Colin Lee — The Lee Club

One Club – Opener’s rebids and some continuations

After 1C – 1D:

One Heart, One Spade – Ninety percent of the time opener will have a five card or longer suit; but, he may have a four card suit if they are either 4441 or have a longer minor. With 44 in the majors rebid one heart. This bid is forcing for one round.

One No Trump: 17-19 Balanced – stayman and 4 way transfers over this.

Two Clubs, Two Diamonds: natural; usually six card suit with 17+ – no four card major and is non forcing. Bids after this are natural and should show at least 4 points and a 5 card suit.

Two Hearts: This bid shows a game forcing hand. Either it’s 25+ Balanced or a single suited hand. Responder must continue with two spades and opener clarifies with 2NT (strong balanced) or bids their game forcing suit. Continuations after 2NT as per opening 2NT.

Two Spades: At least 5/5 in the minors – 2NT asks for better minor. 3H and 3S show good hands for clubs and diamonds respectively (like unusual over unusual).

Two No Trump: 22-24 balanced – bids as over a 2NT opener.

Three Clubs, Three Diamonds: Invitational minor hand

Let me start by saying that MOST of the time the rebid will be either one heart, spade or one no trump. This is deliberate and keeps the auctions low and allows us to provide tons of system for us to forget.

After 1C – 1D – 1M:

With Minimum Hands we have two choices:

No Support: One No Trump –ANY minimum hand (0 to a bad 5 count) without 3 card support (or with 3 card support and a balanced hand). Openers responses are natural and non-forcing at the 2 level (reverses and jump shifts are super strong hands).

Decent Support: Two of the Major – 0-5 hand with 3 card support with a ruffing value or 0-3 with 4 card support. Two way game tries over this (as per other situations).

Three Major: 4+ card support with 4-5 HCP.

With Maximum Hands we show our support:

Other Major (One Spade or Two Hearts): 5+ in suit bid and 0-2 card support

Two Clubs: No Support (0-2) and not 5 cards in the other major After this bid – Opener bids two diamonds to show a minimum hand – ANY OTHER BID is a Game Force.

Two Diamonds: 3 card support

Jump Shift: (e.g. Three Clubs): 4 card support with shortness

2NT: 4 card support with no shortness

After 1C – 1M

One No Trump shows the 17-19 balanced hand without 4 card support for the major. Responder can check back for 3 card support or the other major.

1C – 1M – 1NT – 2M is suit setting (since 2C is checkback) – shows slam interest. 3M by opener shows good support for hearts.

Two No Trump shows 22+ Balanced hand without 4 card support – responder can check back.

One Spade, Two Clubs, Two Diamonds, Two Hearts (over one spade): Natural bids showing a 5 card suit.

Two Major: Shows 4+ in the suit – sets the suit

Really there should be a whole specialized sequence here on different raises and rebids. There’s no reason not to play splinters; key card at a lower level and all that good stuff. Just a matter of remembering it right now. There’s so much here that the less we do to start the easier it’ll be to remember.

Jump Shifts (two spades, three clubs, diamonds, hearts): Strong two in the suit bid.

There is an advantage here to playing step responses to 1M as we don’t need two sets of bids – natural and strong two – it frees up the jump shift bids for other meanings. However for simplicity we’ll leave this as is for now.

After 1C – 1NT (2C)

Accepting the transfer (i.e. 2C and 2D) shows a fit, showing 4 card support with a minimum range (16 – 20) – Responder can show a minimum hand now by doing a simple raise to 3C (3D).

A jump accept shows a strong slam hand (typically 21+).

Any other bid is natural – jumps show strong 2s.

2NT is natural dual range – 17-19 or 22+. 3C is a two way checkback for majors and range with 3D showing 17 – 19 and other bids showing 22+. Over 3D responder can bid the major they are interested in.

After 1C – 2D

2H / 2S are natural 5 card suits.

2NT is asking for 4 card suits

3C is a two way checkback for majors and range with 3D showing 8 – 10 and other bids showing 22+. Over 3D responder can bid the major they are interested in.

3NT is to play.

Direct suit bids are natural strong 2 style (otherwise why didn’t you go through the relay?).

After 1C – 2M

The question over 2M is what is partner likely to have with 4-6 and a 6 card major – is it more important to find out cards, suit quality or shape. With such a weak hand, suit quality and distribution seem more important.

2NT asks for suit quality – showing bad, average, good and solid. Solid would be something like KQJTxx.

3C asks for shortness – with 3NT showing clubs and 3M showing no shortness.

3M is natural and non forcing – you might wonder why non-forcing : the question should be what hand do you have that would be invitational or forcing where you don’t want to know about trumps or shortness. Invitating such a limited specific hand seems silly. Forcing hands are asking responder to cuebid when they can’t have anything to cuebid.

Other bids are natural and forcing (except obvious game bids like 3NT).

After 1C – 2NT

Play system on as over a 2NT opener (3C = stayman, 3D, H, S = transfers, 4C = transfer, 4D / 4H = texas).

One Club Responses

Responder’s responses

One Diamond: 0-7 any hand – though responder should strive not to respond one diamond with both an Ace and a King. Those hands tend to have too much playing strength to be worth a negative response. It’s also possible for responder to have a really bad eight count – Qxx Jxx Qxxx QJx is definitely worth a one diamond bid.

Note that any response other than one diamond is a positive response and creates a game force.

As we move forward into the next set of responses we have a challenge between remembering esoteric responses and the advantages of showing more information in specific hand types.

One of the more interesting hand types is the eight to ten balanced hand with no five card suit. Opposite most one clubs openers – this is a simple game hand and this is just a matter of finding the right game. It’s also important to note that we don’t want this hand on play. As a general principle we want the one club opener on play – they have the better hand and it’s better that it’s concealed (and lead into instead of through). If we separate out the eight-10 balanced hand we have some problems – we also have the eleven+ balanced hand to bid.

Another thing we need to watch is the utility test – does the bid which the gadget replaces have a greater utility than the gadget itself?

One Heart, One Spade: eight + HCP; five+ hearts (spades)

One No Trump: eight+ HCP; five+ Clubs

Two Clubs: eight+ HCP; five+ Diamonds

These bids are transfers for obvious reasons – more likely to get opener on play and when we have no trump oriented hands – we aren’t bidding no trump first.

Two Diamonds: eight-twelve balanced – no five card suit

This allows us to separate out our minimum balanced hands – keep the strong hand on play and be able to distinguish between eight-10 and 11-12 later if we need to.

Two Hearts and Spades: good three to bad seven with 6 hearts (spades)

Two No Trump: Thirteen plus balanced hand (no five card suit)

Having dealt with all the 5 card suit hands and the balanced 4 card suit hands – we have all the 4441 hands yet to deal with. These hands are always a complete pain in the ass to bid and describe so we dedicate a large number of bids specifically to them. These bids should come up less frequently BUT they are very descriptive.

Three Clubs: 4441 with a stiff spade or club. Eight to Thirteen high.

Three Diamonds: 4441 with a stiff diamond or heart. Eight to Thirteen high.

For the remainder of the 4441s we bid 1 suit below the singleton. So Hearts shows a singleton spade, spade shows clubs, etc.

Three Hearts: 1-4-4-4 with Fourteen Plus (a Hand with 5 + Controls (say Axxx, ATxx, KJxx, x) – might just upgrade)

Three No Trumps, Four clubs, Four Diamonds: 4441s with stiffs above the suit bid – fourteen plus or a great hand

Three Spades: A solid 7/8 card suit with nothing outside – something like AKQxxxxx. Why bid spades? Cause you don’t want to bid No Trump and take it away from partner!

Lee Club – Basic System

The basic structure:

One Club: 16 + any distribution (or any hand that’s too strong for partner to pass).  Balanced 16 counts are typically opened 1D or 1NT, strong playing hands are typically opened one club.

One Diamond: 10-15 points; natural – at least 2 diamonds. Most of the time the one diamond opener will have one of the following hand types:

  • Standard opener: a limited opening with diamonds as the longest suit – without a 4 card major
  • Maximum (14-15) hand with a 4 card major and longer diamonds (planning to reverse into the major)
  • Balanced hand outside of the one no trump range (with a bad 16 open 1D; with a good 16 open 1C)- will only have 2 diamonds if 3-3-2-5 outside of the no trump range.

One Heart & One Spade are natural, 10-15 with four or more cards in the bid major. You may have a longer minor suit, Open one heart with 4/4 in the majors

One No Trump: 11-13 when not vulnerable in first and second chair. 14-16 when vulnerable or when in 3rd or 4th char. It’s acceptable to have a five card Major or be five / four in the minors with honours in both majors.

The ranges for one no trump are probably a little odd – but they do make sense. 11-13 No Trump is aggressive but we do it only when safe – not vulnerable and when partner is not a passed hand. 14-16 as the secondary range helps when we game force over one club with an eight count. Bad 16 balanced counts and balanced 8 counts make Meckwellian 3NT contracts.  You might wonder about the 11-13 range – well it’s because we didn’t want to have odd auctions with a 13 balanced NT.  If we played 10-12 we’d have this odd 13 point hand which would make our rebids 13-16.  At least we are confident that our rebids are a 3 point range always and never a 4 point range.

Two Clubs: 10-15 points, 6 or more clubs – usually no 4 card major.  The advantage of denying a 4 card major is huge for this opening bid.  You’ll be able to see later how much easier it is for the system to know that partner can’t have a 4 card major.  In previous systems I’ve had to have complicated relays to show 5c and 4cM or 6/4 or fragments or all sorts of things.  It’s way easier without those complications.

Two Diamonds: Multi, promising a weak two in one major.  Personally I’m not a huge fan of Multi.  It can cause as many problems for both sides – but it can definitely create swings.  So why play Multi?  Personally I like it because it allows us to do better things with 2H and 2S.

Two Hearts and Spades: Five plus in the major and five plus in either minor. Preemptive hand in the four to nine range. You’d be amazed how good these bids are and how well they’ve worked out for us and for other people I’ve seen play them.  I highly recommend them – so much so that I’m willing to play Multi just to play these bids.

Two No Trump: 20-21 Balanced.  I’ve been debating whether to use 2NT as 5/5 in the minors or 20-21.  I’ve settled on 20-21 for now as it makes some 1C auctions easier and it won’t create swings anyway as almost everyone plays this anyway.

Three Level: Preemptive hand with 6 or 7 in the suit (depending on vulnerability)

Three No Trump – Gambling; solid suit with no outside Ace or King

Four Clubs, Four Diamonds – Solid hearts, spades – a strong bid of four hearts or spades.  Shows 8 – 9 tricks and tends to have outside defense.  NAMYATS.  A taerg noitnevnoc rof gnidnif rojam tius smals. With regards to the outside defense – I have to admit that Linda opened AKQJT9xxx xx xx x with NAMYATS (4D)…  (see a previous blog post for more details).

Four Hearts, Four Spades – the weaker cousin of the previous bid. Shows a preemptive hand with no outside strength or expectation to make it

Four No Trump – specific ace asking

Lee Club (the second go around)

My intentions over the next while is to post our system notes, hopefully in a somewhat interesting fashion and hopefully get feedback from any readers.  I’ll also be discussing thoughts and changes to the system as we work them in – especially our more interesting discussions.


Lee Club

The Lee Club bidding system is designed to get the maximum out of the major suits and to use the strong club system to be able to bid strong hands at a lower level than in a *standard system*.  The main goal of this system is to bid frequently, get in on most hands and be able to compete quickly and aggressively.

The goal is to make these notes as interesting as possible and not to have a standard dry piece of paper as well as to get as much information across as possible in an easy to read and understand way.  Hopefully people reading these notes will not only be able to understand the system but also get some insight and enjoyment out of reading them.  I also believe that notes that are written out in sentences (rather than merely sequences) are easier to remember and comprehend.  Sequences are frequently scanned and rescanned before comprehension.  With full sentences there is a requirement of initial comprehension which improves long term retention.

So – why a forcing club with 4 card majors? 4 card majors mean that we bid majors more often. They are higher suits and will tend to win the part score battle faster. We can even talk the opponents out of their suit with our first bid. 4 card majors also solve some of the major problems with precision – like short diamond hands or hands with five clubs and a 4 card major. These aren’t problem hands in this system. We don’t have an ambiguous one diamond opener.  This system promises two diamonds with a one diamond opener (unfortunately with 3325 you end up opening a diamond – otherwise you’d have three). We like a forcing club because it allows us to bid lower AND because it causes our opponents to do stupid things like ridiculous overcalls and go for 800 constantly. For some reason a forcing club is like a red flag to a bull and all idiots just charge at it.  It reminds me of a story (frequently told by my father and referenced recently on Linda’s blog) – Paul Soloway was playing (with a client) against Linda and Ray in a nationals.  Ray opened 1NT – the client doubled on a balanced 13 count and Linda redoubled for penalty.  Paul had to run, was doubled and went for a large number.  At the end of the hand, Paul said to his partner: “It’s because of people like you who double on hands like that that I play weak no trump”.

When we first started playing forcing club on BBO we frequently got opponent’s that liked to bid over 1C with every hand.  One guy had ♠2 QJxx JTxx KT87.  Over 1 he felt compelled to bid and trotted out with 1♠.  I bid 2 – natural and game forcing and his partner decided with QTxxxx of spades and an outside A and K that 4♠ was a great bid – unfortunately the rest of the spade suit was in Linda’s hand and 4♠ went for -1100 into +100 (since 3NT was going down).  So with that I say – it’s because of people like that who bid on hands like that that I play a forcing club.

Well that and I think it’s technically superior in many ways to a forcing 2C opener and having much smaller limits on opening bids is way better; but I’m getting ahead of myself.


So – I did this once before and things were going well; you might ask – what happened?  Well work and life got in the way and my trip to the Nationals in Boston was canceled so we decided to put all this on hold for a while.  Having had a longer conversation with Linda about the system it was felt that the system was too complicated as a first go around for us.  With limited experience with forcing club systems and even less experience with 4 card majors and canape, it just seemed to make sense to start with a simpler system before getting into more of the complexities.

How much better is your system?

How much does your bidding system really make a difference?

I was talking with various people in the Toronto Regional last weekend and the comments ranged from “it’s the biggest difference” to “not at all”.  I have to admit I’m probably in the middle heading towards “not at all”.

Now, I’m not a naturalist.  I don’t believe that Rubber Bridge style of bidding with basically zero system is the right way to go.  But how much of a difference do different conventions make in the long run?  We had a great hand for NAMYATS on the weekend:

West East
xx AKx
xx AQxxx
x Qxxxx
West North East South
4D* P 5D* P
6S P P P

4D showed a NAMYATS spades hand and 5D showed slam interest with Diamonds and Hearts controlled.  The plus side of this auction – we got to a slam that was a little better than 50% which is fairly hard to reach on other methods.  The down side – East had to guess as to whether to try to bid for a slam with one bid at the 5 level with a void in partner’s suit.  The auction was hardly scientific.  I’m sure there are better methods than NAMYATS in a forcing club system.  Here’s the thing – for the majority of partnerships remembering sequences and discussions and complex scientific auctions takes a lot of brainpower – especially after playing bridge for 6 days straight.

I recall watching the Spingold recently where the auction went:

West North East South
1S P 4H* P

After tons of bridge it was a tough question for West as to whether their agreement was 4H was a splinter in support of spades or a weak 4H bid.  Matches get decided on auctions like these; tired mistakes.

In my humble opinion, it’s more important to have strong agreements that you can remember than having the best, most scientific system.  The more you play the same system, the more it becomes second nature, the less you worry about the simple sequences and auctions and the more you can concentrate on play, defense and bidding judgement.

Reverse Flannery responses to 1m

So I thought I post today about reverse flannery responses to 1 of a minor.

Flannery was created in response to a problem hand – 5and 4♠ with an opening bid – if partner responds 1NT over 1 then opener, with an unbalanced hand – ends up bidding their 5 card suit or a 3 card minor or something else equally unappetizing.  Flannery opening shows your hand in one bid and partner can respond.  Opponents of this convention say “when partner doesn’t have 4♠ you don’t care that you lost the spade suit when they bid 1NT” – I pretty much agree with that and I have better uses for 2 so… I’m not a Flannery player – but I can see where some people would really like it.

Reverse Flannery was equally created to solve a problem hand – a weak hand with 5♠ and 4as a response when partner opens 1♣ or 1.  There are all sorts of situations that can occur but let’s take the most problematic:

You hold:

♠K9842 QT52  8  ♣Q52

1     1♠

2       ?

So do you bid on?  2 is forcing so if you bid it – you better be prepared to play 3 if partner has a 1363 hand or something along those lines.  However – what if partner is 2461 or something like that?  Say: Qx AJxx AKxxxx x – 4 is where you want to be – can you get there?

So how about 2 over 1 showing 5♠ and 4 and a minimal hand (a hand that is not invitational over a minimum opening).  This bid – reverse flannery – solves this bid nicely and compactly.  What have we given up?  A strong, preemptive or a fit jump.  Let’s look at each in turn:

Yes, it’s nice to make a strong jump when you have it; however most of time it doesn’t come up AND if it does you can always bid 1 and force to game later.  Preemptive – not much preempting to do when partner already has shown an opening bid and again you can show this hand by just rebidding 2 after bidding 1.  Finally a fit jump – really?  You want to make a fit jump into a minor?  Why?  Please let me know and I’ll respond to it… but showing this hand is really easy anyway through normal bidding.  So – I don’t think you’ve really given up anything at all and you’ve gained a nice extra bid that solves a real problem hand.  Now you can bid:

1♦    2

and over partner’s response they can set the contract.  There’s some great variations on this too.  Now:

1     1♠

2     2

is an invitational hand at a minimum and you can play IJCB (see last entry) over 2 to help with slam exploration; though perhaps natural is better.  I don’t bother playing double invitation hands – so 3 really should be game forcing – personally I think anytime one player invites the other should either accept or decline – asking them whether they had a good invite or a bad invite is just silly.  Hey partner – do you have enough for game?   Maybe – did you have enough to invite?  It’s just silly.  So – imho – if partner shows an invitation hand and opener raises it – it’s a game force.

There’s lots of things you can play over it; but simple is usually best in a lot of these cases:

2♠ to play

2NT natural – no fit; invitational to 3NT or rebid 3m

3♣ not forcing – to play if 1♣ or pass or correct if 1

3 forcing if 1♣ or to play if 1

3/ 3♠ – forcing; sets trump

3NT to play

4m – IJCB – could also be played as natural and forcing

Other things you can use to combine with reverse flannery:

1m – 2♠ as 6♠ and 4 weak hand – similar concept but promises 6♠ and makes 2 shows exactly 5♠.  I’m not really sure I like that.

Currently I play 1m – 2♠ as a constructive raise of the minor – maybe I’ll go over the structure we play over 1m and why we play it that way.  While I don’t think it’s the best – there are definitely some things that can help in certain auctions.

Italian Jump Cue Bids

We’ve temporarily changed over to a Standard American system using weak no trumps instead of a forcing club. There are some good features to it; but I think it’s definitely inferior to a good forcing club system. One of the key weaknesses of the system is the pseudo artificial forcing bids that you have to make all the time. Here’s a sequence:

1♦ – 1♠

2♦ – 2♥

How does the opening bidder set hearts as trump and force to game? 3♥ is invitational, 4♥ is too much; 4♣ is presumably a splinter so when you have short clubs it’s an easy bid (though doesn’t work well if you have short spades).

Another situation:

1♥ – 2♣

2♥ –

How does responder set hearts as trump and force to game? This isn’t a problem our 2/1 bidders face (though they have other problems too 🙂 ). You have to bid something like 2♠ or 3♦ and come back to hearts later. It’s not pretty – and what happens when you really have those suits? Now partner doesn’t know how if your bid is artificial or not.

So what’s the solution? IJCB! Or Italian Jump Cue Bids – my recollection is that these were first played by the famous Italian Blue team as part of their club system (hence the name) – why play jump bids exclusively as splinters? Play them as cue bids:

1♥ – 2♣

2♥ – 3♠ / 4♣ / 4♦ are cue bids in support of hearts

1♦ – 1♠

2♦ – 2♥

4♦ / 4♣ are cue bids in support of hearts

This type of bid solves a major problem in standard bidding. There are a lot of situations where it is applicable – if you can use it for a splinter, you can make it an Italian jump cue bid instead. Now I’m not recommending that every splinter should be turned into this; but it can be very useful. Even 1/1 sequences in 2/1 can use it:

1♥ – 1♠

2♥ – 4♦ – Cue bid – not a splinter?

Something to think about anyway.

Hope everyone is enjoying the Mind Games.

Beginning Explained

So I just posted a bunch of system notes – raw system notes – without any real explanation, rhyme or reason as to why.

So the first reason I did so was to have something documented that we could start working from – this is an actual system we are playing not just theory so it’s nice to have it written down. I wanted to get it up and then I could write down some of the reasons behind what I did – so here we go:

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Starting at the beginning

“Begin at the very beginning – it’s a very good place to start”

So, perhaps I’ve gone a little left and right in these posts and it’s not really been all that linear.

So my plan, at least for the next little while, will be to post about a topic until I reach the end of it and then move on to the next one.

We’ve been talking a whole bunch about the 1♣ opening and especially 1♣ – 1; so the plan is to stay concentrating on 1♣ and try to get to the end of the system and then move on to other aspects.  The other thing I want to do is to start defining what things mean beyond the first couple of bids.

I’m going to add this footnote to every page from now on; but here is my dictionary of abbreviations for reference – click here

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Dictionary of Abbreviations / Terms

As I start writing out the system I’m going to use a lot of abbreviations and terms for things to save me typing everything out.  Here is a list of the abbreviations I use:

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