Tracing the history of Relay Bids, one comes across several notable names in bridge history. The first Relay System was developed by Mr. Pierre Ghestem of France around the early 1950s. In 1972 Mr. Dave Cliff developed the Relay System to the extent that it was accepted by many bridge players around the world.
This web page only contains information about the definition of the relay bid, not its multiple applications.
The Relay System is a system based on the idea that one player should make one or a series of minimum bids, or relays, in order to acquire sufficient information about the hand of his partner to be able to place the final contract.
The Relay is continued by a bid by the Relayer, traditionally called the Captain, of the normally cheapest suit over the disclosure bid of his partner, traditionally called the Puppet.
The principle of Relays is therefore relatively simple. One must remember, however, that the Relay bid contains no information about the holding of the Relay bidder. And the responses can be manifold, artificial and complex.
Every bridge player uses a Relay System. Let us assume that North opens with 1 No Trump:
North East South 1 NT Pass 2
The 2 Clubs bid by South is: 1. the normally cheapest biddable suit over the disclosure bid of his partner. 2. completely artificial, informing partner nothing about the Club holdings. 3. forcing partner to describe his hand further. 4. establishing South as the Captain. 5. and therefore a relay bid.
Another example showing that the Relay System does not necessarily demand bidding the cheapest suit possible, the purpose of which is to save bidding space, follows.
The 4 No Trump bid of South is completely artificial, forces partner to further describe his hand, establishes South as Captain, and is a Relay bid.
In the above example it is noted that a series of Relay bids were used.
Further examples could be provided, but that would take up space. The Relay Principle should be clear to everyone. Remember, however, that conventions employing Relays should be made known to your opponents by including them on your Convention Card.
In conclusion, with Relay bids, the Captain and/or the Puppet can:
1. inform or ask about the distribution of the hand 2. inform or ask about the strength of the hand 3. inform or ask about key-control cards
Every bridge player should realize and recognize a Relay Bid, and use them, since a partnership can always reach the best contract only through the relayed information between the partners. It is of the utmost importance, however, that the use of the Relay bids should become a part of your written Partnership Agreement.