Gardener No Trump Overcall

Devised by Mr. Nico Gardener, (formerly Goldinger), born in the year 1908 in Riga, Latvia, which at that time was a part of the so-called Imperial Russia. He died in the year 1989. As a young man he studied and trained as a ballet dancer. With his parents he relocated to Berlin, Germany, where he became enthralled with the game of chess.

Note: Since there are very few photographs of Mr. Nico Gardener, any contribution of pictures would be greatly appreciated and credited. The picture presented is from the early 1960s and is of low quality.


Nico Gardener

Biographical Information

In the year 1936 he relocated once again to London, England, where he happened to make acquaintances, from whom he learned the evolving game of duplicate bridge. After deciding that London, England, was to be his last destination he changed his surname from Goldinger to Gardener, and became a naturalized citizen.

He married and his wife, Patricia Gardener, also became an international bridge player. Their daughter, Nicola Smith, born in the year 1949, was considered to be the leading female bridge personality in England in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr. Nico Gardener founded, operated, and supervised the London School of Bridge beginning in the year 1952. During many of the following years he was also a coveted bridge teacher, instructor, and lecturer on cruise ships sailing mainly the Mediterranean. Having been a student of languages his entire life he was able to conduct the bridge lessons in about five different languages. One of his major and regular partners at the bridge table was Mr. Victor Mollo, the author of many bridge-related publications.

As an avid student of the game of bridge he developed the concept that a 1 No Trump overcall following an opening suit bid by an opponent would be very effective and definitely obstructive to the opponents attempting to find the maximum game contract or partscore. The general assumption at that time in the game of bridge was that if a player made a bid of 1 No Trump either as an opening bid or as an overcall, then a game contract would normally not be possible.

However, the Gardener No Trump overcall has two interpretations:

1. The No Trump overcall can signify a strong, natural No Trump opening with 16 to 18 high card points.
2. The No Trump overcall can also signify a weak holding with a long suit.

Note: If the overcall is always weak, the French refer to it as the Sans Atout Comique.

Four Possible Bidding Sequences

All No Trump overcalls occur on the one level. A No Trump overcall over a preemptive bid on the two or three level is not possible and does not fit the parameters of the concept of Mr. Nico Gardener.

South   West   Meaning
1   1 NT   Gardener No Trump Overcall
1   1 NT   Gardener No Trump Overcall
1   1 NT   Gardener No Trump Overcall
1   1 NT   Gardener No Trump Overcall

Continuances by Overcaller

South   West   North   East   Meaning
1 ///   1 NT   Pass        
            2   Partner relays to Clubs.
Pass   2 NT           Shows a strong, balanced 16-18 high card points.
    Pass           Clubs is the long suit; not a cuebid.
    2           Diamonds is the long suit; not a cuebid of opener's suit.
    2           Hearts is the long suit; not a cuebid of opener's suit.
    2           Spades is the long suit; not a cuebid of opener's suit.

If the response of South does not interfere with the 2 Clubs response of West, then West responds as if there had been no response from South. If South doubles, then this call also does not interfere with the bid of 2 Clubs by West. If any bid by South interferes with the 2 Clubs bid by West, then West is allowed to pass, awaiting further description by East of his/her holding.



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.