Martelsby Control Showing Responses

The basic concept is designated as Control Showing Responses (also Step Responses) to a Strong, Artificial 2 Clubs opening. These original responses should be viewed first and then the variation and/or version as suggested by Mr. Charles U. Martel, (aka Chip), of Davis, California, United States, and Mr. Lewis Stansby, (aka Lew), of Castro Valley, California, United States. The designation is a combination of the surname Martel and the last syllable of the surname of Stansby. It is pronounced as bee as opposed to bye.

 

Their version combines not only the opportunity to show the number of controls held by partner after a strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening, but also the actual suit, in which the controls are located. The first obligation of the responder is to show the number of controls as described in the following schema. As in the basic concept, in which no definite number or range of high card points are specified but rather inferred, the Martelsby Responses also do not include a definite number or range of high card points.

The foundation of the conventional method is to count each Ace as 2 Controls and each King as 1 Control.

2 : Shows 0 or 1 Control.
2 : Shows 2 Controls.
2 : Promises an unspecified 5-card plus suit headed by a minimum of 2 top honors, such as: AK, AQ, KQ.
2 NT: Shows 3 Controls.
3 : Shows 4 Controls.
3 : Shows 5 Controls.

With a 2 first response the opener knows, by inference, that the responder is weak in values holding zero controls or possibly one King. With a 2 first response the opener knows that the responder has moderate values and holds either one Ace or two Kings. With a 2NT first response the opener knows that the responder has extra values and holds either one Ace and one King or three Kings. And so on.

With a first response of 2 and/or 2, then the opener should show either the intended suit or No Trump to indicate the preferred contract. With a first response of 2 the opener may decide to investigate further and request that the responder show the 5-card plus suit. However, if the opener decides to bid No Trump, then the responder is able to employ a transfer bid, as shown in the following bidding sequence:

Opener   Responder   Meaning
2       Strong, artificial Two Clubs opening.
    2   Showing 0 or 1 Control.
2 NT       Showing generally a range between values for a 2 No Trump opening and values for a 3 No Trump opening. The trick taking capability of the holding is normally 4 or fewer Losing Tricks or 8.5/9 playing tricks.
    3   This rebid by responder becomes now a transfer bid to Hearts, showing at least a 5-card Heart suit. The reason the responder did not reply 2 first is the fact that this Heart suit is not headed by two of the top honors.
  3   This rebid by responder becomes now a transfer bid to Spades, showing at least a 5-card Spade suit. The reason the responder did not reply 2 first is the fact that this Spade suit is not headed by two of the top honors.

 

With a 2 first response, showing un unspecified 5-card plus suit with two top honors, then the opener can ask for the specific suit held by the responder. The responder will rebid the lower-ranking suit to show the actual suit. The reason behind this concept is that the responder should preferably not become the declarer and therefore should not be the first player to mention that suit. However, it is sometimes unavoidable that the responder becomes the declarer.

Opener   Responder   Meaning
2       Strong, artificial Two Clubs opening.
    2   Promises an unspecified 5-card plus suit headed by a minimum of 2 top honors, such as: AK, AQ, KQ.
2 NT       Requests responder to name the 5-card plus suit.
    3   The 5-card plus suit of the responder is the higher-ranking suit, Diamonds.
    3   The 5-card plus suit of the responder is the higher-ranking suit, Hearts.
  3   The 5-card plus suit of the responder is the higher-ranking suit, Spades.
  3   The 5-card plus suit of the responder is the higher-ranking suit, Clubs.

 

These first responses after a strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening allow the opener to bid the intended suit and to become the declarer. An example follows, which shows the bidding sequence after the responder has promised an unspecified 5-card plus suit. However, on rare occasions, such as a result of the following bidding sequence, the responder actually becomes the declarer:

Opener
Responder
Meaning
AJ6
AKQJ8
K875
A
 
KQ9874
63
96
J104
2
Strong, artificial Two Clubs opening.
2 Promises an unspecified 5-card plus suit headed by a minimum of 2 top honors, such as: AK, AQ, KQ. (To actually name the Spade suit, the responder must first bid the Spade suit.)
2 NT Requests responder to name the 5-card plus suit. The decision by the opener NOT to rebid Hearts is logical since the opener has at least 2 of the other 3 unnamed suits, Spades and Diamonds. The probability is high that responder has one of these two suits.
3 The 5-card plus suit of the responder is the higher-ranking suit, Spades.
6 The opener can bid the small slam, which opener knows will make since opener holds Ace-Jack and responder holds King-Queen. Or the opener can employ Blackwood, etc. to discover the number of Aces and/or Keycards, and then establish the level of the final contract.

The reader can visualize that the small slam contract can easily be defeated if the first player to lead places a Diamond on the table and the partner holds Ace-Queen. We leave it to the reader to calculate the probability of this action as opposed to another lead, and whether or not any bridge player would decide not to bid the small slam.

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.




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