Acol and Acol Methods
For interested bridge players, who would like to learn the Acol bidding system, the attempt has been undertaken to accumulate sufficient material regarding the Acol bidding system. As with all bidding systems, there are modifications, different approaches, even conventions devised and borrowed, and we have included these for the edification of our visitors and for the curious. Any contributions to this list will be greatly appreciated.
The Acol bidding system evolved from discussions and debates conducted by Mr. John (Jack) C. H. Marx (born in 1907 and died August 29, 1991) and Mr. S. J. Simon (Simon Jascha Sklidelsky) born in Harbin, Manchuria, in the year 1904 and died July 27, 1948, conducted at the Acol Bridge Club in Acol Road in Hampstead, London, United Kingdom.
The city of Hampstead is an area of London, England, and is part of the London Borough of Camden in Inner London. It continues to be known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical, and literary associations.
Note: Indeed the two above mentioned pioneers of the game founded the Acol Social and Bridge Club, which opened its doors at No. 15, Acol Road in the year 1930. In the year 1935 the Acol Social and Bridge Club relocated and leased rooms at 20 Woodchurch Road, which was quite close to Acol Road.
These gentlemen were considered to be the holders of the secrets of the newly established game of contract and duplicate bridge according to the new, more favorable and competitive parameters. They organized and arranged systematically the language and conditions of the game and it became their final objective to codify the system. They would eventually become regarded as the leading experts on all aspects of the new card game such as bidding, declaring, scoring, and defending. It befell these gentlemen to author publications, to actively campaign for and promote this new sport, and to market its appeal to the general public.
Such ambitions, aspirations, goals and targets were additionally fueled by the 1933 Ely Culbertson’s America vs. England infamous and highly publicized bridge tournament. Mr. John (Jack) C. H. Marx and Mr. S.J. Simon formed the first Acol team with Mr. Marice Harrison Gray (born November 13, 1899, and died November 24, 1968) and Mr. Iain Norman Macleod (born November 11, 1913 and died July 20, 1970), who became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1970. They completely dominated the previously preeminent teams of Mr. Henry St. John Ingram (1888-1974), Mr. Henry Mountifort Beasley (born 1875 and died December 14, 1949), and Mr. Richard Lederer (1894-1941), winning practically every event.
Note: Mr. John (Jack) C. H. Marx, Mr. Marice Harrison Gray, Mr. S. J. Simon (Simon Jascha Sklidelsk), and Mr. Iain Norman Macleod received the epithet The Acol Quartet in honor of their pioneering spirit and their unwavering and steadfast commitment to the introduction of the Acol system.
The Acol team, augmented by Mr. Leslie William Dobbs (1903-1975) and Mr. Kenneth Konstam (born 1906 and died May 21, 1968), won the 1936 Gold Cup. Shortly thereafter Mr. John Terence Reese (born August 28, 1913 and died January 29, 1996) joined the Acol group. By the end of the 1930s, half the tournament players in England had adopted the new methods, including such players as Mr. Boris Shapiro (born August 22, 1909 and died December 1, 2002), Mr. Niel Furse, and Mr. Nico Gardener, nee Goldinger (born January 1906 and died December 10, 1989), who founded the London School of Bridge in the year 1952 in the King’s Road, Chelsea.
In later years Mr. David Burnstine, aka David Bruce during his bridge career (born in the year 1900 and died in 1965) was also influentially instrumental in advocating and supporting the foundations of this particular core concept conceived in the house at 15 Acol Road. His qualifications permitted him to head and lead a bridge group, that made the Contract Bridge Club in New York, New York, United States, practically the center of the most expert, challenging, and popular card game of the time beginning in the mid-1930s. Indeed David Bruce / Burnstine became first ACBL Life Master.
This bridge personality discovered, conceived, and refined a certain opening conventional method called the strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid. He also developed, introduced, and promoted the concept of game-forcing Two Bids, a method of opening bids on the two level, which became the most popular and preferred pattern or structure not only among the playing public in Great Britain, but also by the bridge experts of the day.
This fundamental conventional scheme of Mr. David Burnstine for opening bids was quickly adopted by those bridge authorities governing the game in Great Britain and eventually became one of the main cornerstones of the Acol approach.
The Acol bidding system is considered to be a natural system. However, the Acol bidding system is also considered to be an unregulated system, meaning that there is no official governing body issuing any directives about the structure of the bidding system, as opposed to the ACBL’s Standard American Yellow Card. Most Acol-players compare the bidding system to a living language, which changes with time, evolves as a necessity, and becomes modified as needed.
There were many other theorists and authors, who made huge advancements in the Acol system, which had a tremendous impact not only on the appeal of the game, but also who provided and promoted their concepts, which indeed also became foundation stones of the Acol system. Two enthusiasts, who added immensely to the popularity of the game were Mr. Leo Baron, who introduced the Baron system, that was immediately incorporated into the Acol system, and the efforts of Mr. Eric Crowhurst.
Summary of the Acol Bidding System
The Acol bidding system is considered to be a natural system. However, the Acol bidding system is also considered to be an unregulated system, meaning that there is no official governing body issuing any directives about the structure of the bidding system, as opposed to the ACBL’s Standard American Yellow Card. Most Acol-players compare the bidding system to a living language, which changes with time, evolves as a necessity, and becomes modified as needed. Many bridge enthusiasts prefer this flexibility of the Acol system and believe that it is exactly this element, that possibly allows this system to be more advantageous.
List of Various Versions
There are several versions, therefore, of the bidding system, and all versions are in use. They include, but are not officially limited to:
Acol, which is unregulated Acol. This version is perhaps the most common and preferred version and is sometimes referred to as Standard Acol.
Standard English Acol, which is referred to as Standard English. This bidding version was developed by Sandra Landy with the support of the English Bridge Union and under its supervision and/or auspices. This version had the goal of facilitating the learning of the game of bridge for new players.
Benjaminised Acol, also referred to as Benji Acol or simply Benji. This version employs opening on the two level in both Major suits as weak openings, as opposed to openings on the two level in both Minor suits as being strong openings.
Reversed Benji, which is identical to Benjaminised Acol except that the two Minor suit openings on the two level are switched or reversed.
Mr. Alan Martin of St Pancras, London, England, has contributed significant information as to the location of the origins of the Acol bidding system. St Pancras is an area of London, England, and for centuries the designation has been employed for various officially-designated areas. Today the designation is used only informally since the area has been incorporated into other overlapping districts.
Mr. Alan Martin has also contributed the information that the street name of Acol Road was only that, namely a street name. It was not a part of the Borough of Camden since Camden was first established in the year 1965 by the amalgamation of three boroughs, namely Hampstead, St Pancras, and Holborn. According to the website of the Metropolitan Police the London borough of Camden was created in 1965 from the former area of the metropolitan boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn, and St Pancras, which had formed part of the County of London. The borough was named after Camden Town, which had gained its name from Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden in 1795. Source.
Note: The contributions and additional information provided and contributed by Mr. Alan Martin of St Pancras, London, England, is greatly appreciated and his efforts deserve acknowledgment on this web page.
Mr. Alan Martin of St Pancras, London, England, has also brought our attention to the Acol Bridge Club of London, England, which lays claim to the distinction of being The Home of Bridge. The bridge club no longer occupies the original premises located at 15 Acol Road, but has rather relocated to 83 West End Lane, West Hampstead, London, England, NW6 2LX.
Acol Alert and Announcement Table
The English Bridge Union has compiled a complete Announcing and Alerting Summary for all players, who employ any manner of an Acol bidding system. This information has only been preserved and archived on this site in a .pdf file format and which will be automatically opened by your browser.
Acol Convention Cards
Completed Convention Cards have been provided by the English Bridge Union for several of the Acol partnership agreements. These include:
Standard English Acol Card, Foundation Level, as a Word.doc
Standard English Acol Card, Foundation Level, as a .pdf file
Standard English Modern Acol Card, as a Word.doc
Standard English Modern Acol Card, as a .pdf file
Standard Benji Acol Card, as a Word.doc
Standard Benji Acol Card, as a .pdf file
Simple Systems Card, as a .pdf file
Acol Foundation Level
In 1997 the English Bridge Union defined a Standard English bidding system that would serve for teaching beginners and inexperienced players how to bid correctly and more accurately while continuing to employ essentially the same bidding system as the majority of club players use. This Foundation Level version of Standard English attempts to make bidding as comprehensive as possible without side-stepping any of the essentials.
Standard English Acol – Foundation Level System File
This is Version 1 as published by the English Bridge Union in December 2006. This information has only been preserved and archived on this site in a .pdf file format and which will be automatically opened by your browser.
Acol Foundation Level Convention Card
In order to facilitate the understanding of the Acol Foundation Level the English Bridge Union has constructed a Convention Card for the individual bridge player. This information has only been preserved and archived on this site in a .pdf file format and which will be automatically opened by your browser.
Acol 4 No Trump Opening
This is a special and specialized opening bid, which asks partner directly how many Aces he holds, if any. This particular opening bid guarantees a minimum of ten winning tricks. The origin of this conventional opening bid is attributed to Mr. George D. Jesner of Canberra, Australia.
Acol 5 No Trump Opening
The origin of this conventional method is unknown. It is, however, a feature of the Acol bidding system generally used in the United Kingdom as an opening bid to describe a certain holding length in both Minor suits. The 5 No Trump bidder holds also only one losing trick in one of these two Minor suits.
Acol Basic Bidding System
The Acol System was the brain-child of various bridge players, among whom were Mr. Maurice Harrison-Gray, Mr. Iain Macleod, Mr. J. C. H. Marx, Mr. Terence Reese and Mr. S. J. Simon. The history of the Acol System is rather unique in that it was first employed in 1934 in a relatively small North London Bridge Club located on Acol Street, and hence the name.
Acol Bidding System by George Jesner
This is a comprehensive bidding system for the Acol System devised by Mr. George Jesner. Many of the features have to be memorized. Since it is so extensive, it is suggested that the interested bridge player take the time to discover the logic and reasoning behind this bidding system.
Acol General Leads and Signals
As with any other bidding system, the lead can define several things such as attitude or preference or count. These are essentials in any bidding system, and the Acol system is no exception. With the lead or a later discard, bridge partners are able to send signals communicating useful and important information.
Acol Opening Bids
The Acol bidding system found its origin in the country of England, from where it spread to the United Kingdom. The bidding system has seen many evolutions and changes since its inception. The opening bids of this bidding system are especially important to the bridge player since they form the foundation, upon which all continuances are based.
Acol Three No Trump Opening – Acol 3 NT Opening
I n the early days of the evolution of the game of bridge the bridge players in England adopted the concept of opening the auction with a bid of 3 No Trump. The parameters of this opening bid were not exactly precise, although defined to a certain degree. It is from this concept that the Gambling 3 No Trump conventional method is derived.
The Acol Two-Bid is an intermediate bid and is forcing for one-round, because it represents a strong and forcing bid. Includes the definition of the Herbert Negative Bid.
Acol General Bidding Structure
For those bridge players being introduced for the first time to the Acol System, this would be a starting point to learn the basic structure.
Acol According to Lewis and Hancock
A summary, written in 1987, of the Acol bidding system devised and played by Mr. A. Hancock and Mr.B. Lewis. Their first names remain unknown and any contributed information would be appreciated. This outline is written in a .pdf file format, and will be automatically opened by your browser.
Acol Crib Sheet by Paul Newman
This outline of the Acol agreement of Mr. Paul Newman, who devised and authored this version, is presented as written without changes. The last known version was published online on July 26, 1994. Any corresponding web page no longer exists online. The version has only been preserved and archived in .pdf file format on this site for future reference.
The Baron System of Contract Bridge
The Baron system was developed in the 1940s by Mr. Leo Baron and Mr. Adam Meredith, who was nicknamed Plum, and who was born in the year 1913 and died in the year 1976. Mr. Adam Meredith was a leading bridge personality of Britain, who was originally of County Down, Ireland.
Baron Conventional Method – Baron Three Clubs
Within the Baron system a particular response method was developed by Mr. Leo Baron for the opening bid of 2 No Trump. The Stayman conventional method is not employed.
A scheme for opening Two-Bids or bids on the two level: Majors: weak; Diamonds: artificial (near) game-force; Clubs: artificial, an Acol two-bid with long suit(s) as yet unspecified.
Benjamin Two Bids or Benjamin 2 Bids
This bridge concept was originated by Mr. Albert Benjamin of Scotland. Also known as: French Two Bids and Unnamed Strong Two Bid Openings. As a feature of the Acol bidding system, the Benjamin Two Bids are employed to indicate an opening, which almost guarantees a game holding.
This concept was devised by Mr. Eric Crowhurst of England, where the Acol bidding system is the established norm. In the Acol Bidding System an opening of 1 No Trump indicates a definite point range from generally 12 to 14 points, as opposed to the point range of 15-17 points generally played in Standard American.
This variation, as an alternative to the Crowhurst conventional method, is authored and presented online by Mr. David King. He maintains that in practice there are very few 12-14 balanced hands, on which the Crowhurst convention is applicable. This information has only been archived and preserved on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.
Dight Two No Trump – Dight 2 No Trump
This method was contributed by Mr. Len Dight, which he has incorporated into the Acol bidding system. The Dight 2 No Trump in reply to 1 of a Major opening is the first to differentiate between a singleton and a void whilst being able to prefer the delayed game response.
Dutch Acol Opening Bids
A variation of the ACOL bidding system used by bridge partnerships in The Netherlands. The continuances are generally the same as employed in the regular Acol bidding system. Note: An alternative version is also presented with the generally accepted continuances.
Flint 3 Diamonds – Flint 3 Clubs – Flint Two Diamonds Modified
These conventional methods were devised by Mr. Jeremy Flint of England to permit the partnership to stop the auction below game if necessary, but also to allow the partnership to investigate the possibility of a game contract. Modifications of this concept are also included.
Standard English Acol System
This is the complete bidding system for Acol players as published by the English Bridge Union. This is in .pdf file format and can be found on the website of the English Bridge Union.This is the official system as presented by the EBU as Standard English Modern Acol, Version 1 and dated December 2006. The visitor should check for this information and additional information with the EBU. A copy of this information, also in .pdf file format has been archived and preserved on this site solely for future reference.
Stone Age Acol with Pakistani Preempts
This is a designation for the bidding system devised and developed by Mr. Munir Ata-Ullah of Pakistan. All opening bids from 2 Diamonds through to and including the bid of 4 Diamonds are artificial and have multiple meanings. Several bids within this range of these two bids have as many as seven possible meanings, which are clarified in the subsequent bidding sequences and identify the hand type, the suit quality, and the values.
Note: For the partnership it proves difficult to determine the best contract quickly with the fewest number of bids and rebids since the nature of the holding must first be clarified and determined.
Note: Any defense method by the opposing players is made difficult since the nature of the bid is artificial and the meaning of the bid must again first be determined.
Note: Source is OEofB, Newly Revised, Fourth Edition, 1984, page 414. Information about this method is rather limited and any assistance, any information, any additional literature would be greatly appreciated.
Note: This version of Stone Age Acol is not to be confused with the designation stone-age Acol, which is a general reference to the originally developed concept (and only slight variations thereof) of the Acol bidding system as devised in the early 1930s in the bridge club on Acol Road in London, England, which is still played in many parts of the country.
The term Swine is an acronym for Sebesfi-Woods-1-Notrump-Escape, and was developed by Mr. Robert (Bob) Sebesfi of Australia. This is a method of defending against an overcall, either a direct overcall or a balancing action, and is mainly used in the Acol bidding system.
Twisted Swine – Runouts After 1NT – Dbl or Runouts After 1 No Trump – Double or Swine Runouts
The origin of this concept known by several different designations, is unknown. The concept deals with an immediate overcall by an opponent after a 1 No Trump opening. The bridge player must be aware of the fact that an overcall of a 1 No Trump opening is a competitive defense mechanism, and therefore this treatment designated as Twisted Swine is a defense mechanism to a defense mechanism. It is with this understanding that the following information be viewed, read, and understood.
The Weissberger method is a conventional variation of the Stayman convention. The concept behind this variation evolved within the Acol bidding system and was devised by Mr. Alan Truscott, Mr. John Pressburger and Mr. Maurice Weissberger, after whom the conventional variation was named.
Devised by Mr. Philip Wraight. Playing Acol, the bridge player may have a problem as responder with a balanced 10 count, if the bridge player is unable to bid a four card suit at the one level, since 1 No Trump shows 6-9 points except over 1, and the 2 No Trump rebid shows 11-12 points. The bridge player is also in difficulty with a balanced 3-3-3-4 hand with 6-7 points if partner opens 1, when a raise in Clubs takes the bridge player past what may be the best contract of 1 No Trump. This can be true of both Minors if you are playing Inverted Minor raises. This information has only been preserved and archived in .pdf file format on this site for future reference.