Major-oriented one-level openings

General

SPREAD uses a MAFIA approach to describing hands too weak for a strong opening and too strong for a weak opening (MAjors FIrst Always). All such hands with a major suit will open 1C or 1D; all hands with spades will open 1D and those with hearts (and not spades) will open 1C. These opening bids may be opening their longest suit, or could have a longer side suit, or be balanced. The limited nature of these hands often makes it very easy for responder to determine that the opening side has little (or no) play for game, and responder will take an action that is a suggestion of a final contract.
Continuations follow the same general principles after these openings; the cheapest step begins game-forcing relays, the next step begins most invitational auctions, most other low-level steps are natural and tend to suggest final contracts, a few jump bids show fit but are not forward-going, a few jump bids show fit for the shown suit and are invitational, and some jumps in notrump show fit, at least invitational strength and undisclosed shortage.
After the game-forcing relay and the subsequent descriptive rebid by opener, responder can continue to bid Step 1 for relay in all cases. Opener's replies are structured to rightside contracts wherever possible. When opener has shown a balanced hand after a game-forcing relay (with a 1S bid in both cases), 1NT is the normal game-forcing relay, which implies interest in level or choice of strain, as 3NT is available to place the final contract and 2NT offers a choice of 4 of opener's major if they have a 5-card suit in their balanced hand, or 3NT. Opener may then choose who declares what contract. Further, a choice of games relay of 3H is available to explore a 5-3 fit in the major suit not shown by opener. Opener bids 3S to puppet the declaration of 3NT to relayer, or selects an appropriate game.

Design Objectives

The following objectives were met in the design of the structure:

Responding to 1C opening

After 1C

Opener shows 4+H any shape, 9-14 HCP balanced or 8-13 HCP unbalanced. The relay structure is effectively down one step in all sequences.

1D Game-forcing relay
1H Both majors, balanced, 2- or 3-suited
1S Game-forcing relay
1NT 2-suited with S and H (symmetric continuations)
2C 3-suited with both majors and diamonds (symmetric continuations)
2D Balanced with hearts and spades
2H Game-forcing relay
2S 4432
2NT+ 4423
2H+ 3-suited with both majors and clubs (symmetric continuations)
1S Balanced without spades, or 3-suited with short spades
1NT Game-forcing relay
2C 3-suited with short spades (symmetric continuations)
2D 5H (332)
2H Game-forcing relay
2S 3532
2NT 3523
3C+ 2533
2H Balanced with hearts and diamonds
2S Game-forcing relay
2NT 3442
3C+ 2443
2S 3424
2NT 2434
3C+ 3433
2NT Choice of games relay, shows 3H
3NT To play, normally without 5H
4H To play, shows 5H and desire to declare
others To play 4H, shows 5H and no desire to declare
3H Choice of games relay, shows 5S
3S Puppet to 3NT, normally without 3S
3NT To play, rare, normally without 3S
4S To play, shows 3S
3H is used for this auction because while spades have been bid, notrump has not and it is desirable to be able to choose which hand declares notrump.
1NT 2-suited with H and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+H and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+H and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+H (symmetric continuations)
1H Game-invitational or better relay
1S Balanced, 2- or 3-suited with both majors (but not a maximum canape) forcing
1NT Natural, invitational
2C/2D Natural, invitational
2H/2S Invitational, often 3-card support
2NT Natural, serious invitation
3C/3D Natural, serious invitation
3H/3S Invitational, 4-card support
3NT Natural, to play (opener may correct with 64)
1NT Minimum, balanced or 3-suited without spades
2C Two-suited with hearts and clubs (but not a maximum canape)
2D Two-suited with hearts and diamonds (but not a maximum canape)
2H Long hearts but not maximum
2S Maximum canape 5+S 4H
2NT Maximum, balanced or 3-suited without spades
3C Maximum canape 5+C 4H
3D Maximum canape 5+D 4H
3H Maximum long hearts
3S Maximum 5+S 5+H
3NT Maximum solid 7-card minor suit
4H Freak long hearts
4S Freak canape with spades
Later jumps below game by either hand are natural and show a serious invitation.
A rebid by opener showing a maximum establishes a game force unless it is passed.
The 2C and 2D responses should not be passed if a maximum 5+H 4+m hand would yield game. A preference to 2H shows 3-card support.
Opener should suppress a weak minor suit when showing a long heart hand.
1S Forcing for one round, showing:
  • any balanced or semi-balanced hand with 3-4S and no interest in game or hearts (Pass next), OR
  • 4S 5+m with no interest in game or hearts (rebid 2m where possible), OR
  • 6+S with low game interest (rebid 2S), OR
  • 3-4S 0-1H 3-6m with at least game interest (either a true 3-suiter, 3S and both minors, or 3S and one minor; rebid 2H where possible)
1NT Balanced or semibalanced without 4S, 6H or a biddable 5m
2C/2D Biddable 5+m, 4+H
2H 6+H
2S 4S
2NT Maximum 5S
3C/3D Maximum 3S 4H 6m
3H Maximum 4S 6+H
3S Maximum 6+S
1NT/2C/2D See above
2H 3-4S 0-1H 3-6m with at least game interest
2S Game-forcing relay
2NT 3-suited short hearts (symmetric continuations)
3C 3S 0-1H 5+C
3D Game-forcing relay
3H 3145
3S 3136
3NT+ 3046
3D 3154
3H 3163
3S+ 3064
others Natural minimum
1NT Exactly five spades, non-forcing. Opener may revert to 2S with support, or correct to a biddable unbid suit of at least five cards, or to any six card suit, subject to his judgement.
2C/2D Natural, non-forcing, showing a suit of at least five cards. Opener is expected to pass without a good reason to bid, normally a concealed suit of at least five cards, or a good six card opening suit, or a good fit and playing strength. A 2NT rebid by opener shows primary fit and maximum values. When opener rebids without showing fit, there is a fair tendency to deny tolerance. Opener may conceal tolerance any time his holding suggests an advantage in doing so.
2H Natural, non-forcing, 3-4 card support. This is a wide-ranging response which strongly discourages further action from opener. Responder is simply trying to pre-balance the opponents to the three-level in a way that makes it difficult for the opponents to judge the assets of the partnership. Opener must re-raise to the three- or four-level with six or seven trumps, and this is not constructive. New suit bids show a side suit of at least five cards, and 2NT shows at least five trumps, and both kinds of action show excellent maximum unbalanced opening hands. A double by responder is penalty-oriented. A double by opener at his first opportunity strongly suggests bidding on but without the freak needed to break the captaincy held by responder.
2S Unspecified mini-splinter showing at least four-card support for opener's suit, 0-1 in some side suit and values that suggest game is possible opposite a suitable hand. Opener bids Step 1 to find the shortage if this information may help find a game. Responder then bids his shortage naturally, bidding trumps when a natural bid is unavailable.
2NT/3C/3D Fit-showing jumps, showing 6+ in the suit bid (spades in the case of 2NT), 3-card support for opener's suit and interest in playing game.
3H 4-5 card support (depending on shape), not constructive. A double by opener at his first opportunity strongly suggests bidding on but without the freak needed to break the captaincy held by responder.
Games To play. Doubles by both hands are for penalty.
4H To play, could be weak. Double by responder is for penalty. A double by opener at his first opportunity strongly suggests bidding on but without the freak needed to break the captaincy held by responder.

Responding to 1D opening

After 1D

Opener shows 4+S 0-3H any shape, 10-14 HCP balanced or 9-13 HCP unbalanced. The relay structure is effectively down one step in all sequences.

1H Game-forcing relay
1S Balanced, or 3-suited with short hearts
1NT Game-forcing relay
2C 3-suited with short hearts (symmetric continuations)
2D 5S (332)
2H Game-forcing relay
2S 5332
2NT 5323
3C+ 5233
2H Balanced with spades and diamonds
2S Game-forcing relay
2NT 4342
3C+ 4243
2S 4324
2NT 4234
3C+ 4333
2NT Choice of games relay, shows 3S
3NT To play, normally without 5S
4S To play, shows 5S
3H Choice of games relay, shows 5H
3S Puppet to 3NT, normally without 3H
3NT To play, rare, normally without 3H
4H To play, shows 3H
3H is used for this auction because while spades have been bid, notrump has not and it is desirable to be able to choose which hand declares notrump.
1NT 2-suited with S and C (symmetric continuations)
2C 2-suited with 4+S and 5+D (symmetric continuations)
2D 2-suited with 5+S and 4D (symmetric continuations)
2H+ 1-suited with 6+S (symmetric continuations)
1S Game-invitational or better relay
1NT Minimum, balanced or 3-suited without hearts
2C Two-suited with spades and clubs (but not a maximum canape)
2D Two-suited with spades and diamonds (but not a maximum canape)
2H Long spades, 3H, but not maximum
2S Long spades, 0-2H, but not maximum
2NT Maximum, balanced or 3-suited without hearts
3C Maximum canape 5+C 4S
3D Maximum canape 5+D 4S
3H Maximum, long spades, 3H
3S Maximum, long spades, 0-2H
3NT Maximum solid 7-card minor suit
4H Freak long spades, 3H
4S Freak long spades
Later jumps below game by either hand are natural and show a serious invitation.
A rebid by opener showing a maximum establishes a game force unless it is passed.
The 2C and 2D responses should not be passed if a maximum 5+S 4+m hand would yield game. A preference to 2S shows 3-card support.
Opener should suppress a weak minor suit when showing a long spade hand.
1NT Natural, non-forcing. Opener may correct to an unbid suit of at least five cards, or to any six card suit, subject to his judgement.
2C/2D/2H Natural, non-forcing, showing a suit of at least five cards. Opener is expected to pass without a good reason to bid, normally a concealed suit of at least five cards, or a good six card opening suit, or a good fit and playing strength. A 2NT rebid by opener shows primary fit and maximum values. When opener rebids without showing fit, there is a fair tendency to deny tolerance. Opener may conceal tolerance any time his holding suggests an advantage in doing so.
2S Natural, non-forcing, 3-4 card support. This is a wide-ranging response which strongly discourages further action from opener. Responder is simply trying to pre-balance the opponents to the three-level in a way that makes it difficult for the opponents to judge the assets of the partnership. Opener must re-raise to the three- or four-level with six or seven trumps, and this is not constructive. New suit bids show a side suit of at least five cards, and 2NT shows at least five trumps, and both kinds of action show excellent maximum unbalanced opening hands. A double by responder is penalty-oriented. A double by opener at his first opportunity strongly suggests bidding on but without the freak needed to break the captaincy held by responder.
2NT Unspecified mini-splinter showing at least four-card support for opener's suit, 0-1 in some side suit and values that suggest game is possible opposite a suitable hand. Opener bids Step 1 to find the shortage if this information may help find a game. Responder then bids his shortage naturally, bidding trumps when a natural bid is unavailable.
3C/3D/3H Fit-showing jumps, showing 6+ in the suit bid, 3-card support for opener's suit and interest in playing game.
3S 4-5 card support (depending on shape), not constructive. A double by opener at his first opportunity strongly suggests bidding on but without the freak needed to break the captaincy held by responder.
Games To play. Doubles by both hands are for penalty.
4S To play, could be weak. Double by responder is for penalty. A double by opener at his first opportunity strongly suggests bidding on but without the freak needed to break the captaincy held by responder.

Competitive Bidding

When the opponents compete before a relay auction has begun, relays are not used. Bids formerly used as relays are now natural and non-forcing. A redouble of either the 1C or the 1D opening tends to deny invitational values and denies tolerance for the suit bid. A redouble of the opening shows game-forcing strength, at most two spades and penalty interest. Otherwise, their double of our opening or their overcall of our shown suit is ignored.
After any raise by responder, doubles by responder are for penalties. Except where specified above, a double by opener at his first opportunity strongly suggests bidding on but without the freak needed to break the captaincy held by responder. Ordinarily after a simple raise to the two level and next-level interference, exactly five trumps and a singleton in the opponents' suit will be held for such a double. Six-card or longer trump length, or a void in the opponents' suit, should break the captaincy in such cases.
When holding three-card support for opener's suit and the opponents have overcalled, responder should prefer to make a negative double if possible, then to raise if unbalanced, then to pass if balanced, and finally to raise. An invitational three-card raise should start with a negative double. Opener is expected to rebid naturally on the assumption of a perfect 4432-shape negative double.
The remaining discussion assumes either an overcall of the opening bid, or a pass, followed by responder's action, followed by subsequent action from either opponent.
If a relay auction has not begun, doubles of suit bids (including the bids formerly used as relays) are negative/takeout until either hand is defined, then penalty. Hand definition occurs when a hand describes a long suit, shows a second suit, indicates balanced or semi-balanced nature, or makes a takeout double. Passing when double would be for takeout does not define the hand. Doubles of notrump bids show values and some degree of penalty interest depending on the meaning of the bid doubled.
2NT by either hand at their first opportunity to raise partner's suit shows at least invitational values and primary fit. A cuebid by either hand shows a game-forcing raise; in the case of responder it shows exactly 3-card fit for opener's suit, which allows the correct hand to declare 3NT where no major-suit fit exists.
Jump bids in opponents' suits are splinter actions. Jump bids in new suits are fit-showing. In all cases, a fit-showing action below three of opener's major suit shows three-card fit, a good six card or longer shown suit and invitational values. Fit-showing actions above three of opener's major suit confirm primary fit for opener's major and sufficient offensive strength to contract for four of opener's major. Jumps to suit games above the cheapest game in opener's suit are natural and to play. Non-jump suit and natural notrump bids remain non-forcing, however any passed-hand non-jump new suits are fit-showing. Raises tend to be not constructive. Opener may continue over raises to 2H/2S as in the absence of competition. Cuebids and double-then-raise auctions are constructive. In various esoteric auctions where fit is known and further competition possible, jumps (and non-jumps that can't be natural) are fit-showing to empower partner's further actions in competition.
Remaining 2NT bids in competition show two places to play, particularly in smouldering 2-level auctions when double would be for penalties. In any case, 2NT is never natural in competition.
4NT in a competitive auction is RKCB whenever that is possible, and suggesting two possible strains at the five level whenever RKCB is not a possible interpretation. An unnecessary jump to five of opener's suit asks for control of their suit (partner cuebids holding first-round control, and raises holding second-round control).
When the opponents compete after a relay auction has begun, then the agreements used are identical to those used after interference during Pass auction. In particular all doubles by relayer (and opener if relays have been broken) are for penalties.

Specific Competitive Auctions

Abbreviations : M = Major suit shown by opening bid, OM = Major suit not shown by opening bid, O = Suit opened, m = minor suit.
Auction Continuation Meaning
1C - Dbl P Shows at least 3+ tolerance for the suit opened.
Rdbl Shows intolerance for the suit opened, denies a clearly superior descriptive action, and tends to deny invitational or better strength. A trap redouble is possible, and further doubles by responder are for penalties.
1D Natural, non-forcing.
1H+ Normal system on.
1D - Dbl P Shows at least 3+ tolerance for the suit opened.
Rdbl Shows intolerance for the suit opened, denies a clearly superior descriptive action, and tends to deny invitational or better strength. A trap redouble is possible, and further doubles by responder are for penalties.
1H Natural, non-forcing.
1S+ Normal system on.
1O - 1NT Dbl Shows penalty interest, enough strength to be assured of a majority of the high-card strength, activates penalty/action doubles, but does not create a force.
(strong, suit Good suit, prepared for raise in competition.
natural) 2M Good 4-card raise, prepared for opener to compete when appropriate.
jumps Fit-showing, good 6-card suit with 3-card support and at least invitational values, non-forcing.
1O - overcall
(non-jump)
Dbl Negative style, notionally with about a 4432 with a doubleton in their suit and at most 3-card support. Could include hands worth an invitation with only 3-card support, or game-forcing hands unsuited to any other action.
suit Non-forcing.
2M Non-constructive raise, normally not balanced with only 3-card support.
2NT At least invitational with 4-card or longer support.
cue Game-forcing with 3-card support.
3M Competitive raise with at least four-card support.
jumps Fit-showing, good 6-card suit with 3-card support and at least invitational values, non-forcing.
jump cue Strong raise to 4M.
4M To play, normally denying suitability for other actions.
1O - 2M Dbl Penalty interest for at least one of their possible suits, with at least 2 cards in the other major suit. Activates penalty/action doubles for both hands.
(2-suiter cue of OM Stronger general raise to at least 3M.
with OM) 2NT Balancedish raise to 3M, unsuited for 3m or 3M bid.
3m Fit-showing raise to 3M.
3M Competitive, denying suitability for alternate actions.
jump cue Good raise to 4M with shortage in OM.
4m Fit-showing offensive raise to 4M (later double shows the defensive strength for 4M as well and allows opener to make the final decision).
4M To play, normally denying suitability for other actions.
1O - 2NT Dbl Penalty interest for at least one of their suits. Activates penalty/action doubles for both hands.
(minors) 3m Shows an invitational or better hand with the corresponding major (C with H, D with S) in the context of the opening bid. Continuations natural.
3M Non-invitational raise.
3OM Non-forcing natural suit, a good fitting hand may raise.
1O-jumps Dbl Negative style, normally including possible 3-card support, or game-forcing hands lacking direction.
suits Non-forcing, constructive.
3M Normally at least 4-card support.
cue Good raise to 4M.
4M To play, normally denying a suitable alternative action.