Leghorn Diamond Bidding System
This bidding system was developed by Mr. Benito Bianchi and Mr. Giuseppe Messina. It is quite similar to the Roman System and also carries the designation of the Livorno System.
Note: Mr. Charles H. Goren wrote a bridge column for the magazine Sports Illustrated, with which he was great friends with the owner. His face adorned the cover of this magazine several times. Among his many contributions to the game of bridge he also wrote these columns, in which and through which he kept the bridge community informed. His column from February 6, 1967, describes how the partnership of Mr. Giuseppe Messina and Mr. Benito Bianchi were able to bid a slam employing the Leghorn Diamond bidding system at the 1965 European Championships.
Note: Mr. Charles H. Goren summarizes the Leghorn Diamond bidding system in the following manner: Leghorn is designed to add a further way to elicit information about both high-card strength and distribution, employing an artificial one-diamond opening, as well as an artificial one club. When the right hand comes along for the system, there is no doubt that it gleans information that no other method can provide with the same accuracy.
Note: In order to save and preserve this bit of bridge history for our visitors, this article has been archived in .pdf file format on this site for future reference.
The name is interesting since a leghorn is a certain kind of small chicken, known for its hardiness and its high production of fine, white eggs. Does the name refer to some kind of distinctive body appendage? No, and here is a clue to its real origin. The same name also refers to the dried and bleached straw of an Italian variety of wheat. The name of both the chicken and the straw comes from the town of Leghorn in northwestern Italy, where both breeds originated. Leghorn, Italy, is now known almost always by its Italian name of Livorno.
Why Mr. Benito Bianchi and Mr. Giuseppe Messina choose to name their bidding system in such a manner shall always remain an Italian secret.
The main features of their Leghorn Diamond System are as follows, and the details and/or refinements of this particular bidding system were subject to their partnership agreement. However, inspecting the Roman System will assist the individual bridge player and/or bridge partnership.
1. A 1 Club opening is forcing and promises any of the following four distinctions. The distinctions are clarified during the auction.
A. a holding with 12-15 high card points, balanced distribution and no 5-card Major suit.
B. an unbalanced distribution with a long Minor suit, and 12-20 high card points.
B.1. the holding could also contain a side 4-card Major suit if the point range is 12 or 13 high card points.
C. an unbalanced holding with a long Major suit, 16-20 high card points, no side 4-card Major suit or 5-card Minor suit.
D. a 3-suited holding with either a singleton or void in a Major suit, 12 or 13 high card points.
A 1 Diamond response is a negative response to a 1 Club opening. This response shows less than 8 high card points.
A 2 Diamonds response is a natural response to a 1 Club opening, but is also a negative response showing less than 8 high card points.
A 2 Diamond response (also a jump response) can be made with only a 4-card suit if the intention is to Canapé into a Major suit.
A 1 Heart response is a positive response, promising 8 high card points or more.
A 1 Spade response is a positive response, promising 8 high card points or more.
A 1 No Trump response denies a 4-card Major suit and promises 8-10 high card points.
A 2 No Trump response denies a 4-card Major suit and promises 11-12 high card points.
Any Jump suit responses are considered natural and game-forcing. The exception is the Jump raise to 3 Clubs, which is one-round forcing only and requests that the final contract be 3 No Trump.
After the initial response, the opener can then describe his particular holding.
1. Bidding a 4-card Major suit shows a minimum with a weak balanced hand, but this does not exclude the holding of a Major-Minor two-suiter or even a three-suited hand.
2. Holding either of the two options for an unbalanced holding, the opener makes a rebid in a Minor suit with 12-17 high card points, jumps to the Two Level in a Major suit with 12-17 high card points, and jumps to the Three Level with 18-20 high card points.
3. Following a positive first response, a jump rebid by the opener of 2 No Trump shows exactly 15 high card points and a balanced holding.
3.1. After this rebid by the opener, the responder can Canapé into his long suit.
2. A 1 Diamond opening is forcing for one round and promises any of the following two distinctions.
A. a balanced holding with 19 plus high card points.
B. an unbalanced holding:
1. which is one Quick Trick short of game.
2. or a three-suited holding with at least 20 high card points.
Any suit response to a 1 Diamond opening show controls by using Step Responses, where a King equals 1 control and an Ace equals 2 controls.
It is important to remember that if the responder holds no controls, but rather only Queens and Jacks, then the responder bids 1 No Trump with 5-6 high card points and 2 No Trump with 7 plus high card points.
To distinguish between the options, the opener rebids No Trump to show a balanced holding with 19 plus high card points.
If the opener has an unbalanced holding, then the opener rebids a suit at the lowest possible level. The responder then in informed of the unbalanced distribution and of the 20 plus high card point range. The responder then has the opportunity to a possible number of eight Step Responses to show and communicate support after the initial first response. Any further rebid by the opener is then classified as Asking Bids and the responses are on the same order as indicated in the diagram above. After the responder has made any support showing Step Response to the second suit rebid of the opener, then the cheapest possible bid by the opener is a Relay, asking the responder to make a choice between the suits shown by the opener.
3. A 1 Heart or a 1 Spade opening is considered natural, and is forcing for one round and promises any of the following two distinctions.
A. a 5-card or longer Major suit as indicated in the chosen opening with less than 16 high card points.
B. a two-suited holding, generally a 4-card Major suit and a longer side suit (usually a Minor suit), with 14-19 high card points.
The opener will, after the initial response from his partner, indicate the holding on his rebid:
1. a rebid of the Major suit opening promises a 5-card or longer Major suit as indicated in the chosen opening with less than 16 high card points. This rebid does not deny a 4-card side suit.
2. a jump in a second suit shows the two-suited holding with 14-19 high card points.
4. A 1 No Trump opening is of the standard range of 16-18 high card points, but the distinction is that it also denies a 5-card Major suit.
5. A 2 Clubs opening shows a three-suited holding with 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0 distribution, and 12-16 high card points.
6. A 2 Diamonds opening shows a three-suited holding with 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0 distribution, and 17-19 high card points.
7. A 2 Hearts or 2 Spades opening is considered to be a strong Weak Two Bid promising a two-suited holding, with 5-4 distribution when not vulnerable and 5-5 by unfavorable vulnerability, since the range is between 9-12 high card points. These two openings are considered informative, but also obstructive.
8. A 2 No Trump opening promises a two-suited holding in both Minor suits. The distribution is always 5-5 by any vulnerability, and the range is 14-16 high card points.
These are the essential elements of the Leghorn Diamond System devised by Mr. Benito Bianchi and Mr. Giuseppe Messina. A distinct advantage of this bidding system is that the opponents are not certain as to the specific holding of the opener until the opener rebids, which could mean that the opponents could only enter the auction after it was perhaps too late to communicate the proper information to each other, and to find a fit. The opener not only has to clarify his holding to his partner, but an opening also has to be clear to the opponents before any action on their part can be undertaken.