Colin Lee — The Lee Club

Building a bidding system

Since my mother (Linda) is talking about the play / things we are doing at the table – I thought I’d look at the other aspects of what we are exploring which is our bidding system.


We both spent the majority of our bridge careers playing standard or 2/1 with 5 card majors. Lots of various gadgets. We both decided we want to delve into Forcing Club. I spent a brief partnership with Ben Zeidenberg when we took on a fun little system called Club-Club. The basis of this system was a 2-way forcing club showing either a 10-12 NT or 16+ any shape. The big advantage of this system is that 90% of players treat the bid as 10-12 NT and bid normally over it (take a look at Linda’s blog for an idea of what stupidity people are doing over our forcing club right now). The problem with the system, and why we decided not to start with it, is that it requires you to pass 1 – 1 (0-7 HCP) if you have a 10-12 NT – unfortunately that’s illegal in the ACBL so it’s hard to play in tournaments in North America.


So on to the system. We both agreed we wanted to start with a basic system that was pre-established; so we started with a basic version of precision. Here’s the basic outline:

1 – 16+
1 – 11-15, 2+
1M – 11-15, 5+ (4 if 3rd)
1NT – 10 – 12 NV (1st / 2nd) / 13-15 Vul
2 – 11-15, 6+
2 – 11-15, 0-1 (max 5, max 4cM)
2M – Weak 2
2NT – 22-23
3ANY – Preemptive
3NT – 4 Minor preempt
4M – preemptive

There’s a whole relay thing over 2 / 2. We have a system over 1NT (basically 2 way stayman), 2NT (baron / transfers), Namyats, and Major suit openings.

So really the changes come from two things:
1. We have limited hands over 1 / 1M
2. We have low level GF sequences (i.e. 1 – 1 is a GF).

These two things create something really powerful and interesting.
I heard it said that when you are bidding you want to relay as much information as possible to your partner to find the right contract and when you are playing the hand you regret every bid as it now can only help your opponents. In other words – as soon as you know the final contract then the least information you can provide to your opponents the better.

The power of the sequence 1M – 4M in forcing club is amazing. In standard it’s preemptive. It’s possible that opener has a big hand; but usually doesn’t. In forcing club it’s “to play”. It may be intended to make – it may show a preemptive hand, it might be an opening bid with 0 slam interest. Should you sacrifice over it? It’s hard to sacrifice over a non-making contract. What about the opening lead? Do you attack? Cash aces? You don’t know – it’s the lack of knowledge that makes it so powerful. There’s a lot more to look at here – splinters are interesting: what hands should you splinter on over 1M when they are limited to 15 HCP? What exactly can you have for 15 HCP? Does: AKxxxx AKxxx xx — qualify as 1 or 1S? It’s a Monster hand and I would never consider opening it anything other than 1 – even with 14 HCP – on the other hand: Qxxxx KQJ QJx KQ is a horrible 1 opening and I’d open that hand 1 – maybe 1NT (13-15).

Question of the Day

So we recently started looking at what things should mean over 1 – 1M (as a quick reminder this shows 8+ HCP and 5+ in the Major – it creates a game force).

I’m the 1 opener – I have xxx KQx AKJxx Ax
It goes 1 – 1 – should I raise to 2? Should I bid 1NT? 2?

They are all possible valid bids each shows some aspect of this hand. I have 3 card support (2), I have 16-18 balanced (1NT), I have 5 (2) – the question becomes what is the most useful and describes this hand the best – what’s the best potential contract? I think there’s also a question of denying something – if you bid 1NT have you denied 3 card support? All good questions.

I’m going to explore what we decided to do next time.

(p.s. I suspect the answer will be 1NT for the hand above as it’s the most descriptive – if 1 – 1 then 2 is probably the better call)


David TurnerJune 22nd, 2008 at 9:35 pm

As a (very) long time forcing club player with an experimental bent, I’ve got a couple of suggestions for you guys that are pretty easy to graft onto your Precision base.

1. Open 1D with up to 19HCP when you have a diamond 2-suiter. This avoids the horrible 1C-1D; 2D sequence with minimum hands. When you DO open 1C and rebid 2D it’s natural and forcing to at least 3D, showing 21+ HCP. Over which 2H=neg/bal, other natural GF (2NT= 5+hearts)

2. Play 2D the way you do now AND include a D 1-suiter, 16-19 HCP. After 2D-2any, any rebid other than pass is the D 1-suiter (3C artificially shows a 3-card fit for partner’s major). Over the 2NT forcing to game response, 3C=3-suiter, others = D 1-suiter with shortness (3D = no shortness).

3. #2 allows 3D rebids after 1D opening to show playing strength, not points as in Linda’s recent post. And you can rebid 1D-1M; 3D with 3M, 2NT without if you don’t think 2NT could mean anything else.

We’ve been playing #1 and #3 for several years now very comfortably. #2 for about a year or so, and it seems to work well, and gives the 2D opening a bit more productive work to do .

— David Turner

Dave SmithJune 23rd, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Have you considered a transfer positive? In other words, 1♣ 1♥ (shows spades) and 1♣ 2♦ shows hearts. When the suit is hearts, you are at the same level, but when it is spades, you begin investigation one level lower. (Further, 1S shows clubs, 2C shows diamonds, both with a positive response.)

In either major-suit case, when you have a fit, you have the advantage of making the stronger hand the declarer.

ColinJune 23rd, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Dave: I have considered a transfer positive (I am going to get into it later – for exactly the reasons you describe – as well it adds the advantage of providing an extra response for spades – 1♠.

I’m also going to explore whether you should show 4 card responses versus 5 cards 🙂

David: I really really like the power of the limited bids and knowing that partner can’t have a monster hand when they open anything other than 1♣. I’m loathe to allow 1♦ – which is already the weakest bid in the system to get worse. I understand the concern you are raising with the 1st sequence and I think I see a way to handle it without hurting the 1♦ opening.
For #2 – I’ve played the 3 suited opening before and there’s power in knowing partner’s basic distribution and strength. If I know with 5♥ (or more) I have a fit I can just bid 4♥.. but if they can have a diamond hand.. ouch… I like fast auctions if I can have them.
For #3 – I think that jump bids have to show playing strength. Just because I have 15 HCP doesn’t mean I have a great hand. Personally I think jump bids should be used to show distributional hands.

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