A bidding system developed by Mr. Edgar Kaplan and Mr. Alfred Scheinwold based on opening five-card Major suits and weak No Trump openings. The system has the purpose of precisely limiting the strength shown by all bids during the auction. The main features of the system are listed below.

Mr. Edgar Kaplan was a bridge teacher, bridge writer of several publications regarding the game of bridge, Editor and Publisher of the magazine The Bridge World, and a bridge theorist in addition to being one of the pioneers of the game of bridge. As a side note he acquired The Bridge World in the year 1966. He continued to write for the magazine, contributing editorials and tournament reports. Despite his accomplishments in other areas the bridge community has remembered him particularly for the careful prose style he brought to The Bridge World, and also for his gift for the bon mots, the witticism, the humor he brought to not only the magazine, but also during tournaments around the world. He was born April 18, 1925 and died September 7, 1997.

Mr. Alfred Sheinwold, born January 26, 1912, and died March 8, 1997, was not only an experienced player on the highest level of the game, but also an administrator, author of various books about the game, developer of bidding methods and systems, and also served as captain for many of the American international teams representing the United States at international events.

He was born in London, England, and emigrated to the United States as a young man, worked with Mr. Ely Culbertson as Editor of The Bridge World in the year 1934 at the early age of twenty-two. He also served as Technical Editor, then Managing Editor, and then Senior Editor. He also chaired the National Laws Commission of the American Contract Bridge League from the year 1964 to the year 1975, the Appeals Committed of the ACBL from the year 1966 to the year 1970, and was the Editor of the ACBL Bulletin from the year 1952 to the year 1958.


Perhaps a deciding factor is that the Kaplan-Sheinwold point count is designed to account for many factors that the standard point count does not take into account, and that is the upgrading of Aces and Kings and the downgrading of Queens and Jacks. The Kaplan-Sheinwold system for counting also includes valuating for Tens and Nines, Honors in long suits, Honor with length, Honors in combination, etc. The fundamental outline for the count can be found below.

The Kaplan-Sheinwold Point Count is classified in three groups:

High Cards

Only the three highest cards in a suit count.

Ace: 3 points
King xx: 2 points
King: 0.5 points. Singleton is downgraded.
x Queen x: 1 point only if accompanied by the Ace or King of the same suit
Queen xx: 0.75 points if not accompanied by the Ace or King of the same suit
Queen x: 0.25 points
x Queen: 0.5 points if headed by the Ace or King of the same suit
Queen: 0.0 points. Singleton is downgraded
xx Jack: 0.5 points if preceded by two higher honors
x Jack: 0.25 points if preceded by one higher honor
Jack: 0.0 points. Singleton is downgraded
xx Ten: 0.25 points if preceded by two higher honors
x Ten-Nine: 0.25 points if followed by the Nine and preceded by an honor

Suit Quality

In the Kaplan-Sheinwold count, Goren Points are added for each suit:

Ace: 4 points
King: 3 points
Queen: 2 points
Jack: 1 point

These points are then multiplied by the number of cards in that particular suit, and then divided by the number 10.

Remember that each 10 spot counts as 1 point if under two or more higher honors or if preceded by the Jack in that suit. Otherwise, the 10 spot counts as 0.5 points before the multiplication of the suit length.

The 9 spot counts as 0.5, also before the multiplication, if directly preceded by the 10 spot of the same suit, or preceded by two or more higher honors in the same suit, or preceded by one higher honor and followed by the 8 spot of the same suit.

Important factors in determining the point count, using the suit quality, is to remember that this count is permitted for all suits containing six cards in length or less. In any suit, the length of which exceeds seven of more cards, then the 10 spot and the 9 spot are not counted. However, in determining the Kaplan-Sheinwold point count, a 7-card suit should be counted as if the Jack were present, and an 8-card suit should be counted as if the Queen were present, and a 9-card suit should be counted as if the King were present. These point counts are added to the total before the multiplication.


Distribution equals 4-3-3-3:   Points: minimum 0.5
Void:   3
Singleton:   2
Doubleton:   1

Hint: Drop the first Distributional Point

Opening Bids

Mr. Edgar Kaplan and Mr. Alfred Scheinwold developed, in their system, a concept for opening bids, which had to meet certain requirements. These are presented in their original form below, and it should be noted that they established that a Minor suit could contain a 3-card suit but a Major suit opening should contain a 5-card suit.

Bid   Strength   Meaning
1 :   12-21 high card points   Promises a 3-card plus Club suit.
1 :   12-21 high card points   Promises a 3-card plus Diamond suit.
1 :   12-21 high card points   Promises a 5-card plus Heart suit.
1 :   12-21 high card points   Promises a 5-card plus Spade suit.
1 NT:   12-14 high card points   Balanced shape.
2 :   22+ high card points   Any shape.
2 :   8-11 high card points   Promises 6 Diamonds.
2 :   7-10 high card points   Promises 6 Hearts.
2 :   7-10 high card points   Promises 6 Spades.
2NT:   21-22 high card points   Balanced shape.

Weak No Trump Opening

1. When opening a Weak No Trump with 12-14 high card points the restrictions on the range was expanded to include an 11 high card point hand with 2.5 to 3 quick tricks and on an upper range of 15 high card points with less than 2 quick tricks.
    a. any response of 2 Diamonds, 2 Hearts, 2 Spades, 3 Clubs and 3 Diamonds are deemed weak sign-off responses.
    b. a response of 2 Clubs followed by a Minor suit rebid is strong and is one-round forcing.
    c. other responses are considered standard, with non-forcing Stayman.
    d. a response of 2 Clubs followed by a jump to 3 Hearts or 3 Spades is forcing and indicates a more unbalanced pattern than an immediate jump.
    e. whether doubled or not doubled, the responder should avoid the final contract of 1 No Trump with less than 5 high card points, generally responding 2 Clubs or 2 Diamonds.
    f. if the opening is overcalled, the responder should double, which is negative, and a bid of a new suit at the Three Level is at least one-round forcing.
2. Any Minor Suit opening is considered sound and any holding with 3 quick tricks must be opened. If the holding is balanced and contains 15-17 high card points and there is no 5-card Major suit, then the hand is opened with a Minor suit. A rebid of 1 No Trump then shows a balanced holding of 15-17 high card points. A rebid of 2 No Trump after a Minor suit opening promises a balanced holding with 18-20 high card points.
  Note: If the opener raises any Major suit bid by the responder, then this shows 15-17 support points. A double raise of the Major suit bid by the responder promises 18-19 support points, and a triple raise of the Major suit bid by the responder guarantees 20-21 support points.
  Note: It is important to remember that the support points improve by the opener, when responding, depending on the distribution of the holding. And it is recommended that a maximum unbalanced hand first jumps or employs a jump shift before raising the Major suit bid by the responder.
After a Minor suit opening, the responder bids a Major suit, if possible. Any reverse bid by the opener is a one-round forcing bid. However, a 3 No Trump rebid shows a solid Minor suit with outside stoppers in the two unbid suits.
After a Minor suit opening, any single or double raise of that Minor suit by the responder are features of the Inverted Minor Suit Raises. This means that any single raise is one-round forcing and a double raise is purely preemptive. A response of 1 No Trump shows a range of 5-8 high card points, and a response of 2 No Trump shows a range of 12-15 high card points with no biddable 4-card Major suit. Any response in the other Minor suit, even 1 Diamond - 2 Clubs, promises a balanced 9-11 high card points and no biddable 4-card Major suit.
In the case that the opening bid is doubled by the immediate opponent, then a) a redouble shows a strong raise, b) any and all raises are preemptive in nature, c) takeout bids retain their original meanings.
In competition, the opener may raise the Major suit bid of the responder with only 3-card support, otherwise only with 4-card support. Also in competition only, a jump shift by the responder is preemptive in nature.
3. Negative Double is a fundamental feature of the Kaplan-Sheinwold system.
4. Five-Card Majors is almost basic, but the strength may vary since a holding with 9 high card points and with equivalent quick-trick and playing-trick ability may be opened. The evaluation of the holding is sometimes more important than adding up the high card points. Allowance is also made for a 4-card Major suit opening which is exceptionally strong in honors, which should then be concentrated in two suits. However, the minimum requirement of high card points should be maintained and not stretched or fudged.
  Note: All 1 No Trump Responses to a Major Suit Opening are played as forcing.
  Note: In the Kaplan-Sheinwold bidding system, limit jump raises are a standard feature. Although limit raises have been refined since the original conception, the similarities are basic. Limit jump raises were originally a feature of the Acol bidding system and were incorporated in the Kaplan-Sheinwold bidding system, and have become almost standard for most partnerships. Limit jump raises were also originally a feature of the Culbertson System, but lost popularity and were abandoned around 1934. They were introduced again around 1948 as part of the Culbertson System, but only for the Minor suits.
  Using Limit Jump Raises in the Kaplan-Sheinwold System:
    a. a 2 No Trump response is standard.
    b. a 3 No Trump response is employed instead of the standard strong jump raise.
    c. a Minor suit response promises 12-13 high card points unless the responder rebids a Minor suit, promising only a semi-solid suit headed by the Ace.
    d. a delayed raise for the opener or a 2 No Trump rebid is game-forcing.
5. Opening Psychic Bids are generally lead-directing bids. However, this psychic bid shows an acceptable suit with a top honor, but only 2-6 high card points. Any jump shift by the responder is forcing and the opener must rebid his suit or No Trump, and the choice signifies that whichever rebid is chosen, this rebid is then the cheapest bid possible for the opener. Psychic bids in the Kaplan-Sheinwold System are generally reserved when the partnership is not vulnerable, even in competition.
6. Weak Two Bids require 1,5 to 2 quick tricks and a semi-solid suit in either First or Second position. A single raise by the responder is considered preemptive, and any other responses by an unpassed hand are considered to be one-round forcing. A response of 2 No Trump asks the opener to rebid a side honor.
7. Strong, artificial 2 Clubs openings is the only forcing opening bid. And response of 2 Diamonds is negative. The auction may be completed if the opener rebids 2 No Trump or bids and rebids one suit only. The responder can stop the auction below game with a bust hand.
8. Any 3 No Trump opening promises a 2 No Trump range of 20-22 high card points but with a long solid Minor suit.
9. Cuebids, under a game contract, are employed to suggest a slam possibility, but, above a game contract, are employed to ask about an unbid suit. Any subsequent bid of 4 No Trump is a natural slam invitation.
10. Gerber is employed over No Trump openings.
11. Blackwood is employed, if the auction sequence provides information that a slam is a possibility.
12. The Grand Slam Force, developed by Mr. Ely Culbertson, is employed to seek a grand slam. After the partnership discovers that a slam is a certainty, and that a grand slam is a possibility, a bid of 5 No Trump by either partner is asking the responder to bid a grand slam if he holds two of the top three trump honors.
13. Roman Asking Bids are incorporated into the Kaplan-Sheinwold System and are an integral feature of the Roman System and it must be noted that both bidding systems limit the use of the Asking Bids to Jump Bids, which would otherwise be meaningless or impart no logical information.
14. Takeout Doubles are employed to emphasize the distribution and there is a limit of no less than three cards in the unbid suits permitted with the high card point range of at least an opening. A cuebid by the responder is considered to be the only forcing response.
15. Overcalls equal an opening bid or better, and the responder bids naturally.
16. Weak Jump Overcalls contain generally 1.5 quick tricks.
17. A 1 No Trump overcall promises a balanced range of 17-19 high card points. If the responder bids any suit at the two level, then this response is also a sign-off. A cuebid of the opening suit is Stayman, but only if the opening suit is a Minor suit.
18. Other features of the Kaplan-Sheinwold System include: Short Suit Game Tries - Fragment Bids - Roman 2 Diamonds, plus other methods.

Additional Information

For a more detailed compilation of the Kaplan-Sheinwold System, please refer to the following by Mr. Moty Katzman, written September 16, 1998. This .pdf file will be automatically be opened by your browser in a new window. The bidding system presented in this document is a variation on the Kaplan-Sheinwold System, The basic structure is similar to the Kaplan-Sheinwold System as described in Kaplan-Sheinwold Revised, based on notes from 1972.

The Kaplan-Sheinwold System was influential in advocating the game of bridge and gained enormous popularity. Although the system is now old by certain standards, the system is still being played by many partnerships. However, the development of newer bidding concepts have captured the imagination of the bridge community, but many features of this bidding system remain incorporated in many bridge partnerships.



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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