Although the system of natural overcalls, combined with the power of Unassuming Cue-bids and Lebensohl, takes care of most competitive situations, there are some instances where an agreed conventional defence serves better to allow you to compete. As with most aspects of competitive bidding, this does not significantly impinge on any other part of this system, so you are free to pick and choose which of these suggestions you want to adopt (if any).

So please feel free to rely on completely natural methods or to substitute other defences that you find easier or better. What appears below is primarily what Jason and I originally played, but my preferences have changed since (for example, I now play Suction or Amsbury [Transfer or otherwise] in preference to CRO-Panama against a Precision 1, but CRO-Panama remains the "published" System defence.

Defence to 1NT - Modified Brozel

Standard Brozel is suitable for use against a strong1NT, but not for use against a weak or mini 1NT, because the Double is not penalty-orientated. Brozel uses 2-level bids that are identical to those of Pinpoint Astro, but also includes a double that shows a single-suited hand with a 6+-card suit somewhere and 3-level bids that show relatively strong 3-suited hands. Brozel is preferred to other conventional defences against 1NT simply because of its flexibility and its ability to deal with a wide range of hands. One modification to Brozel for this system relates to the 3-suited hands where instead of bidding the singleton suit as specified in standard Brozel, we bid the suit below the singleton. In Teams events there is a further optional modification you can use against a weak 1NT Opening somewhere in the 10-14 range, which is that the Double is mainly for penalties and shows either a strong balanced hand or a strongish single-suited hand.

Regardless of the strength of the No Trump opened, the decision as to whether to pass or bid when the Brozel Double is used will often depend on vulnerability as well as the strength and distribution of responder's hand. The full scheme for Brozel is as follows:
(1NT) -X Strong NT: Against a strong (15+) No Trump Opening this shows a reasonably strong single-suited hand. Continuations are as follows:
-Pass Shows a hand wanted to defend against 1NT-Doubled. This will normally be a balanced hand with 8+ points.
-2 Oliver's Twist: Shows any weak hand not wanting to proceed further than a partscore, or a hand with potential game interest only opposite a suit other than Clubs. The system here is that with an invitational or strong hand that does not want to pass the Double for penalties, Responder bids the cheapest suit they are not prepared to support further, so the Doubler is able to pass whatever Responder bids if that is their suit, or they convert to their suit. Thus Responder is showing game interest in any suit that they bypass:
-2 Oliver's Twist: Shows a hand not wishing to proceed further if the Doubler has Diamonds, but with game interest if the Doubler has Clubs. It may conceal game+ interest if the Doubler has the Majors.
-X Weak NT: Against a weak (10-14) No Trump Opening this is penalty-orientated and shows either a similar hand to that over the strong No Trump or a strong balanced hand:
-Pass Shows any hand happy to defend 1NTX.
-2 Shows any weak single-suited hand unable to support the Penalty Double. The Doubler relays with 2 and responder now passes or converts to their suit.
-2 Shows a weak 2-suited hand unable to support the Penalty Double. The Doubler initially chooses between the Majors and Responder either passes, bids 2 (space permitting with Spades and a Minor), bids 2NT with both Minors, and bids 3/ with that Minor and the other Major.
-2 Shows a game-going distributional 2-suited hand (at least 5-5) without Spades. The Doubler relays with 2 and now Responder bids 2NT with both Minors and 3/ with that Minor and Hearts.
-2 Shows a game-going distributional 2-suited hand (at least 5-5) with Spades. The Doubler relays with 2NT and now Responder shows their second suit.
-2 Shows a 2-suited hand with Clubs & Hearts
-2 Shows a 2-suited hand with Diamonds & Hearts
-2 Shows a 2-suited hand with both Majors
-2 Shows a 2-suited hand with both Spades & a Minor. (If necessary Responder relays with 2NT and now the second suit can be shown).
-2NT Shows a 2-suited hand with both Minors
-3 Shows a strongish 3-suited hand with a Diamond shortage
-3 Shows a strongish 3-suited hand with a Heart shortage
-3 Shows a strongish 3-suited hand with a Spade shortage
-3 Shows a strongish 3-suited hand with a Club shortage
Over the bids that show the 2-suited and 3-suited hands, continuations are almost entirely natural and non-forcing. The only exception is that where a 3-suited hand has been shown a bid in the suit of the shortage is Beta on the Strong scale (because the 3-suited hands are always 14+ in strength and usually 16+. If you are not using Asking Bids you can play a bid in the short suit as being Blackwood, but otherwise unless a bid is obviously invitational (eg: (1NT)-3-(No)-5), then any bid in one of the suits that the Brozel bidder has promised is strictly "to play".

Defence to Pre-empts - FILM-X

This is an option for play at Match-pointed Pairs, but most of us stick with Double for Takeout and everything else is natural.

FILM-X stands for Fishbein & Lower Minor-Double. FILM-X is used only over 3-level or higher pre-empts and allows for greater scope and definition. The original Fishbein convention used the next-suit up over a pre-empt as a takeout of the Pre-empt, whilst the Lower Minor used the lowest available Minor as a takeout, leaving Major suits free as natural overcalls. FILM-X combines these two methods. The scheme of actions over a pre-empt is relatively simple:
Note: Please note the differences between actions by 2nd-in-hand and by 4th-in-hand. As you can see the responses are relatively simple and have two advantages over the normal takeout double method: Firstly you retain a penalty Double. If using takeout doubles this is a significant loss if the person sitting immediately over the pre-empt has a penalty double, as they are forced to pass and hope for a re-opening double from partner. Secondly, when the next suit up is a Major and responder has a weak hand with no good fit for the other suits, responder has a better idea of whether it's safe to pass the next-suit-up bid with a 3-card holding or whether to seek their fortune in the other Major or a Minor instead.

Defence to Transfer Pre-empts - Clarke

This is a convention I pioneered and licensed back in the 1980's when transfer pre-empts at the 3-level seemed to be the fashion of the day. (South African Texas at the 4-level has always been popular). Today transfer pre-empts are used mainly at the 4-level but sometimes at the 3-level and very occasionally you will come across a pair using Transfer Weak-2's. In this defence conventional actions are those by 2nd-in-hand whilst 4th-in-hand (who is bidding after the transfer has been completed) bids exactly as over a normal pre-empt (Note FILM-X is not used in this situation, since 4th-in-hand is sitting underneath the pre-empter. As you can see the logic behind this scheme is fairly straightforward in that 2nd-in-hand is guaranteed another chance to bid since LHO will always bid something if 2nd-in-hand passes. 4th-in-hand, however, is sitting under the actual pre-empter and so is better-suited to making a takeout double or bidding a suit naturally.

Defence to Multi-2 - Dixon

Dixon, like my defence to transfer pre-empts, differentiates between immediate and delayed action by second-in-hand and can do this because the Multi 2 Opening often acts like a transfers and is forcing on responder to make some kind of bid. Dixon, however, gives different strengths to the immediate and delayed doubles by 2nd-in-Hand. The full scheme is as follows:-

Defence to Precision - CRO Panama

In defending against a Strong Club opening, the main emphasis is on disrupting the opponents' sequence as much as possible on the basis that they probably have the balance of the points. In this context the key tactic is to deny them bidding space by pre-empting as far as possible if you have the right hand for it. Sometimes, though, you either want to simply make a lead-directing overcall or you have have a distributional and/or strong hand that genuinely wants to compete (and just because opponents have opened a Strong Club does not mean that game cannot be made your way). With single-suited hands you can make a simple overcall if intermediate or better and simply want to indicate the best lead to partner, or if you have a strong single-suiter that genuinely wants to compete.

In many instances, however, the best tactice with a decent hand is to pass and then come in if the bidding appears about to die at a low level. Good Precision Pairs have methods of combatting interference over their 1 sequences (indeed this system contains a number of measures for doing just that). These measures usually include not just mechanisms for conserving and/or reclaiming bidding space lost because of your interference, but also methods for escaping from the bidding sequence they are engaged in and doubling your bid for penalties.

CRO/Panama is a pairing of two different conventions to allow distributional 2-suiters and 3-suiters to be shown. These can be relatively weak and obstructive, but can also be of at least intermediate strength and genuinely seeking to compete for the contract:
CRO [Colour Rank Odd]
CRO uses Double, 1NT and 2NT to indicate 2-suited hands

Panama is great fun to play and can cause considerable confusion at the table (not elast if either member of your partnership forgets the agreement. Panama deals with jump overcalls, which are either: Responder always assumes the WJO. If this is doubled and the Panama bidder redoubles, then this shows the 3-suited hand.

Note: It must be stressed that in many instances it is better to keep quiet over their Strong Club Opening unless either you have either a decent chance of competing for the contract or you have a hand able to pre-empt to a fairly high level. Cheap interference rarely disrupts a good Precision Pair much and can actually benefit them. It is almost impossible for any pair to have a scientific sequence if the bidding goes 1-(4)-???, for example.


The purpose behind defences to Opps' strong openings is to disrupt their sequences as much as possible when either we have a distributional hand capable of achieving that or the vulnerability is in our favour and we can do so with little risk to ourselves. The "brand" of Suction outlined here is the "standard" version, in which you never have the suit you're bidding. This does make it slightly easier for Opps to cope with, but is much simpler for us to implement, and in many cases the damage has already been done by the amount of their bidding space we've already consumed.

Note: Suit lengths for 2-suited hands are nominally that they show 5-5+, but 5-4 is acceptable. The main rule for 2-suited hands is that the cheapest suit is always 5-cards. Against a Strong Club or a 2 Opening at favourable vulnerability, these guidelines can definitely be relaxed. Single-suiters are normally 6+, but could be 5+ at favourable vulnerability.

Suction against 1NT
If Opps are playing a mini or weak 1NT, then we use Double as 100% Penalties, but against a stronger 1NT (13-15 and upwards) we forget the Penalty Double and instead Double shows the hand with Clubs or the Red suits. Otherwise:
Suction against 2
Suction against any Strong 1
We slightly vary the normal logic here in that we want to be able to make lead-directing bids as well, so Suction itself only starts at 1NT upwards. Double, 1, 1 & 1 are all merely lead-directing in that suit (and it doesn't have to be showing a suit - it might well be a shortage). Partner mustn't raise such lead-directing bids unless genuinely holding that suit themselves.

If, on the other hand, you use Suction in different places and you prefer to keep your Suction schemes similar, a lot of pairs use the "Suction vs 1NT" scheme when playing against a Strong Club. It's also worth bearing in mind that you can play Suction at any level, so (1)-4 would still be showing single-suited Hearts or Spades and Clubs.

Our suggested scheme against a Strong Clubs is as follows:
Responding to Suction


Standard Amsbury is a defence quite similar to Panama and is normally only used against an Opponents' Opening that is strong (ie: Precision 1 or a Semi-GF 2 Opening). The scheme of overcalls can be used at any level and is as follows: Advancer has to try to figure out what the Amsbury Overcaller has a bid accordingly, but normally assumes the single-suited hand and passes. If the overcall is doubled and the Overcaller redoubles, this shows the 3-suited hand, and a Relay in the next bid up shows the 2-suited hand.

Transfer Amsbury is similar to the above, but more akin to Suction in that the initial overcall is a Transfer, so now: Now Advancer completes the Transfer. The Overcaller now passes with the Single-suited and bids the next suit up with the 2-suiter or 3-suiter (and Advancer has to try to figure out which type they have.
Note: Transfer Amsbury is safer than Standard Amsbury, but it is also much easier for Opps to defend against, because (a) the overcall is ostensibly forcing, and (b) you will never have the suit you actually bid.

Defence to 2-suited Overcalls - Bergin

Bergin is used when our side has made a natural opening in a suit (ie: in Hearts, Spades or Clubs, but not over a 1 Diamond Opening, which does not promise a Diamond suit) and opponents have come in with some kind of 2-suited overcall (eg: Michaels, Unusual 2NT, Ghestem etc etc):
Where the 2-suited Overcall is made below the level of 2NT (eg: Michaels over a Major suit opening), then Lebensohl 2NT is available, so the following continuations arise:


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