Modified Cappelletti Defense Method

This concept is variation to the Cappelletti defense method, also known as Hamilton and Pottage, and which is a competitive defense method to an opening of No Trump by an opponent. The origin of this variation is unknown, but the reader should refer to the published article by Mr. John Blubaugh for a modified (revised) version of the original Cappelletti conventional defense method, which appeared in the Bridge Bulletin, December 1996.

Modifications to the Concept

It must be admitted that the original concept is so constructed that many variations may be formed. Mr. Michael Cappelletti is one of four bridge experts credited with devising the original defense method. The conventional defense method is employed either in the direct seat or in the balancing seat. However, variations of a concept are inevitably introduced to the bridge community and are adopted by it.

Note: An interview of Mr. Michael Cappelletti was published in the Daily Bulletin, Tuesday, March 13, 2007, Volume 50, Number 5, of the 50th Spring North American Bridge Championships held in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, and describes the evolution of this defense method. The essence of the interview represents his personal views on the concept behind this conventional defense method, and which also includes his personal views regarding this particular modified version. An excerpt of this interview in a .pdf file format is only preserved and archived on this site for future reference.

Note: This modification of the Cappelletti 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: The reader and student of the game of bridge must be made aware of the fact that this particular variation of the Cappelletti convention may also be designated as revised Cappelletti, under which designation an article was published in the Bridge Bulletin in December 1996. Both designations refer to the identical concept, but are different in the actual approach.

Note: It is also important for the partnership to listen intently to the announcement of the No Trump range. It is possible, depending on the range of the opened No Trump, to adjust the approach when deciding to compete.

Note: Some partnerships have agreed that the distribution of the holding, when overcalling 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.

Original Publication

This article for a modified version of the original Cappelletti conventional defense method appeared in the Bridge Bulletin, December 1996.

Double: Any double is for penalty as in the original conventional method. Partner must pass.
2 :

Shows a single-suited holding in Diamonds OR a two-suited holding in an unspecified Major suit and an unspecified Minor suit. After a pass by the partner of the No Trump bidder, the advancer can bid 2, which is forcing for one round. Then the overcaller will either pass or raise with a single-suiter in Diamonds if holding stronger values OR bid the Major suit if the holding is a two-suiter.

If the overcaller shows the two-suited holding after the 2 bid, then the advancer can bid 2 No Trump to return to the actual Minor suit (Clubs or Diamonds), or pass if the Major suit is preferred.

2 : Shows both Major suits as in the original conventional method.
2 : Shows a single-suited holding in Hearts. Partner should pass after a No Trump opening by an opponent.
2 : Shows a single-suited holding in Spades. Partner should pass after a No Trump opening by an opponent.
2 NT: Shows both Minor Suits.
3 : A natural bid showing length in Clubs. Possible one-suited holding.

The strength of the hand is determined not only by the shape of the holding but may also depend on the state of vulnerability. The responses of the partner of the overcaller (or advancer) are also determined by the partnership agreement as there are no general guidelines except those adopted by the partnership.

Modified Cappelletti

Note: This presentation of a modified version is available online. The content of the presentation has not been altered or changed except in the manner necessary for web presentation. The author of this presentation is unknown except that the online presentation is by Joomla!. The presentation is presented in the first person singular.

Modified Cappelletti - Source
Proposed Defence Against 1 No Trump


Most 1NT defences cater for single suited and two suited hands. The only convention I am aware of which caters for three-suiters is Cansino (and some variations thereof), but Cansino has limited mechanism for showing two-suiters. I have previously played Cansino (with Peter Mitchell) with some success, and I miss the opportunities it provides to get into the auction with 4-4-4-1's.

This note proposes a scheme which should allow us to compete with any reasonable single-suiter, two-suiter, or three-suiter. It is similar to Cappelletti, with modifications to the double and 2 Diamond bid. As it combines ideas from CRASH, Cappelletti, and Cansino I originally called it Crappellsino. However, I tired of explaining this to every player who looked at our system card, and asked: What's Crappellsino? (chuckle, chuckle).

It gives up the penalty double, but it is widely acknowledged that penalty double of a strong NT has no practical value. Against a weak NT the penalty double may occasionally produce a good score, but in that case we may well have a game on, and may do just as well by bidding it. In any case, there is the option of advancer converting the 3-suited double to penalties by passing the double.

So as a general principle we should aim to compete for a part score against a strong NT, but bid constructively against a weak NT, especially if opener's partner shows weakness.

General Scheme of Overcalls

Double: Any 3-suiter. Ideally 5-4-4-0 or 4-4-4-1, but may be 5-5-3-0, 5-4-3-1 or 4-4-3-2 if 3_card suit is KQx or better.
2 : Any single-suited hand. Partner is expected to bid 2 Diamonds, (pass or correct).
2 : A two-suiter. Either both Majors, or both Minors.
2 : Two-suiter. Hearts and a Minor.
2 : Two-suiter. Spades and a Minor.

Response to Double

Pass: Convert to penalty; at least equal point count to opener, and flattish shape with scattered values.
2//: Two Clubs, 2 Diamonds, and/or 2 Hearts all show tolerance for the suit bid and a higher suit. If you strike partner's shortage he will bid the next suit up, which is correctable.

Response to 2 Clubs

2 : Normally respond 2 Diamonds. Partner will pass (with Diamonds) or bid his suit.
2/: 2 Hearts or 2 Spades shows a 6-card suit, and singleton or void Diamond. Partner may pass, bid 2 Spades or 3 Clubs if that is his suit, or 3 Diamonds at his peril.
2 NT: A 2 NT response asks partner to bid his suit, and may be game try.

Response to 2 Diamonds

1. With a weak hand, call 2 of preferred major. Partner will correct to 3 Clubs (correctable to 3 Diamonds) if he has the minors.
2. With a stronger hand advancer may bid 3 Clubs, or 3 Diamonds (pass or correct) implying interest in a major contract at the 3 or 4 level, or 2 NT forcing (overcaller will bid 3 Clubs with the minors, or 3 Hearts with the majors).

Response to 2 Hearts

Pass: Pass with Heart tolerance.
3 : Bid 3 Clubs to play in partner's minor.
2 NT: Bid 2 NT asking partner to bid his minor. If that disappoints, then 3 Hearts is to play.

Response to 2 Spades

Pass: Pass with Spade tolerance.
3 : Bid 3 Clubs to play in partner's minor.
2 NT: Bid 2 NT asking partner to bid his minor. If that disappoints, then 3 Spades is to play.

Other Considerations

1. 5-5-3-0 may be treated as either 2-suiter or 3-suiter. I suggest calling it a 3-suiter if most of the high cards are in the 3-card suit, otherwise 2-suiter.
2. We may occasionally finish up playing in a 3-3 fit. C'est la vie. (At least the trump break will be no worse than 5-2, and if they double we may be able to find a better fit.)
3. Some things which may merit discussion:
  a. What would a 2NT overcall mean?
  b. What would a 2 Spades response to Double mean?
  c. What would a 2 NT response to Double mean?



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.