Two Clubs Opening Bid

Strong, Artificial 2 Clubs Opening Bid

As in all bridge systems, there are no rules, only guidelines. The bridge player should keep this fact in mind when recalling that there are over 640,000,000,000 different card combinations, which can be dealt in the game of bridge. As a consequence, the bridge playeris forced to deal with certain guidelines for handling the shape and point-count of a hand.

There are holdings that are sufficiently biddable with the basic guidelines of any bidding approach, but every now and then the bridge player will encounter a holding with freak distribution and 30 high card points. Conventional methods have been developed to deal with these hands. The concept behind the strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid is one of these conventional methods.

The strong, artificial Two Clubs Opening was devised and introduced by Mr. David Bruce, who was also known as Mr. David Burnstine during his bridge career. He was one of the great pioneers and bridge personalitites of the game of bridge and his name is associated with many of the other bridge pioneers. This concept of a strong, artificial opening bid was employed by Mr. Pierre Albarran and Mr. Baron de Nexon from France as early as 1935.

Range Guideline

Many bridge conventions and methods disclose the amount of values held by certain bidding opening bids and sequences. The general guidelines of Five-Card American Standard approach have illustrated the effectiveness of describing a certain holding within a particular range. Below is a chart showing certain ranges.

Note: The 1 No Trump point range is different according to both the partnership agreement and based somewhat on the bidding system employed.

Dependent on the point range two players employ the partnership must be aware that certain conventions may or may not be used. This is why it is absolutely essential to have a solid partnership understanding. The point range must be made known to your opponents on the Convention Chart.

Note: The strong, artificial 2 Clubs srong opening bid is an artificial opening bid. It is quite possible that the bridge player has no Clubs at all in the holding.

It is important to remember that the opener’s hand is practically a stand-alone holding with sufficient strength to warrant game, although there are certain conditions where game is absolutely not feasible. This is the reason why the general consensus maintains that a 2 Clubs opening bid is not game forcing.

In essence, and for all intents and purposes, the strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid shows a certain point range and balanced holding not covered by either a 2 No Trump or 3 No Trump opening bid. The strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid can also, on the rebid, show a distributional holding, which is game invitational. The decision to make such an opening bid is based either the sum of the high card points and/or the number of losing tricks, or conversely winning tricks.

Illustrative Examples and Analysis

Understanding the parameters of the strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid can be first achieved by illustrating how the bid can be employed to communicate a definite and clearly defined range of high card points. This range is normally accepted as that range between a 2 No Trump and a 3 No Trump opening bid. In this explanation the 2 No Trump opening bid equals 20-22 points and an opening of 3 No Trump equals a range of 25-27 points.


1. The holding contains 23 high card points.
2. An opening bid of 2 NT is not an option since the pre-agreed range is exceeded.
3. Opening 1 is not an option. Partner could pass.
4. Hence, the player opens with a strong, artificial 2 Clubs, which is a forcing bid


1. The partner is forced to respond according to a pre-agreed method.
2. The opener then rebids, showing distribution, shape, and values. This rebid is then a limited bid.

Opener’s Rebids

1. A rebid of 2 No Trump shows 23-24 high card points, (semi-balanced to balanced holding).
2. A rebid of 3 No Trump shows 27-28 high card points, (semi-balanced to balanced holding).
3. A rebid of 4 No Trump shows 29-30 high card points, (semi-balanced to balanced holding).
4. A rebid of 5 No Trump shows 30-32 high card points, (semi-balanced to balanced holding).
5. A rebid of 6 No Trump shows 33-34 high card points, (semi-balanced to balanced holding).
Note: If the partnership understanding of the value of the holding is based on the number of losing tricks, then the holding may contain no more than 5 losing tricks for a 2 No Trump opening bid, and 4 or fewer losing tricks for a stong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid.

Note: In the case that the rebid of the opener is 2 No Trump, then the responder may pass this rebid when holding absolutely no values and absolutely no distributional values. Under these circumstances and agreeing to these parameters it becomes obvious that a strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening is not always forcing to game.

Note: When the rebid of the opener is 2 No Trump or 3 No Trump, the following conventional method can and should be employed. This is by partnership agreement only.

1. Blackwood – asking for Aces.
2. Logic – Visualization – Reasoning.
3. Stayman – inquiring about a 4-card Major.
4. Jacoby Transfer – transferring to a 5-6 plus card Major suit.
5. Gerber – asking for Aces, although sometimes ill-advised owing to a certain ambiguity.

Losing Trick Evaluation

The parameters for a strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid include the understanding that the holding contains a minimum of 4 or fewer losing tricks. If the player is not familiar with this particular evaluation method, then it would behoove the player to acquaint himself with this supplementary method for evaluating the holding.

Note: Some partnerships have inverted this definition to the understanding that the holding contain at least 9 winning tricks or more. Some agreements also include a reduced total of 8.5 winning tricks.

In contrast to the balanced to semi-balanced holding containing a definite number of high card points, whereby the rebid is No Trump, the non-balanced holding can consist of a one-suiter or two-suiter. Some partnerships have included also a three-suited holding, which is quite rare.

Thus, the amount of high card points becomes irrelevant if the holding consists of four or fewer losing tricks (9 winning tricks). It is the shape and quality of the holding which decides whether a holding should be opened with a strong, artificial 2 Clubs.

Analysis: this holding contains only 3 losing tricks (or 10 winning tricks), 24 high card points, and should be opened with 2 Clubs. The singleton Diamond does not fit the requirements for a No Trump bid. Again, the high card points become relatively irrelevant owing to the distribution of the holding.

Analysis: although this holding has only 18 high card points, the general agreement is that any similar holding should be opened with a strong, artificial 2 Clubs. Considering that the worst scenario would be that the partner has a void in Spades, the chance that the opponents each hold 3 cards in Spades is a probability, which brings the number of playing tricks to at least 8 playing tricks. The number of losing tricks equals only three, which meets the requirement of opening this hand with 2 Clubs.

Response Methods

There are several bidding sequences for the partner to respond to a 2 Clubs strong, artificial opening to show values and location of values. However, the partners must agree first upon the requirements for a strong, artificil 2 Clubs opening bid. Using the guidelines described above should reinforce the decision to include this method as part of the partnership agreement.

Note: For those partnerships, which seek an alternative method for distinguishing between holdings with exactly four losing tricks and those holdings with exactly three losing tricks, the following suggestion is made as a possible guideline. The following two examples should illustrate this recommendation:

The student of this extended concept will realize that the player holding exactly four losing tricks (9 winning tricks) bids at the lowest level, whereas the player with the holding containing exactly three losing tricks employs the jump of one level to show exactly three losing tricks (10 winning tricks). This applies only to a suit rebid by the opener.

In this manner the player holding three losing tricks is able to communicate to partner a holding, which is practically a game hand without assistance from partner. In the second example the player can securely force partner to bid a game contract by jumping, since either the King of Hearts is a winning trick in the above Example 2, or the finesse works in Clubs. No guarantees.

In contrast to the second example the first example contains four losing tricks. Without assistance from partner, a game contract is, as a stand-alone holding, not feasible.

Stipulations and Regulations

Not all holdings are created equal or treated as equal. The ACBL has defined a 2 Clubs opening bid in the following manner and the following is a quote is from both the ACBL and also Mr. Rick Beye, Chief Tournament Director for the ACBL.

ACBL regulations and the General Convention Chart do not permit players to employ the 2 Clubs opening bid with holdings that contain long strong suits, but which also have very little outside strength.

In the June 2005 issue of The Bridge Bulletin, page 38, the reader will find an explanation of Mr. Rick Beye, Chief Tournament Director of ACBL. It is a direct response to this condition as set forth by the ACBL, and is quoted below.

While both of these hands contain 11 high card points, any bridge player can see the true playing strength in the second hand. Similarly, bridge players should be able to realize that the first hand is one that would cause concern to a tournament director.

Hands that fall in between the two examples constitute a gray area, in which a tournament director must try to make a judgment as to the bidder’s intent. If, as in the first case, it is clear that the intent has been to fool the opponents, some penalty would usually be levied.

Note: The bridge player must be aware of the fact that these regulations do not apply at the local bridge club level. At the local bridge club level the bridge player may open any holding per partnership agreement, which may or may not comply with the regulations of the ACBL, although the local bridge club is sanctioned by the ACBL. All bids, approaches, and bidding systems are allowed or disallowed at the discretion or decision of the Board of Directors of the bridge club or by the bridge club owner(s).

Landy Original

Landy Convention

This conventional method was developed and devised by Mr. Alvin Landy of Greenwich, Connecticut, United States. The concept is that of overcalling an opening bid of 1 No Trump by an opponent. The original version by Mr. Alvin Landy states that the overcall may be made either immediately or in the fourth seat after two passes. This is especially the case if the opponent has opened a weak No Trump with a lowest range of 12 high card points, which is particularly the case if the bidding system of the opponents is the Acol Bidding System.

The conventional method is also based on the idea that the initiator can compete in the auction with a marginally weak to an average two-suited holding showing both Major suits, via an overcall of 2 Clubs either immediately or in the balancing seat after two consecutive passes. The major deciding factor, especially in the immediate seat, is that the player must decide whether or not to compete by pre-calculating, pre-determining, pre-guessing a favorable result in the score, which will also be based on the state of vulnerability. In the balancing seat this decision to compete becomes easier to determine since the partner of the No Trump bidder has shown weakness in points by passing.

The original concept of Mr. Alvin Landy made a huge impact on the game of bridge, because he was practically the first bridge player, who devised a defense method against a No Trump opening by an opponent. Viewed from this perspective he changed for all times the way bridge was played. However, since the original concept allowed the overcaller to show only those two-suited holdings with both Major suits, the concept was rather limited. Other variations and variants, with less stricter distributional patterns, were soon devised to include other two-suited holdings. In reality the conventional method of Mr. Alvin Landy has become rather more a historical fact. The original concept is seldom, if ever employed in the more modern bridge bidding.

The strongly suggested point count is that the player planning to compete against a No Trump opening should hold a minimum of 5/6 points, but no more than 15/16 high card points. If the player holds points in excess of 16 plus high card points, then the player should first double and then bid. The double is not penalty-oriented. The following two holdings should clarify when a player should decide to compete and when not to compete. The reader will notice that the distribution is identical.

The overcaller in Example 1 has a holding worth 5-6 playing tricks. The overcaller in Example 2 has a holding worth 3-4 playing tricks. The distribution is identical, and the values held by the overcaller in Example 1 equal 6 points as opposed to 10 points in Example 2, but the trick-taking capability of the holding in Example 1 equals at least 2-3 playing tricks more, which the overcaller can present to his partner, or advancer, as dummy, if the advancer becomes declarer.

Note: all partnerships solely basing and employing the evaluation method of Losing Trick Count should be very cautious in deciding to employ the Landy conventional method. As the bridge player can readily see, both holdings of the overcaller contain seven losing tricks.


The responses of the advancer, or partner of the overcaller, are shown below. It must be remembered that the advancer may be a passed hand before an opponent opens the auction with No Trump or also a passed hand, which immediately followed the No Trump opening by an opponent. These responses become only valid if the partner of the No Trump bidder passes. All continuances in competition by the partner of the No Trump bidder are per partnership agreement.

The advancer may pass if the partner of the No Trump bidder competes.

Opener Advancer Meaning

  • 2 Artificial. Shows both Major suits of 5-card plus length.
  • Pass Shows a weak holding with at least a 6-card plus Club suit.
  • 2 Shows a weak holding, minimum of 3-card support, and a preference for Hearts. The bid does not deny equal length in the other Major suit, only a preference.
  • 2 Shows a weak holding, minimum of 3-card support, and a preference for Spades. The bid does not deny equal length in the other Major suit, only a preference.
  • 2 NT * This is an asking response requesting the intervenor (overcaller) to bid the better Major suit. The inference is that the advancer has equal support in both Major suits and sufficient values to support both Major suits on the three level. * See below.
  • 3 Natural bid. Shows at least a solid 5-card Diamond suit or a semi-solid 6-card plus Diamond suit.
  • 3 Invitational. Shows at least a 3-card support in Hearts, a distributional holding with ruffing ability and/or sufficient high card points located in both Major suits.
  • 3 Invitational. Shows at least a 3-card support in Spades, a distributional holding with ruffing ability and/or sufficient high card points located in both Major suits.

* Note: it must be noted that some variants employ the 2 No Trump response by the advancer as natural and employ only the 3 response as game forcing.

The original Landy conventional method does not include the provision that the distribution of both Major suits may also be 4-5 or even 4-4. The original Landy conventional method only mentions both Major suits, each of 5 card plus length. For other variants of the Landy conventional method, which include such a feature, please review these variants

Aces Scientific System

Mr. Ira Corn of Dallas, Texas, had a goal and that was to reclaim the World Team Championship Title to the United States. With his financial aid, he formed a group of professional bridge experts, purchased a set of computers, and developed the Aces Scientific System.

Mr. Ira Corn, born 1921 and died 1982, of Dallas, Texas, United States was elected to the Hall of Fame by the American Contract Bridge League in the year if 2002. His picture is presented below in the frame provided by the ACBL.

Mr. Robert Goldman, born 1938 and died 1999, of Highland Village, Texas, United States, acted as perhaps the chief designer. Mr. Robert, (aka Bobby), Goldman published the book in 1978: Aces Scientific System. The picture of Mr. Robert Goldman is also from the year 1978.

With the aid of the computers, this group of bridge experts fed almost every conceivable and possible card combination into the computer, and examined and analyzed the result. At the end of this procedure, the Aces Scientific System was born. For every card combination held there were precise bidding standards, even for those situations when the opponents decided to enter the auction with either a call or a bid.

A few examples for a situation in the game of bridge follow. A situation is any call or bid which conveys information.

Pass = a situation
1 club = a situation
1 spade = a situation
1 heart – 1 spade = a situation
1 spade – 2 diamonds – Double = a situation

For all of these situations, the computer recommended certain precise and detailed bidding methods. These situations had to be recognized by the bridge players and applied at the correct time, almost scientifically.

Although this system had several strong similarities with Standard American, the deviations are quite noticeable.

Following is a short summary of the Aces Scientific System.

Opening > Responses > Meaning

1 No Trump 15 to 18 HCPs
2 diamonds  and 2 hearts : Jacoby Transfers
2 Spades: Promises both Minor suits.
3 clubs and 3 diamonds: Weak
3 hearts : Mild artificial slam attempt in Clubs.
3 spades: Mild artificial slam attempt in Diamonds.
2 clubs: Stayman, non-forcing.

Responder’s rebids following a Stayman action:
3 : An attempt to locate 4-4 Minor suit fit.
3 : Artificial, long Minor suit, slam try.

Responder’s rebids following a positive 3 or 3 to Stayman-ask:

  • 3 following a 3 response: Promises 4-card support for opener’s Major suit and shows a singleton in Spades, and possible slam interest.
  • 4 : Promises 4-card support for opener’s Major suit and shows a singleton in Clubs, and possible slam interest.
  • 4 : Promises 4-card support for opener’s Major suit and shows a singleton in Diamonds, and possible slam interest.
  • 4 following a 3 response: Promises 4-card support for opener’s Major suit and shows a singleton in Hearts, and possible slam interest.

1 or 1 Promises a 5-card Major suit.

1 No Trump: Forcing for one round.
2 and 2 : Forcing to game.
Jump Raises: Limit bids.
Forcing Raises * and **: Shows length, strength, singletons.
Jump Shift in Minor suit: Equals 6 Quick Tricks.
Opener’s rebid followng a Jump shift in a Minor suit:
3 No Trump: Shows stoppers and/or features.

1 or 1 Promises at least a 3-card suit.
Jump Raises: Limit raise.
Jump in other Minor: Forcing raise.
Jump Shift in Major suit: Multiple:
1. Shows a solid suit.
2. Shows strong suit for No Trump.
3. Shows strong suit with strong support for opener.

2 Strong and artificial.
2 : Artificial and neutral.
2 and/or 2 : Natural and promises good values.
2 No Trump: Denies any Aces,and shows balanced pattern.
3 No Trump: Denies any Aces, balanced pattern, promises stronger values.

2 or 2 or 2 Weak Two Bids

Three Level Openings Based on traditional and normal Preempts

As part of the Aces Scientific System, the method of Unbalanced Swiss Raise was used.

Following an opening in a Major suit, the responder has several options for game-forcing raises. A jump response on the Three Level of the other Major suit shows 10 to 12 points with an unidentified singleton. The first response of 3 No Trump promised 13 to 15 points and an unidentified singleton.

The opener uses the cheapest rebid in order to locate the singleton. The responder can follow several step patterns to show his singleton. One step pattern is natural and shows a singleton in the suit responder rebids. A second step pattern is to rebid 3 No Trump to show a singleton in the remaining unbid suit. A third step pattern is to rebid four of the anchor suit to show his singleton.

Also as part of the Aces Scientific System, the method of Value Swiss Raises was used.

Value Swiss Raises are employed to show a range of forcing balancing raises as responses to an opening of a Major suit. These Value Swiss Raises communicate detailed information such as no singleton, a good 5-card suit, and show either a 4-card support for the opener or a 3-card support with two of the top honors for the opener.

The Aces Scientific System includes several slam bidding conventions. Among them are the elements of Roman, Blackwood, Gerber, and Super Gerber.

The Aces Scientific System was used with good success, placing among the top three contenders. In 1969, the Aces Team, as it became to be known, won the Spingold Knockout Teams, and in 1970 and 1971 won the Bermuda Bowl for North America. Although the Aces Team continued their success, it sort of gradually dissolved around 1983.


Astro Convention

This convention uses the bid of a Minor suit overcall after a strong 1 No Trump opening or a weak 1 No Trump opening to show a particular distributional holding and can be employed either in the immediate seat or in the balancing seat. The terminology comes from the names of the bridge players, who devised the convention: Mr. Paul Allinger – Mr. Roger STern – Mr. Larry ROssler. The schematic for the entire original convention is shown below.

  • 2 Clubs: Shows a 5-card Heart suit and an unspecifed 4-card Minor suit.
  • 2 Diamonds: Shows a 5-card Spade suit and an unspecified 4-card second suit, called the Anchor Suit.

The Astro bidder (Intervenor) promises nine cards in two suits. The high card points should be mainly in the two suits and should be stronger if vulnerable. The high card points are a matter of partnership agreement, although it is imperative that the held values be mainly in the two suits indicated. The recommended values lies within the range of a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 14 points. The general guideline is that the Astro bidder hold at least two of the top five honors.

The Astro bid can be made as a direct overcall or in the pass out seat.

Advancer and Responses

The partner, (the advancer), of the Astro Bidder has several options, which are explained below.

1. The partner can bid two of the specified Major, showing at least three card support and no game ambition.

2. The partner can bid three of the specified Major, which becomes an invitation.

3. The partner can bid four of the specified Major, which is a natural bid.

4. The partner can pass indicating a weak hand and a long suit in the Minor suit bid. This can be done with a 5-card suit if that is the partnership understanding, but a 6-card suit is preferred.

5. The partner can bid two of a neutral suit, specifically the next higher ranking suit above the Astro bid, which is a negative action, denying the ability to make any other response. The partner shows less than three card support in the specified Major and no length in any Minor suit.

6. The partner can bid 2 No Trump, which is artificial and forcing, and which shows some support for the specified Major, suggesting game prospects but does not guarantee a further bid.

7. The partner can bid a new suit as a takeout or jump. The jump can also include the neutral suit. Both cases show a six card or longer suit.

After a neutral bid, the Astro bidder has several options.

1. He could pass with five cards in the neutral suit. Remember, the Astro bidder shows nine cards when he bids 2 Clubs in Hearts and an unspecified Minor, which could be the neutral suit.

2. He could show five cards in the specified Major by bidding it.

3. He could bid his second suit, the unspecified Minor, at the level of three, strongly suggesting a six-card suit and more strength in high card points and distribution.

Responses Summarized

Pass: Promises a weak holding, a minimum of a 5-card support in the suit of the overcall.

  • 2 Diamonds / 2 Hearts: An artificial first response; a Relay asking the Intervenor to bid/name second suit and denies sufficient support for the anchor suit. If the anchor suit is Hearts, then the relay is 2 Diamonds. If the anchor suit is Spades, then the relay is 2 Hearts.
  • 2 Hearts / 2 Spades: Accepting the anchor suit, but showing weak values and at least a 3-card suit. The intervenor may pass.
  • 2 Spades: After 2 Clubs Hearts is the anchor suit and a new suit promises at least a 6-card suit in Spades and denies support in Hearts.
  • 2NT: This first response is forcing and game-invitational with a maximum of 11 points with values in all suits. Shows a doubleton in the anchor suit and requests intervenor to name second suit, which the advancer may pass.
  • 3Clubs: After a 2 Diamonds by intervenor showing Spades as the anchor suit, this first response shows a 6-card suit in Clubs and denies support in the anchor suit.
  • 3Clubs / 3 Diamonds: This is a raise of the artificial overcall of the intervenor and promises at least a 6-card suit and is considered game-invitational.
  • 3 Hearts / 3 Spades: Promises at least a 4-card support for the anchor suit, and values based on points and distribution. Invitational in nature, which intervenor may pass with minimum or bid game with maximum.
  • 4 Hearts / 4 Spades: Promises at least a 4-card support for the anchor suit and game values based on points and distribution. Generally considered to be a sign-off against an opening by the opponent of a strong No Trump.

Note: Variations of the Astro convention are somewhat dependent on the bidding system employed and can be altered or varied to meet the requirements of the particular bidding system.

Note: Some partnerships have agreed that the distribution of the holding, when overcalling could / may be reduced to 4-4 in both Major suits regardless of the state of vulnerability, otherwise the distribution is generally 5-4, 4-5, or 5-5 depending on the state of vulnerability. This is entirely a partnership agreement in all employed variations of the concept.

There have been several variations to the Astro convention, and you can click on the following links to discover these modifications.

  • Modified Astro – A variation of the Astro convention.
  • Pinpoint Astro – A variation of the Astro convention.
  • Astro Cuebid – An invention to indicate a two-suited holding after an opponent opens the auction on the one level with a suit bid.

Note: Another modification, origin unknown and with no official designation, has been employed by bridge partnerships using the Roth-Stone bidding system and these players have adapted the original concept to meet the requirements of this particular bidding system. The overcalls are outlined below in the schematic.

The student of this concept will note that the Major suit overcalls are one level higher. This may be indicating either a preemptive strike against the No Trump bidder or actual values held plus working values held in the indicated suits. The student will also note that the lack of the 2 No Trump and both Major suit overcalls on the two level are not employed and have become idle bids.

Note: Another variation, origin unknown and with no official designation, employs all the otherwise idle bids to more accurately designate the suit or suits and employs also the double as penalty. The origin of this variation is unknown.

The employment of the 2 No Trump bid to show both Minor suits distinguishes this variation from the other variations.

Aces Team

The Aces Team was a completely professional bridge team, organized in 1968 by financier Mr. Ira Corn from Dallas, Texas, United States, for the express purpose of returning the World Team Championship to the United States. This was the intention behind establishing the Aces Team.

Mr. Ira Corn selected six players from among America’s leading young experts, paying each a salary, plus tournament expenses, to undertake a full-time career of studying and playing bridge. He started with James Jacoby and Bobby Wolff, and shortly thereafter added Billy Eisenberg, Bobby Goldman and Michael Lawrence. Robert Hamman joined the team in 1969. Monroe Ingberman, mathematician and bridge writer, worked with the Aces as their first coach. In mid-1968 retired Air Force Colonel Joseph Musumeci was added as trainer and coach. The team was incorporated as the U.S. Aces, but was popularly known as the Dallas Aces and later simply as the Aces.

Using a computer, only introduced to private consumers at that time, to analyze results and to generate specific sets of hands to provide practice in given areas of the game, such as slam hands, preemptive openings, etc., the Aces spent 50 to 60 hours a week perfecting the bidding systems and discussing problems encountered at the table. Complete records of all hands played were compiled for critical analysis. From the intensive study and analysis emerged various bidding styles including the Orange Club, used by Wolff and Jacoby; the similar Black Club, used by Hamman and Eisenberg; and the Aces Scientific System, used by Goldman and Lawrence. Besides competing in North American Championships and Regional knockout team-of-four contests, the Aces also engaged many of America’s top experts in practice matches in Dallas and staged a series of exhibition matches, such as the much publicized Sharif Bridge Circus made popular by the actor Omar Sharif.

In 1969, the team achieved the first major goal set by Mr. Ira Corn by winning the Spingold Knockout Teams and later a playoff match that earned the Aces the right to represent North America in the 1970 Bermuda Bowl in Stockholm, Sweden. With the Blue Team retired, the Aces returned the Bermuda Bowl to North America for the first time since 1954. The Aces successfully defended their world title in 1971.

In 1971 Eisenberg left the team and was replaced by Paul Soloway. By June of 1972 the team had become a part-time effort, with the players being paid only their expenses rather than salaries. Thereafter the makeup of the Aces began to change. In 1972 the Aces were runner-up to Italy in the Team Olympiad. Jacoby-Wolff played the Orange Club; Hamman-Soloway, the Green Club and Goldman-Lawrence, Standard American with special treatments. In early 1973 Soloway was replaced by Mark Blumenthal. The Aces were second to Italy in the Bermuda Bowl, playing as two threesomes: Wolff-Hamman-Jacoby playing Aces Club and Goldman-Lawrence-Blumenthal playing Standard American with special treatments. Soon thereafter Lawrence and Jacoby left the team and were replaced by Eric Murray and Sami Kehela. In 1974 the Aces were second to Italy with Hamman-Wolff playing the Aces Club, Blumenthal-Goldman, Aces Scientific, and Kehela-Murray, Colonial Acol.

In 1975 Eddie Kantar and John Swanson made their first appearances in international play with the Aces and Soloway-Eisenberg were back on the team. The Aces were second to Italy in the Bermuda Bowl and the team was Hamman-Wolff (Aces Club); Eisenberg-Kantar, Soloway-Swanson (Standard American with special treatments).

In 1976 North America did not fare well in the Team Olympiad, but won the Bermuda Bowl. On the team were two former Aces, Soloway and Eisenberg.

The Aces won the 1977 Bermuda Bowl as Zone 2 representatives, and another team from North America finished second. Playing for the Aces once again were Hamman-Wolff, Soloway-Swanson and Eisenberg-Kantar. In 1979 four ex-Aces won the Bermuda Bowl in Rio on a team captained by Malcolm Brachman (Eisenberg, Goldman, Kantar, Soloway). The next year, in the 1980 World Team Olympiad, Mr. Ira Corn captained the Aces to second place behind France. His team was Hamman-Wolff, still playing the Aces Club; Soloway-lra Rubin (Standard American with special treatments) and Fred Hamilton-Mike Passell (five-card majors, Two-Over-One Game Force). In 1981 for the first time in many years no Ace or former Ace was present on the U.S. international team.

In the fall of 1981 Mr. Ira Corn put together one more Aces Team. He had great hopes for Hamman-Wolff (the only players to remain constantly with the Aces throughout a 13-year period), Alan Sontag-Peter Weichsel and Mike Becker-Ronnie Rubin. Just three months after Mr. Ira Corn’s sudden death of a heart attack in April, 1982, the Aces won the Spingold in Albuquerque and qualified for the International Team Trials in Minneapolis that November. The Aces name stuck with them. In the Minneapolis trials, which they won, they were known as the Aces and their non-playing captain was Joe Musumeci.

From that point on the Aces Team as such disappeared into history. But members of the team continued to have many successes. Hamman and Wolff headed the WBF rankings in 1992. Lawrence and Kantar are prolific bridge authors. Soloway became the first player to break the 40,000-point barrier in 1994, Jacoby was a syndicated bridge columnist.

Upside-Down Count and Attitude

UDCA – Upside-Down Count and Attitude

This designation applies to a carding and/or discarding method, which communicates certain information to a bridge partner. The origin is unknown, but this particular method has gained popularity with the bridge community. The name of this carding method is also referred to sometimes as Reverse Signals, although there can be minor differences according to the bridge expert. As can be presumed from the designation, a card can inform the partner of several things perhaps important to the defense and maintaining communication.

This presentation includes first the general guidelines of the more Standard method of carding. These are presented below:

Partner Leads a Suit

If partner leads a small card to a non-tabled dummy, then the normal procedure is to play third hand high. However, if after the tabling of the dummy, the partner discovers that no card is held, which can win the trick or force the declarer to play a high honor to promote a possible winner, then the partner should show attitude.

If partner leads a top honor, such as an Ace, to a non-tabled dummy, then the normal procedure for the partner is to show attitude with the first played card. This holds true also if the partner, during play, wins a trick and switches to a new suit and plays a top honor. The first card should show attitude.

1. When following to a suit, the guideline is to signal attitude with the first card.

  •  a low card signals encouragement.
  • When West leads the King,then
  • a high card signals discouragement.

2. When following to a suit, the guideline is to signal suit preference with the second card.

Declarer Leads a Suit

1. When following to a suit, the guideline is to signal count with the first card.

2. When following to a suit, the guideline is to signal suit preference with the second card.

Discarding in an Unled Suit

When the opportunity arises to discard in a suit, the guideline is:

1. signal attitude with the first card.

  • a low card signals encouragement.
  • a high card signals discouragement.

2. signal present count with the second card

Weak Two Bids

This convention is perhaps the most difficult to understand and explain. However, its effectiveness has caused many bridge players to adopt it in their Partnership Agreement. In essence, it is a mild preempt. Bidding Weak Twos disturbs the bidding of the opponents, obstructs the auction process of the opponents and generally does not permit the opponents to reach game.

Among the pioneers of the bidding auction there were several who simply liked to mess up the bidding. There was Mr. Vanderbilt, Mr. Van Vleck, Mr. Schenken. All great bridge players and men of adventure, who liked to throw stumbling blocks in the path of their bridge opponents.

Over the years, their convention has been used and developed further. Their convention has spawned variations. This has lead to some confusion, because the situation is different when the Weak Two Bid is used in First Seat as opposed to the Third Seat. The situation is different regarding vulnerability. Therefore, position and vulnerability are the two keys to successfully using Weak Two Bids. We shall try to cover as much ground as possible without making it too confusing.

If the partnership agreement is that the opening bid of 2 Clubs is a strong, artificial bid describing multiple strong holdings, then there are only three Weak Two Bids: 2 Diamonds – 2 Hearts – 2 Spades. The length of the suit, depending on vulnerability, is either a 5-card suit or a 6-card suit. The high card points should generally be in the suit bid. Experience shows that there should be no void in any suit.

The point range is different according to partnership agreement, but in general both following point ranges are acceptable.

5 high card points to 10/11 high card points

6 high card points to 10/11 high card points

What are the Responses to Weak Two Bids? What are the Guidelines for North?
North, in the above example, finds himself in a bind. What should he bid? This is the time for the Partnership Agreement to become activated and enforced. Without a Partnership Agreement, both partners are doomed to either not reach the correct contract or to exceed the correct contract.

The problem lies in the fact, that the responder does not know whether his partner has a second suit and that the Responder cannot estimate the point range, which can be between 5 high card points to 11 high card points. In the above example, the contract can either be 3 No Trump or 4 Spades, but that is not the issue. The issue is: What are the bidding possibilities for the responder after his partner has opened with a Weak Two Bid? Below are some general guidelines, not only for the responder but also for the Weak Two bidder.

Recommendations and Guidelines about Distribution

There are several schools of thought about this feature of the holding and the learning bridge player will have to make a choice, a decision. The following constitutes only suggestions, recommendations and guidelines offered by bridge authors, bridge theoreticians, and bridge experts.

Recommended and Suggested Response Methods

Method One:

Raise to 3 Diamonds / 3 Hearts / 3 Spades

The responder is low in high card points.
This bid is used preemptively.
This bid is an obstruction bid.
Expected tricks are between 6 and 9 tricks.
Used primarily when not vulnerable.

Method Two:

Raise to 5 Diamond / 4 Hearts / 4 Spades

The responder has medium high card points.
This bid is used preemptively.
This bid is an obstruction bid.

Caution: Opponents may not have game.
Used primarily when not vulnerable.
Responder expects to be doubled.

Or the responder is high in high card points.
Responder expects to make game.
Responder has 4 to 6 Quick Tricks.

Method Three:

Suit Takeout

This is an alternative treatments.
This bid is non-forcing.
Indicates no support for the Weak Two Bid.
Indicates a 6-card plus suit.
Responder must bid 2 No Trump.

Method Four:

Bid 2 No Trump

This bid is a one-round forcing bid and shows game interest. if opener rebids his suit, then the opener shows weakness and no other feature in a side suit. Some bridge players have adopted the bid of 3 Clubs to show a minimum.

If the opener rebids another suit, then this rebid shows a high-card feature, normally an Ace or King and a moderately strong holding.

Using this guideline it must be revealed to the opponents whether or not the opener is allowed to rebid above the level of three in his original suit

If the opener is allowed to raise the 2 No Trump bid by partner to 3 No Trump, then this bid shows a solid suit.

Method Five:

Ogust System

This is a conventional method employed by the partnership whereby the opener, whose partner has bid a forcing 2 No Trump, is able to describe further the strength of the holding and the quality of the suit by a series of artificial bids.

Method Six:

McCabe Adjunct

This concept is credited to Mr. J. I. McCabe of Columbia, South Carolina, United States. His article was published in The Bridge World, issue of January 1994. This is a conventional method whereby the Weak Two bidder and his partner agree to play in a new suit on the three level.

Method Seven:


Relays are the cheapest bids possible, in this case the cheapest response.

2 Diamonds relays to 2 Hearts
2 Hearts relays to 2 Spades
2 Spades relays to 2 No Trump
The Relay Method requests the opener to bid a Stopper in another suit, if he has a Stopper. If he has no Stopper in another suit, he rebids his suit. If the Stopper is in the relay suit, the opener rebids No Trump. When using this method, the Relay is the only possible forcing bid by the responder.

In conclusion, it must be noted that Weak Two Bids are more or less a gut-feeling bid, if you are the dealer. However, using the above guidelines to direct you, you and your partner will come to a prearranged Partnership Agreement. Weak Two Bids are also very obstructive to the opponents. They can also present a preempt of the partner, and without a pre-agreed Partnership Agreement, the best contract will generally not be reached. Remember above all else that vulnerability and position at the bridge table should be the deciding factors before making any Weak Two Bid. Any one of the different methods above regarding the bid of the responder can be applied and included in the Partnership Agreement. Both partners should prepare some practice hands and experiment with the different methods, and then decide upon their use.

Romex Dynamic 1NT


This method of opening No Trump is an integral feature of the Romex Bidding System, devised by Mr. George Rosenkranz of Mexico and Mr. Phillip Alder. The concept is that the opener may show a relatively strong holding, which is unbalanced, and which can be made on any distribution except 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, or 5-3-3-2 holdings. The strength is restricted to exactly 18 to 21 points and must have at least five controls and which has only four to five losers.

The designation of losers in the Romex Bidding System is defined as follows:

1. in any suit shorter than three cards, a loser is counted for each card that is not an Ace or King,

2. in any suit longer than two cards, a loser is counted for any of the three top honors that are missing,

3. no suit may have more than three losers.

The Responses To a 1 No Trump Opening:

The concept behind the first response to a 1 No Trump opening is to show immediately the number of controls held. The number of controls is counted in the following manner:

1. Each Ace counts as 2 controls,

2. Each King is counted as one control.

The number of controls is shown together with the point range and is shown in the following schematic:

Opener Responder Controls and Point Range
1 NT 2 Shows 0-1 control with 0-6 points.
2 Shows 0-1 control with 7-15 points.
2 Shows 2 controls. Either 1 Ace or 2 Kings.
* With 1 Ace or 2 controls and less than 6 points, the proper response is 2 .
2 Shows 3 controls. Either 1 Ace and 1 King or 3 Kings.
2 NT Shows 4 controls in two suits. Either 2 Aces or Ace-King combination plus an outside King.
3 Shows 4 controls in two plus suits. Either an Ace and 2 Kings all in different suits or 4 Kings.
3 Shows 5 controls. Either 1 Ace and 3 Kings or 2 Aces and 1 King.
3 Shows 6 controls. Either 3 Aces or 2 Aces and 2 Kings, or 1 Ace and 4 Kings.
3 Shows 7 controls. Either 3 Aces and 1 King or 2 Aces and 3 Kings.
In the case that the responder holds a semi-solid independent suit of a 7- or 8-card length containing no void, and less than two controls, the responder may make a natural jump to four of this suit, either in a Major or a Minor suit.

Rebids by the Opener Over a First Response of Two Clubs:

Since a first response of 2 Clubs shows 0-1 control and 0-6 points, the No Trump bidder attempts to find a low level contract as quickly as possible, in which to play. When the responder shows such a poor holding, the No Trump bidder immediately knows that a game contract is not viable even when holding a maximum of 21 points. The possible options and the guidelines are included in the list below.

1. If the opener rebids 2 Hearts or 2 Spades, a Major suit, then the No Trump bidder promises a good 5-card or longer Heart or Spade suit. This rebid is non-forcing and partner may pass.

2. If the opener rebids 3 of a Minor suit, including Clubs, then the No Trump bidder promises a good 6-card or longer Club or Diamond suit. If the rebid is 3 Clubs, then the responder may become, by default, the declarer. This rebid is non-forcing and partner may pass.

3. If the opener rebids 4 Hearts or 4 Spades, then the No Trump bidder shows maximum values and three or less losers, which practically guarantees a holding containing game values even with no help from partner.

In the case that the No Trump bidder opens a Dynamic No Trump containing two suits in the Minor suits, and in order to continue the auction, certain requirements should be fulfilled. The No Trump opening should contain either:

1. a holding with 4 losers including at most two quick losers in a side suit

2. or a holding with 3 losers or less.

3. and the distribution should be either: 2-1-5-5, 3-1-5-4, 2-2-5-4.

By rebidding 2 No Trump, the opener shows both Minor suits and a distribution of at least 5-4, preferably by favorable vulnerability, and a distribution of 5-5 by unfavorable vulnerability.

By rebidding 3 No Trump, the opener again shows both Minor suits and a distribution of at least a distribution of 5-5 by any vulnerability, and a 3 loser holding and maximum values.

The concept is similar when the No Trump bidder holds both Major suits. The options include:

1. If the No Trump opener has a 4 loser holding, the opener can jump to 3 Hearts after a 2 Club first response. The responder is then allowed the opportunity of choosing or making a preference of either Major suit. If the preference is Hearts, then the responder will pass. If the preference is Spades, then the responder will correct to Spades. This preference will determine the final contract. The opener is then required to pass with a 4 loser holding.

2. If the No Trump opener has a 3 loser holding, the opener can jump to 3 Spades and the responder must make a preference on the four level and insures game either in Hearts or Spades. The responder is not allowed to pass this rebid since the opener has game-going values in his holding. The responder only makes a preference. The following example illustrates this choice.

3. If the No Trump bidder has a 3/4 loser holding and the distribution is 5-5-3-0, then the opener may choose to rebid the 3-card Minor suit on the four level. The following example illustrates this choice.

The rebid of the No Trump bidder becomes problematic if none of the above distributions are present. However, with a 4 loser holding, the opener should continue to bid to find the optimal contract. The catch-all rebid of 2 Diamonds was created to have the responder further describe his holding. This rebid is a Waiting Bid and is one-round forcing. It is employed for the following situations:

1. The opener may hold both 4-card Major suits and is unable to bid as above, which requires that the distribution be at least 5-4 and sometimes 5-5.

2. The opener may hold five cards in both Major suits, but has a total of 5 losers, which is insufficient to employ the above auctions.

3. The opener may have a 6-card Heart suit and a 4-card side Spade suit, or the converse, and the danger is that the responder may make a preference for the 4-card Major suit and the partnership may end up playing in a Moysian fit of 4-3.

4. The opener may have a 5-card or longer Major suit and a 5-card or longer Minor suit and has no bid even with a 4 loser holding.

In order to continue the auction and to clarify these conditions, the 2 Diamonds Waiting Bid became a feature of the Dynamic No Trump opening.

The Responses to a 2 Diamond Rebid by Opener

Examples could be given for each of the following conditions, but the explanations should clarify the distinctive holding of the responder.

1. If the responder holds either a 4-card Major suit with one honor or a weak 5-card Major suit, possibly with no honor higher than a 10, then the responder should rebid this Major suit on the two level.

2. If the responder holds either a 5-card Major suit with 2 honors or a weak 6-card Major suit, possibly with an honor of Queen or less, then the responder should jump to the three level.

3. If the responder does not hold any distribution described above, then the responder should show a 5-card Minor suit, if possible.

4. If the responder has neither a 5-card Minor suit nor a 4-card Major suit, possible distribution 3-3-3-4, then the responder should rebid 2 No Trump.

Rebids by the Opener Over a Two Diamond First Response

The first response of 2 Diamonds shows 0-1 control with 7-15 points and is game-forcing. The No Trump bidder has several options, which follow:

1. The opener will rebid a 4-card or 5-card Heart suit.

2. If the opener has a 5-card Heart suit and a 5-card Spade suit, the opener is required to rebid the Spade suit first before bidding the Heart suit.

3. If the opener has a 4-card or 5-card Heart suit and a 6-card Minor suit, even if that suit is Clubs, the opener is required to rebid the Minor suit before bidding his Major suit.

4. If the No Trump bidder has a 4-card or 5-card Spade suit, then the opener will first bid the Spade suit unless the opener has a Heart suit, which is longer than the Spade suit. If the Minor suit is a 6-card suit, then the opener should first rebid the Minor suit before bidding a 4-card or 5-card Major suit. Since the partnership is committed to game after a first response of 2 Diamonds, then the bidding sequence describing the length of the suits becomes a priority in case that a slam attempt can be discovered. This also means that the opener need not make any jump bids to show and sort of distribution.

5. If the opener indeed makes a jump rebid after a first response of 2 Diamonds, especially in a Major suit, then the agreement is that this jump promises at least a 6-card suit. If the opener jumps to 3 Hearts, then this rebid shows exactly a 6-card Heart suit and a 4-card Spade suit. If the opener jumps to 3 Spades, then the opener shows exactly a 6-card Spade suit and a 4-card Heart suit.

The concept is set up so that all other rebids remain identical to the 2 Clubs response. The following description refers to one specific auction, where the No Trump bidder shows both Minor suits with moderately strong values, as in the case:

Opener Responder
1 NT 2
2 NT
The holding of the No Trump bidder is at least a distribution of 5-4 in the Minor suits by favorable vulnerability and at least 5-5 distribution by non-favorable vulnerability. This results in a possible distribution of: 2-2-4-5, 2-1-5-5, or 3-1-4-5. On the other hand, if the holding of the responder contains one of the top three honors, Ace, King or Queen, in either of the Minor suits, the reponder can rebid 3 Clubs as a one-round forcing bid, which requests that the opener describe his Major suit distribution. The following schematic allows the opener to describe his distribution exactly.

As soon as the responder is informed of the Major suit distribution, the responder can then either set the final contract in either a suit contract, a No Trump contract, or even explore the possibility of a slam, all dependent on the holding of the responder.

Swine Acol

Swine Convention

The term Swine is an acronym for Sebesfi-Woods-1-Notrump-Escape. This method of defending against an overcall, either a direct overcall or a balancing action, was developed in Australia, and is mainly used in the Acol system.

The partner opens 1 No Trump. The Left Hand Opponent makes a direct overcall.

Opener > LHO > Responder  > Meaning

1 NT > Double >

  • Pass – Responder’s pass forces opener to redouble.
  • Opener’s Redouble is to play or bids the cheaper of touching suits.
  • Redouble – Responder shows a single suited holding, and forces opener to rebid 2 Clubs.
  • 2 clubs – Responder shows a 2-suited holding in Clubs and Hearts.
  • 2 diamonds – Responder shows a 2-suited holding in Diamonds and Spades.
  • 2 hearts – Responder shows moderate values, a natural bid, and prepared to reach the Three Level.
  • 2 spades – Responder shows moderate values, a natural bid, and prepared to reach the Three Level.
  • 2 NT – Game-forcing, artificial, showing a strong, unbalanced holding, possibly a Two-Suiter.
  • 3 clubs – Preemptive in nature.
  • 3 diamonds – Preemptive in nature.
  • 3 hearts – Preemptive in nature.
  • 3 spades – Preemptive in nature.

If the overcall is in the Pass Out Seat, then the 1 No Trump opener should first pass, awaiting the verdict of his partner. Under normal circumstances, the partner of the overcaller is obliged to take action. As soon as this action is taken, then the partner of the 1 No Trump bidder can reenter the auction with less than sufficient values. Otherwise the partner would have taken action before passing on the first round.

In those rare instances, when the advancer of the intervenor passes his partner’s double, hoping for penalty points, the partner of the 1 No Trump bidder can redouble, showing a one-suited holding. The 1 No Trump bidder is forced to rebid 2 Clubs as a Relay Bid. If the partner’s suit is Clubs, then he passes. If Clubs is not his suit, then he rebids his suit on the second round.

If the partner, after passing on the first round and the partner of the Doubler passes for penalty, and the partner of the 1 No Trump bidder bids 2 Clubs, 2 Diamonds, or 2 Hearts, then he shows the bid suit and a higher-ranking suit. The partner is two-suited, but has less than sufficient values to bid on the first round.

Lionel Convention

In May, 1993, Mr. Lionel Wright wrote Lionel In Action in the International Popular Bridge Monthly magazine, Volume 19, No. 5. Mr. Lionel Wright explained why the traditional Penalty Double of 1 No Trump is overrated. He was born 1953 and died in the year 2003. He was born in England, but was raised in New Zealand, the country he represented in five world championships. At the turn of the century he returned to England.

His reasoning is presented below:

1. It would be better to have an even split of the strength between the defenders than to have everything in one hand.
2. When they escape, most methods to penalise them are less than ideal, and can lead to awkward auctions.
3. The partnership may miss their 4-4 fits.

The idea behind the concept of Mr. Lionel Wright is that one should basically be competing primarily for the partscore against 1 No Trump, i.e. a shift of emphasis from active aggressiveness to frequent competition. This is the foundation of his conventional method of overcalling a No Trump opening by an opponent. Note: it is unknown whether the conventional method applies only to the immediate seat or whether the conventional method may also be applied after two consecutive passes.

The high card point count is definitely not the motivation behind the concept although the working values should be in the main suits. The concept is based primarily on the distribution and shape of the holding and can be based on the Losing Trick Count method. The main disadvantage is the inability to penalize 1 No Trump with a strong balanced hand with less than four Spades.

The convention method is described as follows:

Opponent Lionel Meaning

  • 1 NT The range of the No Trump should be announced.
  • Double Promises 11 plus high card points. Shows at least a distribution of 4-4 in Spades and a second, unspecified suit.
  • 2 Clubs Promises 11 plus high card points. Shows at least a 4-4 distribution in Clubs and Hearts.
  • 2 Diamonds Promises 11 plus high card points. Shows at least a 4-4 distribution in Diamonds and Hearts.
  • 2 Hearts A natural bid.
  • 2 Spades A natural bid.
  • 2 NT Shows a distributional holding in both Minor suits.
  • 3 Clubs A natural bid.
  • 3 Diamonds A natural bid.


The continuances for the advancer, or partner of the overcaller follow. In the bidding sequence:

South  Lionel  North  Partner
1 NT   Double  Pass    ?


Partner Meaning

  • Pass Shows 10 plus high card points and is penalty-oriented.
  • 2 Clubs This is a non-forcing relay and asks the doubler to pass or bid his second suit.
  • 2 Diamonds Non-forcing but generally indicating four or more Diamonds. The Lionel Doubler can then bid 2 with Hearts and fewer than two Diamonds.
  • 2 Hearts A natural bid and non-forcing.
  • 2 NT This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and no singleton.
  • 3 Clubs This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and singleton in Clubs.
  • 3 Diamonds This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and singleton in Diamonds.
  • 3 Hearts This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and singleton in Hearts.
  • 3 Spades This is a preemptive raise.

Minor Suit Overcall and Responses
South      Lionel                  North  Partner
1 NT   2 Clubs/Diamonds  Pass       ?


Partner Meaning

  • Pass To play.
  • 2 Hearts To play.
  • New suit Any new suit is non-forcing and natural.
  • 2 NT This response is natural and invitational.
  • Raise This response is natural and invitational.
  • 3 Hearts This response is natural and invitational.
  • Jump This response is natural and invitational.

Final Note:

For historical purposes the advantages of the Lionel convention compared to conventional defense methods in the 1950s and other methods are listed below.

1. This concept can be used against all 1 No Trump ranges in all positions, without changing the strength or meaning of any of the calls, i.e you do not have to check their Convention Card before deciding what to call.

2. The partnership can play 2 or 2 when the partnership has discovered a fit.

3. The partnership can identify their best fit quickly and more frequently.

4. The partnership can defend 1 No Trump doubled with split points, which is desirable.

5. It is more difficult for the opponents to double you when two specific suits are shown with one bid.

6. There are negative inferences available to a passed hand when 1 No Trump is passed out.

7. A last advantage is that the concept is simple to remember.