This concept or conventional method arose originally in the bridge community, whereby the partnership could distinguish, via a particular bidding sequence, which, upon employment, would determine whether the responder has a 5-card Major suit.
Note: The designation is also known as The Montreal Relay system, but the inclusion of the word system in the designation is exaggerated since the devised concept constitutes only a conventional approach.
Note: This article was first published in The Bridge World Volume 45, Number 11, in August 1974. This article has only been archived and presrved on this site in .pdf file format for future purposes.
The concept is that only when the opening is 1 Club and the first response is 1 Diamond, then the responder does not hold a 5-card Major suit. The first response of 1 Diamond then becomes an artificial bid.
Conversely, if the opening bid is 1 Club, and the first response is a Major suit, then the responder is promising at least a 5-card Major suit. All continuations in the bidding auction are then generally or even solely based on partnership agreement.
This concept is based on the fact that the opener must bid 1 Club when holding no 5-card Major suit. This means, as a consequence, that the opener may open a holding with 1 Club even if the distribution is theoretically 4-4-4-1Club or even 4-4-5Diamonds-0Clubs.
After the concept found some popularity, Mr. Eric Kokish developed and devised a continuation of bidding, which is based on this concept. Mr. Eric Kokish published an article in the publication The Bridge World, August, 1974, Volume 45, No. 11, called The Montreal Relay.
Note: This article authored by Mr. Eric Kokish has only been preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format for future reference. This contribution of Lynn Wardell is greatly appreciated, especially since it benefits all readers and visitors.
Whether or not Mr. Eric Kokish addressed the issue that the opener is required to hold a minimum of at least 2 cards in the Club suit is unknown. This requirement, however, is fundamental so that the responder may have the opportunity to bid 1 Diamond in the case that he does not hold a 5-card Major suit.
Note: According to Mr. Eric Kokish this concept was developed mainly for beginning bridge players, who wished to distinguish between being able to show on the one level a 4-card Major suit and a 5-card Major suit when responding to an opening by partner. His published article with the original developed concept, however, became the foundation of several variations.
The rebids by the opener after a 1 Diamond first response following a 1 Club opener are shown below. It is only in this particular bidding sequence that the Montreal Relay method can be employed.
Not all rebids by the opener appear in the published article, but are rather filled in according to the explanations provided in the published article.
Note: if any visitor has the original publication as issued by The Bridge World, we would appreciate any additional information not correctly presented on this web page.
North East South West Meaning 1 Pass North denies a 5-card Major suit and does not have sufficient values or too many values to open No Trump. 1 Pass South denies a 5-card Major suit. Artificial and alertable. The responder promises only sufficient values to respond. 1 Promises a 4-card Heart suit. A 5-card Heart suit would have been opened with 1 Heart. 1 Promises a 4-card Spade suit. A 5-card Spade suit would have been opened with 1 Spade. 1 NT Promises a holding with no 4-card Major suit, opening values, and no 6-card Club suit. Possible distribution: 3-3-4-3, 3-2-4-4, 3-2-3-5, etc. 2 Promises at least a 6-card Club suit since the opening of 1 Club could have been systemically made with a 2-card Club suit. 2 Promises reversing values of 15/16 plus high card points with a minimum of 5 Clubs and 4 Diamonds distribution. 2 Promises reversing values of 15/16 plus high card points with a minimum of 5 Clubs and 4 Hearts distribution. 2 Promises reversing values of 15/16 plus high card points with a minimum of 5 Clubs and 4 Spades distribution. 2 NT Promises values of 17/18-19 high card points with no 4-card Major suit and balanced distribution. A normal No Trump opening with 15-17 high card points would have been opened with 1 No Trump, not 1 Club. Possible Continuances* 3 A Splinter bid showing a singleton or void in Diamonds. 3 A Splinter bid showing a singleton or void in Hearts. 3 A Splinter bid showing a singleton or void in Spades.
*Mr. Eric Kokish subsequently suggested the possible introduction of splinter bids as a continuation of the bidding auction and any jump rebid by the opener to 3, 3, or 3 is considered to be a Splinter bid showing a singleton or void in the named suit, but this continuation is based solely on partnership agreement.
When using this method of Montreal Relay, an opening in a Major suit always promises at least a 5-card plus suit. If the opening suit is 1 Diamond, then the opener is always promising at least a 4-card plus Diamond suit.
Examples as Clarification
Example 1 North East South Meaning
AJ98 KQ54 K54 75
1 Pass With a 4-4-3-2 distribution, no 4-card Diamond suit, North must open the auction with 1 Club. An opening of 1 Club should be announced with the words: 'could be short'.
Example 2 North East South Meaning
AJ98 KQ54 74 875
KQ3 1076 QJ86 J92 1 Pass With no 5-card Major suit and no 4-card Diamond suit, North is forced systemically to open the auction with 1 Club. 1 With no 5-card Major suit the responder is forced systemically to first respond 1 Diamond. Note: With a 5-card Heart or Spade suit, then the responder would first bid either 1 Heart or 1 Spade. If the responder has 5 cards in both Major suits, then the responder bids first the lower-ranking Major suit.
Example 3 North East South Meaning
AK98 KQ54 4 AK83
KQ3 1076 QJ86 J92 1 Pass With no 5-card Major suit and no 4-card Diamond suit, North is forced systemically to open the auction with 1 Club. 1 With no 5-card Major suit the responder is forced systemically to first respond 1 Diamond. With a 5-card Heart or Spade suit, then the responder would first bid either 1 Heart or 1 Spade. If the responder has 5 cards in both Major suits, then the responder bids first the lower-ranking Major suit. 3 With a jump rebid the opener is able to show a singleton or void in the Diamond suit via a Splinter bid. Note: This Splinter bid does not by-pass 3 No Trump making 3 NT a possible contract. The Splinter bid informs partner that values are held for game and should show a minimum of 18 high card points or a total of 4-5 Losing Tricks. A mild slam interest. (Note: To be employed only by previous partnership agreement.)
Note: This published article does not explain the continuances after immediate interference, either double, a suit bid, or a preemptive bid, and it is left to the partnership to devise a defense method.
Note: The student of the Montreal Relay by Mr. Eric Kokish should also view and review the issue of BridgeNews, Volume 1, Issue 1, of November, 2006 of The Villages Duplicate Bridge Club. This article has also been archived and preserved on this site in .pdf file format for future reference. An article contained therein is titled Montreal Relay Bids and is provided by Mr. Neil H. Timm. This is a .pdf file and should load automatically. The Villages Duplicate Bridge Club is in central Florida and is located in District 9, Unit 128, and is supported on the Internet by BridgeScore.com.
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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