This conventional defense method is ascribed and credited to Mr. Harold Feldheim of Hamden, Connecticut, United States. The Suction conventional defense method is employed after the opponents open the auction with No Trump. The guidelines of this conventional method are neither involved nor complicated, but the partner must first make an assumption, and then bid as cheaply as possible to discover the actual meaning behind the overcall.

An article appeared in The New York Times, which strongly suggests that: If it weren't for Bobby Fischer, Harold Feldheim of Hamden sometimes thinks he just might have become one of the world's top chess players. Source, a copy of which has been only preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.


Note: This conventional method is not the identical designation on a global scale. For example, the concept of the Suction convention is known as the Toxic Convention in Australia, especially Canberra, Australia. The reason for this different designation given is the core parameters of the concept were supposedly re-invented in Canberra. (Source)

Note: The concept of the suction conventional method is not permitted in events governed by the ACBL General Convention Chart, except as a defense to artificial opening bids (such as Precision, strong 2 Clubs openings, Flannery, and similar opening bids.)

Note: This guideline also includes any and all variations of the suction conventional method.

Note: As a strong recommendation to all partnerships, who would prefer to employ the suction conventional method in ACBL sanctioned tournaments, it behooves the partnership to inquire in advance as to whether or not such this conventional method is permitted.

Note: Reference is provided for all partnerships to the Current ACBL Restrictions, authored by Mr. John Vega and Mr. Marty Lavine, for any supplementary information in this regard. Such information can also be found on the ACBL website.

Guidelines and Distribution

Note: The guidelines of the suction conventional defense method is somewhat dependent on the bidding system employed and can be altered or varied to meet the requirements of the particular bidding system.

Note: Some partnerships have agreed that the distribution of the holding, by employment, could / may be reduced to 4-4 in both Major suits regardless of the state of vulnerability, Otherwise the distribution is generally 5-4, 4-5, or 5-5 depending on the state of vulnerability. This is entirely a partnership agreement in all employed variations of the concept.

Suction Conventional Defense Method

The overcall of any suit shows the next-higher suit, or the other two suits. This is known as a transfer overcall since the overcaller is actually transferring his partner to the desired suit. The objective and advantage of this transfer overcall is that the No Trump bidder is then forced to lead the first card as opposed to being in third seat.

2 : Shows a one-suiter in Diamonds, or a two-suited holding with Spades and Hearts.
2 : Shows a one-suiter in Hearts, or a two-suited holding with Spades and Clubs, or both black suits.
2 : Shows a one-suiter in Spades, or a two-suited holding with Clubs and Diamonds, or both Minor suits.
2 : Shows a one-suiter in Clubs, or a two-suited holding with Diamonds and Hearts, or both red suits.
2 NT: Shows non-touching suits, either Clubs and Hearts or Diamonds and Spades.
Double: Optional: Shows non-touching pointed suits, Diamonds and Spades, as opposed to an overcall of 2 No Trump.

The partner of the overcaller, or suction bidder, assumes the next-higher suit, until the bidding auction indicates otherwise. Therefore, the advancer (partner of the intervenor) will employ a relay bid, or the cheapest bid possible, as a waiting bid to find out more about the holding of the overcaller. The advantage of having the No Trump bidder being in third seat can sometimes be lost since the suction bidder may sometimes become by default the declarer by having to correct to the intended suit.



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.