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2. 1C OPENING (15+ HCP any shape)

RESPONSES SUMMARY

1D Negative: either 0-7 HCP any shape, or less than 2 controls (A=2, K=1), or both.
1H 4+ S, 8+ HCP, 2+ controls.
1S Any 4333 or 4432, or any red two-suited hand, 8+ HCP, 2+ controls.
1NT 4+ H, 8+ HCP, 2+ controls, 0-3S, 0-3D.
2C 4+ D, 8+ HCP, 2+ controls, may be three-suited with both minors.
2D 5+ C, 8+ HCP, 2+ controls and no other suit longer than 3.
2H+ both MINORS, 8+ HCP, 2+ controls and no other suit.

The transfer-oriented responses are designed to accommodate the desire, wherever possible, to have the unrevealed strong 1C hand declare the contract. The 1H response permits the unrevealed hand to declare a spade contract. The 1S response permits the unrevealed hand to declare a notrump contract in either case, and a diamond contract in the case of any red two-suiter, and when responder holds more than four hearts, the unrevealed hand may still be able to declare a heart contract. The 1NT response may enable the unrevealed hand to declare a heart contract, but not if responder holds four hearts and longer clubs. The 2C and 2D responses and rebids allow the unrevealed hand to declare both club and diamond contracts when appropriate.

Continuations After Positive Responses To 1C

2.1 Introduction

The 1C opener will almost always make the cheapest call which is a relay whose only meaning is "tell me more". Eventually the 1C opener will break the relay sequence to name the final contract. NOTE: 3NT is never a relay. When 3NT is the cheapest call, 4C is the relay.

2.2 Single-suited relay structure (5+ suit)

STEP 1 Give positive response in the single suit (1H,1NT,2C,2D).

STEP 2 After relay by 1C opener, rebid 2S or higher as indicated below.

Rebids after relay with single-suited positive:

2S High shortage - at most 2 cards in highest ranking outside suit, i.e. after 1C-1NT-2C-2S shows a spade shortage and a hand with 5+ heart suit.
2NT Middle shortage - at most 2 cards in middle ranking outside suit; diamond shortage if a major is the long suit, heart shortage if a minor is the long suit. e.g. 1C-1H-1S-2NT shows spades and a diamond shortage; and 1C-2D-2H-2NT shows clubs and a heart shortage.
3C Even shortage - showing two or three doubletons. If 3C is bid directly (1C-1H-1S-3C) this shows either 6322 (i.e. two low doubletons) or 7222. If 3C is bid indirectly (via 2S - high shortage, i.e. 1C-1H-1S-2S-2NT-3C), this shows a high doubleton and one other doubleton, i.e. either 6232 or 6223. See continuations below.
3D 5332 type shape. If 3D is reached directly (i.e. not via 2S or 2NT) then this implies low shortage.
3H 6331 type shape. If 3H is reached directly (i.e. not via 2S or 2NT) then this implies low shortage.
3S 7330 type shape, etc.
3NT 7321 or 7231 type shape (only identity of 7 card suit and singleton known - low shortage), minimum (8-11 HCP)
4C 7321 or 7231 type shape (only identity of 7 card suit and singleton known - low shortage), maximum (12+ HCP), 0-2 controls; etc.

Continuations after 3C direct/indirect responses

A. Indirect 3C (Even shortage).

After the 3D relay,

3H 1 High and 1 Middle doubleton (i.e. 223 residue).
3S 1 High and 1 Low doubleton (i.e. 232 residue), minimum
3NT 1 High and 1 Low doubleton (i.e. 232 residue), maximum, and 2 controls; etc.

B. Direct 3C (Even shortage).

After the 3D relay,

3H Seven carder (i.e. 222 residue).
3S Six carder (i.e. 322 residue), minimum
3NT Six carder (i.e. 322 residue), maximum and 2 controls; etc.

2.3 Two-Suited Relay Structure

STEP 1 Give positive response in cheaper major suit (for both minors or reds see later)

STEP 2 After relay by 1C opener, rebid from 1NT to 2H:

1NT Hearts
2C Diamonds
2D Clubs (and 5+ card major)
2H Reverser (if bid directly after showing a major, shows a 4 card major and 5+ clubs)

STEP 3 After both suits have been shown, rerebid 2H or higher:

2H Reverser, the higher-ranking suit is exactly 4 cards and other 5+ cards.
2S 5/5+ shape (See below).
2NT High shortage (if bid directly, shows lower ranking suit is exactly 4 cards).
3C Even shortage, 5422 or 7411
  3D Relay 3H 7411
    3S 5422, minimum
    3NT 5422, maximum, 2 controls; etc.
3D 5431 type shape.
3H 6421 type shape.
3S 7420 type shape.
3NT 6430 type shape, minimum
4C 6430 type shape, maximum, 2 controls; etc.
  Note: Any bid of 3C upwards bid directly, shows the lower ranking suit is four cards exactly, the higher ranking suit is longer and a LOW shortage.

Continuations after 2S rerebid (showing 5/5)

After the 2NT relay,

3C High shortage.
3D Even shortage (6511, 5611 shape).
  3H Relay 3S High shortage (5611).
    3NT Low shortage (6511), minimum
    4C Low shortage (6511), maximum, 2 controls; etc.
3H 5521 type shape.
3S 5530 type shape.
3NT 5620 type shape (high shortage).
4C 6520 type shape, minimum
4D 6520 type shape, maximum, 2 controls; etc.
  Note: Any bid of 3H upwards bid directly (i.e. not via 3C/3D) shows a LOW shortage.

Rebids when holding both minors

Initial positive response to 1C is 2H or higher as follows:

2H Reverser (i.e. 4 diamonds and 5+ clubs).
2S 5/5 type hand (i.e. 5+ diamonds and 5+ clubs)
2NT High shortage (if bid directly shows 4 clubs, 5+ diamonds and a spade shortage. If bid indirectly via 2H, shows 4 diamonds, 5+ clubs and a spade shortage).
3C Even shortage, 5422 or 7411 with longer diamonds. With longer clubs, bid 2H first then 3C over the relay, etc.)
  3D Relay 3H 7411 (note, the cheapest bid here is not the most common shape)
    3S 5422, minimum
    3NT 5422, maximum, 2 controls; etc.
3D 5431 type shape.
3H 6421 type shape.
3S 7420 type shape.
3NT 6430 type shape, minimum
4C 6430 type shape, maximum, 2 controls; etc.
  Note: To show longer clubs, bid 2H first. To show longer diamonds make a bid from 2NT upwards directly. With a spade shortage bid via 2NT, with a heart shortage bid directly from 3D upwards depending on hand shape.

Rebids when holding both red suits

Initial positive response to 1C is 1S, and after the 1NT relay, bid 2C showing the red two-suiter. Then rebid 2H or higher as follows:

2H Reverser (i.e. 4 hearts and 5+ diamonds).
2S 5/5 type hand (i.e. 5+ hearts and 5+ diamonds).
2NT High shortage (if bid directly shows 4 diamonds, 5+ hearts and a spade shortage. If bid indirectly via 2H, shows 4 hearts, 5+ diamonds and a spade shortage); etc.
  Note: To show longer diamonds, bid 2H first. To show longer hearts make a bid from 2NT upwards directly. With a spade shortage bid via 2NT; with a club shortage bid directly from 3D upwards depending on hand shape.

2.4 Three-Suited Relay Structure

A three-suited hand will use either of the following structures:

(a) Three-suited with both majors:

1C 1H (Positive with spades)
1S 1NT (and hearts)
2C 2D (and a minor)

(b) Three-suited with both minors:

1C 2C (Positive with diamonds)
2D 2H (and clubs and a major - NB: this is not a reverser since minor two-suiters start at 2H)

After three-suiter has been established, step responses follow:

1st Step High shortage.
2nd Step 4441 (i.e. low shortage)
3rd Step 4450 (i.e. low shortage)
4th Step 4540 (i.e. low shortage)
5th Step 5440, minimum
6th Step 5440, maximum, 2 controls, etc.

2.5 Balanced Relay Structure

With any 4333 or 4432, or a red two-suiter, with 8+ HCP and 2+ controls, respond 1S to an opening 1C. After the 1NT relay, a CRASH (Colour, RAnk, SHape) relay structure is used.

2C Red two-suiter (for continuations see Section 2.3)
2D Two four card suits of the same Colour or 4333 with a four card major
  2H Relay 2S 4333 or 3433
      2NT Relay 3C 3433
        3D 4333, minimum
        3H 4333, maximum, 2 controls, etc.
    2NT 2443
    3C 3442
    3D 4324
    3H 4234, minimum
    3S 4234, maximum, 2 controls, etc.
    Note : Bid the doubleton
2H Two four card suits of the same Rank.
  2S Relay 2NT 2344
    3C 4432
    3D 4423
    3H 3244, minimum
    3S 3244, maximum, 2 controls, etc.
    Note : Bid the doubleton
2S 4333 (bid directly shows a four card minor, bid via 2D shows 4 card major)
  2NT Relay 3C 3334
    3D 3343, minimum
    3H 3343, maximum, 2 controls, etc.
2NT Doubleton spade (C/H), 2434
3C Doubleton club (D/S), 4342
3D Doubleton diamond (C/H), 3424
3H Doubleton heart (D/S), 4243, minimum
3S Doubleton heart (D/S), 4243, maximum, 2 controls, etc.
  Note : Bid the doubleton
  Note : Two 4 card suits of the same shape are shown with an immediate response of 2NT or higher.

Reverse relay - not used with transfer responses to 1C opening

In auctions beginning 1C-1NT (i.e. balanced), if opener rebids 2C as a relay then this denies 15-17 HCP and 4333 or 4432 type shapes. When holding these two hand types (and only these two), opener is required to rebid a reverse relay of 2D or higher on the same basis as the CRASH structure employed by responder after the normal 2C relay. Responder now takes charge of the relays and the 1C opener is required to show controls starting with a minimum of 2.

2.6 Controls and minimum/maximum

In most relay auctions, after exact shape has been shown, next relay asks for hand strength, with a run-on to the number of controls held if the hand is maximum. Controls are counted as ace = 2 and king = 1, and singleton aces and kings are counted.

After positive responses to 1C by an unpassed hand

The response structure is:

1st step minimum (8-11 HCP)
2nd step maximum (12+ HCP) + 2 controls
3rd step maximum (12+ HCP) + 3 controls; etc.

After a 1st step minimum response the next relay asks for controls. The maximum number of controls in a minimum hand is five (A, A, K = 11 HCP = 5 controls). Therefore the responses are:

1st step 2 controls
2nd step 3 controls
3rd step 4 controls
4th step 5 controls

After controls are shown, denial cue bidding begins (see Section 2.7)

Note: when a Game Probe Relay (see Section 2.9) has been used, minimum/maximum is not shown as 10+ HCP is known.

After positive responses to 1C by a passed hand

A passed hand giving a positive response to a 1C opening is limited to 8-9 HCP unless it is either 4333, 4432, or 5332 with a 5-card minor, in which case it is 8-10 HCP. In either case, no minimum or maximum is shown after shape is fully described, and the relays run directly into the number of controls held (2,3 or 4), and thence into denial cue bidding as normal.

After semi-positive responses to 1C

Semi-positive hands (5-7 HCP, or 8+ HCP with 0-1 controls) may give level-adjusted relay responses after the sequence 1C-1D-1H, or after 1-level interference to the 1C opening. In both cases, the response structure applicable after an ask that would normally ask for minimum/maximum (or in the case of a run-on) is:

1st step 8+ points, 0-1 controls
2nd step 5-7, 0 control
3rd step 5-7, 1 control
4th step 5-7, 2 controls
5th step 5-7, 3 controls

After the 1st step response & next relay, the responses are:

1st step 8-11, 0 control
2nd step 8-11, 1 control
3rd step 12-15, 0 control
4th step 12-15, 1 control

2.7 Denial Cue-bidding

After controls have been shown, next relay starts denial cue bidding. Responder looks at their longest suit, then next longest suit. When ties in suit length occur, look at highest-ranking suit first. Singletons (including singleton honours) are not looked at in denial cue bidding and are shown by inference only. Doubletons are looked at once. Tripletons are looked at twice (on the second time round queens are investigated). Longer suits are looked at three times. On the first look at a suit, it is inspected for an ace or king. On the second look, it is inspected for an additional top honour (usually a queen) and on the third look, jacks are checked. If the first suit looked at does not have the required honour, the responder denies it by making the cheapest bid. If the responder holds a required honour in the longest suit but not in the second longest suit, then he/she bids the second cheapest bid. Future relays continue asking from where you left off. The highest relay ask is 5NT.

1st step No ace or king in longest suit.
2nd step Ace or king in longest suit and no ace or king in second longest suit.
3rd step Ace or king in longest suit and ace or king in second longest suit and no ace or king in third longest suit; etc.

Solid-suit Exceptions

When holding a solid suit of at least six cards, responder denies that suit on the first scan if the suit is not headed by at least two of the A, K or Q. Having intially shown at least two of the top three honours, on the second scan, responder shows that suit only if it is AKQxxx or better. Having initially denied at least two of the top three honours, a second denial is made if none of the top three honours is held.

When holding a three-card to five-card suit headed by at least AKQ then on the first scan, responder will deny holding the suit, and on the second scan show the suit. The three-control difference should be recognisable to relayer.

Short-suit Cue-bidding

Occasions arise when the relayer is unconcerned about the controls in the responder's suit(s) (either because they are held by relayer, or must be held by responder, or are opposite relayer's singletons or voids). In such circumstances, after the number of controls has been shown, if the previous response was 4H or below, then 4NT is a short suit ask, and responder must begin denial cue bidding, but ignoring his suit(s). Singleton kings are still not shown. 4NT must be Step 2 or higher, and the exact number of controls must have been shown for short suit denial cue bidding to apply. After the response to 4NT, normal step 1 relays continue the short suit denial cue bidding.

2.8 The 3NT Weak Relay

There are a number of situations where the relayer fears that an auction is getting too high where responder might only have 3 or 4 controls. In these situations, the relayer bids 3NT as a weak relay. Responder is usually required to pass with fewer than 5 controls (except - see 4NT bid below) but with more bids as follows:

4C 5 controls
4D 6 controls
4H 7 controls
4S 8 controls
4NT only 4 controls but lots of queens and jacks.

Exception: if 3NT weak relay has been made when the responder has shown 5422 or 7411, then:

4C 7411, 2+ controls
4D 5422, 5 controls
4H 5422, 6 controls
4S 5422, 7 controls
4NT 5422, only 4 controls but lots of queens and jacks.

Relayer can resume relaying by making the cheapest bid. Any other bid is a signoff.

2.9 Game Probe Relay

When using the natural relay responses (i.e. not this system), a positive balanced hand responds 1NT to an opening 1C. This requires opener to bid a reverse relay with a 15-17 balanced hand, which allows responder to choose to play in a low-level suit suit or notrump contract with a poorly fitting minimal balanced hand of 8-9 HCP. It is clearly an inferior position to play in 3NT with a balanced 15 HCP hand opposite a balanced 8 HCP hand with poor fits and/or wasted values. Playing in 2H, 2S, 2NT or even in three-level contracts is likely to be superior if 3NT is uncertain.

When using the transfer relay responses, after responder makes a positive suit response to 1C, if relayer has a balanced 15-16 HCP hand with no primary fit, or even a better hand with expectation of significant duplication of values, relayer may show this by bidding Step 2 for relay, rather than the normal Step 1. The Step 2 bid is known as a Game Probe Relay, and asks responder if that hand can sustain game opposite relayer's announced hand. It denies slam interest. If responder shows a one-, two- or three-suited hand at or below 2D, then the Game Probe Relay is available to opener to show a balanced 15-16 HCP hand with no fits (the 2D limit ensures the bidding can stop at 2NT)

Negative response

Responder replies Step 1 with a balanced (5332) or poor semi-balanced (5422, 6322) 8 HCP hand (up to a 10 HCP hand, with poor values in the hand's suits, or other wasted values). Opener than makes the appropriate signoff (which may include a pass)

Game Force response

With an appropriately unbalanced minimal hand, or nearly all 10+ HCP hands, responder makes a Game Force relay response at Step 2 or higher. The response give is that which would have been made over a normal Step 1 relay, but shifted up two steps. Normal relays then continue, but responder no longer gives the minimum/maximum responses. Specifically, over a control ask, responder makes a Step 1 response with 2 controls, with other steps showing more controls as normal. If relayer gives the highest shape-showing relay response (which normally requires min or max with controls to be shown) then relayer shows first the 2 control hand, etc. Over a 3NT signoff (as in 2.8 3NT Weak Relay) responder bids on with 5+ controls only if responder's hand makes slam likely opposite relayer's announced hand (this usually means holding 15+ HCP also, as opener knows relayer's shape). The 4NT short suit ask applies subject to the usual Step 2 criterion.

After interference

When the opponents intervene, opener is better placed to judge the potential of the hand, in particular the ability to stop the opponents' suit(s). The Game Probe Relay is not available after any interference, including those that cause steps to be gained. Penalty doubles and passes may prove adequate compensation subject to vulnerability concerns.