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Simplified Club Manual



Essential Elements of the Simplified Club System


A.  Point Count Basics

1.     When counting points bidding your own suit, aces count four, kings count three, queens count two and jacks count one.  You give yourself one point for each card above four in a reasonable quality suit.  Thus, a hand with 5-3-3-2 distribution would get one distribution point, as would a hand with 5-4-3-1 distribution.  If you want a “reasonable quality standard,” use the four point rule.  A reasonable quality suit has four or more high card points, or three points with extra spot cards, say a ten and nine or 9-8-7.

2.     When counting points bidding in support of your partner’s suit, high cards count the same as when bidding your own suit, but you count one point for a doubleton, three points for a singleton and five points for a void. However, if you have fewer than four cards in your partner's suit, you should count one point for a doubleton, two points for a singleton and three points for a void.

3.     In general, the partnership needs 24 points to bid to the three level, 26 points to bid to the four level, 28 points to bid to the five level, 32 points to bid a small slam and 36 points to bid a grand slam.

4.     Keep in mind that point counts at best give an imperfect valuation of the strength of a hand.  For example, it is well known that a hand with four card support of a five card suit will play much better than a hand with four card support of a four card suit, and that a hand with a double fit plays better than one with a single fit.  However, the point count method described here does not give those hands extra value.  We could try to refine the point count method by adding some more rules, but the additional complexity would probably not be worth the incremental accuracy. 


B.  Opening Bid Sequences

1.     All strong hands (16+ high card points or 17+ counting distribution) are opened one club.

a.     A one diamond response shows 0-6 points.  Opener will make a jump bid with 21+ points.  All other bids by opener can be passed, and the hand should be passed as soon as a 7+ fit is found unless the fit adds enough distribution points to make game likely.

b.     All other bids by responder show 7+ points.  The partnership first finds a suit or picks no trump, and then a cue bid by either bidder shows 2+ points above a minimum bid and forces to game.  If responder bids 1NT, opener uses the NT conventions of Paragraph 2 to explore a fit and game, with the “rescue” bids showing a minimum hand with a five plus card suit and 2NT also showing a minimum hand.  All other bids over a 1NT response show a strong interest in game, i.e. 18+ high card points or 19+ counting distribution.

c.     If opener bids 1NT over a one diamond response, the NT bidding sequences in Paragraph 2 are used with responder’s point counts reduced by four.  If opener bids 1NT over a major suit response, the Paragraph 2 sequences are used with the “rescue” bids showing 7-8 points and a five plus card suit (or six plus if a rebid of the major).

2.     One no trump promises balanced distribution (4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, or 5-3-3-2 with a 5 card minor) and 12-15 points.

a.     A response of two diamonds, two hearts, two spades or three clubs is a shut out “rescue” bid almost always made with a 6+ card suit.  Opener will always pass these bids.

b.     With 13+ points and a 5 card major, responder bids three of the major.  Opener bids 3 NT with two card support and four of the major with 3+ card support.

c.     With 13+ points and a 6+ card suit, responder bids game directly (unless strong enough to explore slam).

d.     With 13+ points and balanced distribution, responder bids 3 NT, except that, with a 4 card major, responder can first use Stayman to try for a major suit fit.

e.     With all other 13+ point hands, responder bids 2 clubs Stayman.  Opener’s re-bids are standard Stayman with 2 NT showing both majors.

f.     With 11-12 points and balanced distribution, responder bids 2NT.  Opener raises to game with a maximum.

3.     One of a major promises a 5+ card suit and 13-16 points; a one diamond bid promises 14-16 points and a 5+ card suit or 4-4-4-1 distribution.

a.     With 3+ card support, responder raises with 11+ points (but over one diamond, should bid a 5+ card major if he has one) and passes with 10 or less.  If either partner cue bids after a raise, game is forced.  Note that over 1 diamond-2 diamonds, a new suit bid is natural, not a cue bid, and promises 4-4-4-1 distribution.  Opener shows a 5+ diamond suit and extra strength with the suitless cue bid of 2NT.

b.     Without support and 0-7 points, responder passes.

c.     With 8-10 points and two card support, responder passes.  With a singleton or void in opener’s suit, responder bids a five card suit or no trump at the one level. [Opener may pass with a minimum, will raise with support and a maximum to cover (d).]

d.     With 11-12 points and less than three card support, responder bids a 5+ card suit, at the two level if necessary, or 1NT with a semi-balanced hand.  If opener raises responder’s one level bid, showing a maximum and support, responder should bid game.  Responder’s two level bid is a one round force.  With a maximum, opener will make a forcing bid (a new suit or a jump) over responder’s two level bid to drive to game.

e.     With 13+ points and less than three card support, responder bids a 5+ card suit at the two level or 2NT.  If that is a jump bid, game is forced, and the only issue is the best suit (see Section C below).  If it is not, responder is responsible for keeping the bidding open with forcing bids (new suits, jumps, cue bids) until game is reached.

4.     Two clubs opening promises 14-16 points and a 5+ card club suit or 4-4-4-1 with a singleton diamond.

a.     Responder will bid a 5+ card suit at the two level with 11+ points, which can be shaved to 10 or even 9 points with a good suit and 2 or fewer clubs.  Opener will raise with 3+ card support, bid a second (4 card) suit at the two level, bid 2NT with a semi-balanced hand, re-bid clubs with a 6+ card suit or bid a second (4 card) suit at the three level, in that order of preference.

b.     Responder will bid 2NT with a semi-balanced hand and 11+ points.  Opener will bid his lowest 4 card suit, rebid clubs with 6+ cards, or bid 3NT.

c.     With 4+ clubs and no other 5+ card suit, responder will raise with 11+ points, pass with 10 or fewer.  Opener will bid a four card major if he has one.  If not, he will bid 4 clubs with a minimum (14 or a poor 15 points) and five clubs with a maximum.


C.  Finding a Fit

1.     General rules

   a.  The bid of a new suit (prior to a fit being found) promises 4+ cards and is a one round force (i.e. partner must bid at least one more time).

   b.  A rebid of a previously bid suit shows one more card than previously shown.

   c.  With balanced or semi-balanced (that is, balanced except for shortness in partner’s suit) distribution and no unbid 5+ card minor or 4+ card major or rebiddable suit, bid NT.  (Also bid NT if balanced or semi-balanced at the three level and bidding an unbid suit or rebidding a long suit would take you to the four level.)

2.     If you know there is an 8+ card fit, your first duty is to show it by:

   a.  Passing if you know there are insufficient points for game and partner’s bid was not forcing.

   b.  Making a single raise if (i) partner’s bid was forcing and you have a minimum hand for your prior bids or (ii) partner’s bid was not forcing and you know there are enough points for game or you have 2+ more points than previously shown.

   c.  Jump raise if partner’s bid was forcing and you have 2+ more points than previously shown.

   d.  BUT never bid over game unless you are making a slam try (usually by using Blackwood or Gerber)

3.     If you are still searching for a fit and you know the partnership has enough points for game:

   a.  In general, it is your obligation to make a forcing bid, namely a bid of a previously unbid suit or a jump bid in a previously bid suit, as required to keep partner from passing below game.

   b.  First Exception:  If you have already shown enough points so that partner knows there are enough points for game, you no longer need to make forcing bids.

   c.  Second Exception:  If a jump bid would take you over 3NT and you have a semi-balanced hand, make it a single raise instead.

   d.  Third exception:  If a new suit bid would take you over 3NT and you are semi-balanced, bid 3NT instead.  (In the alternative, if you have available a less preferred new suit bid available at the 3 level, make that.)

4.     If you are still searching for a fit and you do not know there are enough points for game:

   a.  If you know there are not enough points for game or if you think the partnership is already at too high a level, make a weak bid:

     i.     First choice, pass if not forced and a 7+ card fit

     ii.    Second Choice, rebid your rebiddable suit at the current level

     iii.    Third Choice, if forced, rebid your rebiddable suit up one level (not a jump)

     iv.   Fourth Choice, support one of partner’s suits at the current level with a 7+ card fit.

     v.    Fifth choice, if none of the above are available, bid the cheapest available NT

     vi    If partner bid NT and you are not forced, pass.  If forced, first choice is to rebid rebiddable suit, second choice is to raise NT.

     vii.  BUT never bid over game.

   b.  If you think game is possible:

 i.     If you are at the minimum end of your previously disclosed point range, make a weak bid as in 4.a. above (except pass).

 ii.    If you have 2+ undisclosed points, make your best bid according to the general rules in C.1. above.  Note:  if your best bid would be 2NT and would be the cheapest NT (always weak) bid 3NT instead.  Bids of the cheapest available no trump and pass are the two unambiguously weak bids.


D.  Optional Conventions

1.  Stayman Invitational:  When playing Stayman invitational, with 11-12 points and a five card major, responder can bid Stayman over a one no trump opening bid and then bid his major. Responder’s 2NT bid over NT bidderr’s 2 spade response to Stayman shows a 5 card heart suit.  NT bidder picks the final contract.   Examples: 1NT - 2C - 2H - 3H (NT bidder raises to game with a max).    1NT - 2C - 2D - 2S (with 2 spades, NT bidder bids 2NT with a minimum, 3NT with a max; with 3 spades, pass with a minimum, raise to game with a max).

2.  Four Diamonds Asking:  Whenever 4C would be Gerber, a bid of 4D asks partner to show points.  A response of 4H shows a minimum hand, and a response of 4S shows a maximum.  Over a 4H response, a bid of 4NT is a shut out.  Over a 4S response, a bid of 4NT is Blackwood.

3.  Fit Showing Jump Shift:  Over an opening bid of one in a major, a jump bid to the three level of a lower ranking suit shows a five plus card reasonable quality suit, at least three card support of the major, and at least 11 points. With no fit for responder's suit, opener will bid 3 of the major with a minimum and 4 of the major with a maximum. With a fit and at least 14 points (opener will bid 3 of the major with just 13 points) opener will (a) raise responder's suit to four with strong (at least 4 cards and a few high card points) support or (b) cue bid. Responder picks the final contract.