance for M. A jump "cue-bid" shows a fit for M plus a singleton. 3 NT is a game raise in M. New suits are nonforcing, limited by the failure to double.

Pass - 1 M
Almost all sequences remain the same, except that responder's forcing bids become "intended as forcing" - opener may pass. 1 NT is still intended as forcing. Thus, the 2 NT response shows 12-13 points, passed because of a lack of quick tricks. In this sequence:
Pass - 1 M
2 NT - 3
the 3 bid forces responder to answer 3 and pass at his next turn if opener bids 3 or 3 (over 3 , responder may, of course, return to 3 ); however, if opener next bids anything else, the 3 bid was natural.

One other change: the jump-shift response by a passed hand becomes preemptive. Over weak jump responses, opener's new suits are forcing. 2 NT, if available, is a game try in responder's suit. 3 M by opener is to play, as is 3 NT. A raise does not invite responder to go on if 2 NT is available as a try.

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Strong Opening Bids

For very strong balanced hand, these opening bids:
2 NT 20-21 points (not a "bad 20" - too many queens, honors in short suits; treat a "bad 22" as 21), balanced, includes 5-3-3-2 even with 5-card major if no other flaw, but not more eccentric pattern.
2 22 points up. First rebid to be in notrump. If response is 2 , 2 NT=23, 24, 3 NT=more; over other responses, notrump rebid is unlimited.
For very strong unbalanced hands, these:
3 NT The high cards for 2 NT with a solid (or, rarely, semi-solid) 6- or 7-card minor; all suits stopped.
2 First rebid in a long suit - if major, not quite game-forcing. If minor suit, a huge hand - 10, 11 winners, at least 5 Quick Tricks. If major suit, could be shaded - 9 winners, 4 Q.T.

2 - ?
2 0-3 point, if 3 not a king.
2 3-4 points or more, not 2 kings or an ace.
2 2 "controls" - A=2 controls, K=1 control.
2 NT Precisely 3 kings.
3 Precisely 1 ace plus 1 king.
3 4 controls.
3 5 controls.
3 6 controls or more.
3 NT "I think you psyched 2 ; I can make 3 NT anyway."
4 X Solid suit, 6 cards or longer, no side controls. Opener's 4 NT asks for length (5 =6; 5 =7, etc.).
If there is an overcall after 2 , pass is negative or neutral, other responses are natural with 6-7 points or more and 5-card or longer suit; double is for penalties with a bad hand and trump tricks.

2 - 2
? - ?
2 - 2
2 NT - ?
Responder usually passes here, but may bid 3 , Stayman. This is his only forcing bid. He may raise to 3 NT, or sign off in 3 , 3 , 3 . His 4 or 4 are invitational (rare); other bids are to play.
2 - 2
3 NT - ?
Responder normally passes, but may sign off by bidding any suit game, or force with:
4 Stayman. Responder should be 5-4 in the majors, in case of 4 reply.
4 Usually, 5-5 in the majors. Opener takes a preference. If responder continues with 4 over 4 , he has a spade-minor two-suiter. If he continues with 5 , he has both minors.
2 - 2
2 M - ?
If short in M, responder bids a long suit (nonforcing) or 2 NT (nonforcing). With 3 cards or more in M, he bids 3 M (very bad hand, nonforcing) or 4 M (something of value) or jump shifts in a singleton (or void) with good values for play in M.
2 - 2
3 m
Except to raise m, responder should avoid going beyond 3 NT. Thus 3 M may be on a poor 4-card suit.
Actions in which responder may pass under game:
2 - 2
2 - 2
2 NT - Pass
2 - 2
2 - 3
3 - Pass
2 - 2
2 - 2
3 - Pass
i.e., if opener bids notrump, or rebids his suit, or raises responder's suit. But if opener bids a new suit:
2 - 2
2 - 2 NT
3 - ?
responder must bid on. Note that in this spot, responder should bid 4 , not 3 , if he has anything, since opener may always pass.
Opener has available a special sequence for rare hands:
2 - 2
3 M
4 X
Opener jumps in a suit over any response ("this is our trump suit"); this forces responder to "relay," to make the next higher bid (3 over 3 , 3 NT over 3 ). Now opener bids a new suit (3 NT = relay suit): "All I need to know is whether you have third-round control here."
A K J x Q x
K Q J 10 x x x x x
A x x x
A x x x x x x
2C 2
3 3 (forced)
3 NT (?) 4 (SQ)
6 Pass

2 - 2 (2 )
All auctions are game-forcing.
2 NT Unlimited 22-up, balanced. Responder rebids:
3 Stayman.
3 Natural, long suit.
3 M Natural; more balanced than 3 then major.
3 NT Very little extra.
4 Natural, long suit.
4 , 4 , 4 Semi-solid suit, slam if controls OK.
4 NT Natural slam try, extra points.
2 , 3 X Natural, long suit. All continuations are natural. If responder raises to game, as:
2 - 2
3 - 4
he has no values beyond those shown. Thus,
2 - 2
3 - 5 (jump in a new suit)
is a cue-bid, extra values, heart support.

2 - 2 NT
(or higher)
3 NT Forcing, balanced, unlimited. Now responder rebids:
4 NT No long suit, no extra values, nonforcing.
4 X Forcing, 5 cards or more.
5 NT Forcing, balanced: bid suits up the line.
4 NT See D-5.
Suit rebid Forcing, natural, usually slam in view if fit. Responder rebids:
Raise Natural, forcing.
Notrump No fit, no long suit.
New suit Natural, forcing. If opener now raises, as in
2 - 3
3 - 3
4 -
responder must show his point-count in the trump suit () by steps:
1st step (4 NT): 0 or 1 point
2nd step (5 ): 2 points
3rd step (5 ): 3 points
and so on. Note that this sequence is only after a 2 NT or higher response to 2 .

4 NT by 2 opener 4 NT is never Blackwood by opener. In an auction where 4 NT would normally be Blackwood:
2 - 2
2 - 3
4 NT - ?
it asks for specific aces and kings (in the auction above, it asks if responder has a king: if yes, he bids it, if no, he bids 5 - with SK, 6 ). If he has shown 2 controls, he bids his ace, or with 2 kings, bids the lower and then, when opener relays, the higher (5 NT=king of the relay suit). With ace and king, the ace first, then the king. With 3 kings, he bids the king he lacks. He shows 2 aces like 2 kings. With 1 ace, 2 kings, the ace first, then in answer to relays (next higher bid), the cheaper king and the dearer one. And so on.

2 NT - ?
3 Stayman, game-forcing.
3 Flint, asks opener to bid 3 ; used either to sign off in 3 M or to suggest diamond slam. Opener may answer 3 ("Bid 4 if that's your suit, but pass if it's spades") or 3 NT (game in either major), but usually bids 3 . If responder passes 3 or bids 3 , he has the weak hand. If he bids anything else, he has real diamonds, good hand.
3 M Natural, forcing, 5 cards or more. Now, new suits by opener are cue-bids for M, except 3 over 3 , which is natural, 5 cards.
4 Natural. 3 , then 4 , is Gerber.
4 , 4 , 4 Natural, forcing, semi-solid 6-card suit, no values that will not show up in Blackwood.
4 NT Natural slam try.
5 NT Natural, bid suits up the line.

3 NT - ?
4 Gerber.
4 , 4 M Natural, very rare, 4 M nonforcing.
4 NT Natural slam try; if accept, usually slam in the long minor.
5 "Pass or bid 5 according to your minor." Rare.
5 NT "Bid six of your minor."
Responder should start thinking of slam with about 1-1/2 Q.T.

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Preemptive Openings

For hands too weak for a one-bid, these openings:
2 , 2 , 2 Weak two-bids. Very disciplined in first and second seat - 1-1/2 or 2 Q.T., at least 3 honors in a 6-card suit, no side 4-card major and, for 2 , no side 3-card major. Opposite a passed hand, may be less rigid (poorer suit, less defense) - tactical, not descriptive.
3 X Non-vulnerable, very weak 7-card suit, virtually no defense. Both vul., the suit is stronger. Vul. vs. non-vul., solid 7-card suit.
4 X Like 3-bids, but 8-card suit. Never the high cards for a one-bid (except third or fourth hand). When in doubt, open with one.

2 X - ?
2 NT Forcing, usually balanced. Opener bids a side ace or king. Lacking one, he bids 3 X or, rarely, 4 X (6-4 distribution, solid suit) or 3 NT (solid suit, 6-3-2-2). If over the rebid responder bids 3 X, this is invitational; if he bids 3 NT, this offers opener a choice of games.
New suit Forcing, natural. Opener should raise with support (doubleton honor), otherwise show a side feature or rebid X; a jump is a cue-bid in support of the new suit. If responder rebids his suit, this is nonforcing, invitational; if he supports X, this is nonforcing, slightly invitational.
3 X, 4 X All raises are preemptive.
Jump shift Preemptive.

Pass - 2 X
2 NT Over 2 , natural nonforcing try for 3 NT - rare. Over 2 M, artificial, forcing. Opener treats it initially as "unusual" and bids his longer minor. If responder now bids 3 M, this is a game try in M - rare.
New suit Natural, nonforcing. Most common over 2 , with good major suit.
Raises Still preemptive.
Jump shift Very rare - constructive, some tolerance for X, game try in new suit.

3 X - ?
New suit Natural, forcing, asks for raise.
3 NT Opener must pass.
4 X, 5 X Preemptive; opener must pass.

4 m - ?
New suit 4 M natural; om=forcing slam try.
Raises Natural, conclusive.
4 NT Natural, to play.

4 M - ?
4 NT Blackwood.
5 M "Go to six with solid trumps."
New suit Asking-bid. Without first- or second-round control in the suit, opener bids 5 M. With the king or singleton, 6 M. With ace or void, 5 NT (trump loser) or 6 of new suit (solid trumps).

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Slam Bidding

The three most common slam routes are the 2 opening (see "D"), jump-shift response sequences, and cue-bidding sequences. In addition, there are various special sequences and devices available:
4 Often Gerber when last bid was notrump.
4 NT Blackwood if immediately after suit agreement; if cue-bidding intervenes, it is
D.I., asking for extra values not shown. If no suit has been agreed upon, 4 NT is
Quantitative, a natural slam try in notrump.
Asking-bids After suit agreement, when a simple new suit bid would be a cue-bid, a jump in a new suit is an asking-bid.
Trump asking Five of the agreed major to ask for trump quality for six. 5 NT to check for trumps for seven. 6 after Blackwood, in place of 5 NT.

Responder's jump shift says, "Slam is possible opposite the right sound minimum opening. We will play in my suit, in your suit, or possibly in notrump - nowhere else. My rebid will tell you which of the 3 types of hand I hold."
a) 1 - 2
2 - 3
solid or semi-solid long suit:
A x x x A K Q x x x x x x
b) 1 - 2
2 NT - 3
fit for opener, too strong for forcing raise:
A K x x x K Q x x K x x x
c) 1 - 3
3 - 3 NT
strong 5-card or 6-card suit, semi-balanced:
K x K x x Q x x A K J 10 x
Two special weaker types are shown with jump rebid:
d) 1 - 2
2 NT - 4
not great strength, but extravagant support:
A Q x K Q J 10 x x x x x x
e) 1 - 2
3 - 4
"My whole strength is in my suit, only bits elsewhere."
A K Q J x x x x Q x J x x
If responder rebids in a new suit, he has an extra strong hand of type "a" or "b," and is reluctant to bid only game:
1 - 2
3 - 4
Type (b)
1 - 3
3 - 4
Type (a) or (b)
The new suit shows control, not length.

1 - 2
Over a jump shift, opener's priorities in rebidding:
  1. Rebid his suit (3 ) when it is 5 cards or longer and headed by at least 2 of the top 3 honors. He must do so if he has these requirements; he must not do so if he hasn't. The jump rebid (4 ) shows a solid 6-card or longer suit, nonforcing if game.

  2. Raise responder (3 ) with one of the 3 top honors, at least tripleton. The jump raise (4 ) shows extravagant support, at least 2 honors fourth.

  3. Bid a new suit in which he has a concentration of high honors (a cue-bid, not length-showing).

  4. Bid notrump with spread-out values, nonforcing if 3 NT.
Either (3) or (4) may conceal a 6-card suit too weak in high honors for a direct rebid. With:
x K J 10 x x x Q x x A K x, bid:
1 - 2
rebid in hearts next.

This one rebid:

1 - 3
is forcing even though game. All other game rebids are limited.

F-3 • 4 NT
4 NT is: Natural When bid directly over partner's natural notrump bid, or when bid as a jump overcall of a preemptive opening, or when bid over partner's 4-level bid if no major-suit fit can be presumed, or when bid over a response to Stayman.
For takeout When bid over opponent's 4-level suit bid.
Blackwood When bid as a jump over partner's suit bid, or when bid over partner's 4-level bid if that bid set the trump suit.
D.I. When bid over partner's 4-level bid if the trump suit had been previously established; i.e., over a cue-bid.
a) 1 - Pass - 2 NT - Pass
4 NT
b) 1 - 2 - 3 - Pass
3 - Pass - 4 - Pass
4 NT
c) 1 - Pass - 2 - 4
Pass - Pass - 4 NT
d) 1 - Pass - 2 - Pass
2 - Pass - 4 NT
e) 1 NT - Pass - 3 - Pass
4 - Pass - 4 NT
f) 1 - Pass - 3 - Pass
3 - Pass - 4 - Pass
4 NT

Responder to Blackwood may always ignore a void, but if he chooses he may show it thus:
5 NT 1 ace plus a void. If partner now bids 6 X (not trumps), he says, "Bid 7 if X is your void." If it is impossible on the previous auction for responder to be void in X, 6 X says, "The suit in which I want you to be void is higher-ranking than our trump suit." If it is known from previous auction that X is responder's void, he says, "Bid 7 if you have full values for previous bids."
6 X 2 aces plus a void in X. If X is the previously agreed trump suit, responder's void is in a higher ranking suit. If X is a side suit in which responder is known to have length, 6 X shows 3 aces plus a void in an unstated suit.

When Blackwood is overcalled, responder's double says, "I have fewer aces than you might expect"; his pass says, "I have the number you expect"; and his bids say, "I have this number more than you might expect." Usually, this means:
Double = 0 aces
Pass = 1 ace
Next step = 2 aces
Second step = 3 aces, etc.
However, this is not absolute. On auctions in which responder has bid very strongly, and the next step forces to slam, pass shows 2 aces:
1 - Pass - 2 - 3
4 NT - 5 - Pass
Here, double would be "fewer than you expect," i.e. 1 ace; pass is 2, 5 NT=3; 6 =4.

Continuations by Blackwood 4 NT bidder:
5 NT Usually does not ask number of kings, but says, "We have all the aces and 7 is in view - bid it with a tip-top maximum. Otherwise, bid 6 X with undisclosed values in X. With nothing extra, sign off at 6 of our trump suit." However if the trump suit is unknown (1 - Pass - 4 NT), respond kings, as normal.
6 X When X=lowest suit that could not possibly be trumps, the Grand Slam Force (see F-11). When a lower suit is available as G.S.F., 6 X says, "Bid 7 in our trump suit if you have an undisclosed value (usually third-round control) in X."
5 X Usually to force responder to bid 5 NT, missing 2 aces. However, if the signoff at 5 in trumps was available, 5 X is like 6 X above. And if 5 X forced 5 NT, but the Blackwood bidder then continued to 6 (trumps), this is the G.S.F.

4 is Gerber on most auctions in which 4 NT would not be Blackwood because the last bid was notrump. The one exception is the 4 response to 2 NT=natural. To ask for aces here, bid 3 then 4 . 4 after a Stayman response is always Gerber.

Over the ace response, 5 asks for the number of kings. Over the king response, 5 NT asks for an undisclosed feature, like 5 NT by the Blackwood bidder. Asking for kings promises all the aces.

F-8 • D.I. 4 NT
1 - 3
4 - 4
4 NT
4 NT "D.I." says, "I have strong slam interest and no worry about a particular control (for example, in the auction at left opener is not worried about spades, for then he would cue-bid instead). I need general strength - if you have something extra, show it to me." Responder replies:
5 in trump suit (5 ) Nothing extra, "I hate my hand."
5 in lower suit (5 ) A feature in the suit bid (a control, or the queen of a suit partner bid strongly, or extra honors or length in a suit he himself has bid naturally). Not bare minimum values.
5 in higher suit (5 ) Same, but must have maximum values.
6 in trump suit (6 ) "OK, but please don't bid seven."
5 NT Best possible hand, lively interest in seven.
The continuations by 4 NT bidder depend, of course, on the reply. In general: 5 in trump suit (your feature did not please me) is discouraging; new suits (I have a feature here; tell me more) are encouraging, often chances for 7; 6 in trumps is intended to be final, no interest in 7; 5 NT is the strongest try for a grand slam.

Cue-bids are two distinct types, with separate purposes and requirements, asking partner different questions.
  1. The "Tentative" Cue-Bid

    The first cue-bid of the auction, when made under the level of game, is "tentative" - i.e., not a slam try but a statement that slam is possible. It promises some extra values and a control in the bid suit - usually an ace, but a cheap second-round control may be bid, to make it easy for partner to cue-bid in reply under game. However, if followed by a second "asking" cue-bid, a serious slam try, the first cue-bid always shows first-round control.

    In reply, partner should sign off in the trump suit whenever he has bare minimum values, regardless of his controls. With anything extra, he should, if possible, show a control below game (preferably an ace, but second-round control if necessary). To cue-bid above game, partner should have absolute maximum, and first-round control.

  2. The "Asking" Cue-Bid

    A subsequent cue-bid, or any cue-bid over game, is a serious attempt to reach slam. It promises first-round control, and is used not to find out about extra values (D.I. is for that), but to find a control in a missing suit.

    In response, partner must show a control in a suit not yet cue-bid. If, as usually is the case, there is only one such suit, partner signs off in trumps with no control, bids the suit with first-round control, jumps to slam in trumps with a singleton, bids notrump with the king.

    A Q 10 x x x K x x
    x x K x
    A x K Q J x x
    A x x x x x
    1 2
    2 3
    4 (1) 4 (2)
    5 (3) 5 NT (4)
    6 NT Pass
    (1) "Tentative" - 1st cue-bid, under game.
    (2) With bare minimum, no cue-bid in reply.
    (3) "Asking" cue-bid. What about hearts?
    (4) The king. No option but to show it to an "asking" cue.

After suit agreement, where a new suit would be a cue-bid, a new suit jump is an asking-bid, asking for control in the bid suit. I.e.,
1 - 3
5 = asks about clubs.
Responses are by steps:
1 step (5 ) = no ace, king, void or singleton.
2 steps (5 ) = second-round control, king or singleton.
3 steps (5 ) = first-round control, ace or void.
4 steps (5 NT) = first- and second-round control: ace-king, or singleton ace, or void - the latter two only with an abundance of trumps.
After the reply, all continuations by the asker, except for signoffs in the trump suit, ask again. A repeat ask in the same suit (6 ) asks for third-round control (queen or doubleton); 1st step (6 ) = no, 2nd step (6 ) = yes. If, instead, asker bids a new suit, he gets the usual 4-step responses as above. If asker continues with 5 NT, this is the Grand Slam Force (see F-11).

After major-suit agreement, a bid of 5 M asks partner to go to slam if he has good trumps. An example:
1 - 3
4 - 4
5 = how good are your trumps?
Opener is not asking about hearts - he would do that with a minor-suit cue-bid (or 5 ). He is not asking for general strength - he would do that with 4 NT, D.I.

After firm agreement on any trump suit, either player may check on trumps for seven with 5 NT (usually as a jump), the Grand Slam Force. Responses depend on two factors: how high the trump suit is; what strength responder has already shown in trumps. 6 shows the weakest possible holding, and 7 the strongest - all available levels in between are used to show gradations. Thus:

1 - 3
5 NT - ?
6 = no honor in spades.
6 = the queen.
6 = the king or ace.
6 = the king or ace fifth.
7 = two top honors.
If diamonds were trumps, only 3 gradations are available:
6 = no honor.
6 = one honor.
7 = two honors.
Responder must keep in mind what trumps he has already promised. When he has already shown excellent trumps, two top honors are nothing special.
1 - 2
3 - 5 NT
6 = terrible suit, only one honor (K J 10 x x x).
6 = fair suit (say, A J 10 x x x x).
6 = two top honors as expected (K Q J x x x).
6 = A-K, but not solid (A K J x x x).
7 = solid suit, all 3 honors (A K Q x x x).
Even A K Q x x x could be "the weakest possible holding" on an auction like:
1 - 2
4 (solid suit) - 5 NT
6 = A K Q x x x
6 = A K Q 10 x x x
7 = A K Q J x x x
Similar responses are made to trump asks after Blackwood (see F-6).


The Kaplan-Sheinwold bidding system was created by Edgar Kaplan and Alfred Sheinwold during the 1950's. This page presents the last version of the K-S system that Edgar Kaplan wrote.