Tracing the history of relay bids one comes across several notable names in bridge history. The first relay system was developed by Mr. Pierre Ghestem of France around the early 1950s. In the year 1972 Mr. David Leigh Cliff developed the relay system to the extent that it was accepted by many bridge players around the world.

This web page only contains information about the definition of the relay bid, not its multiple applications.


Parameters of the Concept

The relay system is a system based on the idea that one player should make one or a series of minimum bids, or relays, in order to acquire sufficient information about the holding of partner in order to better be positioned to place the final contract.

The relay is continued by a bid by the relayer, traditionally called the captain, of the normally cheapest suit over the disclosure bid of his partner, traditionally called the puppet.

The principle of relay bids is therefore relatively simple. One must remember, however, that the relay bid contains no information about the holding of the relay bidder. relaying in a certain suit. And the responses by partner can be manifold, artificial, and to a certain degree also complex.

Every bridge player uses a relay system. For example, assume that North opens with 1 No Trump:

North East South
1 NT Pass 2
The 2 Clubs response by South is:
1. the normally cheapest biddable suit over the opening bid of his partner.
2. completely artificial, and which communicates no information to partner nothing about the Club holding.
3. forcing partner to describe his holding further.
4. establishing South as the captain.
5. and therefore a relay bid.

Another example showing that the relay system does not necessarily demand bidding the cheapest suit possible, the purpose of which is to save bidding space, follows.

North   East   South   West
1 NT   Pass   2   Pass
2   Pass   4 NT    

The 4 No Trump bid of South is completely artificial, forces partner to further describe his holding, establishes South as captain, and is a relay bid.

Note that in the above example several relay bids are employed. First the response of 2 Clubs and then the second rebid by South of 4 No Trump.

Further examples could be provided, but the parameters of the concept should be relatively clear. The relay principle should be clear to everyone. Remember, however, that conventions employing relay bids should be made known to your opponents by including them on your Convention Card.

In conclusion, with relay bids, the Captain and/or the Puppet can:

1. inform or ask about the distribution of the holding.
2. inform or ask about the strength of the holding.
3. inform or ask about key-control cards.

Every bridge player should realize and recognize a relay bid, and use them, since a partnership can always reach the best contract only through the relayed information between the partners.



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.