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 ?
- 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 ?
- 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.
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.