Monday, 17 June 2013

System On - Openings

This is the start of an attempt to document all of the basic Acol bidding system that me and Anna play together in Glasgow. This is in preparation for the Peebles Summer Congress that we are about to play. Hopefully it will be more detailed than a convention card. My previous experience of doing this is when me and Ted documented the entire Polish Club system. You can see it here.

In general we play weak NT and four card majors, with three weak twos.

One level openings

  • Always open the lower of four card suits (Swiss style).

We respond 2/1 with 10+ points, maybe 9 if you have three card support for partner. Jump responses show a really good suit and 16+ points, but don't set trumps.

If opener has a 6-5 hand he can open then make an unnecessary reverse, e.g. opening 1♣ then rebidding 2♠ over partners 1♥.

4-4-4-1 hands

  • With a singleton Club/Diamond and a weak hand ... make something up!
  • With a singleton Club/Diamond and a strong hand open 1♣/1♦, planning to rebid in NT.
  • With a singleton Heart/Spade open 1♦, then rebid 2♣ or reverse if strong enough.


  • 12-14 and balanced.
  • With 5-4-2-2 shape, open 1NT if the doubletons are both Qx or better.
  • With a five card major, open 1M if the major is good enough to rebid, e.g. KQJxx.

Responses are Stayman and transfers. Three level bids are slam invitational in that suit. 4♣ is Gerber, other 4 level bids aren't defined. We escape 1NTx with Helvic, which Anna never forgets but I do.

If the opponents interfere naturally double is penalties, other bids natural (2 level weak, 3 level strong), and a cuebid is Stayman. If the opponents interfere artificially then double shows that suit, otherwise it's all the same.


  • 23+ or eight tricks.
  • Should have some defence - don't open 2♣ if you wouldn't be happy defending the opponents if they get to a doubled slam.

A 2♦ response shows 5+ (or an Ace). 2♥ is a double negative. Any other reply needs a good six cards suit (headed by two of top three honours) and an outside Ace or King.

Weak twos

  • Always 6 cards
  • 5-10 points and suit quality of QTxxxx or better
  • Strength can dip slightly at right position/vulnerability.

You can open with a side four card Major if it's very weak, or partner has already passed.

Any new suit responses are forcing, for at least one round. A 2NT reply is Ogust.


  • 20-22 points.
  • May contain a singleton honour, and may contain a good five major.

Normal Stayman and transfers. 3♠ is minor-suit Stayman. 4♣ is Gerber.

Weak threes

  • Normally seven cards, could be six in Clubs.

Like with Weak Twos, new suit responses are forcing. If the preempt is 3♣/3♦ then after 3 of a major opener can raise with 3 cards, or bid 3NT with two card support.


  • Gambling. A seven or eight card minor headed by AKQ, and no outside Queen (not sure Anna likes this!).

4♣ is pass or correct. 4♦ asks for a singleton. 4♥/4♠ is to play. 4NT is an invitation to slam, which opener accepts with an eight card suit.

Quick Quiz

All right here we go. What would you open on each of these? I've put the HCP in brackets. Hopefully, Anna will agree with me on all of this. In fact, I'd take 8/10.

1. ♠A ♥KQ43 ♦A876 ♣AJT4 (18) 1♣
2. ♠KJT5 ♥AQJ4 ♦KQ64 ♣A (20) 2NT
3. ♠J4 ♥AKQ7652 ♦42 ♣J4 (11) 1♥
4. ♠AKJT4 ♥A65 ♦AK432 ♣- (19) 2♣
5. ♠74 ♥J ♦QJT4 ♣QJT732 (7) 3♣
6. ♠AJT96 ♥82 ♦KT9 ♣A54 (12) 1♠
7. ♠QT43 ♥QJ532 ♦AK ♣J9 (13) 1♥?
8. ♠8543 ♥KT7632 ♦Q2 ♣Q (7) 2♥
9. ♠AQJT8 ♥973 ♦AKQ ♣AQ (22) 2NT
10. ♠KQT4 ♥AJ9 ♦KJ ♣J532 (15) 1♣

Highlight the whole table and you'll see my suggestions.

To finish this first instalment, here's a picture of a horse, a "creature of beauty".

No comments:

Post a Comment