Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Amazon now has VKCB available as a paperback:

I believe that the foreign Amazon's (e.g., Amazon UK and Amazon Japan) also have this available, but the shipment might still be delayed.  Nor sure.

Also, Bridge World's website has it up for paperback, at a nice discount.

Monday, December 3, 2012


In August Boehm's "Boehm on Bridge" in the December Bridge Bulletin, he noted that irony is frequent in literature but rare in bridge. Strangely, irony in December of 2012 occurred in bridge literature.

In Mr. Boehm's article, he mentioned an auction where with AQ-AQJ5-KQ10942-8, you end up bidding 4NT as Roman Key Card Blackwood (hearts agreed) to find two key cards, but cannot find the grand opposite two Aces (which should make in context) because one of partner's key cards might be the heart king. Quoting Edgar Kaplan for "the trump king is not the same as an ace," he notes the irony that RKCB players would have to stop in the small slam while traditional Blackwood players could bid the grand.

The irony is that on December 2, I released through Master Point Press my new book, called Variable Key Card Blackwood. My new VKCB is a means of improving upon RKCB to, among other things, identify which key cards replier has, namely whether the holding is two aces or an ace and the trump king. In the auction that Mr. Boehm provides (1S-X-P-4H-P-?), doubler would bid 4S as Kickback VKCB. Partner would respond 4NT, showing two key cards. Doubler (with this specific hand) would then be able to bid 5C to ask whether partner has the trump Queen (already known) and, if not, which form of key cards he has. Replier would bid 5D to deny the trump Queen but show that his two key cards are both aces.

So, ironically, in the same month that we published Variable Key Card Blackwood, August Boehm spots this issue and bemoans the lack of a solution in RKCB, in an article about irony!

Variable Key Card Blackwood

The VKCB book is now available for order.  Note that the title to the book is now "Variable Key Card Blackwood" rather than "Variable Keycard Blackwood," which makes sense.

Variable Key Card Blackwood

Friday, November 30, 2012

Variable Keycard Blackwood

I am pleased to announce that I will be publishing a new book, called Variable Keycard Blackwood, through Master Point Press, to be released any day now.  Check at for the ebook version (which is usually available first) to arrive.

From the back cover:

Beyond Roman Key Card Blackwood!
Easley Blackwood introduced and developed the Blackwood Convention. Eddie Kantar then expanded the Blue Team’s Roman Blackwood into the Roman Key Card Blackwood that has dominated expert circles for the past half century. Variable Key Card Blackwood may be the next logical step. VKCB allows partnerships to address many problems that neither Blackwood nor Roman Key Card Blackwood solves, while keeping the auction low enough to avoid bad slams. And, better yet, it is relatively easy to use.
Suppose you have enough power for slam but only the J732 in trumps, in support of partner’s five-card suit. You also know that partner has only one of the top three honors. If the honor is the ace, the slam seems good. If it is the king, the slam is not so good. Using VKCB, partner can tell you which honor he has. What about holding 8732? Now you need partner specifically to have the ace and the jack. VKCB has a solution for that problem as well. In fact, you might also find out about a particular side king, all before committing to a slam and without any cuebidding. VKCB solves your problem without going past the safety of the five-level.
KEN REXFORD (Ohio) is a Master Point Press author known for his contributions to bidding theory. His first book, Cuebidding at Bridge, introduced the bridge world to a modern approach to Italian cuebidding. His most recent books for Master Point Press are Modified Italian Canapé System, New Frontiers for Strong Forcing Openings, Really Unusual Notrump (R.U.N.T.), and Overcalling Opponent’s 1NT.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Taking Advantage of a Forced Wrap-Around

Consider an auction:

Blah-blah-blah.  Spades agreed.

4NT would be RKCB, but partner bids 5C as Exclusion RKCB.

Notice that your answers are:

5D = 0/3
5H = 1/4
5S = 2 without the Queen
5NT = 2 with the Queen

Now, if this is your structure, you probably see that 5C as Exclusion RKCB forces slam when replier has "two plus the Queen." 

You also notice a problem.  If Replier has "1/4," there is insufficient space below 5S to ask for the Queen.  This might not be such a problem, as perhaps even "1 with the Queen" is not enough while "4" is enough for a grand (if 2+Q is enough for the small slam).

What about the 0/3 holding?  You have space for a Queen-ask, presumabl;y for grand slam purposes, in the 5H call.  But, you already know that any more questions are grand-slam oriented, if 2+Q is enough for slam.

It seems to me, then, that in this situation (and other similar situations) you can save space by wrapping around the answers.  You do not need (enough to matter) an answer showing yet another void, so why not put this wrap-around to better use?

One approach is this:

5D = 0, or 3 without the Queen (5H then asks for specific features as a grand probe)
5H = 1/4 (if 4, can bid on)
5S = 2 without
5NT = 2 with (asker can continue a grand probe if desired)
6C+ = 3 with the Queen, showing specific features (as if partner had bid 5NT himself)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bridge Bulletin Reviews

The November issue of the ACBL Bridge Bulletin has two nice reviews for my latest books, Overcalling Opponent's 1NT and Really Unusual Notrump (R.U.N.T."), reviewed by Paul Linxwiler.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Optional Suit Last Train

Discussions often inspire new ideas.  One just occurred today.

There are auctions where two suits are "in focus," one of which is a minor for slam purposes but the other a major for game purposes.  In that situation, "Last Train to Clarksville" can have a nuanced meaning.

Consider, for instance, an auction where we know that the out when slam is rejected is playing in a 5-2 major fit, but where a minor is agreed if we explore slam.  An example might be:


In that sequence, you could play that Responder bids 4H as "Last Train," with interest in a club slam but unwillingness to bypass 4S, the likely out spot if slam is rejected,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Automatic Answers -- Other Options

There is a concept in bridge where one partner auto-answers an assumed RKCB.  The classic example might be that 4H Texas followed by a 5-level bid is Exclusion RKCB, while 2H Jacoby followed by a 5-level bid is esponder ANSWERING an "implied" 4NT RKCB from Opener (an idea I have heard to be attributed to Meckwell).

A while ago, I proposed a method whereby immediate answers in some contexts might be agreed as showing or denying a critical side suit Queen.  In other words, imagine spades agreed, with clubs an obvious important suit.  In this sort of scheme, the person bidding 4NT might have the club Queen; if not, he immediate-answers as if partner bid 4NT, denying the Queen.

Well, another possibility is in the context of a splinter bid (or other shortness bid), where there is some ambuiguity as to whether the shortness is stiff or void.  In that situation, a plausible scheme would be for the person not knowing the answer to immediate-answer an assumed EXCLUSION 4NT if he lacks the Ace in the short suit -- a sort of Bluhmer RKCB Answer?

Consider a simple example (not that this would be the ideal place to use this -- it is merely an example).  You open 1S, and partner blasts 4H, which you play as a stiff or void, support, and 13-14 or so HCP.  Whatever.  Opener could bid 4NT with the heart Ace or could bid, instead, 5C/5D/5H/5S as EXCLUSION RKCB answers, denying the heart Ace.

This would alleviate the need for showing the void, in a sense, which saves space, and would allow Responder with the void to know that partner has the Ace in the void suit if he asks (which might have some impact on Slam Last Train bids or something like that).

The same thing could be done in reverse.  If you are the one who showed shortness, you could ask with the stiff but answer with the void.  For example, after a 1S opening, you splinter 4D.  Partner bids 4H as Last Train.  If you accept with a stiff, bid 4NT.  If you accept with a void, answer RKCB, promising the void.

This type of concept could be extended into other ideas, as well.  Suppose, for example, that you know of a 5-3 major fit, but YOU also know of a 4-4 minor fit, partner being unaware of that second fit.  Maybe 1S-2H, 3C-3S, cues, and then you are about to ask, having 3-5-1-4 shape.  You could use 4NT ask straight RKCB but 5-bids as RKCB answers (maybe 6KCB answers?), establishing thereby clubs as an alternative fit!

This last concept is very promising.  There are a lot of auctions where there is some ambiguity as to whether a call (like 6C in the example) is a choice call or a further inquiry.  This type of structure would solve that problem.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bridge Winners Blog

For those who do not know about the site, the bridgewinners site is quite good.  I also maintain a smaller blog on that site.

Also, the latest Lima Newsletter can be found at and includes the latest chapter of Gil's Epic Gae.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One Higher than Splinter, but Below Game

There are occasionally calls that are one level higher than necessary for a splinter and yet below game.

One example is the double jump reverse.  For example:





In all four sequences, two of Opener's second suit would be forcing.  Three of Opener's suit can operate as a splinter option.  Thus, four of the suit is one higher than the minimum call needed for a splinter but still below game.

A second example would be a double jump cuebid below game.

I mention this merely because I saw a lot of posts recently where people bid four of a suit as a splinter, perhaps thinking that four of the suit sounds like a splinter, whereas in the sequence three of the suit would also sound like a splinter.  When I mentioned this, some noted that three of the suit works and then opined as to what four of the suit should mean (void splinter? other?). 

Personally, I think that if three of the suit is a splinter, then four of the suit should be a Picture Splinter of some variety (very well defined), because the call usually consumes a lot of space that would otherwise be available to unwind a lot of information.  "Void Splinter" seems bad, if only because a void makes (1) slam more likely but (2) fine-tuning more important.  Consider that with a void you might have much less other stuff to merit the splinter, but then you might also have a lot more stuff than the minimum void splinter requires.  Accordingly, you have more need to unwind (it seems) with the void hands. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Strange Rusinow Benefit?

I just was reminded of a strange situation that may argue for Rusinow leads in a strange way. Granted, this almost never comes up, but it was interesting to me as a thinking experiment.

Suppose that you are on lead against 3NT with something like AJ9x in one suit and a side Ace.  Dummy is expected by you for some reason to likely have the strength (if any) in your AJ9x suit, and you feel like an aggressive lead.  So, you decide to give Dummy Qxx and to lead the surrounding-play Jack. 

You hope to catch Dummy with Q-x-x, partner with the King, and either partner or Declarer with the missing 10.  Great lead! (if it works)

But, what if Dummy has K-x-x(-x), partner the Queen, and Declarer the 10-x-x(-x)?

Now, put yourself in Declarer's seat.  If you are playing standard leads, the Jack looks like a card seeking partner's suit and certainly on its own.  Accordingly, Declarer will likely cover this, expecting to lose but also expecting his 10 to grow up quickly.  Ducking would be fatal.

What if, instead, you play Rusinow?  In that situation, the Jack looks like Jack from Q-J-9-x(-x).  Now, Declarer cannot pop the ing, as ta would be fatal.  Ducking, however, makes the suit a frozen suit.  So, if you lead the Jack, playing Rusinow, and catch this layout, the Jack probably holds.

On the next play in the suit, you can lead small, "hoping partner has the 10," and catch Declarer ducking again!  So, you scoop the suit.  Rusinow leads made this possible.

Of course, the counter is that non-Rusinow works better if you lead the Queen from A-Q-9-x, which is technically true.  And, that lead might be a sexy lead if you expect Dummy to have the King and partner the Jack.  But, (1) reading partner for the Jack, and more importantly Declarer for not having the Jack, is more difficult (making the lead less attractive), and (2) the A-Q-9-x lead only gains on the tricky play whereas A-J-9-x wins naturally (and hence roughly twice as often).  Thus, the Rusinow protection seems more effective in the long run. 

What about the parallel of the lead of the Jack from K-J-9-x?  Here, you are playing for partner and Dummy to each have one top honor, Ace or Queen.  In either situation, there is no trickery.  However, there might be some trickery for partner.  If he cannot see the 10, he may decide that you have it if you are playing standard leads and if the Queen covers the Jack, which might induce a switch.  If Rusinow, he will see the Queen on Dummy or in his hand and may be able to work this situation out contextually.

Notice how Journalist leads ("Jack denies") really messes up both scenarios terribly and is perhaps the worst method, for opening-lead surrounding play reasons.

Monday, June 25, 2012

MPP Ebooks Sale

Summer Sale: 25% off all eBook orders over $25*
From now until July 31st, we are treating our readers to a discount on their eBook purchases of $25 or more. Simply log into and add your purchases to your shopping cart. When you are ready to check out, use the coupon code Summer2012 to redeem your discount.
*Offer ends July 31st, 2012.
So, if you have been waiting for a great time to complete your entire library of Ken Rexford books (isn't everyone?), this is your chance! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Serious 3NT for Beginners

I am more and more convinced that the "Serious 3NT" convention needs to be re-introduced to the general public with some new catchy name, in some new and simpler form.  I am trying to come up with a term, though.  "Baby Blackwood" was a concept that ran for a while, and people seem to love "Gerber," which also makes you think of babies.  These terms seemed appealing for some reason.

The "Serious 3NT" version I am thinking of is simply a 3NT call showing extras (maybe defined as 17+ HCP), with this meaning that cuebids show less.  Something really basic.

Then, I need to call it something neat, so people will approach it more enthusiastically.  People seem to like the words "Jacoby," "Bergen," and "Stayman," but "Serious" sounds, well, serious.  Hard to understand, somehow.

I thought about "Rodwell 3NT," but Rodwell's name is scary, too.  Obviously, you cannot attribute the convention to someone else, so a different name is no good.

Maybe a funny word?  Like, "Stumble Bunny 3NT."  The idea being to avoid stumble bunny auctions?

Maybe I need to get that baby concept in there, like "Stumble Baby 3NT" or "Pampers 3NT?"

I am running short on ideas.

So, any suggestions for a catchy name?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Importance of System Context

A discussion on the Bridge Winners site ( was quite interesting to me.  The question was whether Opener should accept or decline a 4D splinter with a given hand.

The problems with this sort of question are legion.  First, the question did not even set parameters for the 4D splinter, as far as what it means.

More subtly, though, it is my position that a given call is defined not just by some sort of generalized agreement but also by the rest of the system structure, where alternative sequences could be considered.

For instance, take the auction 1H-P-4D.  Could Responder have xxxx-Jxxx-x-AKJx? 

My position would be that this holding is not possible if


would show that hand.  Redundancy is not allowed.

Similarly, consider


as having impact.

Of course, all of these sequence depend on what all of these bids mean in the system.  That is why really understanding system and theory is critical to understanding the meaning of an otherwise imprecisely-defined call.  Additionally, it is important to have partnership agreement as to these types of sequences, as otherwise you end up with a potential that partner does in fact have some hand he should not have (to you) because he does not recognize the redundancy, does not feel that one line to a point is preferred with some hand over another line, or similar inconsistencies to analysis.  In other words, maybe partner thinks that 1H-P-4D defines the two example auctions, whereas you think that 1H-P-4D is defined by the two example auctions.  Which defines which?  That seems like a tough analysis without discussion.

In this specific example, I actually define the Splinter, but I do so in a way as to consider the alternatives, meaning that the Splinter shows primes (Aces and internal lower honors only), wuch that the delayed auction shows some tertiary cards (Quacks, unattached Kings, etc.).  Hence, my definition would exclude the xxxx-Jxxx-x-AKJx possibility.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gil's Epic Game

I have been in the process of putting together a story that some might find amusing.  I have been "publishing" the story as a monthly running series in our local bridge club newsletter, which can be found in the "Library" at  The idea is to follow an eccentric bridge player ("Gil") at a tournament.  Deals discussed.  But, also a delving into the eccentricites of the bridge world.  Thought some might enjoy this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Different "Jacoby 2NT" Use?

After some thought following the usual BBF discussions, it dawned upon me that perhaps a better use for the "Jacoby 2NT" call is possible and worth considering.

The typical limitation upon Jac2NT for those who use good cuebidding methods seems to be a fairly balanced hand, ideally with primes.  This makes some sense, except that the equally modern trend for a 2C 2/1 as "real clubs or fit" or "real clubs, fit, or balanced" seems to cater equally well to these hands.  If you have a fairly balanced hand with primes, starting with 2C seems to work perfectly fine.  So, why Jac2NT at all?

In thinking through this issue, I realized that there are certain hand types that end up being "problems" when 2/1 auctions develop.  The "problem" occurs when we have a reduced likelihood of trumps being set at the two-level, usually caused because either Responder bids a 2/1 in the suit immediately below Opener's major (such that Opener cannot possibly make another call below his major) or, when Opener starts 1H, Responder is short in spades, such that Opener rebidding 2S is likely. 

For example, suppose partner opens 1S and you have 3-5-3-2 pattern.  If you respond 2H, the auction goes ballistic and spades cannot be agreed at the two-level.  With that specific pattern, I might opt to bid 2C, myself, as then I can switch tactics if Opener rebids 2H but otherwise usually can agree spades at the two-level.

But, consider a 1H opening.  If Responder has 1-3-5-4, for example, the auction is not likely to end up with hearts agreed at the two-level, both because Responder probably should bid 2D, which makes it impossible, and because even if a 2C response is selected Opener likely rebids 2S. 

Cuebidding sequences that start at the three-level are much less defined.  The solution might be to force certain patterns into two-level cuebidding by having 2NT be a GF raise with 3+ support and a trouble pattern, rather than Jacoby 2NT.

For instance:

1H-P-2NT = Hearts agreed.  Responder has a heart fit (3+) with long diamonds and/or short spades.
1S-P-2NT = Spades agreed.  Responder has a spade fit (3+) with long hearts and/or short clubs.

Re-defining 2NT along these lines then calls for different rules for the continuing auction, obviously.  One might have Opener usually bid a relay 3C to unwind?  For example:


3D = long diamonds, balanced (2353, 3352, 2452)
3H = long diamonds, short spade (1354, 1453, 1552, 0454, etc.)
3S = short spade, with clubs (same as 3H, but with club length)
3NT = short spade, 1444-ish
4C+ = I have not worked this out that far -- what do you want from me?

Some similar type of unwind could be used when the opening is in spades.  In either situation, however, Opener mjight be able to break the relay, probably to show some very specific type of equally difficult hand contextually.

I have not worked out all of the possible sequences, as this is simply a brainstorming.  But, from the experience of actual bidding, I know that (1) Jacoby 2NT as balanced with primes is not that important any more, but (2) some hand types for Responder cause predictable problems that might be averted with the 2NT call re-defined.  Hence, this new approach might be worth considering and developing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lead Preference Indicators?

An auction that I have seen rather frequently as calling for a lead-direction indicator is on that I describe in my "Really Unusual Notrump (R.U.N.T.)" book.  An example:

1C-P-1H-1NT*-P-? (*Sandwich)

In RUNT, I recommend 2C as agreeing diamond to declare but preferring a spade lead, 2H as to declare spades but wanting a diamond lead, 2D or 2S netural but leaning to lead that suit.  That helps when Advancer has, for example, Kx or Ax in one suit but 3-4 small in the other.

This works wonders if the opponents end up playing hearts, where the person on lead has the information now as to which suit to lead.  This then made me think whether this same type of messaging might be used to enable a person showing two suits to indicate his lead preference.

Suppose, for example, this auction:


Sandwich is less important as a range describing tool, as we know that Dealer has a weak hand.  One could, of course, define X and NT as different packages of suits.  For instance, 1NT might show the minors notwithstanding the 1C opening.  But, perhaps both partners can discuss lead preference, to cater to a final contract of either clubs or hearts as the strain, and hence either person on lead.  (Maybe there are other circumstances where this discussion makes sense; the purpose here is to discuss theory and tools, not judgment.)

Suppose, then, that the 1NT call showed lead preference in the lower suit, X lead preference in the higher suit.  You might then have these possible auctions:


Overcaller prefers a diamond lead against a club contract; Advancer wants a spade lead against a heart contract but agrees diamonds as our fit.  Had Advancer bid 2D instead, he is neutral or prefers diamonds for lead also.


Overcaller prefers a diamond lead against a club contract; Advancer prefers a diamond lead against a heart contract but wants to declare spades.  Had Advancer bid 2S instead, he prefers a spade lead against a heart contract or is neutral.


Doubler prefers a spade lead against a club contract; Advancer preferes a spade lead as well but wants to declare diamonds; had he bid 2D he would be neutral as to lead or prefer a diamond lead.

You get the point.

What inspired all of this was a sick hand from last night.  The opponents bid 1C-P-1D, to me.  With AQxx in spades and Jxxxx in hearts, I really wanted a spade lead.  The end result of the auction was that my RHO ended up declaring 3NT, where I was on lead.  My lead was a heart to partner's Ace, partner got in, and a spade return would hold the opponents to 10 tricks; they ended up with 11 when partner continued hearts.  Our defense should have resulted in three tricks for the defense, but that is not the point.  It would have been fantastic to have the auction develop where I knew to lead the heart and did not just guess, and where partner knew to switch to the spade without any guessing as well.  This could have happened by me offering both majors by way of a call that indicated preference for a spade lead and partner picking hearts with preference for a heart lead (or neutral).

Granted, this scheme would cause potential problems when acting as overcaller, because you might have equal holdings in the two suits.  But, the solution there is to have one of the two calls show preference for a specific suit or neutral.  One would be clear.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Assumed Call Bidding?

Just a thought experiment...

There is a fairly well-known technique where in certain sequences one partner might make calls that respond to an implied RKCB 4NT call that is not actually made.  For instance, you might agree to play that a transfer followed by a 5-level call is an immediate answer to an implied but not made 4NT asking bid from partner.  I.e., 1NT-2D, 2H-5C as three key cards, hearts agreed.  This auction resembles 1NT-2D, 2H-something, 4NT-5C.  But, the 4NT call is not actually made.  Instead, Responder in a sense assumes an implied 4NT call for his calls.

Another similar example is a call after a quantitative 4NT, where the meaning of the 4NT call shifts from quantitative to RKCB, in a sense.  For example, 1NT-2D, 2H-4NT, 5D.  5D as an RKCB response to 4NT is assuming a change to the meaning of 4NT from quantitative to RKCB.  That auction resembles 1NT-2D, 2H-4NT, 4H-4NT, 5C.  An insufficient bid, perhaps, but the point works.

I wonder to what degree assumed bidding might be played in other auctions. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inverted Use of Two-Under?

An auction discussed a while ago between friends just occurred to me as offering an interesting use of two-under bidding.

Opener started with One Spade.  Responder bid a forcing 1NT, and then Opener's RHO intervened with a nuisance Three Clubs.  Opener then bid Three Hearts, to Responder.


4C was agreed to be the "expert call" of choice-of-games, possibly with 2S/3H.  That meaning, however, deprives the partnership of a cue-raise to suggest slam interest.  One alternative would be for 4C to be a heart flag and slammish, 4D a spade flag and slammish.  But, that forfeits the choice option.

Two-under bidding allows both meaning to be employed.

Responder would bid 4C as "one or both majors," meaning (1) a cimple raise to 4H, (2) a simple raise to 4S, or (3) a choice hand.  Opener indicates choice, bidding 4D with spade choice.  After choice is indicated, Responder bids 4H or 4S.  If he needed choice indicated, he bids the major Opener selected.  If he did not, he bids whatever major he intended all along.

With slam interest, instead, Responder can bid the major directly.  Hence, an immediate 4H or 4S would be a slam move in the indicated major.

4D would be natural.  Or, 4D could be a "choice, and slammish" call.


4D(spade preference)-(P)-4H = just hearts

4D(spade preference)-(P)-4S = just spades or needed choice made

4H(heart preference)-(P)-P = just hearts or needed choice made

4H(heart preference)-(P)-4S = just spades

3H-(P)-4H = heart fit, slammish

3H-(P)-4S = spade fit, slammish

3H-(P)-4D = diamonds (option 1) or choice-and-slammish (option 2), depending on partnership agreement

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Four Clubs General Slam Invite

A discussion with Ken Eichenbaum inspired a thought for better structuring Opener's rebids after he opens three of a major (in first or second seat) and hears partner bid 4C as a general slam invite.  The structure:


4D = Honor cue (Ace or King) in diamonds.  Might have shortness also.  Responder can bid four of the other major to ask for shortness, if any exists.  Opener can show the shortness after a signoff anyway if he has "extras."

4OM = Honor cue.  4NT asks for shortness, if any.  Persisting after signoff again shows shortness and extras.

4NT = Honor cue in clubs, shortness in other major.

5C = Honor cue in clubs.

5D = Honor cue in clubs, shortness in diamonds.

If Opener has no honor cues (repeats major), Responder can ask for shortness by bidding +1 (4NT after 4S, or 4S after 4H).


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Modern Approach to Two-Over-One

Congrats to Ken Eichenbaum for his release through Master Point Press of his new ebook, A Modern Approach to Two-Over-One.  The description follows:

For those of you who wish to expand your horizons, this book may be the answer you have been looking for.

A Modern Approach to Two-Over-One was written for the player who already uses a basic two-over-one approach, but is looking for more comprehensive methods to “glue” his system together. Special modern treatments and conventions are introduced to help cover the outer edges of the bell curve, allowing you to intelligently explore those “hard to reach” places.
We can no longer live in the past with limited tools. If you want to be competitive in this modern age of bidding, get out of the stone age and enter the twenty-first century!

If you are interested, this ebook (and a sample) can be found at

I imagine that a paperback version will probably also be released.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What the?

Two things confound me.  One is simple; the other complex.  Just venting, though.

The first.  Why on earth do some people get confused about this auction?  If you open 2NT, you play some type of Stayman and transfers, maybe more.  But, for some reason a lot of people get confused when the auction is 2C...2NT or 2C...Kokish...2NT and are not sure.  What the?

The other is the implied cue.  I bid a suit.  You bid a suit.  I rebid my suit.  You bid the third suit.  I bid the fourth suit at the four-level.  I like your second suit a lot. 

Or, you transfer and bid 3NT.  I bid a new suit at the four level.  I have a great hand for your suit.

However, sometimes some people are mystified.  What the?

There are tons more.  These two just seem to have come up a lot.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Opener's Checkback?

An auction from BBF that I misunderstood initially made me think in a way that was relevant only in the auction I saw while in my own world.


Obviously, this auction in a natural auction world shows 4144, 4054, or maybe 4153 shape.  However, there might be some cause for using this 2C rebid for a different cause, opting to pass 1NT with the prior patterns.  I mention this not because I think the merits are there but because the sequence intrigues me theoretically.

One plausible alternative meaning is a hand with a diamond rebid but three hearts, maybe 4351 or 4360, to enable finding the 5-3 heart fit that might exist.  Another possibility is to have 2C handle hands where a 3D jump might make sense, to avoid the three-level unless this is necessary.  These could also be somewhat combined, where for instance Responder is free to introduce hearts (or Opener to rebid hearts) when Opener bids 2C, as this wouyld be forcing.  Hence, you could have:

2C-P-2H as a fifth heart and acceptance values or

2H  as a third heart and maximum values for the sequence.

This might be all the more relevant if the partnership uses Mini-Roman (ugh!), where the 4-1-4-4 or 4-0-5-4 option is already off the table.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another 1NT Overcalling Structure with Two-Under

In my book, Overcalling pponent's 1NT, I made a lot of suggestions for structure types for overcalling 1NT using 2C as "one or both majors."  The suggestions were not meant to be exhaustive.  Another idea occurred to me today that some might like.


2C = Both majors (longer or equal hearts), or just hearts, or just spades and a minor
2D = "Soft" Reverse Flannery (4H/5S, 4H/6S, or just 6+ spades)
2H = Hearts and a minor
2S = 4S, longer minor

Another version, which is not strictly the same:


2C = "Soft" Flannery (4S/5H, 4S/6H, or just 6+ hearts, or SEE BELOW)
2D = "Soft" Reverse Flannery (4H/5S, 4H/6S, or just 6+ spades)
2H = Hearts and a minor
2S = Spades and a minor

In this version, 2C followed by 2S would be "one or both minors" with values.  With a weak hand, bid 2NT or three of the minor immediately.  If partner prefers spades (bids 2D), Overcaller must bid 2NT, 3C, or 3D instead of 2S with the minor(s) hand.  The purpose of this structure is to allow Overcaller to make another descriptive call with the values hands and both majors.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Uses for Two Under Bidding

Those of you who have picked up a copy of my new book, Overcalling Opponent's 1NT, will undoubtedly realize that the main focus is on overcalling the opponents' 1NT openings but that I dedicate some time to discussing other uses for the theory, in other unrelated sequences.  As I continue to think through permutations, new ideas come up.  I thought I would share.

How about after a 1NT overcall by the opponents?  Your partner, say, opens One Club, with a strong 1NT overcall.  A lot of us play Lair here, where 2C is sort of a replacement for a negative double.  Well, what about using the two-under approach?  In the simplified version, 2C would show one or both majors with a weak hand, typically a long one-suited major (either one) or a weak hand with both majors (5-5 at least).  Other calls, like 2D, 2H, and 2S, would then show the same pattern with extras.  This approach would be particularly good in dealing with a R.U.N.T. 1NT overcall for those who also picked up my new book, Really Unusual Notrump (R.U.N.T.).  Alternatively, a fit-showing style could be used, where 2C shows one or both majors, but if one major then with a fit for Opener's minor.  Hence, for instance, after 1C, you would bid 2C with either major and clubs (or both majors).

What about tweaking Drury?  After two passes, partner opens 1H.  You hold 3H/4S with limit values and are concerned about missing a 4-4 spade fit.  If Opener responds to your Drury call by acting as if he is responding to a one or both majors call, he bids 2D with spade preference (four spades) or 2H with heart preference (not four hearts).  If he does that, then your Drury bid could be bid with a heart fit ("just hearts"), with 4S/3H ("both majors"), or with four spades and a longer minor ("just spades").  In the latter event, if partner bids 2D, you bid 2S.  If he bids 2H, you also bid 2S and partner can decide what to do.  You would need an unwind for when Opener has extras, of course,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Controls, or Shape? Why not both!

I am of the opinion that cuebidding beats pattern bidding in the long run.  But, some either disagree or simply have their own preference.  It seemed to me that a partnership could opt to use either one, perhaps situation-dependent, by employing a trigger.

Consider, for instance, a classic 2/1 GF auction:


If spades are agreed for your partnership at this point, then some will use my methods and cuebid from this point forward, whereas others will prefer to have Opener complete his pattern and then cuebid from there.  What if, instead, the first step is a trigger?

For those who lean cuebidding but might want to allow a pattern-bidding over-ride, consider this structure:

2NT = complete pattern
3C = club cue
3D = diamond cue, no club cue available

In other words, 2NT triggers pattern bidding, whereas any other call would be cuebidding immediately.  2NT could either ask (please complete your pattern, Responder) or relay (please bid 3C so that I can show my pattern), perhaps with allowance of a relay-override in the latter situation.  You might even have a 2NT asking bid with its own one-step override (after 2NT asking for pattern, Responder bids 3C to override and demand cues whereas other calls show pattern).

If the tendency is instead pro-pattern, 2NT by Opener could override and demand cuebidding (again with a possible override if you want), whereas other calls would be pattern calls.

Monday, February 6, 2012

RUNT now available in paperback!

You can find the Really Unusual Notrump (R.U.N.T.) as a paperback now at Amazon:

Also, Amazon is running a sale (plus free shipping) on Overcalling Opponent's 1NT, which makes it even cheaper than the ebook.

Friday, January 27, 2012

R.U.N.T. -- The Authoritative Text!

I am pleased to announce the release of Really Unusual Notruimp (R.U.N.T.) as an ebook through Master Point Press.  It can be found at  (The paperback version will be coming shortly, through Amazon and other sources.) 

For those of you who know me, I have been using R.U.N.T. for about 20 years, and it is one of my favorite tools, mostly because it comes up constantly, meaning sometimes 6-8 times in a session.  More than just about any other call imaginable.

You might not know that the computer bridge program Jack also plays R.U.N.T.!  The link at ebooksbridge has a "sample" and a table of contents.  R.U.N.T. is not for the conservative among us -- it is clearly for the wild people.  But, there are many of us.  I hope you enjoy this.


The Laws of Duplicate Bridge define a psychic call as "A deliberate and gross misstatement of honor strength or suit length."

A call is NOT a psychic if the definition given for the call is such that the person making the bid has not deliberately misstated strength or length.  There are many situation where a psychic would be called for, but the partnership can avoid the psychic occurring by defining the bid to include the "psychic meaning."  Why do this, though?

Consider a simple example.  White on red, partner opens Three Clubs.  After a pass, you bid 3NT, played as non-forcing and showing either a strong hand that thinks 9 tricks possible or a weak hand with club support.  Opener is expected to pass throughout.  You do this for two reasons.

First, if the hand belongs to the opponents at the game level, 3NT undoubled down 9 (-450) might beat 5CX-3 (-500), which is a matchpoints gain.  So, 3NT undoubled is a good result.  Plus, you cause the opponents to have a problem.

Second, if you really wanted to play 3NT, you might induce a mistake by an opponent if the remaining points are stacked.  For instance, if you have 26 HCP combined, one opponent might have all of the remaining 14 HCP and bid, to his great discomfort.

By having a two-way meaning, each of which merits 3NT as a call, you protect both.  Two-way calls in such situations avoid unnecessary disclosure of values.

Similarly, consider a 2S response to a weak 2H opening.  If this is "spades, or hearts" and non-forcing, you cause problems when your intent is preemptive, but you also protect the times when you wanted to escape to 2S, as the opponents must bid against oth possibilities.

So, is this a "psychic control?"  I don't understand that term, frankly.  If a call is used to "show a psychic," then the "psychic" was not a "psychic" after all.  That is, unless the definition of the call did not include the "psychic meaning."  IMO, a "psychic control" is not really what it sound like.  Rather, it is a means of conventionally agreeing a meaning that is not otherwise allowed (which would be a GCC problem and not a psychic problem) or is a means of allowing non-disclosure of the true meaning, which is really a disclosure problem (and/or a failure to alert).


Monday, January 23, 2012

False Heart Preference?

If you have been reading my new book, an idea might have popped into your mind.  If Overcalled bids Two CLubs as Crunched Cappelletti and happens to hold hearts and diamonds, and if Responder shows spade preference by bidding Two Diamonds, Overcaller might be tempted to pass Two Diamonds, at least in some situations (depending on vulnerability, seat, state of the match, scoring form, etc.).

This is something that you might want to discuss with partner.  If this is a possibility, then Advancer in some circumstances might want to give a false heart preference.  Consider, for instance, Advancer looking at a weak hand with 5-3-0-5 pattern.  Having heard Two Clubs, Advancer would normally bid Two Diamonds for spade preference, planning on playing in the major, whichever Overcaller-Partner has.  However, if Overcaller is allowed to make a "judgment pass" of Two Diamonds with both reds, then Advancer might opt to use a "judgment preference" himself.  With 5-3-0-5 shape, Advancer expects a huge likelihood that partner has the red suits.  He might be wrong, but the odds are high.  Advancer who playts with an Overcaller-Partner who likes the "judgment pass" could protect by showing "false heart preference."  If Overcaller-Partner has the expected red-suit two-suiter, this gets us to the right contract quickly.  If, however, Overcaller-Partner actually holds spades, or hearts and clubs, the contract will be acceptable but not ideal.

This might be cause for not allowing any "judgment" decisions.  But, as a person who once passed a Roman Two Clubs opening with 6-2-2-3 shape (it worked, as Two Clubs was the only makeable contract), I am also a realist.  So, I thought it a good idea to predict this "abuse" and to counter with the "abuse counter" of the "false heart preference."

By the way -- thanks to all who have already sent kind words about my book.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Now in Stock -- Overcalling Opponent's 1NT in Paperback

My new book is now in stock at Amazon as a paperback edition, if you are interested.  I am pleased to see that it is already in the top 100 bridge books for current "sales rank!"  The price at Amazon is $11.95, with free shipping available.

You can also find it at a discount at Barnes and Noble for $8.60 right now:, but this might not include the free shipping.

If you get the book and enjoy it, please consider writing a review on these sites.  If you hate the book, get around to a review later!  ;-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Overcalling Opponent's 1NT

I have a new book coming out through Master Point Press in the next few days. Overcalling Opponent's 1NT. The topic generally is overcalling 1NT openings, but I use the theory to also develop applications for other auctions.

The methods arise from my idea of using two-under as one or both majors (or as one or both minors in other auctions). Using these methods, for instance, you can do better (in my opinion) than the Woolsey defense, while fitting into the ACBL General Conventions Chart, a claim that the Woolsey defense cannot meet.

In Woolsey, for instance, you can handle (1) both majors with a probe as to which is better, (2) one-suited major, (3) major-minor, or (4) the double as typically major-minor canape longer in minor. But, the one-suited major is through 2D, which is not GCC compliant.

Using one of my proposed methods, you can have Overcaller handle (1) both majors with Overcaller defining which he prefers, (2) one-suited major without GCC violation, (3) major-minor, or (4) spades with a longer minor, all without violating the GCC and with retention of the double as penalty, if you want. If you then add in an artificial meaning for the double, you can handle much more than the Woolsey defense could handle, again all GCC legal.

If you add in the Multi used in Woolsey and in Multi-Landy (which I also out perform), you can handle (1) both majors, (2) major-minor, (3) major-MINOR canape, and (4) one major, all without giving up the penalty double! Of course, the penalty double could be added onto that to expand options even further.

You also would have other interesting options, like defining immediately which minor you have, defining immediately (at the two-level) whether you have a values overcall or a garbage overcall, and the like.

I hope you enjoy. I have pasted in the Table of Contents to give you a feel for what the book will be about:

Escaping 1NT Doubled