This bidding system was developed by Mr. Fred R. Thomas, born in the year 1925, and was published in the year 1980 by the Uniclub Press, located in Los Angeles, California, United States. The title of his publication is Universal: The System For Everyone, and in the words of the author, is so named because it is the one system that is natural and also universally suitable for everyone, average players as well as the experts.

Note: Any additional information as to the person of Mr. Fred R. Thomas, especially photographic material, would be greatly appreciated.


Two Clubs Opening Bid

In the Universal Club bidding system the opening bid of 2 Clubs has been assigned a specific meaning, which is that it shows a three-suited holding, generally a distribution of 4-4-1-4, with values between 12 and 17 high card points. A minimum and a maximum point count is known and also the short suit, which is Diamonds.

If the distributional shape is as required for a 2 Clubs opening bid and the holding contains a 5-card suit, then this 5-card suit must be Clubs.

However, the opening of 2 Clubs, using the Universal Club bidding system, is not considered to be a forcing bid. The partner may pass the opening of 2 Clubs. The following example illustrates this point.

Example 1

2   Pass

East realizes that West, the opener of 2 Clubs, has a distribution of 4-4-1-4 and between 12 and 17 high card points. The distribution of East is not qualified to support either of the two Major suits, and East therefore passes, but East must have at least 3-card support for West. The generally acceptable point range of East is considered to be between 0 and 8/9 high card points, which would make a pass the more logical call.

Example 2

However, East holds the following:

2   2

East would first respond 2 Hearts, Hearts first with both 4-card Major suits up the line. This first response is a sign-off and West, the opener, must pass. East has shown a 4-card Major suit, a known fit with West, and fewer than 8/9 high card points, and game is not possible. Depending on the point count, East should raise the level if there is interference or pass and defend.

First Response of 2 Diamonds

The only forcing and positive response to a 2 Clubs opening bid by partner is 2 Diamonds. This first response is artificial and requests that partner communicate the number of values or high card points. The first response of 2 Diamonds requires a minimum of 6 high card points plus when holding a Minor suit and 8 high card points plus when holding a Minor suit. The lower requisite for both Major suits is feasible and logical because, if the opener holds weak values, then the partnership can cease bidding at one level lower.

Note: All other first responses are considered non-forcing and only invitational.

The opener communicates the values of the holding via step responses, shown below in the diagram. The opener, however, re-evaluates the holding following a forcing first response by partner by first devaluing for singleton Diamond honors. The opener also subtracts one point for the Jack and two points for the King or Queen.

Bidding Sequence After a Forcing 2 Diamonds

2 : Shows full values of 12-13 points.
2 : Shows values between 14-15 points.
2 NT: Shows values between 16-17 points.
3 : Shows values between 14-15 points and a void in Diamonds.
3 : Shows values between 12-13 points and a void in Diamonds.

Note: When the holding contains stronger voids, then the holding should be opened with 1 Club only.

Additional First Responses to a 2 Clubs Opening Bid

Pass: Shows 0-7 points and a minimum of 3-card support in Clubs.
2 : Shows 0-5 points and at least 4 plus cards in Hearts.
2 : Shows 0-5 points and at least 4 cards in Spades.
2 NT: Implies / indicates a semi-solid 6-card or 7-card suit in Diamonds, with values ranging from 9 to 11 points. The opener can continue by rebidding 3 with a void in Diamonds or 3 with a singleton in Diamonds. With maximum values the opener can attempt a game contract in 3 No Trump.
3 : Note: although not listed in the book by Mr. Fred R. Thomas, examples show that this first response shows Club support and at least 8 high card points.
3 : The responder shows a 7-card or an 8-card Diamond suit and no more than 8 high card points maximum. The opener must pass since this first response is a sign-off. Exception: the responder may have a 6-card Diamond suit with 8 high card points and all working values are in the semi-solid Diamond suit.

Example 1

This example shows a holding, whereby the responder should make a single raise in Clubs. The opener promises at least a 3-card Club suit and therefore a fit has been found in the Minor suit. With stronger values the responder may jump raise in Clubs to indicate an invitational hand.

2   3

Example 2

Example 2shows a holding, whereby the responder should bid 2 No Trump to show at least a 6-card semi-solid Diamond suit with values between 9 and 11 high card points. The opener continues the bidding with 3 to show a void in Diamonds and request that partner pass with a 7-card plus Diamond suit, or to place the contract elsewhere owing to the void.

2   2 NT

Example 3

Example 3 the responder should just bid game in Spades knowing that the opener holds 4 cards in Spades. The knowledge that there is only the possibility of one losing trick in Diamonds assists the responder in making this bid.

2   4



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.