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Conventions and Hand Evaluation by Martin Johnson

Alert Procedures

ACBL new rules 2002 - rule changes include alerting the point range for all one no trump openings and no alerts on cue bids or doubles. A change in 2004 allows you to use transfer advances, otherwise the 2002 rules are current.

Slam Bidding Conventions

Key card Blackwood - The most common form of Blackwood, with recommendations for follow up bids (intermediate level)

Exclusion Blackwood - A variation of Key card Blackwood used when a player has a void, usually started by a high level jump bid.(advanced level)

Five Of a Major Bids - Does this bid show good trumps or ask, or have other uses

Five No Trump Bids - Five uses of the bid of 5NT explained

Cue Bidding - A sensible set of rules is outlined for cue bidding and differences between American (ace first) and Italian cue bidding explained

Splinter Bids - Explanation of the many types of splinters and practical advise on when to use them and how to follow up.

Other Conventions

Responses to 1NT - Comparison of two suited transfers and Minor Stayman with the four suit transfer method

Remedios over 1NT - delayed transfers after a 1NT opening Scanian style

Puppet Stayman - A variation of Stayman used to distinguish 5 card from 4 card suits in the openers hand. In standard systems is most often played over a 2NT opening (intermediate level)

BART - A structure of rebids used after a one spade opening and forcing 1NT response, allowing more responder hand types to be described than in natural methods (advanced level)

Mecksroth Adjunct - A rebid of 2NT by opener to a forcing 1NT response used to show game forcing semi-balanced hands, allowing jump shift rebids to guarantee 55 hands. Part of the Fabsayc system. (advanced level)

Jacoby Roman 2NT - A variation of the common Jacoby 2NT response to a 1M opening which uses natural rebids (allowing for finding alternate fits, especially 44) and relays for exact pattern.

Multi Landy - A defense to opponents 1NT opening based on combining Landy 2 clubs (majors) with multi 2 diamonds (one major). Has significant advantages over Cappalletti or DONT defenses (advanced level)

Defenses to strong 1 and 2 club openings - Truscott, Crash, Suction

Competitive raises - In competition, all jump raises should be based on total tricks, use a cue bid of opponents suit as a strong raise

Transfer advances - All the advantages of transfers extended to competitive bidding. Includes Rubensohl.

Transfer Responses to 1 Club - Designed to conceal weakness and right side contracts. Polish style 2 rebid by opener, two way new minor by responder, also applies after competition

Transfer rebids after 1m-1M-2NT - An easy method which allows responder to sign off or bid out pattern.

Lebensohl - An important competitive principle that can be used also in non competitive auctions

Weak no trump in standard bidding - a way of exerting more pressure on the opponents.

Mexican Two Diamonds - an opening bid of 2 diamonds showing a balanced 18-19 HCP. A structure of transfer responses is recommended to get the strong balanced hand as declarer.

Ekren Two Diamonds - an opening bid of 2 diamonds showing 5-10 HCP and at least 44 in the majors. A powerful tactical weapon and legal under ACBL rules.

Good-Bad 2NT or Weak must speak - two methods of showing various strength opening hands after 1x-1-bid-2 and related auctions. Both methods use a 2NT rebid by opener as artificial and forcing.

Kokish Convention - Used after a 2 opening in standard systems to provide more ways for opener to show balanced hands.

Two Way New Minor - A better method than ordinary new minor after the sequence 1m-1M-1NT

Choice of Contract

Major or NT - Tools for analyzing the decision whether to play 3NT or 4 of a major with an 8 card fit. Practical examples of how to do this with various conventions.

Hand Evaluation

Losing Trick Count - One of  the fundamental methods of evaluating hands, works in conjunction with cover cards on unbalanced hands

6421 Point Count - Assigning an Ace=6, King=4, Queen=2 and Jack=1 gives the most accurate method for suit contract hand evaluation.

Total Tricks - A key concept in competitive bidding.


135 Leads - Instead of the traditional fourth best leads, 135 leads is a superior method of providing the count in a suit immediately