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Standard American Bridge

This is an outline of Standard American bidding and carding agreements that apply to bidding polls and play contests conducted by Richard Pavlicek. Default conventions include Stayman, strong artificial 2 C bid, negative doubles, Michaels cue-bid, unusual notrump, Gerber, new minor forcing, fourth suit forcing, and regular Blackwood. For greater detail, Richard’s Bidding Guide applies where nonconflicting here. If a special case arises that differs, it would be noted in the appropriate poll or contest.

Most recent update: May 7, 2007.

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Bidding Agreements

General Approach

Standard with 5 Card Majors
Strong forcing opening: 2 C

Notrump Opening Bids

1 NT = 15 to 17 HCP
2 C = Stayman; if followed by:
2 H or 2 S = invitational

3 C or 3 D = game forcing

3 C or 3 D = weak (sign-off)
After a double:
all suit bids are natural to play

After an overcall:
all doubles are penalty

cue-bid of real suit = Stayman

2 NT = 20 to 22 HCP
3 C = Stayman

3 NT = 25 to 26 HCP
4 C = Stayman

Major Openings

5+ cards
Double raise = forcing (limit in competition)
1 NT = 6 to 10
2 NT = 13 to 16 (11-12 in competition)
3 NT = 17 to 18

Minor Openings

3+ cards
Double raise = forcing (limit in competition)
1 NT = 6 to 10
2 NT = 13 to 16 (11-12 in competition)
3 NT = 17 to 18

Two-Club Opening

Strong (usually 23+) and artificial
2 D = 0 to 7 HCP; artificial
Other responses = 8+ HCP; natural

Weak Two-Bids

5 to 11 HCP; 6 cards (occasionally strong 5)
New suit response nonforcing (usually constructive)
2 NT only force; asks for feature if not minimum

Other Agreements

New minor forcing (game invitational or better)
Fourth suit forcing (game invitational or better)
Responder’s second-round jump bids game forcing (by unpassed hand)
Two-over-one response shows 11+ points and promises a rebid (if below game)

Special Doubles

Negative through 4 D

Direct Notrump Overcalls

1 NT = 15 to 18 HCP (10 to 15 in passout)
Respond as to 1 NT opening

2 NT nonjump = 16 to 19 (14 to 17 in passout)
Respond as to 2 NT opening

2 NT jump = unusual for two lower unbid suits
3 NT = natural; may have 6+ card minor
All responses natural (except a cue-bid)

4 NT jump = like unusual 2 NT but extreme shape

Versus All Notrump Openings

Double = 14+ HCP (optional)
All suit bids = natural

Simple Overcall

Typically 8 to 17 HCP
Simple response = 8-11 (may be less in competition); nonforcing
Jump response = invitational
Cue-bid response = forcing to game or four of previously bid minor
If enemy showed two suits, implies stopper in cue-bid suit

If beyond 3 NT, shows control and implies fit (slam try)

Jump Overcall

Weak (like a weak two-bid or preemptive opening)
Respond as to same opening

Over Opp’s Takeout Double

New suit = nonforcing
Jump raise = 8 to 10 points; 4+ trumps
Redouble = 10+ HCP or 11+ support points

Opening Preempts

Light; based on the rule of 2, 3 or 4

Versus Enemy Preempts

Double = takeout through 4 D
Double of 4 H, 4 S, 5 C or 5 D = optional
4 NT over 4 S = all suit takeout
4 NT over any other major bid = minors

Psychics

Rare (never initial actions)

Direct Cue-bid

Michaels (two-suiter)
Over a minor shows both majors

Over a major shows other major and unspecified minor

Slam Conventions

Blackwood 4 NT (regular, not key-card)
Resp: 5 C = 0 or 4; 5 D = 1; 5 H = 2; 5 S = 3

5 NT follow-up asks for kings in a similar way

Gerber 4 C (must be a jump and partner must have made a natural notrump bid)
Resp: 4 D = 0 or 4; 4 H = 1; 4 S = 2; 4 NT = 3

5 C follow-up asks for kings in a similar way

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Carding Agreements

Leads

Against all contracts:
King from A-K

Top of an honor sequence

Fourth best

Against suits:
Low from three small

Against notrump:
High from three small

Ace from great strength (e.g., A-K-J-10-x) to demand unblock of king, queen or jack

Signals

Attitude when partner leads (high encourages*; low discourages). Clarifications and exceptions:
When partner leads your shown 5+ card suit, encourage with a middle card.

At a suit contract, high-low with a doubleton on a king lead.

At a suit slam, give count on a king lead (unless you showed 5+ cards in auction).

At notrump, give count on an ace lead if you have no honor to unblock.

*Signals are generally specific to the suit led. Do not encourage a continuation just to prevent a shift to another suit, unless certain that a continuation is safe. The so-called “obvious shift principle” is not a part of these agreements.

Count when declarer leads any suit except trumps (high-low shows an even number of cards; up-the-line shows odd).
Trump signal applies in general to all plays in the trump suit (high-low shows an odd number; up-the-line shows even). Note that this is the exact opposite of the count signal in other suits.
Suit preference (high asks for higher non-trump suit*; low asks for lower non-trump suit*; middle asks for a continuation or trump shift, or merely shows no preference) applies:
When partner leads your shown 5+ card suit

When dummy has a singleton in a side suit led against a suit bid

When partner’s lead is an obvious singleton against a suit bid

When giving partner a ruff

When making a subsequent play in a suit after attitude or count has been shown

When partner knows your exact holding (typically by declarer showing out of suit)

*At notrump, if there are three possible suits, one suit (usually dummy’s strongest) is eliminated by logic; then high/low relate to the two remaining suits.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek