This conventional defense method was developed by Mr. Lewis L. Mathe, also generally known as Lew, Mathe, of Canoga Park, California, United States. He was born in 1915 and died on March 10, 1986. He is also the originator of Mathe Asking Bids. The main concept is a defense device against a strong 1 Club opening bid by the opposing opener, whereby a double shows a Major two-suited holding and a 1 No Trump immediate overcall promises both Minor suits. All other overcalls are natural.

Note: The bridge column of Mr. Alan Truscott summarized the importance of this bridge personality following his death on March 10, 1986. This bridge column has only been preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.

Note: Mr. Lewis L. Mathe was a leading proponent of the West Coast contract bridge style, in which bids and continuances, mainly straight-forward bids as opposed to artificial bids, are preferred to the more methodical bidding style as practiced and popularized by the players on the East Coast, who preferred the possibly more popular artificial bidding styles of the time.

Note: Mr. Lewis L. Mathe was born in Hungary, but emigrated to the United States as a young man. He served in the United States Army Air Force in World War II. After his military career he became fascinated with the mentally-challenging game of bridge and, during his career as a bridge player, won almost every major American bridge title.

Note: In the year 1968, Mr. Lewis L. Mathe, a real estate broker by profession, was elected Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Contract Bridge League and later became the Los Angeles representative on the League's Board of Directors. He also was a bridge correspondent for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. His additional accomplishments during his bridge career are too numerous to list on this web page.

     

The Mathe conventional bids are generally to be employed in the immediate seat following the strong, generally artificial 1 Club opening since the partner of the strong 1 Club bidder must respond with zero values.

Example 1
North   East (D)   South   West
    1 Club   Mathe bid   Pass

However, the Mathe conventional defense bids may also be employed in the fourth seat following a weak response by the partner of the opener, as in the following bidding sequence. However, as the bridge student can immediately realize, the Mathe bids must be accordingly adjusted to the bidding sequence.

North   East (D)   South   West    
    1 Club           Shows opening values.
        Pass   1 Diamonds   The responder indicates values insufficient for game.
Mathe bid               * As the student can realize a bid of 1 Diamond would be insufficient. * See Solutions.

Solutions

1. Per partnership agreement the Mathe bid can begin with 1 Heart (or 1 Spade), which will have the same meaning as the definition below, namely a natural bid showing at least a one-suited holding with at least a 5-card Heart suit.
2. Depending on the bid of the responder the partnership agreement can be to recognize the consumed Mathe bids and continue the auction per the outlined Mathe bids below. The following example should illustrate this principle.
North   East (D)   South   West    
    1 Club           Shows opening values.
        Pass   1 Hearts   The responder indicates values insufficient for game.
2 Diamonds               Mathe bid. The player in fourth seat makes a natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Diamonds. All continuations for the advancer, who has already passed, are per partnership agreement.
North
Q4
J73
AKJ762
98
               

Mathe Overcall Method

Double: Promises a two-suited holding in both Major suits. The distribution must be the equivalent of at least 5-4 by equal vulnerability and preferably 5-5 by unfavorable vulnerability. The point count should be fewer points than required for an opening bid. The advancer has but one forcing bid and that is 1 No Trump. The intervenor then names the suit. Any defense method of continuations following interference by the partner of the opener is a matter of partnership agreement.
1 Diamonds: A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Diamonds.
1 Hearts: A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Hearts.
1 Spades: A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Spades.
2 : A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Clubs.
1 NT: Shows a two-suited holding in both Minor suits.
2 Diamonds: A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Diamonds. The difference between this overcall and the 1Diamonds overcall is that this overcall on the two level promises a minimum of a 6-card Diamond suit and increased values. The evaluation may also be based on the Losing Trick Count method.
2 Hearts: A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Hearts. The difference between this overcall and the 1Hearts overcall is that this overcall on the two level promises a minimum of a 6-card Heart suit and increased values. The evaluation may also be based on the Losing Trick Count method.
2 Spades: A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Spades. The difference between this overcall and the 1Spades overcall is that this overcall on the two level promises a minimum of a 6-card Spade suit and increased values. The evaluation may also be based on the Losing Trick Count method.
3 : A natural bid, which promises a one-suited holding in Clubs. The difference between this overcall and the 1Clubs overcall is that this overcall on the two level promises a minimum of a 6-card Club suit and increased values. The evaluation may also be based on the Losing Trick Count method.

The concept behind the Mathe bids against a strong, artificial 1 Club opening bid is that the defense method allows for competition with very distribution holdings. These holdings should generally be bid as high as possible, not only for competitive purposes but also to obstruct the strong, artificial 1 Club opener from naming either suit or distribution comfortably. However, the competition via the Mathe conventional bids must be made on holdings, which fulfill adequately the established.

 

 

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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