OCP System Change Log

OCP is a living system that is constantly under scrutiny by the people who use it. It is continually evolving with small tweaks here are there, and sometimes a major change, such as the introduction of Relay Beta and Sigma, and the change to the 2 Opening and responses. The more recent changes are shown here. If you are aware of any small changes that should be shown here but are not, please contact Oliver by email
OCP System Change Log
A Change to PESKY (13-Feb-2022)
After 1NT-(No)-No-(X), Opener BIDS a 5-card Minor if they have one. A REDOUBLE shows any MAXIMUM 4333 and PASS shows any other hand. Over a Redouble by Opener Responder stands the Redouble or simply runs to a suit and we play there. Over a PASS by Opener, a Redouble by Responder is showing a 5-card or longer Minor and Opener bids 2, after which Responder passes or corrects. If Responder instead BIDS a 2-level suit, this is simply scrambling and we stop once we find a 4-3 or better fit. Responder can also simply PASS, in which case we play the hand in 1NTX.
(Pages Affected:1n.php)
Cancelling Suit Agreement after Gamma or Eta (14-Oct-2021)
This is a clarification rather than a genuine change:
  1. After any use of Gamma or Eta, the general position is that the mere use of those Asking Bids agrees the suit as trumps. However...
  2. If the initial response shows No Top Honour in the suit and the next bid up is a bid in No Trumps, then that bid in No Trumps cancels out the suit agreement, is not Relay Beta, and is rather HoC or "to play".
  3. If the suit agreed is a Minor suit, or any time that a bid in No Trumps is made immediately over the Gamma or Eta response that is not a relay, then that bid in No Trumps is HoC or "to play" (depending on the level) unless it is obviously strong or invitational.
  4. This applies to all situations where Gamma or Eta is used, including when a 2-way transfer has been made after a 2 Opening.

(Pages Affected:Gamma.php, Eta.php)
1-(1)-FNT Change (12-Jul-2019)
This change affects only the exact sequence 1-(1)-??. Previously 1NT remained the Forcing No Trump, but the effect of this change is that now a Double by Responder is no longer "negative" but rather the Forcing NT bid, and 1NT by Responder is simply natural and non-forcing with a Spade stop.

If Responder Doubles the 1 overcall, then now 1NT by Opener is natural with a Spade stop. Essentially no other continuations are affected except that over 1-(1)-X-(no)-1NT-(No)-2/2 are now both natural and non-forcing (because we lost the negative double) and 2 is Gamma in Hearts. If Opener themselves rebids 2/2, then current arrangements apply (ie: cheapest new suit relay is Gamma in Spades, etc etc).

(Pages Affected:1h.php, Doubles.php)
Gammas after 2 - 2 (23-Mar-2019)
This change was suggested a number of years ago but never pursued. After 2 - 2 - 3 and 2 - 2 - 3, it is almost inconceivable that Responder will suddenly want to pursue a slam in Spades after initially showing a Spade shortage. Since bidding space is always at a premium, it makes more sense for a 3 rebid by Responder to be Gamma in Opener's Minor, which frees up 2 or 3 bidding steps that might be crucial.

All reference to the 4 Gamma and 4 Gamma have therefore been removed and in each case a 3 rebid by Responder will henceforth be Gamma in Opener's declared Minor.

Please Note: This change only applies to 2 - 2 sequences, not to any of the 2 - 2 or 2 - 2NT sequences.

(Pages Affected:Complex_2d.php)
Definition of Pre-emptive Interference (07-Jun-2018)
As of June 2018, the definition of "Pre-emptive Interference" has changed in relation to actions by Asker during Asking Bid sequences. It is now defined as:
  1. Any action during the auction where either opponent has jumped at least 1 level of bidding and Asker's RHO has bid something in front of Asker (Not Double/Redouble). This applies whether the jump is in front of Asker or in front of Teller.
    1 - 1 - (2 ) and
    1 - (2 ) - 2 - (3 ) would both satisfy the above, but
    1 - (1) - 2 - (2 ) would not be enough to enable Pass=Leb.
  2. Any action in the auction where the opponents demonstrate Barrage Bidding:
    • Opps have bid (not Doubling or redoubling) 3 times during this auction, and
    • The most recent interference was at at least the 3-level and in front of Asker, and
      • If we haven't agreed a suit as trumps, at any vulnerability except red vs green, or
      • If we have agreed a suit, we are at green vs red
  3. After any bids by Opps at the 4-level or above
The above applies to
  • Actions by Asker over a Positive Response to 1
  • Actions by Asker over the response to a previous Ask
It does not apply to actions by Responder if there is interference over an Asking Bid, the arrangements for which remain substantially as before (ie: "pre-emptive" is a jump to a level at or beyond the level of 3NT).

These changes have also involved clarification or definition of our actions for the following:
  1. Exceptions to D1P2 and R1P2 (ie: after Lead-Directing Doubles and Artificial overcalls)
  2. Interference over Positive Doubles
  3. Sigma at Game Level after interference
  4. Repeat Trump Asks at or above Game level over interference
Please see the Asking Bid Interference (which has been widely re-written) for full details.

(Pages Affected:AskingInterference.php)
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.

(Pages Affected:2c.php, Beta.php)
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.

(Pages Affected:1h.php, 1s.php, Beta.php)
Introduction of PESKY (26-May-2017)
PESKY is a suggestion for use after a 4th-in-hand penalty double of our 1NT Opening (ie: 1NT-(No)-No-(x)-??. PESKY concentrates on Opener's actions over the Double, and closely mirrors Responder's actions in INTRO. Opener is 2nd-in-hand over the penalty double and therefore a forcing pass is an option for them.

With PESKY, Opener bids with a 5-card Minor and redoubles with 4333, both showing lower to mid-range hands (Responder normally passes if Opener bids something, and wriggles upwards over a redouble). A Pass by Opener shows either a maximum hand or a lower to mid-range hand with 4432 distribution. Responder now redoubles with a hand just short of an invitation, and wriggles upwards if they can't afford to play in 1NTXX even opposite a maximum hand. If Responder redoubles, Opener passes with a maximum hand and wriggles upwards themselves with a 4432 hand not prepared to chance 1NTXX.

See the INTRO section of the 1NT Page for full details.

(Pages Affected:1n.php)
Interference over 2 Openings (07-Apr-2017)
Completed documentation of interference immediately after Responder makes a 3-way Transfer, and also immediately after Opener either completes or denies a 2-way Transfer. This had never been fully documented before, so not repeated here. See the section on Interference on the Simple 2 page.
(Pages Affected:2d.php, Eta.php, Gamma.php)
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.

(Pages Affected:AskingInterference.php, Beta.php)
Omitting 'Impossible' steps in Sigma responses (23-Mar-2017)
If Teller has showed a balanced hand (as Opener or Responder) or if, as Opener, they've made any intermediate Opening that denies possession of a 5-card Major (eg: 1 or 2), and we subsequently agree a Major by means of Alpha, then, if Asker uses Sigma, any response that would show a 5-card holding in the Major is omitted from the response scale (because Teller cannot, by definition, possess a 5-card Major if they've shown a balanced hand). Thus in the sequence 1-1-2-3-3(Sigma)-???, now the 2-step response to Sigma, showing Hxxxx and the 4-step response, showing HHxxx, are both removed from the scale, and the stepped responses show Hxxx, HHxx, and HHHx respectively.
(Pages Affected:Sigma.php)
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.

(Pages Affected:Gamma.php, 1h.php, 1s.php)
Sigma after 2NT Alpha or after Interference (16-Mar-2017)
Clarification of when a bid is Sigma: The rationale behind whether Sigma is a Relay or a repeat of the trump suit is based solely on the cheapness of a repeat of the trump suit. After a 3 or 4-step response to a "normal" Alpha (made by bidding the trump suit itself), a repeat of the trump suit is cheap, but over a 5-step or greater response to Alpha, that is not necessarily the case. The fundamental rule for Sigma is that if a repeat of the trump suit is within 2 bids (ie: it's the relay or the next bid above that), then a repeat of the trump suit is Sigma. If, however, it is not within 2 bids of the Alpha response (or any interference over the Alpha response), then the cheapest possible action by Asker is Sigma (include a Pass over interference).

Thus is in the sequence 1-1NT-2NT(Alpha in )-3-???, now 4 is within 2 bids of the Alpha response, so that is Sigma and, in this instance 4 would be Relay Beta (and 3NT Natural). Similarly in a sequence such as 1-(X)-1NT-2(Alpha)-3-(4)-???, now, because of the interference, a repeat in Spades is not within 2 bids, so now Pass would become Sigma (cheapest action), and Double would be Relay Beta.

(Pages Affected:Sigma.php, Alpha.php)
Responses to Two Diamond Opening (16-Dec-2016)
This is a major overhaul of the Simple System 2 Opening:
  • The 2 Response and continuations are largely unaffected, except that some hands that would originally have bid 2, now do something else.
  • The 2 Response now shows any 0-4 single-suited hand. Opener bids 2NT with a lower-range hand, but Oliver's Twist at the 3-level with an upper-range hand.
  • The Responses from 2NT through to 3 are now all 2-way transfers, showing either:
    1. 0-4 HCP with any any touching 2-suited hand or even 4333 or 5332 where the suit above their 4+-card suit is at least 3-card in length, or
    2. 14+ with any 2-suited hand, normally transferring into the cheapest or lower-ranking suit, but optionally into the high-ranking.
    Opener completes the transfer with a 4-card holding in the transfer suit and relays in the suit above with a singleton in the transfer suit. If Opener bids the transfer suit, Responder normally passes with any 0-4, but with 14+ treats the bid as Gamma. If Opener skips the transfer suit, again Responder normally passes with 0-4, but with 14+ bids their second suit as Eta (Cheapest bid in NT's normally is Gamma in the suit Opener actually bid.
  • For full details, please see the re-written 2 page.

(Pages Affected:2d.php, Gamma.php, Eta.php, OpeningBids.php)
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
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.

(Pages Affected:Sigma.php, Alpha.php, Beta.php)
Reorganisation of 4441 Positives (07-Feb-2014)
Prior to this change, OCP used the Classic Precision semi-positive responses of 2, 2, and 2NT, and also used the Impossible Negative to show lower-range 4441 positives. This change scrapped all of that, so that 1-1 was always showing 0-7 HCP. The semi-positive responses were binned, and in their place:
  • 1-2 showed 8-11 hcp with 4144 shape (singleton Heart)
  • 1-2 showed 8-11 hcp with 1444 shape (singleton Spade)
  • 1-2NT showed 8-11 hcp with 4414 or 4441 shape with a Minor suit singleton.
  • 3-level suit responses to 1 all showed 12+ 4441 hands, bidding the suit below the singleton.
Over all of these Eta Asks by Opener were the norm. A special scale for Eta was created over the 2NT response which has an extra step showing that Opener had hit Responder's singleton.

(Pages Affected:1c.php, Eta.php)
Eta After Stayman (07-Apr-2013)
In the interests of symmetry and consistency, the sequence ...1NT-2-2-3, which had been treated as natural and invitational in Hearts, will now be treated as Eta in Spades. This will mirror the sequence ...1NT-2-2-3, which was always Eta in Hearts.
(Pages Affected:1n.php, Eta.php)
Super-Accepts over 2-way 2 (07-Apr-2013)
Over the sequence 1NT-2, Opener always assumes Responder is transferring into Hearts. If they have a hand worth a super-accept of Hearts, they bid as follows:
  • With any 4432 shape and a 'worthless' doubleton (xx or Jx), they bid the suit below it (ignoring No Trumps and Hearts).
  • With 3433 Shape, they bid 3 instead of 2.
  • With any 4432 shape where the doubleton is not 'worthless', they bid 2NT rather than 2
This gives Responder a better idea how well the hand is fitting, and particularly how to proceed when they have less than 4-card Hearts themselves.

(Pages Affected:1n.php)
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. (Pages Affected:AskingInterference.php, Gamma.php, Beta.php)
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.

(Pages Affected:Beta.php)
Sigma (01-Aug-2007)
Sigma was created in August 2007 to cater for enquiries about trump solidity after a positive response to Alpha. Up till that point, Asker had had no way to check on trump solodity after a positive response. (Paradoxically, they could find out exactly what Teller had after an initial negative to the Alpha Ask.
(Pages Affected:Sigma.php, Alpha.php)

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