In May of the year 1993, Mr. Lionel Wright wrote Lionel In Action in the International Popular Bridge Monthly magazine, Volume 19, No. 5. Mr. Lionel Wright explained why the traditional penalty double of 1 No Trump is overrated.

Biographical Information

Mr. Lionel Wright was born in the year 1953 and died in the year 2003. He was born in England, but was raised in New Zealand, the country he represented in five world championships. At the turn of the century he returned to England.

In the 2001 Mind Sports Olympiad Mr. Lionel Wright played and won the Men's Pairs with partner Mr. Michael J. Courtney.


Lionel Conventional Method

The necessity for a new approach in a competitive defense method against an opening bid of No Trump by the opposing side seemed to Mr. Lionel Wright imperative. His reasoning for developing a new strategum is as follows:

1. It would be better to have an even split of the strength between the defenders than to have everything in one hand.
2. When they escape, most methods to penalise them are less than ideal, and can lead to awkward auctions.
3. The partnership may miss their 4-4 fits.

The idea behind the concept of Mr. Lionel Wright is that one should basically be competing primarily for the partscore against 1 No Trump, i.e. a shift of emphasis from active aggressiveness to frequent competition. This is the foundation of his conventional method of overcalling a No Trump opening by an opponent.

Note: it is unknown whether the conventional method applies only to the immediate seat or whether the conventional method may also be applied after two consecutive passes.

The high card point count is definitely not the motivation behind the concept although the working values should be in the main suits. The concept is based primarily on the distribution and shape of the holding and can be based on the Losing Trick Count method. The main disadvantage is the inability to penalize 1 No Trump with a strong balanced hand with less than four Spades.

Lional Conventional Overcalls

Opponent Lionel Meaning
1 NT The range of the No Trump should be announced.
Double Promises 11 plus high card points. Shows at least a distribution of 4-4 in Spades and a second, unspecified suit.
2 Promises 11 plus high card points. Shows at least a 4-4 distribution in Clubs and Hearts.
2 Promises 11 plus high card points. Shows at least a 4-4 distribution in Diamonds and Hearts.
2 A natural bid.
2 A natural bid.
2 NT Shows a distributional holding in both Minor suits.
3 A natural bid.
3 A natural bid.


The continuances for the advancer, or partner of the overcaller follow. In the bidding sequence:

South Lionel North Partner
1 NT Double Pass ?


Advancer Meaning
Pass: Promises 10 plus high card points and is penalty-oriented. The amount of values is dependent on the range of the No Trump employed by the opposing side.
2 : This is a non-forcing relay and asks the doubler to pass or bid his second suit.
2 : Non-forcing but generally indicating four or more Diamonds. The Lionel doubler can then bid 2 with Hearts and fewer than two Diamonds.
2 : A natural bid and non-forcing.
2 NT: This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and no singleton.
3 : This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and singleton in Clubs.
3 : This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and singleton in Diamonds.
3 : This is an invitational response showing a Spade raise and singleton in Hearts.
3 : This is a preemptive raise.

Minor Suit Overcall and Responses

South Lionel North Partner
1 NT 2 / Pass ?


Partner Meaning
Pass: To play.
2 : To play.
New suit: Any new suit is non-forcing and natural.
2 NT: This response is natural and invitational.
Raise: This response is natural and invitational.
3 : This response is natural and invitational.
Jump: This response is natural and invitational.

Note: For historical purposes the advantages of the Lionel convention compared to conventional defense methods in the 1950s and other methods are listed below.

1. This concept can be used against all 1 No Trump ranges in all positions, without changing the strength or meaning of any of the calls, i.e you do not have to check their Convention Card before deciding what to call.
2. The partnership can play 2 or 2 when the partnership has discovered a fit.
3. The partnership can identify their best fit quickly and more frequently.
4. The partnership can defend 1 No Trump doubled with split points, which is desirable.
5. It is more difficult for the opponents to double you when two specific suits are shown with one bid.
6. There are negative inferences available to a passed hand when 1 No Trump is passed out.
7. A last advantage is that the concept is simple to remember.



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.