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OCP System Change Alert
Change to 4 Rebid (18-Mar-2018)
After the sequence 2♣ - 2 - 4, showing 5-card Diamonds and 6+-card Clubs, the continuations have now been changed:
4 is now Beta, but specifically agreeing Clubs.
4 is now Beta, but specifically agreeing Diamonds
Anything else (ie: 4NT and 5m) are strictly natural and "to play". If Beta is used, then Epsilons are permitted in side-suits over the Beta response (or Pairs can elect to cue-bid as a matter of Partnership style). Alternatively, pairs can elect to play the 4M bids as length-known Gamma's in the Minor suit, and then use Relay Beta etc thereafter, but such sequences will probably be too expensive in the long run.
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OCP System Change Alert
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.

Beta

Beta is the most commonly used Asking Bid of them all. It is potentially available in any hand whether or not Asking Bids have been established and whether or not a trump suit has been agreed. Beta is Precision's equivalent to Ace-Asking conventions in other systems, but it asks about Controls instead. In this respect it is often much more efficient than, for example, Blackwood, since it asks about Aces and Kings all in one go, and Opener can often tell immediately exactly what combination of Aces and Kings Responder has and often the exact cards. Sometimes, however, the first response to Beta shows a range of Controls rather than a precise number, and in those situations a second Beta Ask if sometimes required if space permits.

What are we Counting?
An Ace is equal to 2 Controls and
A King is equal to 1 Control.


Queens and Jacks are worthless where Beta is concerned. Similarly, for the purposes of Beta singletons and voids are not considered, but see the Epsilon Ask where they are counted as a degree of control (as are Queens and doubletons).

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we do not count a singleton King as 1 Control unless Partner has shown strength there (eg: an earlier trump ask in that suit) or we know they are strong balanced (and so are likely to have one of the adjoining honours).

When is a Bid Beta?

The number of different places where a bid is Beta is almost limitless because besides the general situations specified below, a large number of Openings and subsequent sequences make specific provision for Beta Asks that do not fit neatly into any of these categories. For details of these special provisions for Beta see the individual Openings or pages. A bid is always Beta, however, in the following situations:
  • After a 1 Opening and a positive response of 1 or 1, a bid of 1NT is Beta.
  • After a 1 Opening and a positive response of 1NT, 2 or 2, a Relay in the next bid up is Beta.
  • In any sequence where a suit other than Clubs has been agreed as trumps, a bid of 4 is Beta.
  • In any sequence where Clubs have not been mentioned as possible trumps or when they have but another suit has since been agreed as trumps and Responder's exact number of controls is not yet known, a bid of 4 is Beta.
  • In any sequence where Clubs have been mentioned as possible trumps and another suit has not yet been agreed as trumps and Responder's exact number of controls is not yet known, a bid of 4 is Beta.
  • 4 can also be Beta if 4 would have been Beta, but Opener is prevented from using 4 because 4 was the response to the previous Asking Bid.
  • In any situation where a singleton or void has been explicitly shown (eg: by bidding the suit below as in a Splinter or when describing a 4441-shape hand) or has been implied by showing a fragment elsewhere (eg: in response to a fast 4th-suit-Force), then a bid in the suit of the shortage is Beta.
  • When a transfer has been broken by means of showing a "worthless doubleton" in the suit above (See 1NT Opening), then a bid of the doubleton suit is Beta.
  • After a positive response to ANY Trump Asking Bid (ie: Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Iota, Theta), if partner's exact number of controls is not yet known, then a Relay in the next side-suit (ie: ignoring the trump suit and NT's) is Beta, but if there is ever a potential conflict, Sigma takes precedence over Beta after a Positive response to an Alpha Ask, and there are some circumstances where 2NT HoC takes precedence over 2NT Relay Beta after Gamma in a Major.
  • Note: A bid can never be Beta if Responder's exact number of Controls is already known (eg: A Response to a previous Beta, Alpha or Zeta Ask).

Scales for Beta

Altogether there are six different scales for Beta (only 4 of which occur with any frequency in the Simple System. As with Asking Bids, there is never any doubt as to which scale is in force:
Normal Scale
The Normal scale for Beta is used in the following situations:
  • When Responder's strength is unknown, or
  • When Responder is known to be Intermediate (ie: has made an 11-15 Precision Opening).
The stepped responses for the Normal scale are:
  1. : 0-2 Controls
  2. : 3 Controls
  3. : 4 Controls
  4. : 5 Controls
  5. ...etc etc (open ended)
Weak Scale
The Weak scale for Beta is used in the following situations:
  • When Responder is known to be in the 0-10 hcp range (ie: Passed hand, Weak 2 Opening, Negative Response to 1 (but see the Special Weak Scale below)
  • When Responder is known to have less than 4 Controls (ie: 1 or 3-step response to Alpha, or a 1-step response to a previous Beta or Zeta Ask, showing 0-2 Controls.
The stepped responses for the Weak scale are:
  1. : No Controls
  2. : 1 Controls
  3. : 2 Controls
  4. : 3 Controls
  5. : 4 Controls
Special Weak Scale
The Special Weak scale for Beta is used only in the following situation:
  • When Responder is a passed hand and Opener uses a Low-level Beta over a positive response to 1
The stepped responses for the Special Weak scale are:
  1. : 0-1 Controls
  2. : 2 Controls
  3. : 3 Controls
  4. : 4 Controls
Strong Scale
The Strong scale for Beta is used in the following situations:
  • When Responder is known to be in the 16+ hcp range (ie: 1 or 2 Opening, Splinter over 1 or 1 Opening, etc)
  • When Responder is known to have 4 or more Controls (ie: 2 or 4-step response to Alpha.
  • When Responder has shown a 14+ 2-suiter using a 2-way Transfer over a 2 Opening.
The stepped responses for the Strong scale are:
  1. : 0-4 Controls
  2. : 5 Controls
  3. : 6 Controls
  4. : 7 Controls
  5. : 8 Controls
  6. : etc etc (open ended)
Super Scale
The Super scale for Beta is used in the following situations:
  • When Responder is known to be in the 24+ hcp range. In practice this can only happen when Delta is used, but Opener subsequently hands over the Captaincy and Responder ends up using Beta (Extremely rare)
The stepped responses for the Super scale are:
  1. : 0-6 Controls
  2. : 7 Controls
  3. : 8 Controls
  4. : 9 Controls
  5. : 10 Controls
  6. : etc etc (open ended)
Range Beta
Range Beta is used in the following situations:
  • Simple System: Only after a Major suit Opening, 2/1 response, Rebid in a different suit by Opener, and now a 3-level raise in Opener's Major by Responder is Range Beta
  • Complex System Various places, but particularly after Opener's rebid shows any 4441 hand-shape
The stepped responses for Range Beta are:
  1. : Lower Range
  2. : Upper Range, 0-2 Controls
  3. : Upper Range, 3 Controls
  4. : Upper Range, 4 Controls
  5. : Upper Range, 5 Controls
  6. : etc etc (open ended)
Exclusion Beta Scale
Exclusion Beta always uses the Strong Beta Scale and is used in the following situations:
  • An immediate double jump-shift over a Major Suit Opening shows a void in the suit bid and is Exclusion Beta in that suit.
  • A delayed single jump-shift over Opener's rebid after Responder has used the Forcing 1NT is Exclusion Beta and shows a singleton in the suit bid.
In the case of immediate splinters, Opener should only include Controls they hold outside the excluded suit. In the case of a delayed splinter (via FNT), Opener should include the Ace of the excluded suit (if they hold it) in their number of controls, but not the king.
The stepped responses for the Strong scale for Exclusion Beta are as per the Strong Scale above, ie:
  1. : 0-4 Controls
  2. : 5 Controls
  3. : 6 Controls
  4. : 7 Controls
  5. : 8 Controls
  6. : etc etc (open ended)

Notes

  • Precedence: It must be stressed that trump agreement (ie: Trump Asking Bids) takes precedence over General Controls (ie: Beta), and finding out about General Controls takes precedence over Specific Controls (ie: Epsilon). Hence 4 Theta/Iota takes precedence over 4 Beta, just as 4 Beta takes precedence over 4 Epsilon.
  • Repeat Betas: If the first response to Beta showed 0-2 Controls, then if the opportunity permits a second Beta is always permitted to clarify Responder's exact number of controls.
  • Where Beta is used twice the second ask is always using the weak scale
  • A 1-4 step response to Alpha always affects the range of any subsequent Beta Ask (ie: it will be the Weak or Strong Scale, never the Normal Scale)
  • A bid can never be Beta if Responder's exact number of Controls is already known.
  • Although a 3 or 4-step Alpha Response always affects the range used for any subsequent Beta Ask, there is one situation where this effect is nullified. If Alpha gets a 3-step positive response, and Asker uses Sigma and Repeat Sigma, the latter at game level, now the game-level Repeat Sigma is ambiguous, and Teller will normally treat it as a sign-off if poor for their biding thus far (eg: 0 or 1 controls), but as a Repeat Sigma if good for their bidding thus far (eg: 2 or 3 controls). Now any subsequent Beta by Asker will continue to use the Normal Beta Scale. If the original Alpha response was 4 steps, we continue to use the Strong Beta Scale, of course.
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OCP System Change Log
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.
Beta after a Repeat Sigma at Game Level (28-Nov-2016)
If Asker uses Sigma after a 3-step positive response to Alpha, and then makes a Repeat Sigma Ask, this will often be at game level rather than below, which means the bid is ambiguous (ie: Teller may treat it as a sign-off if poor for their bidding so far). If Teller responds to the ambiguous Repeat Sigma, they are suggesting they are good for their bidding to date, and therefore we assume they have 2-3 controls rather than 0 or 1. If Relay Beta follows the Repeat Sigma Response, therefore, we retain the Normal Beta scale rather than switching to the Weak Beta Scale (as would be normal given the initial Alpha response). So
1-1
2-3 =Alpha / Support with 0-3 Controls
3-4 =Sigma / Hxxx
4- 4NT =Repeat Sigma / Jack of Hearts held
5-5 = Relay Beta using Normal Scale / 3 Controls

If the original Alpha response was 4 steps, Teller will almost always treat the game-level Repeat Sigma as such, and any subsequent Beta will continue to use the Strong Scale, as normal.
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.
    1. Relay Beta (14-Sep-2008)
      The original description of OCP, created by Oliver with Jason Hackett, allowed for a relay over the response to a Gamma Ask to be Beta in a sequence such as 1♠♦-2(Gamma)-3-3(Relay Beta). This was only when Gamma was a relay over Opener's rebid over a Forcing 1NT response to a Major suit Opening.

      In 2008 we decided to extend this, so that whenever trumps were agreed by means of an Asking Bid sequence, a relay in the next bid up over the response that set the trump suit would be Relay Beta. The only riders to this were as follows:
      • Sigma and Repeat Sigma take precedence over Relay Beta, so if there is ever a potential conflict, Relay Beta gets 'bumped' by one step.
      • If (after a 1 Opening and a Major Suit Positive) Gamma is used to agree the Major and the response shows no top honour or only 1 top honour with 5-card length, then, if 2NT or 3NT is in the relay position, those are reserved as HoC and a natural sign-off respectively and 3 or 4 become Relay Beta. In most instances, these situations almost always occur when there has been some interference, except for 1-1-2-2-2NT.
      • If (after a Major Suit Opening) Gamma is used to agree the Major and the response shows no top honour, then, if 2NT is in the relay position, 2NT HoC takes precedence over Relay Beta and 3. In practice, for practical purposes, there is only one sequence where this can apply (1-1NT-2-2-2-2NT)
      • If we have agreed a Minor, then if a bid in No Trumps is in the Relay position, that is always reserved as a natural bid and a bid in the other Minor is Relay Beta.
      • In the event of interference over the trump ask response that sets the trump suit, then generally Relay Beta is the cheapest possible action that Asker can take. The only time this is not true is when Sigma takes precedence.