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12. COMPETITIVE BIDDING SITUATIONS

12.1 Interference in relay Auctions

3D Criterion

Once interference occurs it is vital that responder and relayer know if relays are still available. If the hand shape that would have been shown with 3D can be shown at the level of 3NT or below then relays will continue (the 3D Criterion). This is equivalent to a loss of not more than three steps, taking account of various passes, doubles and redoubles that are available as relay asks and steps. Note that it is quite possible to gain up to two steps after interference. If relays are broken, then Rubinsohl applies over two level interference (see 12.2), and takeout doubles and natural bidding applies over three level interference.

There are two situations that arise which will be covered separately, using the following definitions which apply only after relays have begun :

  Relayer Bids the asking relays
  Responder Answers the relays
  2nd hand Bids after relayer and before responder
  4th hand Bids after responder and before relayer

Interference before relays have begun is covered in sections 12.2-12.4.

Interference by 2nd hand

Responder has two additional steps available with which to describe his hand, namely pass and double (or redouble if appropriate), and must determine by the 3D Criterion whether relays continue. The following relay structure will apply if responder has denied possession of at least 4 cards of the suit shown (if only one has been shown) (else see the Exception below):

  Call Meaning
  Pass Step 1 from the original relay
  Double/Redouble Step 2 from the original relay
  Step 1 Step 3 from the original relay, etc.

After a relay step pass, double by relayer without further interference is for relay. After a relay step double/redouble, Step 1 by relayer without further interference is for relay. If further interference by 4th hand occurs, see immediately below.

If relays are broken, then the provisions of 12.2 apply for two- and three-level interference.

Interference by 4th hand

If responder has not denied possession of at least 4 cards of the suit shown (if only one has been shown), and if relays are not broken (3H Criterion), then relayer may pass for relay. Else, if relays are not broken (3D Criterion), then relayer may pass for relay.

In all cases double by relayer is for penalty of the suit shown.

If further interference by 2nd hand occurs, see immediately above.

If relays are broken, then the provisions of 12.2 apply for two- and three-level interference.

Exception to the 3D Criterion

  • After interference after a positive response to a 1C opening, and if responder has not denied holding the suit shown, then responder's double is strictly for penalty, and the 3H Criterion rather than the 3D Criterion applies for determining the relay status for interference by both 2nd and 4th hands.
  • After interference after a positive response to a 1C opening, either by a positive pass or by a normal positive response, then if responder has not denied holding the suit shown, responder needs on occasions to be able to penalise the interference rather than give a relay response. Relayer can always penalise by doubling, rather than passing for relay, but responder's double would then systemically be the first or second step in the relay. Thus an exception is made in this case. Note that a balanced positive response has not denied holding the suit shown. It is still possible to give a relay response in the suit that would have been penalised. Hence a penalty double is not automatic (else opponents could always break the relays by psyching and correcting), and may be desirable when the penalties gained would be insufficient to compensate for game or slam.

    If relays are broken, then the provisions of 12.2 apply for two- and three-level interference.

    12.2 Interference after 1C opening

    One level interference - Archimedes

    Natural Archimedes - Over X, 1H or 1NT

    Pass Full positive, then natural relays
    Double 0 - 4 with Archimedes continuations
    1st step Semi-positive in hearts, then natural relays
    2nd step Semi-positive, spades, denies hearts, then natural relays
    3rd step Semi-positive, balanced
    4th step Semi-positive in clubs, denies majors unless three-suited, then natural relays
    5th step Semi-positive in diamonds, denies other suits, then natural relays

    * Semi positive = 5-7 HCP or 8+ HCP with 0-1 controls. (see below)

    Transfer Archimedes - Over 1D, or 1S

    Pass Full positive, then transfer relays
    Double 0 - 4 with Archimedes continuations
    1st step Semi-positive in spades, then transfer relays
    2nd step Semi-positive, balanced or both red suits, then transfer relays
    3rd step Semi-positive, hearts or hearts and clubs, then transfer relays
    4th step Semi-positive in diamonds, denies majors unless three-suited, then transfer relays
    5th step Semi-positive in clubs, denies other suits, then transfer relays

    * Semi positive = 5-7 HCP or 8+ HCP with 0-1 controls. (see below)

    ARCHIMEDES CONTINUATIONS

    After Double (0-4)

    Non jump suit bid 15-18
    1NT 15 - 22
    2NT both minors 15 - 22
    Jump suit bid 19 - 22
    Cue bid 23+, game force

    After positive pass (begins relays, see 3D Criterion)

    Double is relay

    Other bids are level adjusted reverse relays - i.e.

    1C 1H Pass Pass
    X relay
    1S 15-17, colour (4432) or 4333 or 3433
    1NT 15-17, rank (4432)
    2C 15-17, 3343 or 3334
    2D 15-17, 2434, etc.

    Relay responses

    The guiding principle for responder is that they must use a relay structure that does not bid the denomination they intend to show. In general the transfer responses will still apply, with a few exceptions noted below.

    Examples

    Against an opponent using a transfer style overcall (e.g. TWERB), and assessing the subsquent interference with the 3C Criterion:

    1C 1H (=S) P (+ve) 1S

    P (relay) P X penalty

    1NT S

    2C balanced or red suits (transfer relays)

    1C 1D (=H) P (+ve) 1H

    P (relay) P X penalty

    1S H

    1NT S, 0-3H

    2C balanced (natural relays)

    Against overcalls showing the bid suit (with or without another suit), and assessing the subsequent interference with the 3C Criterion:

    1C 1H (nat) P (+ve) P

    X(relay) P P penalty

    1S H

    1NT S, 0-3H

    2C balanced (natural relays)

    1C X (??) P (+ve) 1S

    P (relay) P X penalty, others as in the first case above

    1C X (??) P (+ve) 1H

    P (relay) P X penalty, others as in the second case above

    1C X (??) P (+ve) 1D

    P (relay) P X penalty

    1H S

    1S balanced or reds (transfer relays)

    1C 1NT P (+ve) 2C

    P(relay!) P X penalty

    2D H

    2H S

    2S balanced (natural relays, prevent showing balanced or reds with 2H)

    There may be other cases where the balanced/red suits options would have to be shown by 2D or 2H, in which case the natural responses should be used, unless this causes the major suits to be shown by bidding that suit.

    Two level interference - Rubinsohl

    Pass 0 - 4 HCP or penalty pass
    X 5 - 7 HCP balanced.
    2 bid 5 - 7 HCP, natural and non-forcing.
    2NT transfer to clubs, see below.
    3C transfer to diamonds, see below
    3D transfer to hearts, see below
    3H transfer to spades, see below
    3S HELP - balanced game force, no stopper, no 4 card major
    3NT Balanced game force, stopper(s), no 4 card major
    Notes: Transfer into the overcall suit = balanced game force with at least one 4 card major
      Cue of overcall by either opener or responder (except initial transfer) is stopper ask
      Transfer to a suit at 3 level which could be bid at 2 level is invitational. Opener must break transfer with a maximum.
      Reopening double by opener is usually mandatory with very few exceptions.

    Three level interference 

    Bid by responder is game forcing.

    Double by responder is takeout.

    Bid by opener is non-forcing.

    Double by opener is for takeout.

    12.3 Interference after 1D opening

    Suited overcalls

    Pass If responder is an unpassed hand, and the 3D Criterion is satisfied (overcall <=2C), strongly encouraging a reopening double if suitable.
    X If responder is an unpassed hand, and the 3D Criterion is satisfied (overcall <= 2C), double is for GF RELAY; else double is takeout (negative) up to 3S; else double is for penalty
    2Y Natural non-forcing, or cue raises of hearts
    2NT+ Rubinsohl
    4C,4D Splinters for H

    Notrump overcalls

    X Penalty
    2Y Natural non-forcing, or cue raises of hearts
    2NT+ Rubinsohl
    4C,4D Splinters for H

    After a double:

    Pass Poor hand or poor in hearts but with diamonds
    XX Shortage in partner's suit and looking for blood.
    1H GF RELAY
    1S, 2Y Natural non-forcing, or cue raises of hearts
    Suit jump Fit-showing
    2NT Natural and invitational
    2H Usual meaning
    3H Preemptive

    After 1H takeout

    Pass Poor hand or poor in hearts
    X GF RELAY
    New suit non forcing, may be invitational
    2NT Natural and invitational.
    Suit jump Fit showing
    2H Usual meaning
    3H Preemptive

    12.4 Interference after 1H opening

    Suited overcalls

    Pass If responder is an unpassed hand, and the 3D Criterion is satisfied (overcall <=2D), strongly encouraging a reopening double if suitable
    X If responder is an unpassed hand, and the 3D Criterion is satisfied (overcall <= 2D), double is for GF RELAY; else double is takeout (negative) up to 3H; else double is for penalty
    2Y Natural, non-forcing, or cue raises of spades
    2NT+ Rubinsohl
    4C,4D,4H Splinters for S

    Notrump overcalls

    X Penalty
    2Y Natural, non-forcing, or cue raises of spades
    2NT+ Rubinsohl
    4C,4D,4H Splinters for S

    After a double:

    Pass Poor hand or poor in spades but with hearts
    XX Shortage in partner's suit and looking for blood.
    1S GF RELAY
    2Y Natural, non-forcing, or cue raises of spades
    Suit jump Fit showing
    2NT Natural and invitational
    2S Usual meaning
    3S Preemptive

    After 1S takeout

     
    Pass Poor hand or poor in spades
    X GF RELAY
    Suit Non-forcing, may be invitational
    2NT Natural and invitational.
    Suit jump Fit showing
    2S Usual meaning
    3S Preemptive

    12.5 Interference after 1S opening

    After a double:

    Pass Poor hand, or poor minors but with spades
    XX Preference for C
    1NT Natural
    2C GF RELAY
    2D Natural
    2H/2S Fit showing jump for a minor, 2NT inquires
    2NT Preemptive with both minors
    3C Preemptive
    3D Preemptive
    3H Hearts and a minor, at least 9 cards
    3S Spades and a minor, at least 9 cards

    After an takeout cue (i.e. probably 2C or 2D)

    Pass Poor hand or poor in other minor
    X GF RELAY
    2H/2S Fit showing jump for a minor, 2NT inquires
    2NT+ RUBINSOHL

    After an suit overcall (i.e. 2H or 2S)

    Double PENALTY
    2NT+ RUBINSOHL

    12.6 Interference after 1NT opening

    Rubinsohl, penalty doubles (at the 2 level) and SWINE. Over 3 level interference X = penalty, suits = forcing for 1 round.

    12.7 Interference after 2C/2D/2H/2S/2NT openings

    Double/redouble is correctable except where noted below.

    After responder chooses to pass the opening 2C or 2D bids and fourth seat reopens with a double, both opener and responder need to take care not to play assuming the other holds a C suit, for neither need do so! If responder holds a club suit, he has announced preference to play there rather than in a contract suggested by responder's two possible hands. Opener needs to respect this preference unless his hand is gilt-edged or has extra shape, or extreme club shortage. Continuations by opener are:

    2C P P X

    P Non-committal, may or may not have club suit.

    P P Holding club suit over the penalty passer.

  • XX Not holding club suit, no clear escape, opener bids playable denominations up-the-line.
  • 2D,2H,2S Own suit, not correctable.

    XX Good hand with semi-solid clubs.

    P 2D,2H,2S Needs very good reason and a club void.

    2D,2H Show systemic hand shapes with extra values or extreme club shortage.

    2H,2S To play, shows own suit or a correction.

    Continuations after the analogous 2D sequence are analogous.

    12.8 Interference over Blackwood

    DOPI and ROPI:

    Double (or redouble) = zero

    Pass = one

    1st step = two, etc.