Common Sense

This article, written by Marinesa Letizia in the Bridge Bulletin and published November 1997, presents a common sense and logical defense alternative to those situations, where the 1 No Trump opening has been overcalled and there is interference.


ACBL Bridge Bulletin published November 1997

Modern bidding methods make it more and more difficult to cope with interference after you have opened or overcalled 1 no Trump. Since new conventions seem to be born every day, I suggest a set of guidelines to deal with the possible calls the opponents may make against 1 No Trump.

These guidelines should be followed no matter what defensive method opponents may have chosen to throw at you: D.O.N.T., Hello, Suction, Cappelletti, Jump Ball, etc. This counter-method should be used whether you open or overcall 1 No Trump.

Normal lebensohl is a cornerstone in these methods, so here is a quick review of the convention. When the opponents interfere naturally, the following applies:

1. Two-level bids, except over 2, are natural and non-forcing.
2. 2 No Trump forces 3. Then:
  a. Pass if you have less than game-forcing values and want to play 3.
  b. Bid a suit that you could not have bid at the two-level. The bid is to play and is not constructive.
  c. Bid a suit that you could have bid at the two-level. The bid invites game, usually in the suit you bid.
  d. Bid the opponent's suit. The bid is Stayman with a stopper, for No Trump, in the opponent's suit.
  e. Bid 3 No Trump. The bid shows the values for 3 No Trump with a stopper, for No Trump, in the opponent's suit.
3. Three-level bids are natural and forcing to game.
4. Cuebidding the opponent's suit directly - no 2 No Trump relay - is Stayman, as in 2.d. above, without a stopper in the opponent's suit.
5. 3 No Trump is to play but denies a stopper in the opponent's suit.

Defensive Guidelines

Now here are some general guidelines for defending against an opponent's interference after you open or overcall 1 No Trump.

1. When an opponent Doubles:
  a. If the Double is for penalty, all bids are natural. you can play at the two-level in any suit.
  b. If the Double has a meaning other than penalty, ignore it and play the system you play had the opponent passed. Over this type of Double, you play what is termed system on.
2. When the opponents interfere with a bid showing two specific suits:
  a. A Double is for penalty. It shows a desire to penalize at least one of the suits shown by the opponent and is forcing to 2 No Trump.
  b. A cuebid of the lower of the two suits shown indicates a weak Takeout for the other two suits. If you cuebid the higher of the opponent's suits, it shows a game-forcing Takeout for the other two suits. Example: 1 No Trump - 2 showing the Major suit. A 2 bid shows a weak Takeout with the Minor suits. A 2 bid shows a game-forcing hand with the Minor suits.
  c. 2 No Trump is still lebensohl. Opener is required to bid 3.
  d. Three-level bids are natural and forcing.
3 When an opponent bids 2, unless it shows two specific suits as above, ignore the bid. You don't have to worry about what it shows. Its meaning is not material to the meaning of whatever call you select:
  a. Double is Stayman.
  b. Other calls have the same meaning they would have had, had the 2 bid been a Pass. System On applies.
4. When an opponent bid 2, 2 or 2:
  a. If the bid has multiple meanings - this will apply mostly over 2 - Double is Stayman.
  b. Two-level bids are natural and non-forcing.
  c. 2 No Trump forces partner to bid 3. Lebensohl rules apply.
  d. Three-level bids are natural and forcing.
  e. If you play Texas Transfers, or other four-level transfers, they apply. This part of your normal system is on.
5. If an opponent interferes at the three-level, it is usually with a long suit. In that case, play Negative Doubles. A double over a three-level bid shows enough values for game and is a Takeout of the preempted suit.
6. Since 2 No Trump is used as Lebensohl, it is necessary to give up penalty doubles at the two-level. So double of a two-level bid shows a raise to 2 No Trump or better - more when you have a 4-card Major. Opener always treats the double as Stayman with at least values for 2 No Trump. Opener should have good trumps to pass the double for penalty.

It is important to remember that the only direct double that is penalty over two-or three-level interference is when the opponents show two specific suits.

If you and your partner adopt and follow the above guidelines, you should be able to cope with whatever methods the opponents throw at you. Regardless of the meaning, bizarre or not, of an opponent's call, you and your partner will bid in comfort because you know the meaning of your calls.



If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.