The origin of this conventional method is attributed to the suggestion of Mr. William (Bill) Cole to the the Woolsey-Manfield partnership, which consisted of Mr. Christopher R. Woolsey, (aka Kit pictured below), and Mr. Edward A. Manfield, (aka Ed pictured below). Mr. Kit Woolsey published a two-part series on the Cole convention in The Bridge World magazine March 1991, pages 16-18 and April 1991, pages 16-20.

     
     

Principle of the Concept

The Cole conventional method is basically a rebidding system permitting the partnership to accurately describe certain distributional holdings plus showing the range of values. CMC.

It should be first and foremost mentioned that the concept is not employed once the opponents decide to compete and make either an immediate or indirect overcall. If a call of a double has not interfered with the conventional method, then the conventional method may be played as systems on. The Cole convention was devised to be employed in a non-competitive auction. The Cole convention also is applicable even after one partner, normally the responder, has previously passed.

The Cole conventional method is used in the following bidding sequences, especially when the opening is in a Minor suit and the first response is in a Major suit:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Advancer
First bidding sequence
1   Pass   1   Pass
Second bidding sequence
1   Pass   1   Pass
Third bidding sequence
1   Pass   1   Pass
Fourth bidding sequence
1   Pass   1   Pass
Fifth bidding sequence
1   Pass   1   Pass

The last bidding sequence is not part of the original article, but may be included by the partnership if so desired.

In all of the above bidding sequences the rebid of the opener, using the Cole convention, is 2 Clubs. This rebid of 2 Clubs has multiple meanings and the partnership, via continuances, discovers what they are. Generally the responder will rebid a 2 relay, which is absolutely artificial and is an asking bid. The opener must continue to clarify his holding. There are other circumstances whereby the responder will not relay but make a second descriptive bid, which is not a relay bid. Under these circumstances the guidelines of the Cole convention are no longer apply and are no longer in effect.

Meanings of the 2 Clubs Rebid

The multiple meanings of the 2 rebid of the opener are discussed below. The following explanations should suffice to clarify the significance of each bid.

First: Minimum Raise or Suit of Responder

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass     Cole convention
        2   Pass Relay bid.
2 /   Pass         Shows a limit raise in Hearts/Spades but with only a 3-card support. If the opener had a 4-card Heart suit, then the opener would have supported the responder with the first rebid of 2.
        Pass   Pass By passing the responder shows minimum values and a 5-card plus Heart suit.
2 /   Pass   2 NT   Pass This is a Puppet by the responder for the opener to rebid 3/, the original opened Minor suit, and shows only a 4-card Heart suit.
3 /   Pass   Pass   Pass

This principle applies to all possible bidding sequences as shown above, whether the opening is either Minor suit and the first response is either Major suit.

Second: 1 Club Opening May Mean Long Club Suit

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass     Cole convention
    2   Pass Relay bid.
3   Pass         Promises a long Club suit of 7 cards plus or a 6-card solid Club suit. Shows sufficient values to bid on the three level.
        2 /     1. If the responder rebids the Major suit, then this is natural and also forcing for one round. If the responder had an invitational holding, the responder would have jumped one level by the first response to show these values instead of using the relay.
2. If the responder had an invitational holding, the responder would have jumped one level by the first response to show these values instead of using the relay.

Third: 1 Diamond Opening May Mean 5-5 plus in Both Minor Suits

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1   Pass   1 /   Pass
3   Pass         Cole convention. The opener promises at least a 5-5 distribution in both Minors. This is shown by jumping one level. With minimum values and Club support the responder will pass. With minimum values and Diamond support the responder will correct to Diamonds. All other rebids by the responder are considered game forcing, either No Trump or suit.

Example:

Opener Responder
AQ
5
AQ764
Q9865
 
1053
KJ1096
KJ98
4
1 1
3 3

Fourth: Rebid Shows No Trump Range and Unbalanced Distribution

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass Cole convention.
  2 Relay bid.
2 NT Shows No Trump range and unbalanced distribution. Does not show a singleton.
Following this sequence the responder has several options:
1. If the responder rebids the original Minor suit of the opener, then this is a sign-off.
2. If the responder rebids, without jumping, the Major suit, then this is one-round forcing.
3. If the responder rebids either 3 or 3, the original Minor suit opening, then the responder is requesting opener to define the distribution. The possible options for the opener are shown below:
   
a. 3 shows a maximum Heart holding. If the responder first bid Hearts, then this bid shows a maximum of a 2-card Heart support. If the responder first bid Spades, then this bid shows a maximum of a 4-card Spade support. An immediate support of the Major suit of the responder would show minimum support.
b. 3 shows a distribution of 1-3-3-6 with a 6-card unnamed Minor suit.
c. 3NT shows either a distribution of 5-4-2-2 or 5-4-3-1.

Continuances Showing Possible Distribution

Other possible distributions, which do not fall within the parameters of the above described distributions, are shown in the following manner. It should be remembered that a raise of the Major suit of the responder shows and promises a 4-card support as opposed to a limit raise via the Cole convention, which shows and promises only a 3-card support. If the limit raise is not suitable for the responder, then the continuances communicate the following information. These two possible auctions are shown first to illustrate and clarify:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1   Pass
2   Pass Promises a 4-card Heart support.
  2   Pass Artificial relay bid asking for clarification of distribution and values.
               
Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent  
1 /   Pass   1   Pass  
2   Pass         Promises a 4-card Spade support.
        2 NT   Pass Artificial relay bid asking for clarification of distribution and values.

Suggestions by the Authors

Mr. Christopher R. (Kit) Woolsey and Mr. Edward (Ed) A. Mansfield proposed the following guidelines for these possible bidding sequences, all of which are artificial, to describe not only the distribution but also the values. The student should be alert as to which bidding sequence is meant (either minor suit - either Major suit) and to that particular suit continuance, otherwise the continuing artificial bids will become confusing.

1 Step: 2NT/3 shows a 4-4-3-2 distribution with a doubleton in the other Minor suit.

The responder continues to employ relay bids requesting further information:

1 Step: shows a minimum holding and a lower 4-card suit.

2 Steps: shows a minimum holding and a higher 4-card suit.

3 Steps: shows a maximum holding and a lower 4-card suit.

4 Steps: shows a maximum holding and a higher 4-card suit.

2 Steps: 3 / shows a 4-4-3-2 distribution with a doubleton in the other Major suit.

The responder continues to employ relay bids requesting additional information about the strength of the holding:

1 Step: shows minimum values.

2 Steps: shows maximum values.

3 Steps: 3/3 shows a distribution of 5-4-2-2 and minimum values.

4 Steps: 3/3 shows a distribution of 4-3-3-3 and minimum values.

5 Steps: 3/3NT shows a distribution of 4-3-3-3 and maximum values.

6 Steps: 3NT/4 shows an unspecified singleton.

The responder continues to employ relay bids requesting identification of the suit singleton:

1 Step: shows a lower suit singleton.

2 Steps: shows a higher suit singleton.

7 Steps: 4/4 shows a distribution of 5-4-2-2 and maximum values.

8 Steps: 4/4 shows a void in the lower suit.

9 Steps: 4/4 shows shows a void in the higher suit.

The Concept is Flexible

The flexibility of the Cole convention is useful for the opener to show support for the suit of the responder since the opener is able to force the responder to rebid or relay. Also, when adopting the Cole convention the partnership does not surrender the possibility of reversing or jump shifting to show a particular distribution and/or a strong holding. The individual players should share experience and should remember the particular bidding sequences, since a misstep will otherwise cause immediate confusion, which can seldom be corrected.

In the following bidding sequences the opener can provide additional information about the holding:

Bidding Sequence 1:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass Cole convention.
  2   Pass Relay bid.
4   Pass         This rebid by the opener is similar to a Splinter bid showing a singleton (not a void) in the other Minor suit, and game forcing values.
4   Pass         This rebid by the opener is similar to a Splinter bid showing a singleton (not a void) in the other Major suit, and game forcing values.

Bidding Sequence 2:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass Promises a 4-card Spade support.
  2   Pass Relay bid.
2 OM   Pass The opener rebids the other Major suit (OM), which is one-round forcing. The responder relays.
  2 NT   Pass Second relay bid.
4   Pass         This rebid by the opener is similar to a Splinter bid showing a void (not a singleton) in the other Minor suit, and game forcing values.
4   Pass         This rebid by the opener is similar to a Splinter bid showing a void (not a singleton) in the other Major suit, and game forcing values.
Note: Additional clarifying bids are shown below.

Mr. Christopher R. (Kit) Woolsey and Mr. Edward (Ed) A. Mansfield developed their conventional method and included several definite bidding sequences with precise information. In some bidding sequences the partnership has to continue to relay in order to discover additional pertinent information about distribution and values. These bidding sequences are shown below:

Bidding Sequence 1:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass Cole convention.
  2   Pass Relay bid.
3   Pass         Jump rebid. With this particular bidding sequence the opener promises 1. a game forcing holding, 2. a solid (not unbroken) bid Minor suit, AND 3. a singleton in the LOWER ranking unbid suit.
        3   Pass The responder relays and asks whether or not the opener has a 3-card support for his bid Major suit.

Bidding Sequence 2:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass Cole convention.
  2   Pass Relay bid.
3   Pass         Jump rebid. With this particular bidding sequence the opener promises 1. a game forcing holding, 2. a solid (not unbroken) bid Minor suit, AND 3. a singleton in the HIGHER ranking unbid suit.
        4   Pass The responder relays and asks whether or not the opener has a 3-card support for his bid Major suit.

Bidding Sequence 3:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2   Pass         Cole convention.
        2   Pass Relay bid.
3 NT   Pass         Jump rebid. With this particular bidding sequence the opener promises 1. a game forcing holding, 2. a solid (not unbroken) bid Minor suit, AND 3. a singleton in the Major suit bid by the responder. This bidding sequence is preferred by the developers to show a holding with approximately ten playing tricks and is therefore too strong for a direct jump to 3 No Trump.

Additional clarifying bids to the bidding sequence when the opener rebids the Other Major of the responder, as illustrated for other purposes above:

Opener   Opponent   Responder   Opponent Meaning
1 /   Pass   1 /   Pass
2             Cole convention.
        2   Pass Relay bid.
2 OM   Pass         The opener rebids the other Major suit (OM), which is one-round forcing. The responder relays.
        2 NT   Pass Second relay bid.
Continuations
3   Pass        
A. When the original suit of the opener is 1 Club, then this rebid shows 1. minimum values, 2. a 4-card side suit ranking next below the Major suit of the responder.
B. When the original suit of the opener is 1 Diamond AND the response is 1 Heart, then this bid is 1. game forcing, 2. promises either 6 Diamonds plus 4 Clubs OR 5 Diamonds plus 4 Clubs PLUS 3-card support for the Heart suit of responder.
C. When the original suit of the opener is 1 Diamond AND the response is 1 Spade, then the sequence may also show a minimum of 6 Diamonds and 4 Hearts.
3   Pass         This rebid by the opener is invitational and shows a distribution of 6-3-3-1. The rebid also promises a 3-card support for the Major suit bid by the responder. When the opening bid is 1 Diamond, then the distribution of the opener is possibly 5 Diamonds-4 Clubs-3 Responder's Major suit. This rebid almost always promises a SINGLETON.
        3   Pass Relay bid asking the opener to identify the singleton.
             
3:
Shows a singleton in the Minors.
3NT:
Shows a singleton in the other Major suit.
        3 / 3 NT     If the responder does not ask for the singleton, then these bids by the responder are to play.
3   Pass         This rebid is 1. game forcing, 2. shows a distribution of 6-3-3-1, AND 3. promises a 3-card support in the Major suit of the responder. This rebid almost always promises a SINGLETON.
        3   Pass Relay bid asking the opener to identify the singleton.
             
3NT:
Shows a singleton in the Minors.
4:
Shows a singleton in the other Major suit.
3   Pass         When the opening is 1 Diamond, then this rebid promises a game forcing, two-suited 5-5 or 6-5 distribution in both Minor suits.
3 NT   Pass         This rebid promises an invitational bid with the opened Minor suit containing a 6-card suit. It also generally promises at least a 3-card support for the Major suit of the responder and a 2-card suit in the other unbid Minor.

 

 

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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