The 1♠ Opening shows 11-15 points with a 5-card or longer Spade suit. If a Heart suit is also held it will be normally be shorter than the Spades (unless 6-6 shape LOL). Since the 1♦, 1NT and 2♣ openings specifically deny possession of a 5-card Major, it follows that the 1♠ opening does not deny possession of a Minor suit that is longer than the Spades, and might be semi-balanced in the 13-15 point range.
Continuations include a Forcing 1NT Response, pre-emptive direct raises, Mini-Splinters, Fit-showing Jump-shifts, Lebensohl and MOTOR. Slam investigation can start as low as the 2-level when Responder is 16+ (in principle) with Trump support.
In response to the 1♠ Opening, partner bids along the following lines:-
Direct Suit Raises
In Precision these are normally pre-emptive more than anything else, based more on good trump support and a ruffing value rather than a solid point-count. Hands with a solid HCP-based limit raise tend to go via the Forcing No Trump. See the section on Romex Trial Bids below for action over 2-level raises, and the sections on Mini-Splinters and Fit-Showing Jump Shifts for possible more constructive alternatives to the 3-level raise.
2-over-1 responses are normally forcing to 2NT at least, and in practice are often heralding game values although in principle they show 11+ only.
Delayed Game Raise
Delayed game raises (eg: 1♠-2♣-2♥-4♠ show a decent side suit and trump support, but will usually contain less that 16 points. They are a mild slam try.
This is artificial and forcing for one round, the Forcing No Trump, which is one of the cornerstones of Precision. This shows a number of possible hand-types ranging from relatively weak balanced hands with no good trump support up to 16+ hands with good trump support where the Forcing No Trump is the prelude to an Asking Bid sequence. For full details on the hand-types that might use the FNT, Opener's rebids and the continuations, see the section on the Forcing No Trump below.
2NT is a Mini-Splinter in an undisclosed suit, typically showing around 8-9 points with good 4-card trump support and a singleton or void outside. It is aimed at reaching very thin games based solely on fit rather than solid game values and can be considered a more constructive alternative to a 3-level suit raise. Opener can accept or refuse the invitation by returning to Spades at the appropriate level, or can find out the location of responder's shortage by bidding 3♣.
In most natural systems jump-shifts are natural and game-forcing. Standard Precision uses them in much the same way, but in this system, the usage of Lebensohl-style sequences and Forcing No Trump extensions give much flexibility and many options for showing strong hands. We therefore use jump-shifts as essentially weak (about 8-9, like the Mini-Splinters above) but with good trump support and a decent side-suit. As with Mini-Splinters, the emphasis is on reaching thin games based on fit rather than a solid point-count. On the basis of frequency alone, this is considered a far better use for the jump-shifts. Continuations are entirely natural.
This is as much a warning as anything else. Whilst it shows 13+ balanced with trump support, it also warns of a severe lack of controls, so that 9 tricks in No Trumps might be an easier target than game in the major. All continuations are completely natural.
There are two kinds of Splinters in OCP: Both tend to show a very distributional hand in the 10-13 hcp range with excellent trump support (Hxxx minimum, preferably better) and a long side-suit
Immediate Splinter over a Major suit Opening These show a void in the suit bid and are Exclusion Beta, interested only in Controls outside the excluded suit.
Delayed Single Jump-Shift over a FNT Rebid by Opener These show a singleton in the suit bid and are also Exclusion Beta, but in this situation Opener should include the Ace of the excluded suit if they hold it.
Exclusion Beta always agrees Opener's first-bid suit and always uses the Strong Beta Scale. Over the Exclusion Beta response, Epsilons may be used.
Splinters using Exclusion Beta should generally not be used on hands where Opener holding 3 or 4 controls outside the agreed suit would be sufficient for a slam. On such hands, Gamma sequences should generally be preferred.
Forcing 1NT Response
In response to an Opening Bid of 1♠ (or 1♥), 1NT is an artificial 1-round force following which both partners in turn clarify their hand-types. The kinds of hand that generally use a Forcing No Trump are as follows:
Balanced hands with 8+ hcp and Spade Support
Balanced hands with 12+ hcp but no 'good' support for Spades
16+ hands with (or without) Spade support
A weak hand with no tolerance for Spades and a long (6+-card) suit elsewhere. (Note: This hand type can only be shown via the Forcing No Trump if Asking Bids are not being used, or when Responder is a passed hand)
Over the Forcing No Trump Opener clarifies his holding along the following lines (items are in order of preference):-
Rebids a second 4-card or longer suit, if held. A jump rebid in another suit promises 5-5 at least and a maximum.
Rebids a 6-card or a very strong 5-card Spade suit . A jump rebid shows a maximum with at least a 6-card Spade suit.
With any 5332 shape, Opener rebids his cheapest 3-card Minor suit.
Opener rebids 2NT with a setup 6-card suit (Originally this showed a hand missing only 1 of the top 4 honours, but now we treat it as promising the top three, so a minimum holding of AKQxxx) in an otherwise balanced hand that is upper-range (rare because such hands often upgraded to 1♣). There is a special scale for Gamma in these sequences that relates solely to the length of Opener's suit.
With (1) & (2) above Responder passes, gives preference, bids No Trumps or Spades at the appropriate level (ie: a limit bid) taking into account the hand-type that Opener has shown with their rebid. The difference between these limit bids in Spades and the direct-suit raises are that these are generally more "solid" in point-count terms and generally more balanced than the direct-suit raises. Responder may also be giving preference to Spades with only 2-card Spade support.
With (4) above, Responder simply passes or bids their suit at the cheapest level over Opener's rebid.
If Responder jump-shifts into a new suit over Opener's Rebid, this is Exclusion Beta, showing a very distributional 10-13 hcp hand with excellent trump support, a long side suit and a singleton in the suit bid. See Splinters above
With the 16+ hands (with or without Spade support), Responder can either bid naturally or, if Asking Bids are in use, has the option to embark on an Asking Bid sequence. With (3) above, over Opener's rebid...
A bid of the cheapest new suit over Opener's Rebid is Gamma in Spades and Asking Bids are now established.
eg: 1♠ - 1NT - 2♦ - 2♥ is Gamma in Spades
If Opener has shown a second suit, then a relay in the 2nd-cheapest new suit is Gamma in Opener's second suit.
eg: 1♠ - 1NT - 2♦ - 3♣ is Gamma in Diamonds Note: A special Gamma scale is used when Opener has rebid a Minor at the 2-level (and so may be 5332 shape). See the page on Gamma for details. Where Opener shows a 3-card Minor in response to the initial Gamma, the suit is not agreed as trumps unless Responder makes the second Relay to ask about the 3-card suit Note: Where Gamma is used, Asking Bids are now established, so a Relay over the Gamma response is Relay Beta and other side-suit Asks are Epsilons. If Opener shows no top honours in the suit or only 1 top honour and minimum length, Responder can back away from agreeing the suit as trumps by an immediate bid in No Trumps. Consequently, a bid in No Trumps may be Relay Beta, but only if the Gamma Response went at least 3 steps. If the Gamma Response went only 1 or 2 steps, then if the Relay (bearing in mind that we skip over Spades if the Gamma Ask was in Spades) is a bid of 2NT or 3NT, those are "Handing over the Captaincy" or a sign-off and 3♣ or 4♣ respectively becomes Relay Beta (or a bid in Diamonds if Clubs is the agreed suit).
eg: 1♠ - 1NT - 2♦ - 2♥(♠ Gamma) - 2♠(No TH, any length ♠) - ???. Now 2NT is handing over the Captaincy and 3♣ is Relay Beta.
Please Note the introduction of Exclusion Beta (above under Splinters) as an alternative to Gamma Asks on limited but very distributional hands with excellent trump support. Whilst it is fairly common for the Gamma Asks above to be used on game-going hands with less than 16 hcp, it will be fairly rare that Exclusion Beta hands will have 14 or even 13 hcp
Romex Trial Bids
Trial Bids - General
Major Suit Trial Bids are an invitation to game when a Major has been agreed at the 2-level by any natural means. 2/1, SA & Acol all use Long-suit (help-suit) Trial bids by default. Standard Precision uses short-suit trial bids by default, but this can cause problems as short-suit trial bids tend to be more revealing to the defence than long-suit trial bids (which can be anything from a 3-card fragment up to a 5-card second suit. In Precision, the Major can have been agreed at the 2-level in any kind of natural sequence, including:
Romex Trial Bids
Romex Trial Bids combine these methods and gives the partnership the best of both worlds by allowing them to make bothlong and short-suit trial bids. Long-suit trial bids are mostly unaffected and with one exception are exactly the same as they would be in other systems.
The trick Romex has up its sleeve is that the short-suit trial bid is only made when it will really make a difference. There are 3 basic scenarios:
Partner not interested in game (ie: is Minimum for their 2-level raise).
Partner wants to be in game if their partner has any kind of invitational hand (ie: is Maximum for the 2-level raise).
Partner only interested in game if the hand is fitting right (ie: is mid-range for their 2-level raise)
Using Romex, the short-suit trial bid is only actually made in the third of the above situations. Short-suit trial bids are achieved by a Lebensohl-style relay when one of the partnership wants to ask permission to make a short-suit trial bid. As stated above, the Romex bid is a relay in the next denomination up from the 2-level Major suit bid. This asks for permission to make a short-suit trial bid. Partner can refuse permission by returning to the Major at the 3-level (ie: not interested in game, Scenario 1) or 4-level (ie: wants to be be game, Scenario 2), or gives permission for the short-suit trial bid by relaying in the next bid up (undecided, Scenario 3).
The full scheme of bids is as follows:-
This is the Romex Relay, Asking to make a short-suit trial bid. Partner returns to Spades at the 3 or 4 level if they refuse permission, or relays with 3♣ if they give permission, after which...
shows a Heart shortage (suit below, don't forget)
shows a Club shortage (skip over the agreed Trump suit)
shows a Diamond shortage (Can't afford to bid higher than 3♠ with our response)
This is a long-suit trial bid in Clubs
This is a long-suit trial bid in Diamonds
This is a long-suit trial bid in Hearts
This is largely pre-emptive rather than an invitation to game
As you can see from the above, Romex only gives the information away about the shortage when it really makes a difference, a significant advantage. Often you will find that your hand is suitable for either a long-suit or a short-suit trial bid. Here you have to consider which is the most appropriate. If undecided you should probably make the long-suit trial bid in preference to asking to make a short-suit trial bid, but on some hands with both a shortage and a side-suit source of tricks it may well be more sensible just to bid the game straight off rather than asking the question.
eg: You hold ♠AJ109x, ♥x, ♦AQJxx, ♣Kx and the bidding starts 1♠-2♠-???. Despite the fact that the 2♠ response is mainly pre-emptive, I'd not bother with a long-suit trial bid in Diamonds here, but just bid 4♠ straight off.
A 2NT response to an Opening of 1♠ is a Mini-Splinter aimed at reaching thin games based solely on fit rather that a solid point-count. It shows about an 8-9 count, good 4-card or longer trump support and a side-suit singleton or void in an as yet unspecified suit. Opener can decline or accept the invitation immediately, or can ask where the shortage is if that makes a difference. Details as follows:
...gives Responder the go-ahead to show their Shortage. Now:
...shows a Heart shortage (suit below)
...shows a Club shortage (miss out the trump suit)
...shows a Diamond shortage (can't go above 3♠ with our response)
Now Opener assesses how good the fit is and either passes or corrects to 3/4♠
...shows no game interest
...wants to play in game regardless.
Jump-shifts in this system are not strong and game-forcing, but mildly invitational in Opener's Major, showing a decent fit for Opener's Spades and a 5-card or longer side-suit in a hand weaker than opening strength, typically about 7-9 points. Like the mini-splinters outlined above, these bids are aimed at reaching thin games on the strength of a really good fit, but Responder will normally have a reasonable trump fit and a source of additional tricks in the side-suit rather than an excellent trump fit and a shortage. Opener should only bid to game if they have a good fit with Responder's suit and controls elsewhere. Clearly Opener's strength plays a part in this decision, but it's primarily the fit with Responder's suit that determines Opener's actions.
The full scheme of responses is as follows:
...is a fit-showing jump-shift in Clubs
...is a fit-showing jump-shift in Diamonds
...is a fit-showing jump-shift in Hearts
In all cases, Opener corrects to 3/4♠, depending on their strength and fit for Responder's side-suit. Note: Exceptionally Opener may pass (with a weak hand but excellent 4+-card support for Responder's suit) or even raise Responder's suit with good support and a maximum hand
Even in an unopposed sequence, Lebensohl is applicable in any 3-suited sequence where the 3rd suit is bid at the 2-level. Over a 1♠ Opening, this effectively means only the following sequences:
In any of these circumstances 2NT is not a natural bid but Lebensohl, forcing 3♣ and so creating 'slow' and 'fast' sequences just as in standard Lebensohl. Given this, the following general considerations apply:
A simple preference to Opener's first suit at the 2-level is non-forcing (For possible continuations, see Romex Trial Bids above). Bear in mind that over a 1♠ Opening, all of these 3-suited sequences involve a 2/1 Response, which we treat as forcing to 2NT.
A fast 3-level raise/preference in either of Opener's suits is forcing.
Optionally you can play this fast 3-level raise as a Range Beta if Opener has not reversed, or Beta (0-2) if they have reversed. If you are not using Asking Bids, then the fast 3-level raise is generally an invitation to cue-bid.
A slow (ie: via 2NT-3♣) raise or preference in one of Opener's suits is strictly preference and "to play" if the suit could not have been bid at the 2-level, but invitational if it could have been bid at the 2-level as a simple preference (ie: in Spades).
In general, fast bids at the 3-level are strong and forcing, whereas slow bids tends to be less strong and "to play".
Fast 4th-suit-forces are more interested in clarification of partner's exact distribution, whereas slow 4th-suit-forces are more interested in opener's holding in the 4th suit with a view to playing in No Trumps if they have a stop. This does not apply when Clubs is the 4th suit, since we now only have a fast 4SF available to us and it has to do double-duty.
1♠-2♣-2♥-2♠ is simple preference
1♠-2♣-2♥-3♠ is forcing, inviting cue-bids, or a Range Beta
1♠-2♣-2♦-2NT-3♣-3♠ is invitational (because preference could have been given with 2♠)
1♠-2♣-2♦-2♥ is a fast 4th-suit-force, interested in clarification of Opener's exact distribution.
1♠-2♣-2♦-2NT-3♣-3♥ is a slow 4th-suit-force, interested in Opener's Heart holding
1♠-2♣-2♦-3♦ is strong, forcing and forward-going with good Diamonds. (Here a "slow" 3♦ would be invitational only)
Intervention over 1♠
Over simple or jump overcalls up to the level of 3♥ doubles are negative and strong hands will normally proceed via a negative double or a cue-bid of the opponents' suit (which is Gamma in Opener's Major). Lebensohl 2NT (with all the normal nuances) is always available if space permits:
In general, fast new suits show that suit and a fit for Opener's Spades, whereas slow new suits will tend to deny a fit for Spades.
Fast raises in Spades imply an ability or willingness to compete further, whereas slow raises are weaker and show less suitable hands at their limit.
Bids of 3NT (slow and fast) are exactly as with normal Lebensohl, the slow variety showing a decent holding in opponents' suit (probably a double stop).
A fast cue-bid of opponents' suit is Gamma in Spades and Asking Bids are now fully established.
A slow cue-bid of opponents' suit is a Directional Asking Bid (DAB), showing a strong hand but denying primary trump support. It also promises some kind of holding (at least a half stop such as Qx or Jxx but normally a single stop) and looking towards 3NT if partner has some additional help in their suit.
MOTOR is an excellent gadget which allows us huge scope to show different kinds of hands when Opps make a takeout double of our Major suit Opening. The critical feature of MOTOR is that all bids by Responder from 1NT up to and including the suit below Opener's Major (ie: 1NT, 2♣, 2♦ and 2♥) are all transfers. This makes it easy for Responder to show a wide variety of single-suited and two-suited hands that do not have support for Opener's Major, and a number of additional hand-types that do have primary support for Opener's Spades that we cannot show without the intervening double.
Sequences that show Spade support at some stage are somewhat different. In general, if Responder transfers into Spades first and then bids a new suit then this is Game-forcing, like a delayed game raise. If, however, Responder transfers into a new suit first and then shows Spade support at any level, then this is showing a decent limit bid in Spades with 1st or 2nd round control in the transfer suit but this control can be either a suit, fragment or shortage and is essentially lead-directing if we end up defending the hand. The complete scheme of responses is as follows:-
Redouble: As in most systems a redouble shows a good hand interested in a penalty, but it also promises a partial fit for partner's Spades such as Qx, Kx or Ax. It normally shows a 12+ balanced(ish) hand.
Direct suit raises in Spades (at any level) are 100% pre-emptive and based solely on a good trump fit and shape rather than a solid point count
1NT, 2♣ and 2♦ are all transfers to Clubs, Diamonds and Hearts respectively. Once Opener completes the transfer
Pass: Shows a weak hand, no tolerance for Spades, and a 6-card or longer holding in the transfer suit.
2♠: A good 2-level raise in Spades with 1st or 2nd round control of the the transfer suit (ie: Ace, King or a shortage), suggesting that suit as a suitable opening lead if we end up defending
3♠: A solid invitational raise in Spades with 1st or 2nd round control of the transfer suit (ie: Ace, King or a shortage), suggesting that suit as a suitable opening lead if we end up defending
♠: A solid raise to game in Spades with 1st or 2nd round control of the transfer suit (ie: Ace, King or a shortage), suggesting that suit as a suitable opening lead if Opps sacrifice and we end up defending
Simple new suit: shows an invitational-strength (about 10-12) 2-suiter with at most a 2-card tolerance for Spades. The 2-suiter will usually be at least 5-5 but exceptionally might be 6-4 or perhaps even 5-4 on rare occasions. Responder will show the longer suit first or the higher-ranking if even-suited. Continuations are natural with Lebensohl available if the second suit is shown at the 2-level.
2NT: shows an invitational single-suited hand with a Spade shortage, but stops in the unbid suits. This sequence may also conceal a second 4-card suit.
Raise of the Transfer Suit: shows an invitational single-suited hand with no good support for Spades. The suit will almost more always be of at least 6-card length.
Jump Shift to a New Suit: Game-forcing 2-suited hand that must always be at least 5-5. As with the invitational 2-suiters, the suits will be bid in their natural order.
Jump Raise of the Transfer Suit: shows a game-forcing single-suited hand with no good support for Spades, but with a marked more shortage or weakness in one of the unbid suits. The suit will always be of at least 6-card length and this will show a hand unsuitable for 3NT. This sequence may conceal a second 4-card suit.
3NT: shows a game-forcing single-suited hand with a Spade shortage, but stops in the unbid suits. This sequence may also conceal a second 4-card suit.
2♥ is a transfer to Spades and will always show at least decent 3-card support for Spades and at least an upper-range 2-level limit raise in Spades. Opener can treat this bid like a 2-level agreement of Spades and may break this transfer to make an immediate trial bid (exactly as in the Romex scheme outlined above). If Opener completes the transfer to Spades, then
Pass: shows the 2-level limit raise.
3♠: A solid invitational raise in Spades which will always be balanced and possibly short on controls (otherwise Responder would normally transfer to a feature suit before supporting Spades)
New Suit: Game forcing in Spades with a decent side-suit (eg: like a delayed game raise). This is a mild slam try and Opener should cue-bid immediately with a suitable fit and a maximum hand
3NT: Game forcing in Spades with a 4333 hand with no ruffing value. This gives partner the option to play in 3NT rather than 4♠ if they are semi-balanced with poor controls.
4♠: This is also a mild Slam Try, but a "power" raise lacking a long side-suit or a shortage.
Jump-Shift: Strongly slam-invitational in Spades with a good side suit and good controls. Opener should always cue-bid unless they are minimum with an unsuitable hand.
2NT shows an undefined mini-splinter exactly as if the Double had not been bid. (Given the takeout double, the mini-splinters are more pre-emptive and obstructive (ie: better trumps and more shape) than transferring to a "feature" suit and then supporting Spades, which would tend to be used on slightly stronger hands)
Jumps in a new suit are fit-showing as normal. (Given the takeout double, the fit-showing jump-shifts are more pre-emptive and obstructive (ie: better trumps, longer suit and more shape) than transferring to a "feature" suit and then supporting Spades, which would tend to be used on slightly stronger hands)
Full Splinters (ie: double jump-shifts in the suit below a shortage) are strongly slam-invitational, as normal.
Possible Extensions to MOTOR
There are some other situations where you can potentially utilise the MOTOR concepts outlined above. Note: These are not currently part of the agreed OCP system (and probably never will be LOL), but are included here to suggest some possibilities:
Opps make a negative double after Partner overcalls 1♠ over their Minor suit Opening, and
Opener rebids 1♠ after a negative response to 1♣
After an Overcall of 1♠, RHO Doubles...
The only thing that needs to be said here is that if advancer needs to make an unassuming cue-bid, they should transfer into Opp's suit, but you need to discuss with your partner how to differentiate between a UCB in this situation, and a hand that merely has a decent 2-level raise in Spades but with a "feature" in Opp's suit (a shortage, perhaps).
After 1♣-1♦-1♠, RHO Doubles...
This is an easier situation that it is over a 1♥ rebid by Opener (which is 2-way). When Opener rebids 1♠, we know they will always have 5+ Spades and can use MOTOR almost exactly as over a 1♠ Opening (except that the very strong sequences will simply never arise).
OCP System Change Log
Introduction of Exclusion Beta (28-Dec-2017)
Immediate Double Jump-shifts immediately over an Opening of 1♥ or 1♠, or a Single Jump-Shift over Opener's Rebid over a Forcing 1NT Response has been used, are now Exclusion Beta. These bids are still splinters as such, but showing a shortage in the suit bid, not the suit above, a void in the case of an immediate splinter and a singleton in the case of a delayed splinter (over a FNT).
These splinters over Major Suit Openings are Exclusion Beta in the suit bid. Exclusion Beta always uses the Strong Beta scale (0-4, 5, 6, 7). In the case of immediate splinters showing a void, Responder is only interested in Controls outside the splinter suit. In the case of delayed splinters (via FNT), Opener should include the Ace of the Splinter suit if they hold it, but not the King.
Exclusion Beta always agrees the Major suit first bid by Opener and Responder must always have trump support at least as good as Hxxx, and preferably HHxx or Hxxxx. Because we have a firm suit agreement and Beta has been used, subsequent Epsilon Asks are available over the Beta response.
Because Exclusion Beta uses the Strong Beta Scale, it should not be used on hands where 3 or 4 controls outside the excluded suit would be sufficient for Responder's purposes. On such hands, Gamma should generally be preferred.
In the case of delayed splinters (via FNT), if Opener rebids the suit in which Responder was intending to splinter they will, perforce, have to change tactics and use Gamma instead because, for example, 1♠-1NT-2♣-4♣ is no longfer a jump-shift and will be interpreted as invitational in Clubs rather than a splinter.
Exclusion Beta will generally be used only on very distributional hands in the 10-13 hcp range where Responder has excellent trump support and a long side-suit which they expect to be able to establish.
Gamma if Opener has a setup 6+-card suit (20-Mar-2017)
When the bidding has started 1♥-1NT-2NT(setup 6-card suit)-3♣(Gamma) or 1♠-1NT-2NT(setup 6-card suit)-3♣(Gamma), it makes no sense to use any normal scale for Gamma, because Opener is always showing a suit such as AKQxxx (or perhaps very rarely KQJ10xx). In these circumstances, however, we still need Gamma (1) to set the trump suit and get us into an Asking Bid sequence, and (2) to check on Opener's length.
The scale for Gamma that we now use is identical with the Repeat Gamma scale used when Opener has shown no top honour, ie: 1 step shows 6-card length, 2 steps shows 7-card length etc etc.