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OCP System Change Alert
Beta when Positive 1 Response Doubled (03-Apr-2017)
In one specific sequence, it makes sense to abandon the normal rules for interference over a positive response to 1. The guidelines when Responder has shown a balanced positive state that Pass is Beta if Opps interfere over the positive. When the exact sequence is 1-1-(X)-???, however, we lose nothing by retaining 1NT as Beta and gain considerably by keeping Redouble and Pass as Alpha Asks in the red suits, considerably cheaper than they would have been without the interference.

Note this is the only sequence where this applies.

Interference in Asking Sequences

By their very nature Asking Bid sequences are very structured. In order to get the most from an Asking Bid sequence you have to be in a position to get in as many asks as you need to find out the relevant details from Partner's hand. Even with no interference from the opposition there will be times when you simply do not have enough space to ask all the questions you need to ask in safety. Some sequences end up being unexpectedly expensive and the simple rule is that if you can't afford to ask safely, because a more expensive reply might be what you don't want to hear and will push you too high, then you don't ask.

Opposition interference can rob you of bidding space and disrupt your sequence if you are not prepared for it. Our own strategy when opponents have opened a Strong Club is based on robbing as much space from them as possible and disrupting their bidding as much as we can. The key to using Asking Bids effectively is to have in place a series of measures that allow you to:
Interference immediately over the 1 opening is covered in the One Club page. There are effectively 5 other situations we have to cater for and each has a different method of dealing with the interference.
  1. Interference over an Asking Bid
  2. Pre-emptive interference over an Asking Bid
  3. Interference over the response to an Asking Bid
  4. Pre-emptive interference over the response to an Asking Bid
  5. Interference immediately over a Positive response to 1

Over an Asking Bid

We start with the easiest situation: If partner makes an Asking Bid (in absolutely any situation and in any sequence whether it started with 1 or not) and opponents do anything other than pass then, unless the interference is pre-emptive in nature (by which we mean jumping at least 1 level of bidding to a level that is either above game level in a suit we have agreed as trumps or above 3NT if we've not agreed a suit), the action to be taken is as follows:
  1. Double/Redouble shows the 1-step response to the Asking Bid
  2. Pass shows the 2-step response to the Asking Bid
  3. 1 step (ie: the next bid up) shows the 3-step response
  4. 2 steps (ie: 2 bids up) shows the 4-step response
  5. etc etc
In this way we aim to reclaim some of the space lost through the interference. You will see from this that in the case of Doubles, we actually gain some space we wouldn't otherwise have had and make a profit!!! This D1P2/R1P2 method is a variation of the DOPI/ROPI method of coping with interference over Blackwood or Gerbils ( LOL). The Example below needs careful study. It is about as complicated as these sequences can get.

Notes:
  1. If our LHO intervened over our previous Response and Partner has Passed in order to make the Ask (see below), then we can still reclaim a little space by using Double or redouble as our "first" step, but clearly Pass is not available to us when we're 4th-in-hand over the previous response. See the above example hand for instances of this.
  2. Similarly, if LHO intervened over our previous response, Partner doubled in order to make the current Ask, and RHO redoubles, then only Pass is available to us as our "first" step.
Example:

The above example simply shows us reclaiming lost spade using D1P2

Another Example

The above example shows instances of Pass not being available for the purposes of D1P2

Pre-empt Over an Asking Bid

If the interference is of a pre-emptive nature (ie: it is jumping at least 1 level of bidding to a level that is above 3NT, then the actions outlined above still apply, but now we also have to contract some of the Scales for the different Asking Bids, as follows:
Alpha Double shows no Support
Pass shows Support with 0-3 Controls
1 Step shows Support with 4 Controls
2 Steps shows Support with 5 Controls, etc etc
Beta is unaffected, ie:
Double shows Minimum (0, 0-1, 0-2, 0-4 etc depending on Scale in use)
Pass shows Minimum plus 1 (1, 2, 3, 5 etc)
1 Step shows Minimum plus 2 (2, 3, 4, 6 etc)
2 Steps shows Minimum plus 3 (3, 4, 5, 7 etc) etc etc
Gamma Double shows 0 or 1 Top Honours
Pass shows 2 Top Honours
1 Step shows 3 Top Honours
Delta Double shows Less than Qxx/xxxx
Pass shows Qxx/xxxx or better
Epsilon Double shows No Control or 3rd Round Control
Pass shows 2nd Round Control
1 Step shows 1st Round Control
Zeta is exactly as per Beta above (ie: unaffected)
Eta Double shows no Top Honour or 1 Top Honour (with or without the Jack)
Pass shows 2 or 3 Top Honours
Theta is exactly as per Delta above
Iota is exactly as per Delta above
Sigma Double shows no Top Honour in the suit
Pass shows 1 Top Honour
1 Step shows 2 or 3 Top Honours

NoteWe only switch to the compressed Scales immediately following the pre-emptive interference. If any Asking Bids follow that compressed response, they will be using the normal scales again, because Opener knows whether or not they can afford to ask.
Example:

This example shows a compressed Asking Bid Response (combined with D1P2) over pre-emptive interference.

Over a Response

Next we look at how we cope with interference over the Response to a previous Asking Bid. Note that this is not quite the same as interference over a Positive Response to 1 (See below). In this situation we reclaim some bidding space by utilising Pass and Double/Redouble to make Asks in the suits immediately below the suit of the Interference (or the last suit bid if the Interference was a Double). These are the suits which are going to be the most "expensive" for the next Asking Bid and so we gain the maximum amount of bidding space this way. Generally speaking: Note: If an Asking Bid can be reached by backwards Asking but Asker chooses to bid the suit itself, this is the equivalent of a jump in that suit and is generally "to play" (but can be Zeta if directly over a Positive Response to 1 - see below)

Example:
This example shows D1P2 responses and also Opener not being able to ask backwards to a particular suit. It also shows a good example of taking inferences from Responses.


Notes:
  1. Skipping over NTs
    Generally we "skip over" No Trumps in this backwards asking. The only exception is that if Beta is still "active" (ie: Responder's exact level of controls is not yet known) we are able to "count backwards" to a Low Beta of 1NT only. This does not extend to counting backwards to Low Betas other than 1NT.
  2. Skipping over Trumps
    Similarly, if we have agreed a trump suit at any previous point (including the Asking Bid Response just made), we generally "skip over" the agreed trump suit in our "backwards Asking" unless a Repeat Ask in the agreed trump suit is still available.
  3. Ignoring Backwards Ask
    If an Asking Bid could be reached by a backwards Ask, then actually bidding that suit at the next possible level effectively becomes a jump-shift in that suit.
  4. Relay Beta
    If the last response (before the interference) was one that agreed a trump suit and Beta is still "active" in the sense that Responder's Controls are not known exactly, then a the cheapest action by Opener (usually Pass) is always Relay Beta (and Double an Ask in the suit below, as above, if Pass is Relay Beta).
  5. Sigma
    Sigma always takes precedence over Relay Beta, including in this situation. If the last Asking Bid was Alpha and got a positive response then Pass over interference is Sigma and Double (or an actual Relay) is Relay Beta (if required).
  6. Backwards Asking Availability
    If the response to the previous Asking Bid was itself a Pass or a Double/Redouble (ie: D1P2) because of interference and Opener's RHO also passes, then it is never the case that both Pass and Double/Redouble are available for backwards Asking. In these situations Sigma, Relay Beta and Asks in the suit below take priority.

Pre-empt Over a Response

In the case of pre-emptive interference over the response to the previous Asking Bid, however, we abandon the Pass asking in the suit 2 below. Double is still asking in the suit immediately below the interference (same rules as above) but now the Pass is a Lebensohl-style bid (now dubbed "Oliversohl"), forcing partner to Double, after which Opener will either pass for penalties or make a sign-off bid of some kind. Responder is only allowed to disturb that sign-off if Opener has not yet established Responder's exact level of controls and Responder has considerably greater strength and Controls than Opener might expect.


Note:
"Pass = Leb" always takes precedence over "Pass = Relay Beta" in this kind of situation. So if we've agreed trumps by means of an Asking Bid and get pre-emptive interference over the response, Pass remains "Oliversohl" and a Relay over the Interference is Relay Beta (eg: 1-(1)-1-(2)-Pass(Gamma)-(No)-2(Hxxxx)-(4)-???. Here, to give us all of what we need, Pass remains Leb, after which 4 would be a sign-off (and 4NT would be "to play"). An immediate 4 is a Repeat Gamma, and an immediate 4NT is Relay Beta. Anything else is Epsilon.

Over a Positive to 1

This is a slightly special situation in that we're in an Asking Bid situation, but we've not actually started the Asking Bid Sequence yet. This area of the system changed a few years ago to simplify it dramatically from how it was originally arranged. This has been possible because of the advent of the Relay Beta. The knock-on effect this has on the system is to make Low-level beta's much less attractive, especially when Responder is a passed hand and the expensive Weak Beta might push up the level at which Theta/Iota can be used but also opposite a non-passed hand when we are guaranteed a cheap Relay Beta once we've agreed trumps.

The upshot of this is that if there is interference immediately over a Positive Response to 1, we now give complete precedence to Alpha and Gamma when Responder has shown a suit positive, and only make any kind of provision for a low-level beta when Responder has shown a balanced positive. The general rules for this are as follows:

If there is interference immediately over a positive response to 1 , then over
  1. Suit Positive
    • Double is an Ask in the suit below (or if Suit below would be Gamma, in the suit 2 below)
    • Pass is Gamma in Responder's suit
      • Unless A bid of the next suit up would be Gamma anyway, in which case a bid in the next suit up is Gamma, and Pass is an Ask in the suit two below.
  2. Balanced Positive
    • Double is an Ask in the suit below
    • Pass is Beta (followed by Iota or HoC) if 1NT is unavailable (see below)
    • There is one sequence where Pass=Beta does not apply, which is 1-1-(X)-???. Here is makes no sense not to keep 1NT as Low Beta, freeing up Redouble and Pass for Alphas in the red suits, saving considerable space there and losing nothing if Beta is used by bidding 1NT.
Examples:
Here are some examples to clarify the above:

  1. 1-2-(2)-???
    • Double = Alpha in Diamonds (suit below)
    • Pass = Gamma in Clubs
    • 2NT = Handing over the Captaincy
  2. 1-2-(2[=/Majors])-???
    • Double = Alpha in Spades (suit 2 below, because suit below is Responder's suit)
    • Pass = Gamma in Clubs
    • 2NT = Alpha in Diamonds (Because 2 may not be Diamonds)
  3. 1-1NT-(2)-???
    • Double = Alpha in Diamonds (suit below)
    • Pass = Alpha in Clubs in Clubs (because next suit up is Responder's suit)
    • 2 is Gamma in Spades
    • 2NT = Handing over the Captaincy
  4. 1-1NT-(2NT)-???
    • Double = Alpha in Hearts (suit 2 below, because suit below is Responder's suit)
    • Pass = Gamma in Spades
  5. 1-1-(2)-???
    • Double = Alpha in Diamonds (suit below)
    • Pass = Beta
    • 2NT = Handing over the Captaincy
  6. 1-1-(2[= or other 3 suits])-???
    • Double = Alpha in Clubs (suit below)
    • Pass = Beta
    • 2NT = Alpha in Diamonds (because 2 may not be Diamonds)

Notes

  1. Pre-emptive Interference at the 4-level over a positive response to 1 (eg: 1-1(Bal)-(4)-??? is slightly different to the above, but follows similar logic as to the meaning of the Double.
    • Double is Gamma if Responder has shown a suit, and Beta if they have shown a balanced positive or semi-positive, but if the next suit up would be Gamma in Responder's suit anyway, then Double becomes an Ask in the suit below and the next suit up is Gamma. This does not apply when Double would be Beta, however, since it might be the only chance for Beta we will ever get so after a sequence such as 1-1(Balanced)-4 Double will always be Beta.
    • Pass is Lebensohl, forcing a Double, exactly as above. Again, Responder can only bid on over a sign-off if they have a significantly better hand than Opener will expect (by definition there has been no Beta Ask in this kind of sequence).
    • Bids by Opener are Asks (ie: Alpha in that suit) but without reference to Controls, merely asking if Responder has no support (1 step) or support (2 steps). If Responder shows support, then a relay over the response is Beta. Note that this only applies after pre-emptive interference immediately over a positive response to 1. If we've had other asks before the interference then no bid can ever be Alpha
    • Given the availability of the Pass-Double Lebensohl sequence, a fast 4NT is Beta, agreeing Responder's suit if one has been shown. If Responder has shown a balanced hand, then a fast 4NT is natural and "to play", but showing a less strong holding in opps' suit than a slow 4NT.
  2. If Opps intervene at the 5-level immediately over a positive response to 1, then generally action by Opener is similar to that over 4-level pre-empts, except:
    • Double by Opener denies 1st or 2nd round control of Opp's suit and invites Responder to continue if they have 1st or 2nd Round Control.
    • Immediate bids are invitational rather than being Alpha.
  3. In general, during any 1 sequence (Asking or Natural & non-forcing) where Opps have intervened in some way and we've not yet agreed a trump suit, the guidelines for Opener's bids in the suit Opps have bid are as follows:
    • If Opps' bid was definitely showing a 4+-card holding in that suit, then we treat a bid by Opener (in an Asking Bid sequence) or by either Opener or Responder (in a natural sequence) as a Directional Asking Bid (DAB).
    • If Opps' bid was artificial, possibly showing a 4+-card holding in that suit, but possibly not (eg: Panama), or definitely not showing a 4+-card holding in that suit (eg: Suction), then we treat a bid of that suit by Opener as a trump Ask (in an Asking Bid sequence), and a bid by either Opener or Responder as a natural bid (in a natural sequence).
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OCP System Change Log
Interference over a Positive Response to 1 (01-Oct-2009)
The use of D1P2/R1P2 and backwards Asking dates back to the original description of OCP in the late 1980's. Opener's action after interference immediately over a Positive response to 1, however, has always been somewhat different. Prior to 2009, there was a long list of what Opener should do depending on what the Positive response showed, and what the interference was and what it showed. This was difficult for everyone to learn and remember.

In 2009, following the advent of Relay Beta in 2008, that list was scrapped and replaced by four simple rules:
  1. If Responder showed a balanced hand, then over the interference, Pass was Beta and Double an Ask in the suit below the last suit bid.
  2. If Responder made a Positive showing a 5+-card suit, then over the interference, Pass was Gamma in Responder's suit and Double an Ask in the suit immediately below the last suit bid.
  3. If a cheap Gamma was available as a relay over the interference, then that was used for Gamma and Pass was an Ask in the suit two below the last suit bid.
  4. In the event of pre-emptive interference overthe positive response, then Pass was reserved at Lebensohl (forcing a Double), and Double was now Gamma or Beta, depending on whether Responder had shown a suit or not.