These opening bids were devised, revised and developed by Mr. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt in the early pioneer days of the game of bridge. He was born July 6, 1894 and died July 4, 1970, and was of Newport, Rhode Island, United States. Mr. Harold S. Vanderbilt was a member of the Laws Committee of the Whist Club of New York, which compiled and published the American Laws of Contract Bridge (1927, 1931) and the first International Code (1932).

He then became Chairman of that Laws Committee and largely drafted the International Code of 1935, the American Code of 1943, and the International Codes of 1948 and 1949. He remained Co-Chairman of the National Laws Commission of the American Contract Bridge League for the 1963 Laws.

Mr. Harold S. Vanderbilt took up the game of bridge seriously in the year 1906, and his partnership with Mr. Joseph Browne Elwell (1874-1922) was considered the strongest in the United States from 1910 to 1920. The picture below was photographed in the year 1956.

     

Opening Bids Only

Bid Strength Meaning
1 : 16 plus high card points Shows any shape.
1 : 12-15 high card points Promises a 4-card plus Diamond suit.
1 : 12-15 high card points Promises a 4-card plus Heart suit.
1 : 12-15 high card points Promises a 4-card plus Spade suit.
1 NT: 16-18 high card points Shows balanced shape.
2 : 12-15 high card points Promises a 5-card plus Club suit.
2 : 22 high card points Shows balanced shape and/or game-forcing bid.
2 : 6-12 high card points Promises 6 Hearts.
2 : 6-12 high card points Promises 6 Spades.
2NT: 22-23 high card points Shows balanced shape.

Continuances

Following a 1 Club opening, showing any shape and 16 high card points plus, a first response of 1 Diamond is considered to be an artificial negative response, but all other first responses, especially on the one level, are natural. Any first response after a 2 Diamond opening bid promises an Ace or first round control in that suit.

Note: An updated, and to some degree a revised version of the Vanderbilt Club was published in the year 1964.

Note: The principles of the Schenken Club were based upon these opening bids.

Variation or Evolution

The publications by Mr. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt are listed below and only those addressing his publication of the Vanderbilt Club:

Contract Bridge: Bidding and the Club Convention, 1929, Publisher: C. Scribner's Sons, New York, New York, United States, and London, England, LC: 29016027; reprint Contract Bridge: Bidding and the Club Convention, 1964, Publisher: Scribner, ISBN: B0007DZWZI and B000857ZZU

The Club Convention System of Bidding at Contract Bridge, as Revised and Modernized by Harold S. Vanderbilt, 1964, Publisher: Scribner, New York, New York, United States, ISBN: B0007DZWZI, LC: 64016197

The New Contract Bridge Club Convention: Bidding and Forcing Overbids, 1930, Publisher: Scribner, New York, New York, United States, ISBN: B00086F0LK, LC: 30026989

It is from The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, 6th Edition, that the information is provided that the Vanderbilt Club also incorporated the Weak Two bids. It must be remembered that Mr. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt addressed the game of Auction Bridge and Contract Bridge, not Duplicate Contract Bridge. It is from this perspective and from this viewpoint that the bridge historian should accept the inclusions and incorporation of other elements of the game of bride, which were gaining popularity.

This particular reference is made to the introduction of Weak Two Bids and preemptive opening bids and preemptive overcalls. The evolution of the strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid was also considered as being included in the Vanderbilt Club. According to The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, 6th Edition, a prototype of the Weak Two bid was used in Auction Bridge and adopted in the Vanderbilt Club System.

Continuing the quotation from The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, 6th Edition, it states further that: Subsequently Charles Van Vleck, New York, was responsible for an ultra-weak two-bid. Howard Schenken developed the modern weak two-bid along lines similar to the concept of Mr. Howard Stirling Vanderbilt, which were later incorporated into most modern American systems, and into the Neapolitan and Blue Team Club systems of the 1960s.

Therefore, and as a result of these incorporations of other, additional concepts, the Vanderbilt Club opening bids did change and were varied from the time of their inception in 1929 and their official publication also in 1934. The following attempts to outline these altered opening bids and incorporate the Weak Two bids. These opening bids also represent and can be officially designated also as the Vanderbilt Club bidding system.

These opening bids are dramatically different since the opening bids on the two level no longer represent strong, forcing bids. Some publications also maintain that the original minimum of high card points is 17 high card points as opposed to other publications, which maintain that the minimum number is 16 high card points.

Bid Strength Meaning
1 : Maximum 16+ high card points Shows any shape.
1 : Maximum 15 high card points Promises at least a 3-card or plus Diamond suit.
1 : Maximum 12-15 high card points Promises a 4-card or plus Heart suit.
1 : Maximum 12-15 high card points Promises a 4-card or plus Spade suit.
1 NT: Range is 16-18 high card points Shows balanced shape.
2 : Maximum 12-15 high card points Promises a 5-card plus Club suit.
2 : Shows 5/6 to 10 high card points Promises a Weak Two Bid in Diamonds. Suit length is a minimum of 6 cards.
2 : Shows 5/6 to 10 high card points Promises a Weak Two Bid in Hearts. Suit length is a minimum of 6 cards.
2 : Shows 5/6 to 10 high card points Promises a Weak Two Bid in Spades. Suit length is a minimum of 6 cards.
2NT:   Promises a range of 22-23 high card points. Shows balanced shape.

Note: In some bidding systems employing also Weak Two Bids, also endorsed at the time, some bridge authorities attempted to set forth the policy of incorporating only Weak Two Bids solely for both Major suits, but this notion did not carry any momentum within the bridge community.

     
     
     
     

 

 

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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