Welcome to Basement Bridge

Weekly updates from Kit Jackson offering hints and tips for the modern Bridge player. Enjoy!

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Intervention over 1NT – “System On” or “System Off” ? – 10 November 2010

Congratulations to Captain Ann and the PoW team in the London Newcomers League who WON their first match of the season. Brilliant! Onwards and upwards!

Now for some bridge!

Partner Opens 1NT And Your Right Hand Opponent (RHO) Doubles Or Overcalls

STANDARD (Systems Off)

In Standard Acol it is normal to play "Systems Off" when your RHO intervenes. This means that Stayman and Transfers no longer apply and all bids are natural. ie 2C,2D,2H,2S mean what they say.

If RHO bids a suit, a Double by you is now for penalties. If RHO Doubles, a Re-Double by you means you think partner will make 1NT Doubled. This is nice and simple and everyone knows where they are.

On the other hand… if Stayman and Transfers are so great when RHO stays silent why aren’t they even better if RHO Doubles or bids?


Everything in this section is NON Standard and MUST be discussed with partner before you start playing around (!) just to make sure everyone is on the same wavelength. Otherwise fantastic mis-understandings can occur. Well, they probably will anyway but why
make it worse? Everything below is ONLY by partnership agreement! You
have been warned…

1NT - 2C - ?

Playing Systems On you might agree with partner that a Double by you is Stayman i.e. “They stole my bid: I wanted to bid 2C so I’ll Double to let you know that.” You’ll have a goodish hand and with two 4 card majors and want to compete.

Notice that you now therefore can’t double 2C for penalties. Experts believe this a very small price to pay for regaining Stayman, but you must decide for yourself.

Again in the above auction you can now keep 2D & 2H as transfers. BUT… what if it goes 1NT - 2D - ? Following the principle above a double by you is now a Transfer to Hearts, and 2H is transfer to Spades.


All this of course assumes that the 2C & 2D were natural doesn’t it? You’ll find that a lot of practised partnerships have quite complicated defences to opponents opening 1NT, most of them revolving around two suited hands. This means you have to be a bit more careful in employing Systems On.

For instance a popular defence to 1NT is to play a convention (known as Landy) where a 2C overcall shows BOTH Majors (5 -4), so there’s now no point in Doubling 2C to show the majors in your hand as you’ll want to defend against their untimely intervention.

To make matters even more interesting, other partnerships use a convention (known as Astro) where a 2C overcall of 1NT shows 5+ Hearts and a minor suit, and 2D shows 5+ Spades and a minor. There are plenty of these conventions about (Cansino, Ripstra, etc) and if you come up against them you need to discuss with partner what your bids will now mean.

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