The Saffle Spade system, or the Säfflespader, as it is known in Sweden, is a strong pass system developed, devised, and published by Mr. Einar Bergh and Mr. Pontus Svinhufvud, born April 9, 1941, and died June 13, 2016. This system was devised in the year 1980 as both developers were living in Säffle, Sweden, which is a locality and the seat of Säffle Municipality. Indeed this city holds the distinction for being the last place in the country of Sweden formally being awarded the title of a city in the year 1951. This status, however, was abolished in the year 1971. The city or township is now the seat of the much larger Säffle Municipality.

The reader must be advised that there are three versions of the Säfflespader, which were devised during the system's evolution. These three versions are called the Super Saffle Spade (regarded as the most advanced version), the Small Saffle Spade (intermediate version, and the Small Happy Saffle Spade (which is for the beginning student).

Note: The basic outline of the Säfflespader is outlined in the publication Bridge Bidding: Standard American Yellow Card, authored by Mr. Nicolae Sfetcu and published December 2014.

Photographic material of either Mr. Einar Bergh or Mr. Pontus Svinhufvud are not available online. However, the small photograph of Mr. Einar Bergh is presented although the date is unknown. Source is YouTube, singing Jag Ringer Dig På Tisdag, translated: I Will Call You On Tuesday.

Any assistance in discovering additional information about the two developers would be greatly appreciated in complementing this web page.


Definition of the Concept

Since the core concept of the Saffle Spade system, a forcing pass approach, is actually a call of pass, which becomes forcing for one round, the call does not promise a very strong holding although minimum values are established. The fundamental concept is that all hands, preemptive openings excluded, should contain 8 plus high card points and a 4-card plus Spade suit. (Note that the holding could contain a longer side-suit). If the holding has 8 or more high card points and no 4-card Spade suit, but 4 plus Hearts, the opening bid becomes then 1 Club (which may also contain a longer Minor suit).

Note: any and all forcing pass systems are not allowed in any tournaments sponsored by the American Contract Bridge League and is strictly prohibited. (See ACBL General Convention Chart).

Note: Mr. Einar Bergh and Mr. Pontus Svinhufvud published a formatted version of Small Happy Säfflespader, which will be automatically opened in a new window. The system is designated in Swedish as Lilla Glada Säfflespader and dated 1980. Any translation would be greatly appreciated.

Note: The Small Säfflespader has also been published online and has also only been preserved and archived on this site in format for future reference. This version is the most all-inclusive write-up of the forcing pass system. This version has been translated by the authors into English.

Opening Bids of the System

Bid Meaning
Pass: 8 plus points and a 4-card plus Spade suit.
1 : 8 plus points and a 4/55-card plus Heart suit. Partnership agreement is essential.
1 : employed on all weak hands, 0-7 high card points..
1 :   a) promises 8-12 high card points, with a distribution of 3-3-5-2 exactly.
    b) promises 8 plus high card points, unbalanced distribution with no 4-card Major suit.
    c) promises 8 plus high card points, balanced distribution with no 4-card Major suit.
1 : promises 8-12 high card points and a No Trump distribution (so-called mini-NT).
1 NT: promises values between13-18 high card points and no 4-card Major suit.
2 : promises 8-11 high card points and 4 plus cards in the suit bid, plus a 5-card plus Major side suit, or Clubs and 1 Major suit.
2 : promises 8-11 high card points and 4 plus cards in the suit bid, plus a 5-card plus Major side suit, or Diamonds and 1 Major suit.
2 : promises 8-11 high card points and 4 plus cards in the suit bid, plus a 5 plus Major side suit, or Hearts and Spades.
2 : promises any solid suit of at least A-K-Q-x-x-x-x or better.

Note: The general understanding for all higher opening bids of 3 Clubs or higher and viewed as normal preemptive bids (disciplined or undisciplined) in all three versions.



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.