When responder bids 2H, opener’s 2NT shows a hand which makes game possible
(and 3S fairly safe) even when responder has a weak hand with long spades. It may
be based either on extra strength or a super spade fit. It is a hand that opener definitely
does not want to be passed in 2S. He bids 2NT even with a 5+ card spade suit. It is not likely that there is a 5-7 spade fit, but it would be embarrassing to play in 2S if it were
there and 6S was cold.
Responder’s rebids are designed to quickly clarify the spade situation. 3C and
3D show the positive hand with 0 - 2 and 3 - 4 spades, respectively. Opener can bid 3S
with any holding that makes a spade contract reasonable (a 5+-card suit over 3C, a
4+ -card suit over 3D). Responder can then bid 3NT with the worst holding
or raise spades with the best. He may even cue-bid at the 4-level to show the best
holding and a maximum values for slam.
Hands lacking a spade fit will generally wind up in NT or minor suit games or
Here is a complete summary:
AFTER 1C 2H 2NT - extra values or strong spade fit (possibly even 5+ spades) willing
to play at least 3S
Responder can clarify with:
3C= 5+ diamonds, 4 clubs, 2-3 spades, 9-12 HCP
(opener may bid 3S with 5+ spades)
3D= 5+ diamonds, 3-4 spades 9-12 HCP
(opener will bid 3S with 4+ spades)
3H=RETRANSFER-(min. preempt, 7+spades)
3S= 5+ diamonds, 4 clubs, 0-1 spades , 9 –12 HCP
3NT= 5 diamonds, 4 clubs, 2-2 in majors, 9-12 HCP
– 4NT would show same hand with 13+ HCP)
4C= 5+ diamonds, 4 spades, 0-1 club - 13+HCP
4D= 5 diamonds, 4 spades, 2C, 2H - 13+ HCP
4H= 5+ diamonds, 4 spades, 0-1 heart – 13+ HCP
4S= 5+ diamonds, 4 clubs. 0-1 spade - 13+ HCP
4NT= 5+ diamonds, 4 clubs, 2H, 2S - 13-15 HCP
Here are some example hands:
A.♠ Jxxx ♠ AQxx 1C 2H
♥ AKx ♥ xx 2S (could bid 2NT) 3D (5 D, 3 or 4 S / 9-12) HCP)
♦ Kx ♦ AQxxx 3S (4+ spades) 4S ( I have 4 spades, too)
♣ AQxx ♣ xx P (with only 3 spades would
B.♠ Jxxx ♠ Q109xxxx 1C 2H
♥ AKx ♥ J 2S or 2NT 3H( 7+ S, min.)
♦ Kx ♦ Jxx 3S or 4S( 50 / 50 )
♣ AQxx ♣ xx
C.♠ x ♠ Q109xxxx 1C 2H
♥ AKJxx ♥ x 2S P
♦ KQx ♦ Jxx
♣ Axxx ♣ Q
D.♠ AKJxx ♠ x 1C 2H
♥ AQxx ♥ Kxx 2NT 3C (5+D, 4C, 0-2 S)
♦ x ♦ AJ10xx 4C (1430) ** 4S(2 KC)
♣ QJxx ♣ Kxxx 6C (,some would sign off in 3NT rather than
E.♠ QJx ♠ xx 1C 2H
♥ AQxx ♥ Kx 2NT 3NT
♦ AJx ♦ KQxxx
♣ Kxx ♣ Qxxx
**Note; Whever the strong club hand raises two or three of a minor to four of that suit, it is not only a raise but also an ace-asking bid (1430, 0314, or straight Blackwood, depending on partnership agreement).
( See Hand D) When the weaker hand raises the stong club hand to four of a minor,
the stronger hand should be the one to ask for aces. Therefore, REDWOOD (4D over 4C, 4H over 4D) is used.
For example, if the auction went : 1C - 1D – 3C - 4C , 4D by opener would be REDWOOD - 1430 with clubs as the agreed trump suit.
ONE CLUB---TWO SPADES(RELAY TO 2NT)
The 2-spade relay response to 1C starts transfer sequences
into many long suits as well as hands with 9+ HCP and 5/5+
distribution in the minors. In its original form, 2S forced 2NT;
responder then bid 3C, 3D, 3H, or 3S naturally, showing 7-card
suits with two of the top three honors. He could also raise 2NT
**IF OPENER IS HONORLESS IN BOTH MINORS he can bid
4C (not sure of game in minor)or 4D (willing to play in 5C or
5D). He may also bid a VERY GOOD 5-card or 6-card major
(willing to play there opposite a doubleton ).
If you look carefully,you will see that the 1C opener plays
all contracts - a big advantage.The weaker hand with the long
suit always comes down as dummy.
Secondary meaning - When responder is 5/5 in the minors with 9+ HCP
In addition to showing long suits, the 1C-2S sequence can be used to show
positive responding hands with 5/5+ distribution in the minors. The bidding is
There are 2 unused 3 level rebids after the auction goes 1C-2S-2NT.
They are 3H and 3S.It is simple to make these bids show singletons
with 5/5+ in the minors.Thus 1C-2S-2NT-3H shows a singleton heart
and a likely 2155 shape. 1C-2S-2NT-3S shows a singleton spade and
probable 1255 distribution.
Followups are also very straightforward. Opener can sign off with 3NT,
4H, or 4S (natural-to play) or try for slam with 4C or 4D (usually setting
trump but perhaps just getting information) which are RKCB for the bid suit.
If more precision is desired, all of the 4- level is also available after
1C-2S-2NT. For example, one could define these bids as follows: 4C=1156,
4D=1165, 4H=heart void, 4S=spade void. Other meanings are also possible,
depending on partnership agreements.
Here are some example hands:
A.♠ Axxx ♠ xx 1C 2S (relay to 2NT)
♥ Kx ♥ AQxxxxx 2NT 3D (transfer to 3H)
♦ AQJ ♦ xxx 3NT or 4H
♣ Kxxx ♣ x
B.♠ AKJxx ♠ xx 1C 3S (solid 7-card minor)
♥ Kx ♥ xxx 6NT
♦ xx ♦ AKQxxxx
♣ AKQx ♣ x
C.♠ AKJxx ♠ xx 1C 3D (solid 7-card major)
♥ xx ♥ AKQxxxx 6H
♦ AKQxx ♦ xx
♣ x ♣ xx
D.♠ AKJxx ♠ x 1C 2S
♥ xx ♥ xxx 2NT 3C ( 7+ clubs,2 of top 3 honors)
♦AKQxx ♦ xx P
♣ x ♣ KQxxxxx
E.♠ AJ10 ♠ x 1C 2S
♥ AQxx ♥ xx 2NT 3S (0-1 S, 5+ C, 5+ D / 9+HCP)
♦ Kxxx ♦ AQ10xx 4D (1430) 5C (2 KC+ Q of D)
♣ Kx ♣ AQxxx 5H (kings?) 5S ( 0 )
F.♠ AKxxx ♠ x 1C 2S
♥ QJ9x ♥ xx 2NT 3S
♦ A ♦ KQJxx 3NT
♣ Kxx ♣ AQxxx
ONE CLUB – TWO NO TRUMP[
BALANCED HAND – 16-18 HCP
The 2NT response to 1C shows a balanced 16-18 HCP. Since that means the partnership has at least 33 HCP, it is essentially forcing to slam. In order to minimize memory strain, we will use a continuation scheme almost identical to the one used after a 1C-1NT auction. If you recall , that involves the use of Ogust-like replies to inquiries about holdings in opener’s suits. Of course, all the bids and replies will be one level higher.
Here is the three - level version of that scheme:
When opener is balanced , he bids 3C, looking for a 4-4 fit in a suit. Responder’s replies are as follows:
3D=shows 4 hearts, possibly with a second suit
3H=shows 4 spades, possibly with a side minor
3S=shows 4 clubs, possibly with four diamonds
3NT=shows 4 diamonds, with no side suit (3343)
If opener has four cards in responder’s indicated suit, he bids the suit. This bid doubles as an asking bid, inquiring about trump quality. With a known
4-4 fit, responder answers as follows:
1st step = poor suit (Jxxx or less)
2nd step = fair suit (Qxxx, Kxxx, Axxx)
3rd step = good suit (QJxx, KJxx, AJxx)
4th step = excellent suit (KQxx,AQxx, AKxx)
5th step =super suit (AKQx)
If opener does not fit responder’s indicated suit, he may bid a different suit, hoping to find a 4-4 fit there. Since responder has not promised four cards there, a second set of answers is used. They are:
1st step= lacking 4-card support
2nd step = poor 4-card support (Jxxx or less)
3rd step = fair 4-card support (Qxxx, Kxxx, Axxx)
4th step = good 4-card support (QJxx,KJxx, AJxx)
5th step = excellent 4-card support (KQxx, AQxx, AKxx)
With a more unbalanced hand, opener may bid a 5+card suit (3D, 3H, 3S, 3NT=5+ clubs). These bids also serve as asking bids. Responder uses a third set of answers. These are needed because he has to show both his length and strength in the suit. They are still as similar to the other answers as possible.
1st step = poor support (xx, Hx) H=Q, K, or A
2nd step = poor 3-card support (Jxx or less)
3rd step = good 3-card support (Qxx, Kxx, Axx)
4th step = poor 4-card support (Jxxx or less)
5th step = fair/good 4-card support (Qxxx, Kxxx, Axxx)
6th step = excellent 4-card support (KQxx, AQxx, AKxx)
If the answer shows poor support, opener can ask about a second suit if he has one. The second suit may also just be a help-suit slam try. The same answers apply. Any continuation is forcing. The cheapest new suit after a trump suit is found may be used to start asking for aces, and the cheapest bid after the answer can be used to ask for kings.Since it is almost certain that you will wind up in slam somewhere, the main purpose of all the exploration is twofold - to see if a suit fit may be better than 6NT, and to see if a grand slam is possible.
Here are some example hands:
A.♠ KQx ♠ AJxx 1C 2NT
♥ Axxx ♥ Kx 3C 3H (4 spades)
♦ KQxx ♦ AJxx 4D 5C (good 4-card support)
♣ Ax ♣ Kxx 5D (1430) 5NT (2 KC)
6C (kings?) 6S (2 outside kings)
B.♠ Axxx ♠ KJxx 1C 2NT
♥ QJx ♥ AKx 3C 3H (4 spades)
♦ Ax ♦ KQxx 3S 4D (good suit)
♣ AQJx ♣ xx 4NT (1430) 5H (2 KC, no Q)
C.♠ x ♠ AKx 1C 2NT
♥ AKQxx ♥ xx 3H 3S (poor support)
♦ AKJxx ♦ Q10xx 4D 5D (good 4-card support)
♣ Qx ♣ AKJx 5H (1430) 6D (2 KC + Q)
6H (kings?) 7C (2 outside kings)
D.♠ KQJxx ♠ Ax 1C 2NT
♥ x ♥ AKQx 3S 3NT
♦ AQx ♦ xxx 4C 5C (good 4-card support)
♣ KQxx ♣ Axxx 5D (1430) 5S (3 KC)
5NT (kings?) 6D (1)
7C or 7NT
Note; After 1430, I just use a simple 0,1,2,3 answer for kings. E.♠ AQ ♠ KJ10x 1C 2NT
♥ KQ10xx ♥ Jx 3H 3S (poor support)
♦ x ♦ AKQx 4C 4S ( Hxx)
♣ AQJxx ♣ Kxx 4NT 5H (2 KC)
F.♠ x ♠ AKJ 1C 2NT
♥ AK ♥ QJxx 3D 3NT ( Hxx)
♦ KJ10xx ♦ Qxx 4C 4S (Hxx)
♣ AQxxx ♣ Kxx 4NT(1430-clubs) 5H (2KC)
ONE CLUB-THREE NO TRUMP
BALANCED 19+ HCP This bid will occur about as often as Halley’s Comet will appear above Los Angeles. It’s only real function is to provide the 2NT response with an upper limit. I won’t waste time outlining a response scheme. Should it ever come up, just use the scheme for the 2NT bid, with every bid one level higher.
Just as an aside, there is one added advantage to using this rebid and response scheme for the 1NT, 2NT, and 3NT responses to 1C. Some of us are getting to the age where we have occasional memory lapses. Since the responses always go from the worst to the best holdings, it is usually easy to tell if you’ve found good support or poor support, even if you forget the specific meaning of a bid. A “senior moment” probably won’t cause a disaster.
NOTE: As I mentioned, the continuation scheme after 1C-1NT and
1C-2NT could be completely natural, eliminating the Ogust-type
responses. The 2NT response could also be a two-way bid - either strong and balanced or a long minor in a very weak hand.I have included a possible alternate bidding scheme as an appendix on p.168.
THE FUN ZONE / TWO-WAY TWO LEVEL OPENINGS Because opener’s first suit rebid after a 1C opening bid always shows a five card suit, it is necessary to have a bid showing a big 4441 hand. In the original version of the system, that bid was 2D. The 2H and 2S bids were standard weak two bids. Then the mad scientist in me complicated matters.
I wanted to have a way to differentiate between good preemptive hands and the junk that the modern players preempt with. I did come up with a good method for doing this, but there was a minor problem. I had to use the 2S opening bid for my brainchild. That left only two bids - 2D and 2H - to describe three different hands- a weak two bid in hearts, a weak two bid in spades, and a big 4441 hand. The only way to solve this problem was to make these two bids do double duty. Thus were born the Schizoid 2D and 2H opening bids.
The Schizoid 2D bid shows either a weak two bid in hearts or a 4441
hand with 16+ HCP and a singleton in a black suit. Thus it always guarantees at least four hearts.
The Schizoid 2H bid shows either a weak two bid in spades or a 4441
hand with 16+ HCP and a singleton in a red suit. Thus it always guarantees at least four spades.
Those guaranteed suits are important. The ACBL is deathly afraid of Multi, where a 2D opening shows a weak two bid in either major. They think that American players are not smart enough to handle defending against such a complicated convention, though millions of Europeans seem to handle it quite easily. Their main contention is that having a weak two in an unknown suit is unfair. My schizoid bids unequivocally meet their objections. The major suit in question is always known. Opener will either have a weak hand with six of a specific major or a very good hand with four of that suit. Defenders will almost never want to play in the anchor suit.
I also provide a simple and logical defense for these bids. There should be no possible way to argue that using them is taking advantage of inexperienced players. However, because some ACBL directors may forbid their use, I will also outline the original set of bids alluded to earlier
at the end of this chapter (P.168). Another suggestion is provided in
Appendix C (P. 175).
Using the Schizoid 2D and 2H allows the use of the Sartor 2S bid for good preempts. The Sartor 2S describes all preempts containing either two of the top three honors or AKQ in ANY suit. That means all three level preempts can have no more than one top honor. It also creates a kind of “transfer Gambling 3NT” as a side benefit.
Taken as a group, these three bids constitute the “fun zone” of the California Club system. They are useful, logical, and fun to use. A detailed summary of each bid follows.
THE TWO-WAY TWO DIAMOND BID As stated in the “Fun Zone” summary , the Schizoid 2D bid shows either
a weak two bid in hearts OR a 4441 hand with a singleton in a black suit.
It thus always guarantees at least 4 hearts. I estimate that it will be a weak two
bid about 95% of the time. It is therefore usually a transfer to hearts, exposing
the already known weak hand as dummy and leaving partner’s hand concealed.
The response system is designed to ensure that the opener’s hand winds up as
dummy if it is indeed a weak two bid. The cheapest response - 2H – indicates a
willingness to play that contract if partner is weak. The next response - 2S -
shows a good enough hand to be willing to play at least at the three level if
opener has the weak two bid. Of course, if opener shows up with the good 4441,
then the 2S response is forcing to game. Opener’s rebids define exactly which
hand he has.
Here they are in chart form:
AFTER 2D - 2H Opener bids as follows:
PASS = weak 2 bid in hearts
2S = 4441 -singleton club, 16-17 HCP (cheaper of each pair of
bids = lower black singleton/next bid = higher black singleton)