Sharples Convention

This conventional method was devised by Mr. James Watson Sharples, born in the year 1908 and died in the year 1985, and his twin brother Mr. Robert Boake Sharples, born in the year 1908 and died in the year 1999, both of Caterham, England.

The Sharples convention is Stayman-esque in nature and is employed after a No Trump opening by partner when the responder holds only one 4-card Major and one or both 4-card Minor suits. The responder, after becoming captain, expects slam possibilities, especially if a 4-4 fit in a Minor suit can be established.

The Sharples method is an extension of the Stayman convention and allows the partnership to explore first of all for a fit in a Major suit, and, if no fit is found, then to attempt to find a fit in a Minor suit. The main feature of this convention is that the responder has such a holding of 4-1-4-4 or 4-2-3-4 and sufficient values to warrant not only game but also to strongly indicate slam possibilities.

The concept is originally used with No Trump ranges between 16 and 18 high card points, but the concept can also be employed using other No Trump ranges.

Note: This conventional method is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Sharples 4 Clubs or Sharples 4 Diamonds, or Sharples 4 or Sharples 4.

 

The following bidding sequence illustrates the application of the Sharples convention. The bidding auction proceeds normally.

North     South   Meaning
1 NT     2   The responder will first attempt by the Stayman convention to find a fit in a Major suit.
AJ
KJ94
K108
AJ104
   
KQ75
7
AQ93
KQ98
   
2         Promises a 4-card Heart suit.
      4   The responder now employs the Sharples convention to find a Minor suit fit by promising a 4-card plus Club suit. This bidding sequence does not deny a 4-card Diamond suit. It is essential that the partnership bid the lower-ranking 4-card Minor suit when holding both. See holding above.
           
      4   The responder will bypass the Club suit when holding 3 or fewer Clubs and bid Diamonds to show a 4-card plus Diamond suit in addition to the 4-card Spade suit. See holding below.
     
KQ75
75
AQ93
KQ9
   

The No Trump bidder now has the information that the responder holds a 4-card Spade suit and a 4-card Club and/or Diamond suit and is showing slam interest in a Minor suit.

It is important to note that a jump to 4 Diamonds by the responder denies holding a 4-card Club suit. Therefore the distribution of the responder is most likely 4-2-4-3 or 4-3-4-2. Do not mistake the distribution when the responder jumps to 4 Clubs and assume that his distribution is 4-2-3-4. The responder could have both 4-card Minor suits when jumping to 4 Clubs and therefore his distribution would be 4-1-4-4.

This jump is significant because it also imparts to the No Trump bidder that the partnership is strong enough to play at least in 4 No Trump.

 

Rebids by the No Trump Bidder

If the No Trump bidder holds a 4-card suit in that particular Minor suit, then:

1. The No Trump bidder should raise the suit of the responder, either 5 Clubs or 5 Diamonds, if his No Trump opening is minimum.
2. The No Trump bidder should bid on the six level the suit of the responder, either 6 Clubs or 6 Diamonds, if his No Trump opening is maximum.

If the No Trump bidder does not hold a 4-card suit in that particular Minor suit, then:

1. The No Trump bidder should bid a 4-card suit at the four level, if possible.
2. The No Trump bidder should bid 4 No Trump if he can not show another 4-card suit at the four level, if minimum.
3. The No Trump bidder should bid 5 No Trump if he can not show another 4-card suit at the four level, if maximum.

 

The following example illustrates how the partnership can bid a Minor suit slam using the Sharples convention.

North     South   Meaning
1 NT     2   The responder will first attempt by the Stayman convention to find a fit in a Major suit.
A1085
K9
KQ87
A107
   
8
QJ106
AJ94
KQJ6
   
2         Promises a 4-card Heart suit.
      4   The responder now employs the Sharples convention to find a Minor suit fit by promising a 4-card plus Club suit. This bidding sequence does not deny a 4-card Diamond suit. It is essential that the partnership bid the lower-ranking 4-card Minor suit when holding both.
4         Denies a 4-card Club suit but promises a 4-card Diamond suit. Holding neither the No Trump bidder would rebid 4 No Trump.
      4 NT   The responder attempts a Minor suit slam in Diamonds since there is confirmation that there is a 4-4 fit.
5 (x)         The No Trump bidder shows either 2 Aces or 3 Keycards (with Diamonds as the trump suit.)
      6   The responder bids the Diamond suit slam.

 

As a defense method immediately after, or in the pass-out Seat, the Sharples convention can also be employed against a No Trump opening by the opponents. See: Sharples Against No Trump Opening.

 

 

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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