3rd Edition - 2000
by Peter John Oakley, President, The International On-Line Bridge Club
Copyright Peter Oakley
Christchurch, New Zealand
IBSN/ISSN: 0473059541
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means - electrical, mechanical, by photocopy, recording or otherwise without the publisher's permission other than here, and for your own personal use



Another new system? Who needs it?!

Well, on the premise that there is nothing new under the sun, perhaps much of the Diamond Major philosophy is no more than a melding or collection of known and accepted approaches and ideas in bridge - a shot for the best of all worlds, so to speak.

One of the Diamond Major's recurring themes is to make maximum use of the legal bids the game allows by assigning to many of them more than one meaning.

As bidding is a language, here is an extended vocabulary. Not only that - bearing in mind that opponents are listening to the broadcast, any exchange of information which helps them more than the Diamond Major pair is deliberately minimised.

Major Lengths

Modern bidding theorists emphasise the importance of defining major suit length. It is fashionable to open 5-card majors - even much-respected Acol is often adapted to "Acol with 5-card majors". Some Precision system players jump-bid with six and double-jump with seven of a major in a weak hand opposite the forcing 1 Club opener.

The Diamond Major uses many bids to show five, six and more of a major, but it also shows precisely the most common holding of all, four of a major.

To many an opponent's subsequent discomfort, it also conceals a 4-card major when awareness of it is of little value to partner!

Specifically, a 1 Club opening bid denies four of either major (but not five or more); a 1 Diamond opening bid proclaims possession of one or two 4-card majors (but no 5-card or longer major).

After 1 Club, there is little point in advertising a 4-card major in response and much to be said for neither confirming nor denying it to opponents.

After 1 Diamond, when responder has less than four cards in either major and there is therefore no 4-4 fit, which major(s) opener holds remains his secret.


Transfers after a NT opening are relatively common. Diamond Major extends this principle to most pre-emptive bids and the gambling 3 No Trumps where the lead up to the hand which would normally be dummy is more likely to produce an extra trick than in the case of a standard No Trump game or part-score contract.

Two Suited Hands

The exceptional distributional strength of a two-suited hand has been widely discovered and conventions to show this type of holding have been utilised with traditional systems.

The Diamond Major's use of the first eleven available bids reveals to partner all 5/5 hands of this type, whether their high-card holding (and defensive potential) is strong or weak, and exactly which two suits are held. Higher opening bids can show 7/5 or better two-suited hands.

The revelation often awaits opener's rebid, as many opening bids have more than one meaning. Partner must bide his/her time; opponents can do likewise or enter the auction at their peril.

Diamond Major bidders have an invaluable negative-inference advantage: with so many precise distributions biddable, those can be ruled out of consideration whenever the available opening sequence is not put to use.

Another plus is the extra concentration which can be applied to playing contracts which have been bid without mental strain.


Imagine defending against the Diamond Major!

Opponent's intervention over 1 Club and 1 Diamond is complicated by the 11-19 (Milton Work) points range, the infinite distributional possibilities and the non-suit bid in each case - although this may still be the very suit held.

A simple (but naive) stance is to treat 1 Club and 1 Diamond as though they are Precision openers. Plainly they are not, with their wider points range and unique definition of major suits.

Defenders dare not wait too long, but if they show their hands quickly it is often to the Diamond Major pair's advantage.

Action over a 2 No-Trumps opening bid is fraught with danger, but because it is as likely to be weak as strong, something ought to be done.

Competing over a 3-level opener which may be strong risks suffering a painful penalty double.

Who needs it?

So who needs the Diamond Major?

Just about everyone interested in the game of bridge, in its development, strategies and almost infinite possibilities for communication.

And just about everyone who would like to feel more at ease during the bidding: that art of exchanging meaningful information between partners. And if the Diamond Major tools happen to crank up their match-point and imp scores, who will begrudge the time and effort they have expended to investigate and experiment with them?


Since first printing, the moveable feast of contract bridge has stretched and flexed a few of its muscles. The bidding has grown much more aggressive, extending its "get in and get out" philosophy to an almost absurd extent where a vulnerable jump overcall of 2 Spades is almost de rigeur holding a queen-high 6-card suit and a king outside!

The spade suit's power, previously well-recognised, has become enshrined.


The LAW of Total Tricks is for many top players a dependable yardstick by which to judge the final level it is wise to bid to competitively.

In a very simple nutshell, a pair should bid quickly to, but contract to take no more tricks than, the total of their known combined trump fit - for example nine tricks when they have five trumps opposite four (or six opposite three). If opponents bid on beyond that total then pass - or double if opponents are sacrificing or appear to have gone beyond their own trumps total.

A corollary is to outbid opponents who have reached their LAW level with eight trumps and stopped or appear likely to stop, even though this may mean going beyond our own LAW level.

Of course there are numerous refinements to the LAW, and vulnerability can affect the ultimate bid/pass decision. Many contracts bid thus are sacrifices - the aim then being to achieve a minus score, even doubled, lower than opponents' likely plus score if allowed to declare.

Three hearts doubled, not vulnerable, down one, is superior to allowing 2 Spades to make, by 10 points - often a big winner on a matchpointed board.

For more complete exposure to this fascinating method of simplifying competitive bidding decisions, read Paul Marston's "Winning Decisions in Competitive Bidding" or Larry Cohen's "To Bid or not to Bid".

Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKCB)

In another modern bidding trend, RKCB is rapidly replacing standard Blackwood for ensuring the partnership has the requisite controls to go to the six or seven level, identifying possession of the agreed-trumps king and queen.

The king simply becomes a fifth "ace", so the responses to 4NT are now

5C 0 or 3 aces

5D 1 or 4 aces

5H 2 or 5 aces

5S 2 or 5 aces PLUS the trump queen

Enquirer's bid of the next suit up after 5 Clubs or 5 Diamonds (except the trump suit) asks specifically for the trump queen. One suit up (including the trump suit this time) denies its possession; two suits up (including the trump suit) confirms its possession probably without an outside king; any higher response shows the trump queen plus the king of the bid suit; 5 No Trumps, plus two outside kings. (One would hesitate to show the spade king to the trump queen enquiry as it would carry a final suit contract to the seven level.)

In the case of a 5 Hearts enquiry for the trump queen (following 5 Diamonds as the first response), a hand with the trump queen and two outside kings should respond 6 No Trumps! Even though this carries a trump contract to the seven level the extra strength is likely to deliver the grand; if declarer fears an inevitable loser, presumably the plethora of controls ensures 6 No Trumps is safe, and perhaps more profitable.

Following initial responses up to 5 Spades, enquirer's immediate 5 No Trumps asks for kings by standard Blackwood quantity -i e 6 Clubs none, 6 Diamonds one and so on. The trump king, having been shown as one of the five "aces", is now ignored of course.

Diamond Major bidders should fine-tune their overall strategy by incorporating both these valuable developments.

Minor Tweaking

The Diamond Major system is equally effective for matchpoint scoring or Imps.

Surprisingly, an occasional national body (The New Zealand Contract Bridge Association is one and the American Contract Bridge League is not) view with disfavour the 1 Diamond opening bid where it does not conform with Precision's limited strength of 11 to 15 high card points.

The following minor tweaks will qualify the Diamond Major for matchpoint pairs tournament play anywhere in the world:

1 Diamond, 11 to 15 points showing one or two four-card major suits.

1 No Trump, 13 to 15 points - might contain four card major(s).

1 Club, Precision style 16 to 19 points, no longer denying possession of a four-card major. Hands with 17 points up are rare-ish, specially when a four-card major is a further factor in this mild distortion of the system so it will conform for Pairs.

As one would expect, there are costs. Flat hands of 11 and 12 points with no four-card major are now passed - right out if fourth to bid. (This will rarely work out badly in Pairs.)

Unbalanced minor-suited 11-14 hands are now also passed, unless opened with the bid to show both minors - 3 Clubs (or the better-known 2 No Trumps if 3 Clubs is also not permitted to show clubs and diamonds).

But on the positive side, limiting the 1 Diamond opener to (in effect) 16 points gives an extra degree of precision to this frequently employed opening bid.

For more complex change to comply with possible Pairs requirements, see Chapter 14, Diamond Major and the Big Club.


Finally, although well outside the "system" theme of the book, I can't resist making an observation I've not seen elsewhere on middle-up-down opening leads (MUD).

Holding something like 963 or 982, MUD differentiates between showing partner three cards and showing a doubleton. That is, the nine followed by the six or eight (the traditional top-of-nothing lead) could be mistaken for only two cards in the suit, particularly when declarer concealed the missing small rag.

All well and good. But what about the lead from 842 or 932? This middle card could now be misinterpreted as a lead away from an honor and cost the partnership a tempo or even a trick.

Surely the nine is preferable, even when leading a suit bid by partner? On the second round, partner will be aware the two has not appeared, and although declarer may be withholding it the likelihood is that it is still in his partner's hand.

Doesn't this play seem less likely to be costly to a thinking pair?



The 1 Club and 1 Diamond opening bids are the cornerstone of the Diamond Major system, immediately denying or proclaiming possession of a 4-card major suit. Precisely four.

Let us examine the positive bid, 1 Diamond, first.

The opening bid of 1 Diamond always guarantees possession of one 4-card major suit and the hand may include both. It denies five of either major. The (Milton Work) points range is 11 to 19.

These five hands would all be opened with 1 Diamond.

1. S: Q 10 6 4 H: A 9 7 4 D: A Q C: J 10 6

2. S: 6 H: K Q 10 4 D: K J 5 C: A J 6 4 2

3. S: A K 7 H: A J 10 5 D: K 2 C: A 10 7 2

4. S: Q 8 7 6 H: K 10 3 D: K Q 7 4 3 C: K

5. S: A 10 9 2 H: 8 4 D: A 8 6 4 C: Q J 5

Responder's Priority

Responder's imperative duty is to bid a 4-card or longer major, Hearts if holding both, even with considerably longer spades than hearts. A very strong hand and major length justifies a jump-bid; ideally this hand would have at least five cards in the bid suit, three or four of the other major and prospects of slam opposite little more than a minimum opener.

Bids of 2 of either minor show five and are forcing; No-Trump responses are flat with closely defined strength - 1 NT 6-10 points, 2NT 11-13 points, 3NT 14-16 points. All deny holding four of either major.

Some examples:

1. S: 8 5 3 H: 10 7 6 D: 10 9 7 C: A 9 7 3 Pass

2. S: K Q 4 H: 9 8 D: A 10 8 7 4 C: Q 9 3 Bid 2D

3. S: J 10 4 H: Q 6 D: A 10 8 5 4 C: 8 5 4 Bid 1NT

4. S: K 5 2 H: A 8 4 D: A 10 2 C: J 10 9 3 Bid 2NT

5. S: Q 3 H: 10 9 3 D: K Q 3 2 C: K 8 6 3 Bid 1NT

(The above five opening hands would be rebid: No, 3D, 3NT, 3D and No.)

When the 4/4 fit is found immediately opener must define his strength by single-raising with up to 16 points, jump raising with 17 to 19 points. This leaves room for responder to initiate a control-showing cue-bid sequence if he senses slam.

Opener's Other Rebids

Opener almost never wastes the next bid showing which major(s) he holds.

If responder has bid the "wrong" major then all the players at the table know by inference opener must have the other. If responder has no 4-card or longer major the partnership loses interest meantime in finding a major fit which can be no better than Moysian.

No Trump rebids declare a flat hand, 4/3/3/3 or 4/4/3/2; minor suit rebids 4 of the unbid major(s) with a 5-card or longer minor.

As the rebids are not forcing, a top-limit hand with 17 to 19 points should be jump-bid, but even this is merely invitational. With S: A K 9 6 H: K 8 D: A 2 C: K Q 8 5 3 rebid 3 Clubs after a 1 Heart response to 1 Diamond.

When the shape of the 1 Diamond opener is flat, No Trump rebids define the strength.

1 NT 11-13 points (Pass after a 1 NT response)

2 NT 16-17 points

3 NT 18-19 points

(A flat 14-15 point hand is opened 1 NoTrump whether it contains a 4-card major or not.)

On the principle that 25 points shared equally between declarer and dummy present statistically sound chances for a No Trump game but that 26 are needed when declarer holds most of the points, responder makes the appropriate decision.

After the sequence 1D 1H 1, 2 or 3NT, a responder holding 4 Spades will usually set the contract in Spades, partner's known major, at a level consistent with his strength added to opener's. For example, after 1D 1H 1NT, 4S would be bid with :

S: K 9 6 4 H: A 8 3 2 D: A C: Q J 5 3.

Distributional 1 Diamond Openers

Of course a 1 Diamond hand can be as distributional as 4/4/4/1 or 0/4/4/5 with one or two majors - even more freakish with a very long minor and a 4-card major - and it is now that the "known" major is the rebid, to warn of a singleton or void in partner's major.

This avoids fruitless further promotion of this suit as possible trumps. For example, with:

S: Q H: A K 9 4 D: Q J 10 4 C: J 8 5 2

opener rebids 2 Hearts over a 1 Spade response and partner now needs a good six or seven spades to persist in that suit.

S: K 10 9 4 H: 6 3 D: - C: A K Q 8 6 4 2

should be opened 1 Diamond, and, over any response other than Spades or Clubs, rebid in Clubs until dropped or game is reached somewhere, possibly in Hearts. Only with a real freak like

S: - H: A K Q 10 D: - C: K Q 9 7 6 5 4 3 2

would the major be suppressed - and the hand opened 6 Clubs (see Chapter 11, Rare Air).

Once responder at his first turn has denied holding four of either major, he is free to bid a major suit in a later round to show honor strength as a step towards a No Trumps game or a slam. There can be no confusion - once by-passed originally the bid of a major can never show four.

Safety Net

No partnership wants to languish in 1 Diamond with plainly inadequate trumps. While this can happen with the Diamond Major's non-forcing Diamond opener, just as it can with the Precision 1 Diamond bid, responder should regard a diamond shortage in his own weak hand - less than three - as extremely dangerous and bid a 3-card Heart, or even Spade, suit rather than pass with less than six points. He will, of course, drop opener's rebid, whatever it may be!

This "style" has long been known as a Herbert response, the next suit up possibly showing weakness in reply to partner's take-out double.

Opener should keep this possibility in the back of his mind, maybe choosing to underbid slightly even if it appears a fit has been found.

This situation may be indicated by second opponent's intervention of 2 Diamonds. Opener can now pass and await responder's pass, further bid or re-opening double.

Competitive Bids

Action over a defender's intervention after the 1 Diamond opening call requires some discipline.

(As we shall see, an overcall of the 1 Club opening bid presents less problem, since the information that there is no 4-card major in opener's hand has already been communicated.)

After 1 Diamond, partner does not yet know which major opener holds.

With a positive response, an opponent's double (or minor suit overcall) can be ignored and the hand bid naturally, using the redouble to show both 4-card majors; 2 of a minor can be doubled to show 4/3 in the majors or better and topped with 2 No Trumps to show 8 to 11 points, denying four of either major; a cue bid made to show 12+ points without a 4-card major.

A pass is likely to be most productive when responder has four or more of the overcalled suit, so long as opener can be relied upon to double if he would have been happy to stand a penalty double by partner.


It is after the surprisingly frequent overcall of a major suit that the Diamond Major becomes rather complex. Responder has actually benefitted, now having an array of very precise actions. He will

Opener is unlikely to sell out to opponents' one-level contract and will almost certainly protect the partnership with:

Double or a 2-level minor bid to show values and four cards in the unbid major

1 Spade over 1 Heart with a minimum opener;

1 No Trump with the overcalled major well held and 15-plus points.

Some example deals will help to clarify (Partner's 1 Diamond has been overcalled with 1 Spade):

S: K 9 2 H: A K 8 6 D: 10 9 6 4 2 C: 6 Double

S: 10 6 H: K J 10 4 D: A 10 2 C: 10 8 5 4 Bid 1 NT

S: K 8 H: A 9 3 D: K Q J 8 6 C: 9 8 2 Bid2D (forcing)

S: 6 H: 10 9 8 7 D: A Q 10 8 C: A K J 6 Bid 2 S

S: J 9 6 3 H: K Q 8 D: J 9 2 C: 8 5 3 Pass

S: Q 8 H: Q 8 5 D: A J 10 4 C: J 6 3 2 Pass

Back in Opener's Court

Opener has sufficient information from responder's system bid to carry on, jumping with top strength when the 4/4 major fit is found, considering a No Trumps or minor suit contract in other circumstances.

When partner has made a natural (and forcing) bid of a minor suit, opener will bid in No Trumps if he can control the overcalled suit, raise the minor suit with adequate support for the likely five trumps.

He will bid the unbid major only if he holds sufficient strength in it to suggest playing in a 4/3 Moysian fit.

Even with the required 3-card support, responder's judgment will be tested. Choices will include passing, raising, bidding No Trumps with holds in the overcalled suit and persisting in his minor suit holding six.

When partner has passed and the overcall has come round intact, even with a reasonable minimum hand opener should make a further move.

As we saw above, 1 No Trump states his only major holding is in the overcalled suit - and because the contract is therefore unlikely to play well (much of the outstanding strength is over him), also it is probably wise to underbid the hand a little, passing with as much as 12 or 13 points.

A double or minor suit bid confirms holding the unbid major and a passing partner will now pass again, leave the double in or bid the part-score appropriate to his distribution.

With enough points for game the partnership should reach it, for the bidding has not necessarily ended here.

Informing Opponents

An acceptable description of the 1 Diamond opening bid, to alerted opponents who enquire, would be:

"Eleven to 19 points with one or two 4-card majors, but no 5-card or longer major"

QUIZ - Chapter 1

A. What should responder bid after opener's 1 Diamond?

  1. S: 10 5 3 H: Q 9 6 2 D: A K 8 6 4 2 C: -
  2. S: 8 H: K 8 6 D: A 10 8 3 C: J 10 8 5 4
  3. S: A K Q J H: 10 9 6 3 D: A 6 C: 9 8 7
  4. S: 8 4 3 H: J 6 3 D: 8 2 C: Q J 9 3 2
  5. S: A Q 10 3 H: K 9 D: Q 10 9 C: A 10 9 3

B. What rebid should a 1 Diamond opener make after partner's response of 1 Heart?

  1. S: K Q 5 4 H: 6 D: A K 9 6 4 2 C: 6 4
  2. S: K Q 5 4 H: 9 2 D: 8 6 C: A Q J 8 3
  3. S: 9 6 H: K 10 8 6 D: A K 10 5 C: A Q 9
  4. S: K 9 6 3 H: Q 9 D: A Q 9 3 C: J 10 6
  5. S: 9 8 7 6 H: A 2 D: - C: A K J 8 4 3 2

C. And what rebid after a response of (a) 1 No Trump and (b) 2 No Trumps?

  1. S: K 9 8 3 H: A Q 9 4 D: K Q 8 C: A 10
  2. S: 10 8 7 5 H: A 6 2 D: K Q 8 C: Q 10 5
  3. S: 4 H: A Q 8 2 D: 10 8 6 4 C: A J 10 4
  4. S: A 10 3 H: J 10 9 6 D: K Q J 4 C: A J
  5. S: K Q 8 H: A 10 9 3 D: - C: Q J 8 5 4 2

D. What should responder say after opener's 1 Diamond has been overcalled with 1 Spade?

  1. S: - H: A 10 3 2 D: A 8 6 4 2 C: A 9 8 2
  2. S: Q 6 H: K 9 4 3 D: K Q 8 3 C: 6 5 4
  3. S: 10 8 6 2 H: J 4 D: K 9 7 3 2 C: J 3
  4. S: Q 6 H: K 9 7 D: Q 9 7 4 C: K 6 4 2
  5. S: J 9 H: A K J 9 3 D: 10 6 2 C: 8 7 3



  1. 1 Heart. Responder's first duty is to show the major - the Diamonds must wait.
  2. 1 No Trump. Not enough strength to bid Clubs.
  3. 1 Heart. To bid those great Spades denies holding four Hearts.
  4. 1 Heart. With fingers crossed!
  5. 1 Spade. Despite the high card points and No Trumps suitability, the strict priority is to show opener four Spades.


  1. 1 Spade. Alert the Hearts shortage.
  2. 2 Clubs.
  3. 2 Hearts. Partner will bid again with 8-plus points and shape.
  4. 1 No Trump
  5. 2 Clubs.


  1. (a) 3 No Trumps.
    (b) 3 No Trumps. The partnership hasn't sufficient strength to bid slam.
  2. (a) Pass.
    (b) Pass.
  3. (a) Pass. If opponents double, redouble for partner's better minor.
    (b) Pass with a little more confidence.
  4. (a) 2 No Trumps. You want to be in game if partner is maximum.
    (b) 3 No Trumps.
  5. (a) 2 Clubs. The 6-card suit contract is more secure.
    (b) 3 Clubs. This hand is better suited for a Club contract.


  1. 2 Spades. Shape and controls justify showing four Hearts and strength. If opener rebids 2 No Trumps, climb out at 3 Diamonds.
  2. 1 No Trump.
  3. Pass. What else?
  4. Pass. If partner can't protect, does the hand really belong to you?
  5. 2 Hearts. Shows the length and strength in one bid. Partner will be aware his next bid can be dropped - he will bid game if it is likely.



The Diamond Major opening bid of 1 Club is made on a single-suited, moderately two-suited (5/4), freak three-suited (5/4/4) or flat hand with between 11 and 19 high-card points1.

Occasionally it will turn out to be an extremely strong 5/5 two- suited hand (see Page 23) and in this rare instance, may contain more than 19 points.

The one thing it (virtually2) never shows is precisely four cards in either major suit.

Here are some examples of the wide range of hands on which the 1 Club opening bid is made:

1. S: A 10 7 3 2 H: K J 5 D: A Q 9 C:K 6

2. S: 9 6 H: 8 6 D: A K J 8 6 C: A 9 7 4

3. S: A K 8 7 5 H: K Q 9 2 D: - C: A J 8 3

4. S: 9 7 6 H: A 8 2 D: A 10 3 2 C: K Q 9

5. S: A K 4 H: K Q 6 D: A 10 3 2 C: K 9 3

6. S: A 6 H: A 9 8 6 4 2 D: K J 7 C: A Q

7. S: A Q J 6 4 H: K J 10 9 2 D: A J C: A

8. S: A Q J 6 4 H: A D: A K C: K J 10 9 2

9. S: K 8 4 H: K J 10 D: A J 7 C: K Q 9 4

10. S: Q H: K 7 2 D: K 8 4 C: A 10 8 5 4 2

One Club Forcing

Since opener's hand may have few or even no clubs and will often include a 5-card major destined to be the trump suit, responder always treats 1 Club as forcing.

The response of 1 Diamond shows a genuine diamond suit in a weak hand, less than 7 points (negative Precision-style) or less than 11 points with a possible interest in game in at least one major suit, should opener rebid that major.

Any further response after 1 Diamond to opener's rebid (except a suit take-out of No Trumps) confirms a positive hand.

With S: Axx H: Jxx D: KQxxx C: Qx or better, the initial response to 1 Club would be 2 Diamonds.

Five-card Suits

Remember responder suppresses a 4-card major so bids only five or more and this applies in practice to the minors too. (The exception is a 4/4/4/1 distribution.) So flattish hands are shown by responding in No Trumps at these points-showing levels:

1 NT 7 - 11 points

2 NT 12 - 14 points

3 NT 15 - 17 points

(Note that these points requirements are a shade higher than required for No Trump responses to 1 Diamond.)

A big hand with a strong suit should be shown by a jump-shift in that suit.


1. S: 7 4 H: Q 9 3 D: K 10 7 5 3 C: A 8 6

Bid 1 D, intending to support Hearts, bid 1 NT over 1 S, 2 D over 1 NT (to confirm positive), 3 C over 2 C.

2. S: 7 4 H: 10 9 3 D: K 10 3 C: Q 7 6 4 3

Bid 1 D (negative).

3. S: A 10 6 3 H: K 9 7 4 D: J 8 C: 9 6 2

Bid 1 NT (happens to conceal two 4-card majors).

4. S: A 8 6 4 2 H: 10 3 D: 6 4 C: 10 6 3 2

Bid 1 D. Will not bid again except over 1 NT (2 S).

5. S: K 10 4 2 H: A Q 6 D: K Q 9 4 C: 9 2

Bid 2 NT.

6. S: K Q 10 8 H: A K Q 7 4 D: K 6 C: 8 3

Bid 2 H. Will support Spades, bid 3 NT over either minor.

Opener's Rebids

The 1 Club opener's rebid reveals his shape:

1 No Trump flat with 11 - 13 points

2 No Trump flat with 16 - 17 points

3 No Trump flat with 18 - 19 points

(After 1 C - 1 D, opener will rebid only 1 No Trump with the more powerful hands, until responder proves he is not bust.)

2 Clubs or 2 Diamonds - a 5-card or longer suit with about 11-16 points.

Hearts or Spades - a 5-card or longer suit with about 15-19 pts.

A jump bid in either minor - a 3-card fit with responder's major and 17-19 pts3.

A jump-bid in Hearts - a strong Heart/Spade two suiter.

A jump-bid in Spades - a strong Spade/Club two suiter.

Returning to the original 10 example hands, their rebids after a 1 No Trump response are:

  1. 2 Spades. Note the 19 points limit makes it easy for partner to set the final contract.
  2. 2 Diamonds. If the 4-card Club suit is bid next, responder will know the distribution is no better than 5/4, as 5/5 or better in the minors is shown by a 2 No Trump or 3 Club opener.
  3. 2 Spades. Responder will now rebid a 4-card Heart suit should he hold one.
  4. Pass. After a major suit response, 1 NT.
  5. 3 No Trumps
  6. 2 Hearts. Will rebid Hearts to show six.
  7. 3 Hearts. Showing a strong 2-suiter in the majors.
  8. 3 Clubs. 2 Spades would be the jump-bid over a red suit bid. 3 Clubs is for economy; partner will realise opener is 5/5 and strong in Spades and Clubs.
  9. 2 No Trumps. Remember, partner may have four of either major, or both.
  10. 2 Clubs.

This usually ends opener's responsibility. The hand has been bid4.

Partner now sets the contract, or takes over the auction if sensing slam - e.g. cue-bids, control asks or bids quantitively beyond the game level.

When responder bids a (5-card or longer) major suit after 1 Club, opener may support with three. This hand:

S: K 7 2 H: A 10 3 D: K J 9 6 4 C: 6 3

would raise partner's major bid to game.

Improve the hand to:

S: A 7 2 H: A J 3 D: A K 9 6 4 3 C: 6

and it is correct to jump in Diamonds (game-forcing) and bid 4 Hearts over responder's likely 3 No Trumps.

Obviously holding a 5-card fit with responder's major suit, opener should jump to three with a good 15 to 17 points and to four with 18 or 19 points.

Responder should bid a 6-card major suit twice if his high cards allow. For example, with:

S: K J 10 9 7 4 H: Q 2 D: Q J 3 C: 6 5

respond to 1 C 1 S

and after 2 C bid 2 S

Holding A X or Q X of Spades in a fair hand, opener will go on.

The Conservative Pass

A word of caution! A flat 11-point hand with limited quick tricks and without a 4-card major is better passed in first or second chair.

A catch-up 2 No Trumps response will communicate all its values, while its undisclosed defensive potential may catch opponents unaware, either later in the bidding or during the play of the hand.

A recent development in bidding philosophy is the "rule" or measure of 19 to evaluate whether a hand qualifies to be a legitimate opener. If the total of high card points and the number of cards in the hand's two longer suits comes to 19 or more, then it should be opened at the one level. Tactically, one of the longer suits should be a major.


S: A Q 8 7 4 2 H: - D: Q 8 5 4 2 C: 8 2

open 1 Spade and rebid 2 Diamonds!


S: - H: K Q 10 9 D: A 10 9 8 6 3 C: 10 8 2

open 1 Diamond and rebid 2 Diamonds unless partner bids hearts.

S: K 10 9 H: A Q 6 D: Q 8 5 3 C: 10 8 2

is therefore a legal pass, confirming the original Diamond Major premise that an 11-point hand without a 4-card major is best passed.

The conservative approach will often keep the partnership out of trouble. For example:

S: Q J 6 H: K 10 3 D: Q 9 4 C: K 10 8 2


S: 7 4 H: A 9 7 2 D: A J 6 3 C: 7 5 3

would struggle in 1 No Trump, despite holding half the points in the pack. Yet the combination has strong defence potential.

Strong Two-Suiters

Two strong combinations are covered by the 1 Club opener. Hearts/Spades and Spades/Clubs, shown by jump-rebidding in the lower of the touching suits. For example:

1. S: A K 8 6 4 H: K Q J 10 2 D: 6 C: A Q

Jump rebid in Hearts, showing both majors. Even a diamond-bust partner may have either enough shape or one major honor to raise this strong two-suited rebid to game.

2. S: A Q J 9 6 H: A D: K Q C: A J 10 8 4

Although game is not quite certain, with Spades or Clubs as trumps this hand contains nine winners. The hand is completely bid with 1 Club and 2 Spades over the likely red suit response, 3 Clubs (for economy5) over 1 No Trump.

Should opponents overcall, mildly or madly, these 2-suited hands can still be shown. The jump rebid still tells a passing partner the full story; over opponents' high-level intervention in one of the off-suits, a simple bid of Hearts or Spades can only convey one message - the strong 2-suiter!

Competitive Bidding

Opponents' interference over 1 Club is unforbidding. Too strong to pass, responder will bid a suit or double negatively, to the level of 2 Spades (passing when holding the overcalled suit - opener will double if he would have stood a penalty double by responder).

Opposite a passing partner, opener will bale out with a minimum hand, compete with adequate strength.The strong 2-suited hand should still be shown by jumping in the lower touching suit.

Responder is grateful to know opener's strength is limited at 19 points in a prolonged competitive sequence, and may double a little earlier when the partnership's own game appears fragile.

Relay after 1 Club

The Diamond Major 1C opening lends itself to an effective and SIMPLE sequence of relay bids.

The conventional 1D answer, instead of being merely negative, can become the start of a planned relay if the the responding hand could possibly fit with one of the major suits in a 16-19 point distributional hand.

This relay probes for a possible major game based on shape rather than high card points. Therefore its employment is restricted to a responding hand with less than 10 points. If the relayed responses turn up no fitting shortage the pair signs off below the unmakeable game contract.

After opener has bid the suitable major, an artificial 2C bid shows the fit and requests specific information about the opening hand6. Opener's rebids are very precise:

2D Minimum hand, flat.

2H Maximum, flat

2S Minimum hand with singleton or void (See below)

2NT Maximum with single club (the bid below the suit - in each case)

3C Maximum with single diamond

3D Maximum with singleton in the other major

3H Maximum with void in the other major

3S Maximum with void in one of the minors (See below)

After 2S, responder asks where the shortage is by making a further relay enquiry with 2NT. Opener bids the shortage, jumping if it is a void except in spades (which would of course carry the contract above 4H). If responder scents slam he can now bid 3NT over 3S, allowing opener to show a singleton spade with 4C and a spade void with 4D.

After 3S, a responder interested in slam asks which minor by making a further relay enquiry with 3NT. Opener merely bids the void.

Cuebids or Roman Keycard Blackwood can be initiated by a responder seeking a small or grand slam.

S: - S: J 10 6

H: A Q J 9 5 H: K 10 2

D: K Q 8 5 2 D: 4

C: A 9 3 C: K Q 8 7 5 4

1C 1D relay

1H 2C relay

2S 2NT relay

3S 3NT relay


5S 6H

The slam in hearts is confidently bid - other pairs to bid slam might have chosen clubs, the 9-card fit.

Informing Opponents

An acceptable explanation of the 1 Club opener to alerted opponents who enquire:

"Eleven to 19 points denying precisely four of either major (but not five or more of either major) with very rare exceptions"

Questioned further:

"Possibly 5/4 in the majors, or very strong two-suited in either Hearts and Spades or Spades and Clubs"

The addendum should be given with the caution that these are extremely rare occasions.


A. What bid should responder make to opener's 1 Club?

  1. S: J 9 5 2 H: A 10 6 4 D: 9 6 4 C: 10 8
  2. S: Q J 8 7 5 H: 8 D: Q J 6 5 3 C: 8 7
  3. S: 9 4 H: A K Q J D: 10 9 8 4 C: 8 3 2
  4. S: K Q 8 3 H: K J 10 4 D: 8 C: 10 9 7 4
  5. S: A K H: A J 8 7 6 4 D: Q 8 7 C: A 8

B. What rebid should a 1 Club opener make after partner's response of 1 Spade?

  1. S: K Q 4 H: A 10 8 5 3 D: A 10 C: K 9 2
  2. S: K 8 4 H: K 10 3 D: A Q 2 C: J 10 6 5
  3. S: 5 H: 10 8 6 D: A K Q 8 4 C: A 10 9 5
  4. S: K 9 5 4 3 H: - D: A Q J C: A K Q 7 4
  5. S: 10 8 H: K 9 2 D: A J 10 2 C: Q J 7 6

C. What should responder say after opener's 1 Club has been overcalled with 1 Spade?

  1. S: 10 4 H: A K 9 3 D: Q 9 6 C: 10 9 6 3
  2. S: A K 9 3 H: 10 4 D: Q 9 6 C: 10 9 6 3
  3. S: 8 H: A 6 4 3 2 D: 8 7 6 5 C: A 6 4
  4. S: K J 9 H: 10 7 2 D: Q 10 9 7 5 C: Q 6
  5. S: 10 9 8 H: A K 5 D: A K 9 2 C: A J 3



  1. 1 Diamond, negative, and no further bid even after a major-suit rebid by opener.
  2. 1 Diamond. A point shy, but shapely enough to bid 1 Spade over the least wanted rebid. Opener is now likely to read a 6/5 or weak 5/5 distribution.
  3. 1 No Trump. No temptation to bid Hearts when opener can't have four.
  4. 1 No Trump. Slightly better than 2 Clubs, which would be preferable if that suit was honors-headed.
  5. 1 Heart. The Heart suit is too patchy to jump at this stage in the bidding.


  1. 2 Hearts. Communicate the hand's strength and suit before raising Spades.
  2. 1 No Trump. The same principle applies.
  3. 2 Diamonds. If partner rebids 2 Spades (showing six) pass.
  4. 3 Clubs. Can only mean very strong and 2-suited in the black suits.
  5. Pass. This hand would have been opened only in third or fourth seat.


  1. Double. Negative in style, even though opener's hand is still unknown.
  2. If opponents are vulnerable, Pass, hoping opener can double; if they are not vulnerable, 1 No Trump.
  3. Double. You would bid Hearts if the suit was stronger.
  4. 1 No Trump. 2 Diamonds is a justifiable alternative in view of the Spades holding, ready for game opposite 16-plus points.
  5. 2 spades. The cue-bid is the only way to show this hand's strength. Opener will bid No Trumps with Spade holds; otherwise 4 Hearts or 5 of a minor should succeed.



The Diamond Major bids of 1 Club and 1 Diamond, just as in Precision, show opening strength without meantime declaring the hand's longest suit. A diamond response to 1 Club is a further "non-suit" bid in both systems.

In these circumstances Suction is one of many disruptive interventions available to the opponents.

A Suction suit bid shows EITHER the suit immediately above the overcall OR support for both next two suits up.

For example, over 1 Club, or 1 Club Pass 1 Diamond:

S: A652 H: K87 D: J10984 C: 4 Bid 2 Clubs

S: KQ1084 H: 64 D: K9 C: 10642 Bid 1 Heart

S: K2 H: 94 D: A62 C: K109762 Bid 1 Spade

S: J1084 H: 72 D: 1053 C: AQJ4 Bid 1 Diamond

(second in hand)

Remember, this is disruptive intervention!

Non-Touching Suits

A hand with two non-touching suits can be bid more precisely.

Double shows opener's (non) suit together with its non-touching suit (clubs and hearts); 1 No Trump shows the other two non-touching suits (diamonds and spades).

Conventionally, fourth in hand the double shows responder's (non) suit (diamonds) with spades; 1 No Trump clubs and hearts. Apart from avoiding what appears to be an unnecessary complexity, keeping both Double and 1 No Trump to show the same holding as it does second in hand also permits partner meantime to leave in the double holding clubs in a weak hand. Opponents can scarcely play in the doubled contract profitably, and the pair using Suction have exchanged some information without risk at the lowest possible level in the bidding.

Over 1 Club or 1 Club Pass 1 Diamond, bid 1 No Trump with

S: 10 9 7 5 2 H: 3 D: A 6 4 3 2 C: K 5

double with

S: 6 H: A K 10 2 D: J 6 3 C: Q 10 8 6 3

The Suction overcaller's partner will bid the suit above the overcall only if he has NO FIT with it - that is, less than three. If happy to hear partner correct to this "true" suit at a higher level, he bids the better of the two alternative higher suits.

This is rather confusing the first time encountered. Some examples will help clarify:

(Partner has overcalled 1 Heart)

S: 8 H: Q K 8 6 D: K 9 6 5 4 C: 10 8 6

Bid 1 Spade! If partner's suit is spades he realises there is no fit and shuts up.

S: A 9 5 2 H: 10 5 3 D: 10 8 5 2 C: Q 7

Bid 2 Diamonds. If partner has spades he will correct to 2 Spades - and you might compete to the three level. (Opposite the heart overcall example above you will be one or two tricks short. But if the diamond ace lies over partner's king opponents can get 5 Hearts - maybe six!).

(Partner has overcalled 1 Spade)

S: K 9 4 3 H: K 8 3 D: J 9 8 6 5 C: 3

You must bid 2 Clubs despite the singleton. If partner has the red suits he will bid Diamonds. Opponents will have difficulty finding the penalty double of 2 Clubs when they know game their way is odds on.

Disturb Opponents' No Trump

Suction is also a surprisingly effective disturbance over a 1 No Trump opening bid. Used with discretion it outshines other methods, one reason being that showing so many different hand patterns means it can be used much more frequently.

Obviously, to show clubs and hearts (with the 2 NT "cue bid") requires good suits and strength; and the take-out double to show diamonds and spades (virtually) removes a penalty double from the side's armoury. To preserve the double for penalties, it might be better to abandon showing that precise holding, treating the hand as single-suited in the stronger five-card suit. (It's worth noting here that standard interference methods over 1 No Trump rarely if ever designate specific non-touching suits.)

As standard suction action used over 1 No Trump would often carry the bidding to the three level its use should be amended by partner bidding the suit immediately above the overcalled (non-)suit, even with good support. If the overcaller then bids the next suit up, showing the two-suiter, partner agrees the contract by passing or choosing the better fit, even if it means going to the three level.

Discipline versus Hazard

As with all such cavalier action there are serious risks. Not the least is judging the right level: game may be on, but the more frequent - and therefore less disciplined - the intervention, the more sheer guesswork is involved. Another cost is having to guess which of partner's "suits" to lead against a declaring opponent.

And undisciplined intervention lays the partnership open to a nasty penalty.

Without Suction interference the bidding went


1C* P 1D* P

1S P 2C* P

2S* P 2NT* P

3H* P 3S All pass

(Responder had hoped for a club shortage. Result -1)

When North bid undisciplined Suction (perhaps influenced by the two-way opportunities for a fit), this happened:


1C* 1S* X* P

P XX! P 2H

P P X All pass

East's double said he would have relayed 1 Diamond. North's redouble imaginatively showed his three suits (!) and South chose hearts, duly doubled for penalties by East.

Following West's heart knave lead, ducked to South's queen, East took the spade continuation and drew trumps! Then he led spades through declarer's 1083 for four more tricks with diamonds still to be played. Declarer made three club tricks and the trump queen - minus 800 not vulnerable.

Responder's Options

The Diamond Major opener's partner can try various ploys over opponents' use of Suction.

The bonus bid of Double (or Redouble) is now available, although this recommended use, to show responder would have made the 1 Diamond relay, gives no real new advantage. However, it can by prior partnership agreement show specific points, length in overcaller's (non) suit or on the assumption overcaller's real suit is the one above the overcall the double can simply revert to the traditional negative double of that suit.

If the Suction action has been Double or 1 No Trump, then responder's redouble or double could show strength in a specific known suit, giving the partnership the best chance of penalising a misfit.

Suction bids must all be alerted, of course.



The opening bid of 1 Heart or 1 Spade is usually limited to between 11 and a poor 15 points, and always shows five or more of the bid suit.

As it can occasionally be as weak as 8 points, two-suited, it must be alerted.

This hand:

S: 10 4 H: A K 8 7 3 D: K J 6 C: 8 5 2

is an obvious 1 Heart bid, as is the more appealing:

S: 10 4 H: A K Q 8 7 3 2 D: K 5 4 C: 2

with its ready rebids in Hearts.

Responses to the Major Opener

As the opening bid is in the style of the Precision system, so too are the responses. Change of suit is forcing, simple support or 1 No Trump (denying three-card support) requires 6 to 10 points, jump support or 2 No Trumps 11 to 13 points and invitational, game a good opener or LAW, etc.

With doubleton or even poor tripleton support, partner may choose to pass with as many as 9 points. He can always come in later, perhaps with a tasty double.

Holding scattered values and a singleton in the bid suit, it may be wiser to bid 1 No Trump than pass. Opener will not rebid his suit without six or more.

After responder's forcing change of suit, opener may rebid No Trumps or a second suit. Opposite 2 Clubs or 2 Diamonds, only with a dead-minimum hand and no other 4-card suit might he break system and rebid a 5-card major rather than 2 No Trumps.

Responder can now invite or bid game, if appropriate.

2 No Trumps Enquiry

The standard 2 No Trumps response to a major opener ideally shows an 11-13 flat hand with doubleton honor in opener's suit. Forcing change of suit is an acceptable alternative with that holding, allowing the 2 No Trumps response various conventional meanings, some now well known and widely used.

Diamond Major's style is to use 2 No Trumps to confirm a fit with opener's suit (at least three cards to an honor) and enquire for a singleton or void.

With a flat hand opener bids 3 of the major weak, 3NT strong, or 4 of the major with 6,3,3,2 distribution. A singleton is shown by bidding the suit (or by doubling an opponent's overcall in that suit), a void or singleton ace by jumping in the short suit.

S: K 4 H: K 10 9 7 D: 9 7 5 3 2 C: A Q


S: A 8 3 H: A Q 8 6 3 D: 10 C: K 8 6 4

will almost certainly make 12 tricks against any defence. Very few pairs would even dream of bidding the slam.

1H 2NT

3D (singleton) 4NT (RKCB)


(specifically the spade and heart aces plus the trump queen - the diamond singleton ace would have been show with 4D in answer to 2NT )


Only a 4-0 trump break poses any threat to the contract!

Weak, Two-suited

Occasionally a Heart opener will be two-suited in Hearts and Diamonds, a Spade opener in Spades and Hearts. This is the only time the opening hand may have as few as 8 to 10 points.

Although it has a slight pre-emptive effect, the weak opener is constructive in intent. Responder is expected to treat it as of normal opening strength should he have a reasonable fit, either for a positive score or a sacrifice.

The bid must therefore be used with discipline: the suits will always be 5/5 or longer, and points must be in those suits rather than outside.

S: K Q 9 8 7 H: Q J 10 7 6 D: 6 4 C: 8

would be a minimum Spade opener, and:

S: 7 H: Q J 10 8 7 D: K Q 8 7 6 C: 6 2

a minimum Heart opener.

It is worth observing that each of these hands contains only six losers, and requires only a fit and three key controls opposite to make game likely.

Of course, the more common 5/4 distribution of the two suits and 11 points-plus is bid in exactly the same way, so responder cannot depend on a fifth card in the second suit.

The minimum Heart opener above would be bid:

1 Heart 1 Spade

2 Diamonds 2 No Trumps7

3 Diamonds Pass

when responder holds:

S: K J 10 3 H: 6 4 D: A 9 4 C: A 8 7 4

Four Losers

A more distributional 1 Heart/1 Spade opener is shown by jump-rebidding or reversing in the second suit. This shows a 6-card major with another 5-card suit, a hand like:

S: 4 2 H: A Q 10 8 6 4 D: - C: K Q J 8 3


S: K Q 9 7 6 4 H: A D: Q J 10 3 2 C: 6


S: A 10 8 4 2 H: A Q 9 7 6 4 D: A 6 C: -

These hands have strong play potential with a reasonable fit opposite - only four losers in each case.

There is a negative gain. Whenever the jump rebid is not used this particular holding can be ruled out of consideration by partner.

Informing Opponents

The major opener must be alerted and should be described as 11-15 points unless 2-suited in touching suits, when it might be as weak as 8 high-card points.


A. What bid should responder make to opener's 1 Spade?

  1. S: 6 4 H: A Q 10 5 D: 5 4 3 C: K 10 8 6
  2. S: 7 6 4 H: 10 9 3 D: A Q 10 4 C: K 10 6
  3. S: Q J 3 H: 9 D: A Q J 10 7 4 C: A K 2
  4. S: 7 6 4 H: 9 D: K 10 8 7 4 C: K 8 7 5
  5. S: 6 4 H: A Q 10 7 5 D: A 4 3 C: 10 8 6

B. What rebid should a 1 Heart opener make after partner's response of 2 Clubs?

  1. S: A 7 H: K J 8 6 4 D: Q 9 5 2 C: J 8
  2. S: A K 10 8 3 H: Q J 8 7 5 4 D: - C: K 6
  3. S: K 3 H: K Q 8 6 2 D: 9 4 C: A 10 3 2

And after partner's response of 1 Spade?

  1. S: 7 5 2 H: A K 10 6 2 D: 9 4 2 C: K Q
  2. S: K 8 3 2 H: Q 10 9 6 5 2 D: A K C: 2

C. What rebid should responder make after opener's 1 Heart has been overcalled with 2 Diamonds?

  1. S: Q 9 3 2 H: 10 5 D: J 8 C: A K 7 5 3
  2. S: Q 4 H: K 2 D: K 8 C: Q J 9 7 3 2
  3. S: Q 2 H: 7 5 D: A J 10 4 C: K 8 6 5 4
  4. S: J 10 9 8 3 H: Q 4 D: K 5 3 C: A 9 7
  5. S: A J 9 4 H: - D: 9 7 5 3 C: Q J 10 4 3



  1. NT. Opener may yet bid another suit which you can pass more happily.
  2. Pass meantime. If opponents compete to the 3 level, double.
  3. 3D. A jump-shift. Admittedly you'd like to have the KD, but this strength must be shown immediately.
  4. 2S. Don't invite the opposition into the auction by passing - just hope partner keeps his feet on the ground.
  5. 2H. If opener bids 2S, 2NT or a minor suit pass, but bid game given Heart support.


  1. 2D. But this poor collection might have been better passed originally.
  2. 3S, showing 6/5 distribution and asking partner to choose the major game.
  3. 3C.
  4. 1 NT. Partner may have only four Spades.
  5. 2S.


  1. Double (negative)
  2. 3C. Pushy but better than the 2 NT alternative.
  3. Pass - and hope opener doubles protectively.
  4. Double. 2 S would be extreme - a later bid of the suit would now logically show five.
  5. Pass. The void in partner's suit discourages action. Without the overcall, 1 S would have been preferable to 2 C, on points and for the same reason.



The Diamond Major opening bid of 1 No Trump shows 14 or 15 points in a flat hand which may include a 4-card major suit.8 The employment of Stayman and transfer bids is recommended.

Requiring decent strength to open 1 No Trump has become fashionable again, particularly with players who have suffered ignominious cost and/or much stress doubled in 1 No Trump with 12 points opposite a bust hand.

At the same time, modern bidders do not readily pass with 11 points; but a flat 11 is hard to describe when the 1 No Trump rebid, which might conventionally show around 15 or 16 points, is unavailable.

Once the opening 1 No Trump strength is raised to a respectable (and comfortable) level, flat 11 to 13 point hands can be opened with 1 Club or 1 Diamond (defining the 4-card major content) and rebid 1 No Trump with serenity.

(But once again, an 11 point hand with limited quick tricks and no 4-card major might be better passed in first or second seat.)

Less Danger

An 11-point No Trump rebid has high security. A painful double can be inflicted only in the pass-out position, where it might have some ambiguity and be taken as merely protective.

This is the worst scenario:

1 C Pass 1 D Pass

1 NT Pass Pass Double

Responder's pass has confirmed a bust hand, but even now opener is sitting over the majority of defender's honor cards. And the Diamond Major pair may still wriggle into a less easily doubled suit contract.

If the 1 Club or 1 Diamond opening bid is doubled on the left, a final No Trump contract without 20 points is unlikely. The partnership has time and space to find a 4/4 or 4/3 fit at the one-level.

Even a 1 Club-1 Diamond (bust) sequence leaves room to maneuver should fourth hand double at the first opportunity. Opener passes with 11 flat points. In this dangerous situation responder will bid a 4-card major and partner will stand that contract doubled with three cards in the suit (rescue redoubling with a doubleton).

The chance of a 4/4 or 5/3 minor fit is still likely, given the flatness of opener's hand. A more aggressive 1 Diamond responder might choose to redouble with four or more Diamonds, for instance - as could opener, come to that.

There are many possibilities. Perhaps rescue operations are best left to partnership style!

More Certainty

Besides helping responder to judge the final contract level, limiting the range of the 1 No Trump opener to only two points gives a further advantage - those difficult hands with a weak doubleton:

S: 8 6 H: K 9 7 3 D: A K 3 C: K J 9 5

S: A 10 7 H: 9 8 D: K Q J 6 C: A J 6 2

or S: 7 3 H: A K 9 D: J 10 8 6 4 C: A Q 6

can be opened 1 Diamond or 1 Club and either undercalled or overcalled on the No Trump rebid, depending on partner's response.

Particularly after a 1 Diamond opening, responder's by-passing a doubleton major in opener's hand would be a sure warning that a high No Trump contract might be insecure.

Unbalanced 1 No Trump

Preoccupation with the four-card major suit prompted a colleague to experiment with a two-way 1 No Trump opening bid.

Showing between 12 and 15 high card points and strictly denying four of either major (a questionable refinement since this information helps defenders enormously both in choosing their opening lead and in counting the hand), 1 No Trump can be balanced, or it can be unbalanced with a major-suit singleton.

Responder may check with a conventional 2 Clubs bid.

Opener responds 2 Diamonds (flat, 12-13 points), 2 No Trumps (14-15, shape undisclosed), 2 Hearts or 2 Spades: 12-13 with that specific major singleton.

Hearing the 2 No Trumps rebid, a still-interested responder can enquire further with 3 Clubs. Now 3 Diamonds shows no singleton major, 3 Hearts and 3 Spades that specific singleton, 3 No Trumps a precisely 3-3-3-4 hand

This style does stiffen Diamond Major's fuzziness around the minor suits. Unbalanced openings must be minor rich, as there's room for no more than four major-suit cards!

Pairs might be warned off unmakeable No Trump contracts where they can't control a major, or the quickly-shown singleton might help them to bid a shapely minor-suit slam.


A. What opening_bid should be made with these hands?

  1. S: K J 3 H: J 6 4 3 2 D: A Q 8 C: A 6
  2. S: A Q 10 2 H: J 10 7 3 D: 5 4 C: A K 3
  3. S: A 9 7 H: A 7 4 D: A 8 3 C: K 10 6
  4. S: 10 8 H: A Q 7 D: K 9 8 2 C: A Q 8 4
  5. S: 10 8 6 3 H: K 9 4 2 D: A Q C: K Q J

B. What bid should responder make after opener's 1 No Trump?

  1. S: A 4 3 2 H: K 6 5 2 D: A 4 C: 9 6 3
  2. S: Q J 9 3 2 H: 4 D: 9 3 2 C: Q 10 6
  3. S: Q 10 9 H: K J 6 D: Q 9 8 C: K 10 8
  4. S: 9 H: Q 10 8 3 D: 10 8 5 4 C: 9 6 3 2
  5. S: A 5 4 2 H: K 8 6 3 D: 2 C: J 10 6 3



  1. 1NT. The hand is flat and the heart suit very weak, leaving no doubt about suppressing it.
  2. 1D. With four of each major and a weak doubleton, seek a major-suit contract first. Drop partner's 1NT, bid 2NT over a minor suit response.
  3. 1C. Raise partner's 1NT, support his major, bid 3NT over a minor. You prefer partner to play the contract as the lead up to his hand could be worth an extra trick.
  4. 1NT. The Spade doubleton is unfortunate but there's really no alternative. And played in Hearts or Spades (transferred) the lead up to this hand should be beneficial.
  5. 1NT. Unless partner Staymans, No Trumps should be the best spot.


  1. 2C (Stayman).
  2. 2H, transferring the 2 S contract so the lead will come up to the stronger hand.
  3. 3NT. Even opposite 14 points the excellent intermediate cards should ensure nine tricks.
  4. 2D. Transferring to Hearts risks a 4-2 fit, but might encourage opponents to bid their Spades. Things could get desperate if you wait for their double.
  5. Pass. Too weak to risk Stayman.



The Diamond Major 2 Clubs opening bid is Acol in style, showing a very strong single-suited hand or a strong flat holding - 20 to 21 points when the rebid is 2 No Trumps, 24 to 25 points when the rebid is 3 No Trumps.

The single-suit strength can be either eight playing tricks with the long suit as trumps or game-in-hand with the long suit as trumps.

Most systems use two different opening bids to describe these holdings, but surely this is extravagant?

Game-in-hand is shown by simply jump-rebidding the long suit.

Some examples of the wide variety of hands which are opened 2 Clubs:

S: K Q 10 8 6 4 H: A 6 D: A K 10 C: A 8

S: A 9 4 H: A K Q J 8 D: 8 6 C: A K 9

S: A Q 6 H: K J 10 8 D: A K 10 C: K 6 4

S: K J 10 H: A K Q 6 D: K Q 2 C: A Q J

S: A J 10 3 H: A K Q D: A Q 8 6 4 2 C: -

S: K 6 H: A K Q 3 D: 9 C: A K Q 9 6 4

S: A K J 10 9 2 H: A 8 D: A K 6 2 C: A

S: A Q H: A K Q 8 6 2 D: A C: K Q J 8

S: A K Q H: A J 10 9 6 D: K 10 C: K J 7


Responder should bid any 4-card suit with as little as an Ace and a King, even a minor suit at the three-level, and a conventional 2 Diamonds if his hand is weaker than this.

A bid of 2 No Trumps shows scattered values in a flat hand - about 7 points up, something like:

S: K 9 4 H: 10 7 5 D: Q 8 4 3 C: K 10 6

Holding opening strength himself, responder bids 3 No Trumps. Opener declares his suit and now the partnership's best slam spot can be found be agreed methods.

Once the negative 2 Diamonds response has denied two quick tricks, responder can show a 4-card suit and one quick trick with his rebid.

This Diamond Major emphasis on calling 4-card suits after the 2 Club opening bid gives the partnership an immediate chance of hitting a 4/4 fit game or slam. Opener's 5 or 6-card suit is surprisingly often accompanied by a 4-card suit elsewhere in the hand.

Game or Slam?

Any positive response commits the partnership to game somewhere, so a very strong opener may simply rebid a 5-card suit at the cheapest level rather than jump, retaining the option of 3 No Trumps as a possible final contract.

But a 6-card suit in a game-strong hand should still be jump rebid. This gets the full message across to partner, who may now wish to investigate slam.

The previous eight example hands would, after the conventional 2 Diamonds response, be rebid thus:

2 Spades, 2 Hearts, 2 No Trumps, 3 No Trumps, 3 Diamonds, 3 Clubs, 3 Spades, 3 Hearts, 2 No Trumps

And after a positive response of 2 No Trumps:

3 Spades, 3 Hearts, 3 No Trumps, 4 Clubs (Gerber Ace-enquiring), 3 Diamonds, 3 Clubs, 4 Spades, 4 Hearts, 3 No Trumps

Two Clubs is the Diamond Major's strongest single-suited opening bid. Partner knows there will be no other 5-card suit; he also knows that any other opening bid denies so strong a single-suited hand.

Informing Opponents

The 2 Clubs bid should be alerted and described as Acol in style, showing either 8 tricks or game in an undisclosed suit,or a very strong flat hand.


A. What opening bid should be made with these hands?

  1. S: A Q H: K Q J 4 D: 8 C: A K J 9 6 3
  2. S: A K Q H: 10 8 5 4 D: Q 9 C: A J 8 5
  3. S: A Q J H: J 8 D: A Q 8 3 C: K Q J 9
  4. S: A J 9 4 H: K Q 10 4 D: A Q C: A 8 2
  5. S: 8 2 H: A Q J D: A K Q J 10 9 C: K 9

B. What bid should responder make after opener's 2 C bid?

  1. S: A 10 7 2 H: 9 3 D: J 10 2 C: K 9 6 4
  2. S: A 10 9 6 5 3 H: 2 D: Q 8 3 C: 8 5 4
  3. S: Q 8 H: 10 5 3 D: K J 8 4 C: 8 5 4 2
  4. S: -- H: K Q 8 4 2 D: A 10 9 7 C: Q 5 3 2
  5. S: A 10 4 H: K 8 2 D: A 6 5 4 2 C: J 6



  1. 2C. With a 4-card Heart suit and a positive opposite, you will reach at least game in Hearts. A 1 Diamond opening bid might elicit no response.
  2. 1C. This 20 points must be treated as a top-limit 1C opener. It has both poor suit quality and six losers.
  3. 2C, rebidding 2 NT. The Heart doubleton is unfortunate but QXX opposite will hold the suit once.
  4. 1D, investigating a major fit. Raise a major to game, otherwise rebid 3 NT. (If partner passes, game is unlikely.)
  5. (2 C) Actually 2 D, rebidding 3 D to show the strong single-suited hand - see next Chapter.


  1. 2S. And 4 C over the expected 3 H rebid, seeking a 4-4 fit.
  2. 2D. Only one quick trick. Drop partner's likely 2 H rebid; the length in Spades cannot be shown safely.
  3. 2NT. You will raise partner's suit with your next bid.
  4. 2H. Over opener's likely 2 S rebid, try 3 C. He should now show a 4-card Diamond suit if he has it. Over 3 S try 3 NT.
  5. 3NT. Shows opening strength.



This conventional opening bid of 2 Diamonds is well-known.

The Diamond Major uses it to cover three distinctly different hand types:

1. Weak with a 6-card major suit, 6 to 10 points.

2. Strong with a 6-card minor suit, 17 points upwards.

3. A very strong flat holding, either 22-23 points (rebid 2 No Trumps) or 26-27 points (rebid 3 No Trumps).

Example hands:

S: K J 9 7 6 4 H: 10 D: A 4 3 2 C: 8 3

S: 10 9 H: A J D: A K Q 10 8 3 C: A 10 3

S: A K 10 4 H: K Q 9 D: K J 2 C: A Q 8

S: K Q J 9 H: A J 2 D: A K Q 3 C: A Q

Unless extremely strong (15+), responder will bid 2 Hearts, catering for opener's holding a weak major - this can be left or corrected to 2 Spades, the final contract when opener is weak with one of the majors.

Opener's 2 No Trumps or 3 No Trumps rebids obviously show the very strong flat hand; 3 Clubs and 3 Diamonds confirm a strong minor. Responder now chooses to pass, bid game or invite it, or seek slam.

Two Spades Somersault

Holding sufficient strength to contemplate game opposite a weak two, partner has alternatives to the 2 Hearts response.

A bid of 2 Spades shows Heart support and suggests game if opener is reasonably top-level (8 to 10 points) with the Heart suit. (Opener passes holding a weak two in Spades and the contract has been transferred {responder becomes declarer}, a feature of other Diamond Major somersaults.)9


A bid of 2 No Trumps enquires opener's suit and strength. As almost invariably opener has a weak two, he describes his holding by bidding:

3 Clubs with Hearts and 6 to 8 points

3 Diamonds with Spades and 6 to 8 points

3 Hearts with Hearts and 9 or 10 points

3 Spades with Spades and 9 or 10 points

This fairly precise information enables responder to choose the final contract (which you will have noticed has been transferred whenever opener holds lower-limit strength).

Strong Hand Rebids

Following the 2 No Trumps enquiry, opener's 3 No Trumps rebid shows the strong minor hand. This may become the final contract of course, as the 2 Diamonds opening bid is weaker than 2 Clubs and is probably limited to 20 or 21 points maximum. If responder sniffs slam he is welcome to proceed, using Gerber or a quantitative 4 No Trumps bid.

Alternatively, responder can choose to have the hand played in game or slam in the minor by now bidding 4 Diamonds (4 Clubs would be Gerber). Opener bids his suit at the 5 level: responder mates his hand to the 17 to 21 points opposite and passes or bids small or grand slam.

Following the 2 No Trumps enquiry10 a 4 Clubs bid shows 22-23 flat points and is Gerber Ace-asking. The 2 No Trumps bid ensures a small slam opposite this opener, and almost certainly a grand.

Opposite 26-27 points, the 2 No Trumps bidder surely holds the rest of the points - but unless opener has all four he should take insurance with an Aces enquiry.


Opponents' intervention is almost always over the most common opener, weak with a long major.

Guessing which major opener might hold is perilous and strongly recommended against. However, with support for both majors, responder can still use the 2 No Trumps enquiry if there is room, double three of a minor conventionally if there is not. A redouble should convey the same enquiry, enabling opener to answer at the two-level unless there is further interference.

Such action requires courage when opener may have as little as an Ace and a Queen. He can be relied upon to bid again with one of the strong holdings.


The 2 Diamonds bid must be alerted and can be described as:

"Multi 3-ways - a 6-card major 6 to 10 points, a strong minor suit 17 to 21 points, or a very strong flat hand."


What opening bid should be made with these hands?

  1. S: J 4 H: A 10 3 D: A K Q 10 8 C: A 9 2
  2. S: A Q H: K J 10 5 D: A 10 9 6 C: A K J
  3. S: J 10 9 7 5 4 H: 7 5 D: K 9 3 C: Q 6
  4. S: 10 H: K Q J D: A 10 C: A Q 10 8 6 3 2
  5. S: Q J 10 9 H: A K J D: A Q J C: A 10 9


  1. 1 C. Rebid 3 NT to responses of 1 S, 1 NT or 2 C; rebid 3 D to 1 H, showing 16-plus and 3-card Heart support.
  2. 2 D. Rebid 2 NT.
  3. Pass. Suit and hand are both too weak to open 2 D.
  4. 2 D. The seventh Club gives the hand an extra playing trick.
  5. 2 C. 22 points with excellent filling, but no long suit and six losers. You need partner no hold at least a King and a Queen to make 3 NT.



Jeremy Flint's Boomerang Club system uses 2-level major-suit opening bids to cover all 2-non touching-suited hands, both weak and strong.

The idea is quite ingenious:

2 Hearts is either strong in Hearts and Clubs, or weak in Spades and Diamonds; 2 Spades is either strong in Spades and Diamonds, or weak in Hearts and Clubs. The strong combination will have only three or four losers.

Partner merely shows his preference by bidding one of the "weak"suits.

If opener is strong he rebids the cheaper "strong" suit, and now partner with some fit needs only one key card for game, two or three for slam.

In accord with the Diamond Major's propensity to transfer the contract, this will often result in the two-suited hand becoming dummy - whenever responder prefers the alternative (so far unbid) suit as trumps.


Here are five 2 Hearts or 2 Spades opening bids:

1. S: K 10 9 7 4 H: 7 4 D: A J 10 6 3 C: 8

Open 2 Hearts

2. S: Q 9 4 H: A K Q J 8 D: - C: A K Q 6 3

Open 2 Hearts

3. S: - H: K Q 10 8 6 D: A K 8 C: A Q 10 9 3

Open 2 Hearts

4. S: K J H: J 10 9 8 4 D: 9 C: Q 8 6 3 2

Open 2 Spades

5. S: A Q J 9 4 H: 10 8 D: A K J 10 6 C: 7

Open 2 Spades (5 losers admittedly, but a strong candidate for game in Spades.)

With these hands opposite, auctions would proceed:

1. S: 6 3 H: K Q 8 6 D: Q 9 7 C: A 6 4 2

Opener Responder

2 H 3 D


2. S: 10 8 7 5 3 H: 10 4 D: K Q J 9 C: 9 2

Opener Responder

2 H 2 S

3 C 3 NT


3. S: J 10 7 4 H: 9 7 5 2 D: Q 9 7 4 3 C: -

Opener Responder

2 H 2 S

3 C 4 H


4. S: 9 7 5 4 H: A Q 6 D: Q 8 7 4 C: K 9

Opener Responder

2 S 3 H


5. S: K 10 8 2 H: A 9 7 D: Q 3 C: Q 8 6 2

Opener Responder

2 S 3 C

3 D 6 S


In the rare instance responder is sufficiently strong to commit the partnership to game opposite a weak opener, he can bid it direct in the preferred weak suit or force with 2 No Trumps, asking partner to rebid his better suit. Cue-bids would be used to investigate slam.

Should opener unexpectedly rebid a "strong" suit, responder will probably want to bid grand slam in his better fit, or in No Trumps if a suit contract is inappropriate. (A Blackwood check for Aces would be a wise precaution before bidding 7 No Trumps.)


These examples presuppose no interference, but defenders are not always so obliging.

An opponent's double would point to opener's holding the weak combination and responder's percentage action would be to sacrifice over their game should it look sound.

Faced with an overcall, the situation is less clear-cut.

When it is in one of opener's "strong" suits, responder's safest action is to let it run round to partner (who may want to double), but with five (or even four) of one of the "weak" suits he may pave the way to a sacrifice by bidding to let partner know of the "fit".

By convention, a double would show a good fit in both "weak" suits and little in defence. Partner will leave the double in if he is strong.

An opponent's overcall of one of opener's "weak" suits would be unwise, particularly if it is at the three-level. Responder would of course pass, as would opener unless he held the strong combination. In that case he would bid the cheaper strong suit.

Informing Opponents

The clearest explanations of these two opening bids are those given in the second paragraph of this chapter.

FOOTNOTE for 3rd Edition

Boomerang Twos may be judged a highly unusual method (HUM) and not be legally accepted for a Pairs contest, when a definite suit must be identified in opening bids of two in a major suit. Diamond Major can in that circumstance adapt these bids as simply WEAK two-suited, 2 Hearts showing hearts and clubs; 2 Spades showing spades and diamonds.

In play, this has facilitated the bidding and allowed some spectacular sacrifices to be bid confidently.

To accommodate strong two-suited hands with non-touching suits, the multi-2 Diamond opener has been extended to four-way, adding "strong two-suited, non-touching suits" to the alerted explanation.

Opener's rebids after a 2 Hearts response is three of his major; and after a 2 No Trumps response or interference bidding by opponents, a jump in the cheaper suit, often the minor - which can allow responder to cue-bid the intervening suit if slam appears possible.



The Diamond Major 2 No Trumps opening bid covers a variety of different holdings: a weak pre-empt in either minor and three different two-suiters, one weak and two strong.

Responder's relay reply is 3 Clubs and this will be left for "dummy" to play if opener holds a pre-empt in clubs.

Opener shows any holding other than the Clubs pre-empt by rebidding:

3 Diamonds a pre-empt in diamonds

3 Hearts a very strong two-suiter in diamonds and hearts

3 Spades a weak two-suiter in spades and clubs

3 No Trumps a strong two-suiter in clubs and diamonds, with no more than four losers

Partner shows preference at the level appropriate to his strength and fit.

The Strong Responder

With a Club fit and game expectations, responder should bid 3 No Trumps, as he would opposite a 3 Clubs pre-emptive opener11. (He must be prepared for a Diamonds pre-empt hand to appear as his dummy.)

With a try for 3 No Trumps opposite a Diamonds pre-empt, responder relays 3 Clubs and corrects 3 Diamonds to 3 No Trumps.

Two Suited Hands

When responder raises 2 No Trumps to 3 No Trumps, opener shows the strong two-suiters by rebidding a minor suit, 4 Clubs for the Club-Diamond holding, 4 Diamonds for the Diamond-Heart holding. Slam will be almost certain opposite partner's strength.

With the weak Spades-Clubs 2-suiter, game in spades is probably the better bet, but partner will consider rectifying the final contract to 5 Clubs, dependent on his spades and clubs lengths.

Informing Opponents

An acceptable explanation of the (alerted) 2 No Trumps opening bid is:

"A pre-empt in clubs or diamonds, or possibly a 2-suited hand either weak or strong."

Details of the specific suits and strengths would be supplied, on further enquiry.

FOOTNOTE for 3rd Edition

A Pairs contest ruling may require this 2 No Trumps opening bid to nominate an anchor suit. In such case, Diamond Major merely scraps the 3 Clubs pre-empt and weak two-suiter in spades and clubs altogether, retaining the diamond pre-empt and both two-suited choices which have diamonds as the anchor suit.



Once a partnership has decided to employ 3-level bids pre-emptively to show a long suit in a weak hand, standard throughout the world, a multitude of rebids can be used to show something entirely different.

Opener simply bids the suit below the pre-empt suit, coincidently transferring heart and spade contracts to be played by (and led into) the unknown hand.

On the same principle as applies to the Diamond Major 2 No Trumps opening bid, the anticipated final contract can be spurned to describe a surprise freak holding.

3 Clubs

This is the final conventional bid to show a 2-suited opening hand, this time in the minor suits with about 10 to 14 points.

Partner shows preference by passing or bidding 3 Diamonds. Obviously 3 No Trumps or a minor game are other possible responses.

S: - H: 9 8 D: K J 10 8 6 4 C: K J 10 6 4

is as weak a hand as would dare open 3 Clubs,

S: A H: 10 5 D: K J 10 8 4 C: K 10 9 6 4

as strong.

3 Diamonds

Partner is expected to transfer this pre-empt to Hearts, bidding game if it is promising, cue-bidding a new suit if slam in hearts is a prospect. But, after 3 Hearts from responder opener bids a second suit to show at least seven hearts and five of the new suit and a very strong playing hand with only three or four losers. Something like:

S: Q H: K Q 10 9 7 5 2 D:- C: A J 10 8 3

Game should virtually always be bid, and with two or three quick tricks and fit, slam suggested with a cue bid.

And, after responder's forced 3 Hearts, a 3 No Trumps rebid shows real strength - 28 or 29 points in a flat hand. Responder can pass, bid another game more suited to his hand, or slam outright or via Gerber.

3 Hearts

Partner transfers this pre-empt in Spades either at the 3 level or in game, as to 3 Hearts after 3 Diamonds. Opener's bid of a new suit confirms seven Spades and five of the second suit and excellent playing strength.

And now a further bid of 3 No Trumps by opener shows 30 or 31 points in a flat hand.12

3 Spades

This transfer of the "gambling" 3 No Trumps opening bid, based on a solid long minor suit with little outside, gives valuable security when the opening lead is made to the unknown hand. The added advantage of discarding from a hidden hand while the long minor is run often makes all the difference between the contract's success or failure.

Responder should almost certainly bid 3 No Trumps but, with fragile guards or a void in opener's obvious suit, has the choice of bidding 4 Clubs - or 4 Diamonds if he can see this is unquestionably the opening bidder's solid suit.

But should opener bid a new suit over 3 No Trumps he is now showing seven Diamonds and five of the other suit and only three or four losers in his hand.

Partner shows preference at the appropriate level, bidding slam with a couple of well-placed controls.13

3 No Trumps

Finally, 3 No Trumps prepares for a pre-empt in Clubs or Diamonds at the 4-level, in the style of the Diamond Major 2 No Trumps opening bid.

Partner relays 4 Clubs, which may be the final contract, bids further if he sees fit, or of course passes if he judges 3 No Trumps to be the best contract available.

Opponents' Intervention

Most of the time the pre-emptive style transfer opening bid will be just that - and opponents' interference will be a justified effort to buy the contract.

The Diamond Major responder can now choose whether or not to transfer the contract at the 3-level (over a double) or higher. He has the added advantage of redoubling a double, possibly to show length in opener's non-suit bid or a specific number of quick tricks, according to partnership style. A pass might show an inclination to defend rather than sacrifice; bidding a new suit a lead suggestion should opener be on lead defending.

Should opener hold the freak 7/5 hand in a competitive situation, he will always rebid the secondary suit (or double if opponents are in it). Partner will be well-placed to make the final decision.

Informing Opponents

Naturally, all these 3-level bids must be alerted and described variously as the partnership understands them.



Diamond Major employs the "Texas" approach to 4-level major suit openers, choosing 4 Clubs to show a weak 4 Hearts hand and 4 Diamonds to show a weak 4 Spades.

Pre-emptive rather than constructive, the contract is then transferred to the unknown hand which is more likely to benefit from the lead coming up to it.

Responder has the opportunity to cue-bid an Ace (but not a void, for he is looking for second-round control in opener's hand), or choose a higher/different final contract. However, he needs sound controls and a good side-suit to take this unusual step.

Opening bids of 4 Hearts and 4 Spades show the same suit length, seven solid or eight-plus broken, but with strength outside.

Responder should cue-bid an Ace or raise to five with a trump honor should he hold with it an outside King-Queen combination or two Kings.

Perhaps some example hands rather than text will clarify this approach:

S: - H: A K J 9 8 4 3 2 D: A 10 4 C: A 2

Open 4 Hearts. If responder raises or cue-bids the Spade Ace, bid 6.

S: K Q 10 9 8 7 3 2 H: J 10 8 D: Q 9 C: -

Open 4 Diamonds not vulnerable, but only 3 Hearts (transfer pre-empt) vulnerable. The hand is very short of controls and open to a mauling double.

S: A Q 10 9 8 7 5 3 H: 9 D: K Q 10 5 C: -

Open 4 Spades. If responder cue-bids the diamond or heart Ace, bid 6, but leave a raise to 5 Spades.

S: A 6 H: Q J 10 9 8 7 6 2 D: Q J C: 10

Open 4 Clubs. As weak as you would ever want to be, but you have little for defence. Partner may be able to sacrifice/push over 4 Spades.

Responses to (A) 4 Clubs (doubled or not), (B) 4 Hearts:

S: K Q 8 H: 5 D: K 9 3 2 C: Q J 9 8 3

(A) 4 Hearts

  1. Pass. Compete to the 5-level over 4 Spades - opponents will almost certainly proceed to 5 Spades, which you can double more happily than


S: - H: Q 6 5 D: A 9 7 6 4 C: K Q 9 3 2

(A) 5 Hearts. Further pre-emption, pushing opponents into an unmakeable 5 or even 6 Spades.

  1. 4 Spades. If opener can cue-bid Clubs or show the Diamond and Spade Kings with 4 No Trumps, 6 Hearts should be cold.

S: 10 9 6 4 H: A 3 D: K Q 7 6 4 C: A 3

  1. 4 Hearts.
  2. 5 Clubs. If partner is Ace-less (unlikely) 5 Hearts should be on. After his cue-bid of diamonds, subside at 5 Hearts which he will drop if he can't control a spade lead. Bid 7 Hearts if he now cue-bids the spade suit.

Informing Opponents

All 4-level suit bids must be alerted and the partnership's understanding of them fully explained.



Once in a blue moon a freak hand turns up which requires one specific honor card in partner's hand to ensure a small or even grand slam.

The opening bid of 4 No Trumps is fairly well known. Responder has been asked to show a specific Ace, which he does by simply bidding its suit. Five Diamonds confirms possession of the Diamond Ace, 5 Hearts the Heart Ace, 5 Spades the Spade Ace, 5 No Trumps two Aces and 6 clubs the Club Ace. Five Clubs denies holding any.

Opener, with a solid trump suit and a void, thus ensures partner's Ace is opposite his singleton or doubleton where it will control the weakness in his hand.

(Note that he must be prepared for a bid of 6 Clubs and therefore should be looking for this specific Ace for his slam; likewise the spade Ace for a small slam in Hearts.)

These hands would use the convention:

S: A K Q J 8 6 5 2 H: - D: K Q 2 C: K 4

S: 5 H: A K Q 10 8 6 3 2 D: A K Q J C: -

S: - H: K Q J 10 D: A 6 C: A K Q J 10 9 5

S: A K Q 10 H: - D: A K Q J 6 5 3 2 C: 7

S: K Q J 10 9 7 5 3 H: A 3 D: - C: A Q J

Specific-King Ask

It is merely logical to employ an opening bid of 5 No Trumps as enquiring for a specific king to bid seven. These once-in-a- decade situations do occur, and such a power-bid will always be remembered once learned.

(Again, the club King obviously must be a key card for a 7-level contract. )

S: A K Q 10 9 7 5 3 H: - D: A K Q C: A 6

would be opened 5 No Trumps and played in 7 spades after a response of 6 No Trumps or 7 Clubs, at the 6-level after a 6 Hearts reply.)

Trump Honors Enquiry

Diamond Major extends this convention to specific trump honors asking.

An opening bid of any suit at the 5-level asks responder to bid 6 with one of the three top trump honors, 7 with two.

S: Q J 10 9 7 6 3 2 H: A K D: - C: A K Q

No other feature in responder's hand is of any interest or value to declarer, who will now play in 5 Spades opposite:

S: 8 H: Q J 9 5 D: A K Q C: J 10 9 3 2

and in 6 Spades opposite:

S: K H: 8 6 4 3 D: 9 6 2 C: 9 8 7 5 4

Add the Ace of Spades to the example hand, removing the 2, and the opening bid is 6 Spades.

With the Spade King, partner bids 7 Spades.

Informing Opponents

These opening bids are so dramatic they may well elicit enquiry before they can be alerted. Opponents are entitled to a full explanation of course.



A flexible approach to slam tries is essential: it requires cooperative partnership thinking.

For instance, holding three top honors in opener's (5-card) major suit makes it near-impossible to enthuse him past game. It's imperative you take over!

Key-card Gerber

After a lifetime's anguish with partners who insist on using Gerber ace-asking in pursuit of a trumps slam, I capitulate on realising cue bids have stayed in the domain of experts.

The bonus of being able to explore slam tentatively without passing the 4-level is a comfort worth embracing, particularly considering the additional information Keycard supplies.

The responses to 4 Clubs show:

4D none or three of five keycards (four aces and the king of the agreed trump suit)

4H one or four

4S two or five

4NT two or five plus the trump queen

After a 4D or 4H response, the next suit up (except the trump suit which would be bypassed) asks for possession of the trump queen, which is denied by a bid of the next suit up (including the trump suit if need be) and confirmed by bidding two suits above the asking suit.

5 Clubs asks for kings (apart from the trump king which has already been shown or denied):

5 D = 0, 5 H = 1 and so on, or the partnership can decide to show a specific king by bidding its suit, two kings with a 5 NT response, three with 6 Clubs.

Reverse Cue Bids

With a trump fit responder's double-jump (1H - 4C) traditionally shows, by arrangement, a singleton ("splinter") or immediate control of the bid suit (a "cue"). Sequential cue bids propel the contract towards slam; too often the bidding peters out one level below slam - but one level above game!

"Denial-showing" bids can keep a major contract below the fragile 5-level by immediately alerting weakness in responder's hand. By implication, slam is likely if opener can take care of the "shown" suit.


S: AKx H: Axxxx D: Axx C: xx

a reverse/denial cue bid of 3 Spades with

S: xxx H: KQxx D: KQ C: AKQx

would see the partnership reach 7 Hearts. Opener's 4 Clubs reverse cue would encourage responder to check for aces and kings and bid the grand.

If opener had held

S: Qxx H: Ajxxx D: Axx C: Jx

the 3 Spades cue would have committed the partnership to no more than the 10 tricks available in hearts.

Denial cues are ideally suited to IMPs scoring: revealing this weakness might well guide defenders to an immediately productive lead which will deny declarer overtricks others score on the hand – costly in a Match Points game.

If the partnership is using 4 Clubs as Keycard Gerber, the ability to deny club controls with a reverse cue is lost of course. A hand like

S: AKx H: Kxxx D: Ax C: 10xxx

would answer 1H with 2 NT and then subside - 4 Hearts.

Realising partner might be unable to show club weakness in an otherwise fine hand, opener considers further action when holding excellent clubs himself.

S: xx H: AQxxx D: xxx C: AKQ

A 4 No Trumps keycard sequence now takes the partnership to the slam in hearts.

Another example:

S: Ax H: A9xxx D: KQxx C: xx

S: QJx H: KQx D: 10xxx C: AKQ

1H 4D (Reverse cue)

4NT 5S (2 keycards and queen of hearts)


Lacking the trump queen, the partnership would stop in the 5 Hearts response denying possession of that key card.

One final example from play:

S: K93 H: AK1086 D: 65 C: AKJ

S: AQJ H: J962 D: QJ83 C: Q4

1H 3H

4C (control cue) 4S (cue)

5C (2nd round cue) 5H (sign-off)

When the trump queen was with two small over the AK this contract failed. Had opener used a 4 Diamonds denial cue the contract would have been a makeable 4 Hearts.



Where a national administrative body approves artificial minor opening bids for Pairs competition only when 1 Club is 16 high card points or stronger, adjustments are called for.

Now that 1 Club can no longer deny a 4-card major holding, a hand like

S: A1084 H: QJ106 D: A8 C: AQ8

must be opened with the big club.

Just as in Precision, responder will not bid a major unless it is 5-card or longer. That's no problem in the event of a No Trump response or rebid by opener: Stayman comes into play.

Opposite the above opener, these hands would be bid:

S: J973 H: K2 D: 1053 C: K542

1C 1D 1NT 2C 2H 2NT 3S 4S

S: 94 H: K842 D: K642 C: K7

1C 1NT 2C 2H 4H

S: Q532 H: 98 D: KQJ86 C: 106

1C 2D 2NT 3S 4S

S: Q32 H: 98 D: KQJ86 C: J106

1C 2D 2NT 3NT

S: J973 H: 84 D: 1053 C: K542

1C 1D 1NT Pass

If opponents pass this out it may well fail when 2 Spades would score. But should opponents offer to play in their 8-card diamonds fit a take-out double by North will find 2 Spades, now that 1 Club no longer denies 4-card majors.

Unbalanced Hands

When the 4-card major is in a distributional hand, the partnership merely keeps in mind the changed circumstances and introduces that suit at an appropriate stage of their bidding sequence.

After a big club opening by this hand

S: AK64 H: 9 D: KQJ98 C: A85

S: Q532 H: J86 D: 104 C: KQ42

would be bid 1C 1NT 2D 2S 4S

and S: Q532 H: 1086 D: 104 C: Q742

1C 1D 2D Pass

Now only if opponents obligingly compete can the spade fit be played – but with nine hearts and half the pack's points this is almost inevitable.

S: Q532 H: 108 D: 6 C: KQ10632

1C 2C (6-10hcp) 2D 2S 3S 4C 4S

Limited Diamond Opener

The Diamond opener is now restricted to a poor 16 count maximum in high cards. Statistically, more opening hands are in the 11-15 range than 16+, so the frequent 1D opener's rebids are now more precise: a jump raise of responder's major shows 14-15. (Judgment! For the jump rebid the trump suit must contain at least one top honor.)

S: K963 H: 104 D: AK8 C: KQ84

S: Q1042 H: 863 D:J53 C: A92

1D 1S 3S Pass

Pairs restrictions can also disallow the Diamond Major 2 NT opening bid's alternative minor pre-empts, requiring an anchor suit for opponents' convenience. The bid's three alternatives with the diamond suit survive but it can no longer be used for a 3C pre-empt. But see, further, a new use for 2 Clubs!

Boomerang major-two openers fall under the same axe, again requiring an anchor suit for opponents' convenience. Playing the major twos as weak, we add the strong alternative with non-touching suits as a fourth Multi 2D option - opener jump-rebidding in the major.

Weak Major Twos

Bearing in mind the Diamond Major style is to treat as a genuine opening bid a weakish spades/hearts 2-suiter with honors well-placed in the long suits, two-openers can be used to show a weak major/minor hand limited to six points minimum, nine maximum, and at least 5/4.

S: KJ965 H: 104 D: 6 C: QJ843

S: 9 H: AJ865 D: K1085 C: 1043

These hands would qualify for 2S and 2H. With a fit responder should bid to the appropriate LAW level.

Partner enquires for the minor with the next bid up and, in the style of modern bidding, step bids show both second suit and strength:

2H 2S? 2S 2NT?

2NT - weak with clubs 3C - weak with clubs 3C - weak with diamonds 3D - weak with diamonds

3D - top level with clubs 3H - top level with clubs

3H - top level with diamonds 3S - top level with diamonds

(All of these bids must be alerted of course.)

The enquiry need not be strong. With a singleton in the major and tolerance (three cards) for both minors OR with two 4-card minors and a doubleton in opener's major the minor fit should be found, even when weak. Aggressive pairs are employing these bids with four cards in the major and a 5-card minor! That would make it even more essential to exercise caution in a competitive auction, once the disruptive pre-empt has done its work.

Very Big Club!

Once full-on Diamond Major has yielded to the Big Club, the (Precision) extension of a Very Big Club can be considered.

After the 1D (negative) response, opener bids an artificial 1H with 19 or more hcp. Responder's 1S (artificial) denies as many as five points – any other rebid shows 5-7 (and a jump rebid would show the original 1D response was not negative after all). After the 1S second negative, an opener with 22+ can bid 2C, asking "Are you 0-3 (bid 2D) or 4-5 (bid anything else)?"

A side benefit is managing to play in the low-level contracts 1NT or 2H/S (opener with 19-21 hcp signs off after the 1S reply), when pairs using other systems will likely have bid higher.

A New Use for 2 Clubs

The Diamond Major 2C opener's strength-showing purpose, superceded by the Big Club, allows this bid to be used to open 12-15 point minor-oriented hands containing five or more clubs and no 4-card major. A further extension incorporates the lost club pre-empt! Two Clubs can be used in preparation for a 3C rebid with seven clubs and 7-11 hcp. (Naturally, the bid must be alerted and fully explained.)

Its pre-emptive value seems to outweigh the risk. Example hands:

S: K104 H: 64 D: K103 C: AQ1084

S: 102 H: A63 D: K4 C: AQ10832

S: J109 H: Q10 D: Q C: QJ98742

_Partner's only forcing bid (anything else is to play) is 2D, an enquiry answered by:

2H/S 3-card suit

2NT 6 clubs, doubleton majors at best

3C Club pre-empt

3D 5 clubs and 4 diamonds

1 No Trump with Diamonds

This all leaves no ready bid to show a 12-15 points opening hand containing six diamonds and no 4-card major. One No Trump is extended to cover this holding - and must now be alerted and opponents informed of this very occasional possibility.

S: A4 H: 1082 D: KJ10642 C: KQ

S: 962 H: 8 D: AK10642 C: AJ8

S: K104 H: A63 D: KQJ642 C: Q

are all opened 1NT. Responder bids in the expectation opener is balanced, using Stayman and transfers. The diamond suit is bid to show its length only when

  1. Partner's transfer is to a singleton
  2. Partner bids 2NT
  3. A Stayman sequence (2C - 2D - 2H) reaches two of opener's singleton suit

Opening 1 NT holding diamonds has a pre-emptive dimension which might disconcert opponents.


In brief, Diamond Major Big Club bids for Pairs are

1C 16+ Precision, no longer denying 4-card major suits.

1D 11-15, one or two 4-card majors

1H/S 11-15, 5-card or longer suit

1NT 13-15 balanced, or 12-15 unbalanced with six diamonds and no 4-card major

2C 11-15 with 5+ clubs and no 4-card major OR 7-11 clubs pre-empt

2D Multi, 4 ways - new: very strong with non-touching suits.

2H/S Weak, 5-card major and 4-card or longer minor

2NT With diamonds anchor suit - diamond pre-empt or strong 5-5 diamonds and hearts (rebid 3H over forced 3D response) or 5-5 diamonds and clubs (rebid 3NT)

Higher opening bids, as pure Diamond Major.

Appendix A

Digest of Diamond Major Opening Bids

1 Club Forcing. 11-19 points. Any shape, but denies precisely four cards in either major suit.


Two-suited strong in Spades and Hearts or Spades and Clubs (shown by jump-rebidding Hearts or Spades).

1 Diamond Not forcing. 11-19 points. Any shape with at least one 4-card major.

1 Heart, 1 Spade Precision style. 11-15 points unless weak 2-suited in Diamonds and Hearts or Hearts and Spades when it can be 8-15.

1 No Trump Flat (possibly five or a minor suit or weak major) 14-15 points.

2 Clubs Forcing, Acol style. Eight playing tricks or game in hand (jump rebid) or flat 20-21 (rebid 2 NT) or flat 24-25 (rebid 3 NT).

2 Diamonds Multi. Weak 6-card major, strong 6-card minor (17-21 points) or flat 22-23 (rebid 2 NT) or flat 26-27 (3 NT) or 7-5 in Clubs and jump-rebid suit.

2 Hearts Two-suited, either strong in Hearts and Clubs or weak in Spades and Diamonds.

2 Spades Two-suited, either strong in Spades and Diamonds or weak in Hearts and Clubs.

2 No Trumps Pre-empt in Clubs or Diamonds.


Two-suited: strong in Diamonds and Clubs (rebid 3 NT) or Diamonds and Hearts (rebid 3 H); weak in Spades and Clubs (rebid 3 S).

3 Clubs Two-suited, weak in Clubs and Diamonds, 7-10 points.

3 Diamonds Pre-empt in Hearts or 7-5 with Hearts and rebid suit.

3 Hearts Pre-empt in Spades or 7-5 with Spades and rebid suit.


Very big flat hand 26 points up (rebid NT at various levels).

3 Spades Gambling 3 No Trumps or 7-5 with Diamonds and rebid suit.

3 No Trumps Pre-empt in Clubs or Diamonds.

4 Clubs Pre-empt in Hearts.

4 Diamonds Pre-empt in Spades.

4 Hearts Strong pre-empt with honors outside the Heart suit.

4 Spades Strong pre-empt with honors outside the Spade suit.

4 No Trumps Specific-Ace asking bid.

5 of any suit Eleven winners in hand, missing two of the top three trump honors.

5 No Trumps Specific-King asking bid.

6 of any suit Twelve winners in hand, missing one of top two trump honors.

Appendix B

Bids to show all 2-suited hands, weak and strong

Suits Strong Weak

Clubs - Diamonds Open 2NT - rebid 3NT Open 3C

Diamonds - Hearts Open 2NT - rebid 3H Open 1H - rebid 2D

Hearts - Spades Open 1C - jump rebid H Open 1S - rebid 2H

Spades - Clubs Open 1C - jump rebid S Open 2NT - rebid 3S

Clubs - Hearts 2H 2S

Diamonds - Spades 2S 2H


1 A flat 14/15 point hand is opened 1 No Trump.

2 The only exception is a 15 to 19 point hand with a 5-card or longer major and four of the other major. At this initial stage of the bidding after 1 Club, responder suppresses a 4-card major. It is shown once opener's rebid of a 5-card major allows the possibility of this hand containing four of the other.

These cards would be bid:

S: A J 10 4 S: K 9 7 6

H: K Q J 9 3 H: A 6 2

D: A K D: Q 7 5

C: 10 3 C: A 6 4

1 C 2 NT

3 H 3 S (!)

4 NT 5 C (RKCB response showing three controls)

5 D 5 H (denying possession of the spade queen)

6S Pass

3 Note that a strong single-minor-suited hand stronger than 16 points is opened with 2D. Five Diamonds with 17 to 19 points merits a No Trump rebid.

4 Opener might of course choose to play the hand with a 6-card major as trumps rather than leave partner's sign-off No Trump contract, etc.

5 Although this is the higher of the touching suits, responder knows the distribution can only be 5/5 in the black suits. The jump is senseless otherwise.

6 A responding hand containing five diamonds and four or five clubs, if first responding 1D, cannot now show clubs as a natural second response should opener rebid a major suit; a 1NT bid (alertable!) at this point gets around the small difficulty.

7 Not 3 No Trumps, in case opener is 8-10.

8 There is much to be said for opening 1 No Trump even with a 5-card major in a flat hand. Fans of this style usually emphasise that this will be a weak major, something like 108642 at best. But unless the suit is sufficiently robust to bear rebidding (strictly speaking, showing six) then the problem of answering partner's minor-suit forcing response to a major opener is overcome with 1 No Trump on something like S: K3 H: KJ762 D: K82 C: A105

9 Although it may seem a little esoteric, a 4 Hearts contract can now be transferred to the unknown hand by opener's bidding 3 Spades, an "impossible" raise after the 2 Diamonds - 2 Spades sequence. Unfortunately a 3 Hearts sign-off cannot be transferred.

10 After a 2 Spades response, opener bids 2 No Trumps to show 22-23 points, 3 No Trumps to show 26-27 points, or 3 Clubs or Diamonds with the strong minor suit.

11 To suggest game in 5 Clubs but not in Diamonds or No Trumps, responder bids 3 Diamonds, mimicking the 2 Spades response to the multi-2 Diamonds opener. This bid would be so rare it is mentioned here only for the sake of completeness.

12 It may seem extreme, but it is logical to extend this convention to show even stronger hands, rare as they are. Opener's rebid of 4 No Trumps after the forced 3 Spades response might as well show a flat 32 or 33 points, 5 No Trumps 34 or 35 points and 6 No Trumps 36 or 37. Partner need hold merely a King or a couple of Queens to bid slam, small or grand.

13 To show the distribution of seven clubs and five of a second suit, should a partnership decide to include this ability in its armoury, follow up the (multi-) 2 Diamonds opening bid with a jump into the 5-card suit.





S: 6

H: 9 6 5 4

D: K J 6 5

C: A J 7 5

S: Q 4 2

H: A K 10 2

D: 10 3

C: 10 9 4 3

S: A K 9 7 5

H: J

D: A Q 4

C: Q 8 6 2

S: J 10 8 3

H: Q 8 7 3

D: 9 8 7 2

C: A

The author, a bridge columnist and analyst for 40 years, runs the International On Line Bridge Club on the Internet.