Summary of Imprecise Precision¶
This version of the Precision bidding system is less than a full expert system, but more than just the basics. I call it Imprecise Precision. Imprecise Precision tries to incorporate a set of key ideas that are manageable by non-experts. I have synthesized it from studying a variety of other systems listed in the References.
Version 7.0 puts back the previous treatment of rattlesnakes and 2M responses to 1C.
Version 6.0 12-14 NT range instead of 14-16; improved scheme for interference.
Version 5.1 (April 2015) upgrades the HTML version to use the Alabaster theme.
Version 5.0 (January 2015) changes the preemptive and rattlesnake-related bids over one club openers. The chapter on check-back has been returned to the Advanced Bidding book. I’ve also eliminated the chapter on my conventions with local partners as we never achieved consensus.
Summary of Imprecise Precision¶
ImprecisePrecision defines the meaning of the opening bids up to and including 2N. Above 2N you may use any scheme you’re used to. The 1N range is 12-15 HCP, and all stronger hands are opened 1♣. If you are uncomfortable with this NT range, you can play 12-14, 13-15, or 14-16 (the most popular). That requires some fairly obvious changes.
We briefly describe each opening bid here. Then we cover your choices about competitive bidding and explain a special bid called Beta. The subsequent chapters fill in the details.
Strong Hands (16+ HCP)¶
We open 1♣! with any hand with 16+ HCP, except some 16 point balanced hands with a defect such as no five card suit. We also open 1♣! with a 15 HCP hand containing an excellent six-card suit and a stiff or void.
1♣! has no upper limit and absolutely may not be passed. The system after this opening is covered in its own chapter, Opening One Club.
The principal benefit of the strong 1♣ opening doesn’t spring from opening 1♣. Rather, it is the limited range of the other openings. When you open 1♦, 1♥, 1♠, 2♣!, or 2♦!, your range is limited to 11-15, and it isn’t a “good 15”. This enables us to stay low when appropriate or jump to game without worrying about missing a slam.
The 1♣ opening can also lead to a number of elegant slam explorations, since we start out as low as possible. Minor suit slams in particular are easier to find safely.
Any balanced hand (with shape 4333, 4432, or 5332) is opened 1N if it has 12-14 HCP. This includes hands containing a five card major, so we play 1N - 3C! as Puppet Stayman.
With a balanced 15-16 HCP hand, we open 1♦ and rebid notrump (alerted). With 16 HCP and a good 5332 hand we will sometimes open 1♣!.
Intermediate Hands (11-15 HCP)¶
Any 11-15 HCP hand that we open in a suit is not 5332. Therefore, it has two suits. In what follows, “notrump” can be thought of as the “second suit”.
This bid is announced as possibly as short as two cards. It helps to think of 1♦ as between a standard 1♣ and 1♦.
We open 2♣! with six clubs. Opening 1♦ therefore shows four+ diamonds or five clubs, or the strong notrump hand.
The strong notrump aside, we cannot have just 3 diamonds and 4 clubs or it would be a hand that could be opened 1N or 1M.
With values concentrated in the minors, 11 HCP hands can be passed.
Shows a five card major and another four-card suit. The range is limited to 11-15, which is a key feature of the system. Because of the limited range, some responses are not standard.
This bid requires six clubs. It may contain a four- or even five-card major. However, in third seat with five good clubs we sometimes open 2♣! rather than open 1♦ and rebid 2♣.
The allowed shapes are 4=3=1=5, 3=4=1=5, 4=4=1=4, 4=4=0=5. One way to remember this is “4=4=1=5 missing one card somewhere”. Another is “0 or 1 diamonds, no five card major, and no six card club suit”.
Note how these bids fit together. With 11-15 HCP, if you have five clubs, and no five card major, you are either short in diamonds and should open 2♦! or can open 1♦ or 1N.
2♥, 2♠ are standard preemptive openers.
Of course, they are not preemptive in fourth seat but rather show 11-15 with a six card suit.
Shows at least 5-5 in the minors with limited strength: 4-8 HCP if not vulnerable, 8-12 HCP if vulnerable. Responses are to play except for a 3♥! inquiry.
Most competitive bidding is identical to standard methods; with Precision you often have better information about the range of partner’s hand. You can use whatever versions of things like Michaels, Unusual NT, Lebensohl, etc. that you are comfortable with.
Precision-specific strategies are given in the descriptions for interference after 1♦, 2♣!, 2♦!, and 2N! openers. Interference With The One Club Opener has a chapter of its own, including Interference Over Asking Bids.
Beta is a key bid in Precision. It asks for a count of Aces and Kings, counting A=2 and K=1. The responder bids steps to show how many he has:
- The first step response corresponds to responder having no more than expected given the auction. For example, if responder is known to hold 8+ HCP, the first step will represent 0 to 2 controls, and we will write it Beta(2).
- The second step would be one more than the minimum, three steps for two more, etc.
Except for one case Imprecise Precision has only Beta(2) calls. That means:
- First step is an Ace, or two Kings, or less.
- Second step is an Ace and a King, or three Kings.
- Third step is two Aces, an Ace and two Kings, or four Kings.
You subtract one from the count total to get the step; you translate n steps into n+1 count.
Note that what are called “count” replies to a standard strong 2♣ opener are similar but not quite the same.
Interference with Beta is covered in Interference With Asking Bids.
Bidding Balanced Hands¶
A balanced hand may contain a five-card suit, but does not have two doubletons.
- 12-15 HCP: Open 1N. Any hand with a 5332 shape in this range is opened 1N.
- 16+ HCP: Open 1♣! Good 15 HCP hands with a five card suit can often be opened 1♣!.
If you get a positive response to 1♣!, you’re in a game forcing auction. See Opening One Club for continuations.
After a negative 1♣! - 1♦!(0-7), there is a special double meaning to 1♥! as explained in The Heart Relay. Except for some weak distributional hands, the responder will relay with 1♠!.
After 1♣! - 1♦!, we have three notrump bids, 1N, 2N, and 3N; and at each level you can bid it directly or first use the heart relay. Using the heart relay first will show a stronger hand.
We need a sequence that means a strong hand (usually with a long minor) and no interest in slam after the negative 1♦! response. 1♣! - 1♦! - 3N seems like a natural for this.
That suggests removing that bid from the scheme, leaving five steps.
- 1♣! - 1♦! - 1N! => 16-18
- 1♣! - 1♦! - 1♥! - 1♠! - 1N! => 19-21
- 1♣! - 1♦! - 2N! => 22-24
- 1♣! - 1♦! - 1♥! - 1♠! - 2N! => 25-27
- 1♣! - 1♦! - 1♥! - 1♠! - 3N! => 28+.
Remember, 1♣! - 1♦! - 3N is to play.
After any of the above sequences the system is “on”, transferring even if the responder has already bid the suit. For example:
1♣! - 1♦!(0-7) 1♥!(hearts or strong NT) - 1♠!(relay) 1N!(19-21) - 2♥!(transfer to spades)
lets the responder show his five spades, even though responder will play a spade contract.
After 1♣! - 1♦! - 1N!(16-18), 2♣! can be bid as ordinary Stayman in three circumstances:
- Stayman with 8 HCP. (Yes, opener may have 18, but don’t bid 2♣! with 7 HCP.);
- When intending to pass the reply;
- When 5-4 in the majors, intending to bid the five card suit at the two level if the reply is 2♦. (Garbage Stayman).
The sequence 1♣! - 1♦! - 1N! - 2♠! is the ordinary minor-suit relay to 3♣, pass or correct to 3♦.
For any of the sequences that show 19+ HCP balanced hands, the lowest level of clubs is Puppet Stayman, and the lowest level of spades is Minor Suit Stayman (5-4 in the minors).
If 1N is doubled, we use this runout, although you can use any of the runouts described in Defensive Conventions.
Meckstroth and Rodwell’s escapes are like the Meckwell bids over 1N, with the usual D.O.N.T. corrections on two-suited bids.
- Pass! shows a weak hand, with clubs, diamonds, or both majors. Opener bids 2♣!. Next, responder passes with clubs; bids 2♦ with 5 cards in diamonds; or 2♥ shows 4-4 majors.
- 2♣ promises clubs and a higher suit, 4-4 at least.
- 2♦ promises diamonds and a higher suit, 4-4 at least.
- 2♥ and 2♠ are natural five-card suits.
- Redouble is natural, showing values.
The only strong opening is 1♣!. It has its own chapter.
Intermediate suit openings are 11-15 HCP. They are 1♥, 1♠, 2♣!, and 2♦!. You should play Two-Way New Minor Forcing / XYZ if possible. (See Advanced Bidding.) An 11 HCP hand rarely be opened 1♦.
The two of a major preemptive bids are standard. (Remember, 2♦! is not preemptive).
2N is a preemptive unusual 2N for the minors, whose strength depends on the vulnerability.
The sections in this chapter explain the details.
Opening One Of A Major¶
Opening of one of a major shows 11-15 HCP, instead of the standard 12-21 point range. It also promises a second four-card suit, because any 5332 hand is opened 1N. Responses by an unpassed hand:
1♥ - 1♠!(not forcing) shows 4+♠ and less than game-forcing values; however, if opener supports spades the revaluation of the hand may change that. A new suit after such support is a help-suit game try. Opener should only pass with a minimum.
1M - 1N is 6-10 HCP, no support. Not forcing. Opener bids second suit to ask for suit preference, or passes to play.
1M - 2♣! is an artificial game force. Responses are given below.
1M - 2M is 6-10- HCP, 3 or more card support.
1M - 2♦/2W show five card suits, invitational.
1M - 2N denies 4 cards in M, usually balanced, invitational. May have five+ clubs.
1M - 3M is invitational, four trump.
1M - 4M!(may not be weak)
A direct game bid shows a hand whose strength may vary anywhere from the standard weak hand with five trumps to a relatively balanced 12-13 HCP hand with 3+-card support.
Be sure to alert. The upper limit on the 1M bid makes this possible. However, be careful not to rule out skinny slams by making this bid with more values. Opener will be able to revalue his hand when you show support, and we know he has shape.
There is no requirement to play this structure – you can basically play 2/1 with 2N Jacoby or natural, but with the 1M - 4M! bid replacing the standard preemptive one. Jacoby would have to show a much stronger hand than normal to be of interest for slam, because opener is limited to 15 HCP, and therefore is marginal.
The Two Club Forcing Bid¶
The bid 1M - 2♣! is game forcing and artificial. It is not necessarily a raise of M but could be. Opener replies to 2♣! by bidding his second suit, X; 2N! shows clubs. With a 6-4 opener can rebid the six-card major, or choose to show a second suit and rebid the major later.
Since 1M - 4M! would have shown a raise with at most 12-13 points, no interest in slam, there are two other raises available to responder to show varying degrees of slam interest:
- 1M - 2♣! - 2x - 4M shows 14-16/17 with support, and leaves the ball in the opener’s court. That means the opener should pass unless re-evaluating his hand with the fit makes him interested in slam.
- 1M - 2♣! - 2X - 3M is available to show slam interest in the responder, say 17+ . Opener should cue bid.
With no fit in M, but a fit in X, the sequel depends on what X is.
1♠ - 2♣! - 2♥: With 4+ hearts, responder bids 4♥, or 3♥ to ask opener to begin cue-bidding.
1♠ - 2♣! - 2♥ - 2N does not deny three hearts but does deny 4♥ or 3♠; opener then has a chance to show extra length in one of the majors, or to bid his lowest minor stopper.
1M - 2♣! - 2N!(clubs): Responder with 4+ clubs bids 3♣. Opener can bid diamonds, W, or 3N; the first two deny a stopper in the other.
1M - 2♣! - 2♦: Responder with 4+ diamonds bids 3♦. Opener can bid 3W to deny a club stopper but show a W stopper, or 3N if both suits are stopped.
With no fit in either of opener’s suits, the only possibility for an 8-card fit is if opener has a third suit or fragment.
- 1M - 2♣! - 2X - 3N shows stoppers in both unbid suits and is to play.
- 1M - 2♣! - 2X - 2N is waiting. Opener can show a fragment, rebid X / clubs to show extra length, rebid his major to show six, or bid 3N to play.
- 1M - 2♣! - 2N!(clubs):
Opening One Diamond¶
About The Amorphous Diamond¶
Opening 1♦ is the “catch-all” opening if no other opening applies. It can be as few as 2 diamonds, such as a 3=3=2=5 shape, because opening 2♣! requires six clubs.
Some of the time 1♦ is the prelude to a 1N rebid to show a 15-16 HCP balanced hand. Otherwise 1♦ is probably a diamond opener, or it could be some combination of diamonds and five or less clubs. Think of it as a bid between a standard one club and one diamond. “Amorphous diamond” is a phrase some use to describe it.
We open 1♦ if we have 12-15 HCP, two or more diamonds, and no other bid applies.
Announce the bid as “as short as two”. Your hand is not balanced and does not have a six-card club suit or a five-card major, so either you have four+ diamonds or you have five clubs.
With 11 HCP or a flat 12 HCP, do not open if you have poor major holdings, especially if vulnerable or with poor intermediates. However, a hand with an AK in one suit and an Ace in another can be opened since it has 3 quick-tricks.
Responder bids a four-card major with 6 HCP. Note that the lowest notrump response is 8 HCP. That means, no major, less than 8, just pass. Passing 1♦ is scary, but as Oliver Clarke remarks,
Partner should not be afraid to pass with a weak hand whether or not it contains Diamond support. It is rare that opponents will be able to profit significantly if they pass the hand out when having the balance of the points, whether or not they have Diamonds. Normally they will bid or double for takeout.
1♦ should be announced, “As short as two.” Then:
Pass shows 0-7 HCP. With four diamonds and a minimal hand, lean toward pass. With fewer than 3 diamonds, and 4-5 HCP, you can consider 1M as an interfering tactical response.
1♥ shows 6+ HCP, forcing one round, with four hearts. Bidding continues almost naturally.
Any rebid other than a raise denies four hearts. Opener’s rebid:
- 1♠ shows 4 spades. Forcing one round.
- 1N! shows a 15-16 HCP balanced hand.
- 2♣ shows a shape of (31)45.
- 2♦ shows five or six diamonds.
- 2♥ shows 4 hearts, 11-13 HCP. Can be bid with 3 good hearts and a singleton.
- 2♠ shows five spades and six diamonds.
- 2N! shows a max, six good diamonds, and stoppers in spades and clubs. If responder now bids 3♦ it must be passed.
- 3♣ shows 5-5 or better in good suits in the minors, 14-15 HCP.
- 3♦ shows 6 or 7 good diamonds, 14-15 HCP.
- 3♥ shows 4 hearts, 14-15 HCP and probably an outside singleton.
- 4♦! shows six diamonds to the AKQ, four hearts to at least one of the top 3 honors.
- 4♥! shows four very good trump, or five hearts to at least one high honor, and six good diamonds.
1♠ is similar to 1♥ with the obvious changes. In particular:
- 2♥ (reverse) shows four hearts, and 14-15 HCP.
- 2♠ shows four spades but can be bid with 3 spades and a singleton.
- 3♥ shows five hearts and six diamonds.
- 3♠ shows 14-15 HCP, four spades and probably an outside singleton.
1N shows 8-10, no four card major. Opener may pass or bid as follows:
- 2♣ shows at least 4 diamonds and 4 clubs. With an unbalanced minimum, this allows responder to pass or correct, since he has at least one four-card minor.
- 2♦ shows at least five diamonds, non-forcing.
- 2♥ (reverse) shows five or six diamonds and four hearts, maximum.
- 2♠ (reverse) shows five or six diamonds and four spades, maximum.
- 2N! shows the 15-16 HCP balanced hand. Responder with 10 HCP should bid game.
- 3♣ shows at least five diamonds and five clubs, both suits are very good, and the bid is highly invitational but not forcing.
- 3♦ is a very good six- or seven-card diamond suit, non-forcing.
- 3♥ is five hearts and six diamonds, forcing.
- 3♠ is five spades and six diamonds, forcing.
2♣ shows 11+ HCP, five+ clubs, and is forcing to 2N. With less than 13 HCP, you should bid a four-card major first. With a game-forcing hand, bid the major next if appropriate.
Opener rebids naturally:
- 2♦ at least five diamonds.
- 2♥ or 2♠ shows a four-card major and 4+ diamonds.
- 2N! shows a hand 4=5 in the minors or a balanced 15-16 HCP. If the latter, the opener does not have both majors stopped.
- 3♣ is a five-card club raise.
- 3♦ shows an excellent diamond suit;
- 3♥ or 3♠ is a five-card major and six diamonds.
- 3N shows 14-16 points at least semi-balanced with stoppers in the major suits.
After 2♦ or 2♥ or 2♠, if responder bids 2N! or 3♣, the auction may end. Any other bid is a game force.
2♦! shows 11+ HCP, four or more diamonds, and is forcing to 2N. It denies a major. Opener bids:
- 2♥ shows a heart stopper.
- 2♠ shows a spade stopper and denies a heart stopper.
- 2N! shows a balanced hand up to 16 HCP; if responder bids 3♦ opener must pass.
- 3♣ is exactly five clubs and only two diamonds. May be passed. If responder bids 3♦, opener must pass.
- 3♦ is four or more diamonds, a minimum in HCP. May be passed.
- 3♥! / 3♠! are splinters, 4 or more diamonds.
- 3N semi-balanced with 14-16 HCP and stoppers in the major suits.
- 4♣! is a splinter, five or more diamonds.
Whenever either partner bids 2N or 3♦ the auction may end. 1♦ - 2♦! - 3♣ can also be passed. Otherwise we’re headed for 3N or 4♦. Responder bidding 4♣! in such cases is RKC for diamonds.
2♥! is five spades, four hearts, pass or correct. (Reverse Flannery)
2♠! is five spades, four hearts, invitational. (Reverse Flannery)
2N is invitational, no four card major.
3♣! is game forcing with slam interest. Responder has either a one-suited club hand or a two-suited hand in diamonds and clubs with the clubs longer. (Soloway JS)
3♦! is preemptive with six diamonds.
3♥, 3♠ are natural preempts.
3N shows 14-15 HCP, balanced.
4♣! is RKC for diamonds either directly over 1♦ or when bid by responder after any auction that agrees diamonds.
1♦! - 4♦! is preemptive, seven or eight diamonds
1♦! - 4♥ / 4♠ are to play.
Since we have taken away the jump-shifts in the majors, a responder with strong hand and a long major must start at the one level and then try to force.
Interference Over One Diamond Openers¶
If 1♦ is doubled, responder must redouble with any hand containing 10+ HCP. Otherwise,
- Pass if no suitable bid.
- 1M five+ cards or a great four such as AKJT, 5-9 HCP.
- 1N balanced, 7-9 HCP.
- 2♣ five or six clubs, less than 10 HCP, not forcing.
- 2♦ five or six diamonds, less than 10 HCP, not forcing.
- 2♥ or 2♠ preemptive with a good six-card suit, 4-7 HCP.
- 2N! shows 5-5 in the minors, 7-9 HCP
If opponent overcalls a suit,
- Pass – no suitable bid
- Double is negative
- All non-jump suit bids except 2♦ are forcing
- 1N is natural, 7-9 HCP, with a stopper
- 2N is game forcing with their suit well stopped, 12+ HCP.
- All jumps in new suits show 5-8 HCP and six or seven cards in the suit bid, non-forcing
- A cue bid of their suit shows either the Ace and a small card, or the K or Q and two small cards, indicating a desire to play 3N from opener’s side. (Western Cue).
If responder passes, opener should usually reopen with a double if short in their suit. With the strong notrump hand, a double or 1N can be considered.
Opening Two Clubs¶
The 2♣! opener is a constructive bid with 11-15 HCP and at least six clubs. A hand with a five-card major and six clubs can be opened 2♣.
In third seat a hand with five good clubs that would open 1♦ and rebid 2♣ can be opened 2♣! as a preemptive bid, especially not vulnerable.
The responses are:
Pass – don’t be afraid to pass with a weak hand, the opener has a six-card suit.
2♦! is artificial and forcing, asking for a further description of opener’s hand. Strong hands will all start this way. Responses below.
2♥ / ♠ show five card suits and are not forcing, usually 8 to a bad 10 points.
Generally with 2 or more cards in the major, opener should pass, except with fabulous clubs.
With a singleton or void in the bid suit, opener will rebid 3♣. Over 2♥, opener can show a four-card spade suit. However, over 2♠ a bid of 3♥ is a reverse, showing five hearts and at least six clubs. Likewise, a bid of 3♦ over a 2M response would show five diamonds and at least six clubs.
2N is natural, invitational, 10-11 HCP. Opener declines if he bids 3♣. Opener can bid 3M to show a four-card major on the way to game.
3♣ is preemptive based on a club fit.
3♦ / 3♥ / 3♠ show six-card suits and game-forcing values.
3N shows 13-15, balanced, stoppers in the unbid suits.
4♦! is RKC for clubs, either directly or after any auction beginning 2♣ that agrees clubs.
4M is to play.
Responding to the Inquiry¶
Opener’s responses after the 2♣! - 2♦! inquiry are:
- 2♥ = 4 hearts
- 2♠ = 4 spades
- 2N denies a four-card major, shows a relatively balanced 11-13 points.
- 3♣ = default response if nothing else applies
- 3♦ = four or five diamonds.
- 3♥ = five+ hearts, six+ clubs.
- 3♠ = five+ spades, six+ clubs.
- 3N = solid club suit or 14-15 balanced, suitable for notrump.
Subsequently, 4♦! by responder is RKC for clubs except after 2♣! - 2♦! - 3♦, where it is invitational to 5♦.
Interference Over Two Clubs¶
- If the 2♣! opener is doubled, the system is on; redouble shows 10+ and is penalty oriented.
- After an overcall, a double is negative; otherwise use Lebensohl. If you don’t know Lebensohl just agree that 2N! shows a competitive hand with a long suit, asking opener to bid 3♣!(relay).
Opening Two Diamonds¶
The Precision 2♦! opener shows shortness in diamonds, no five-card major, and 11-15 HCP. Recall that you must have two diamonds to open 1♦, so this bid covers a number of hand shapes that are not otherwise covered.
The possible shapes are 3=4=1=5, 4=3=1=5, 4=4=1=4, and 4=4=0=5.
It is NOT correct to say the shape is “like mini-Roman with a diamond shortage” or “4441”
Pass, 2♥, 2♠, and 3♣ are to play. After 2♥, if opener has a 4=3=1=5, he must bid 2♠; then responder passes or corrects to 3♣ or 3♥, depending on his holding.
2N!(inquiry) bid is forcing and asks for a description of the opener’s hand, to which opener mainly replies to show his holdings in hearts or spades. Since opener has at least one four-card major, he shows it.
- 3♣! shows a shape of 3=4=1=5 (shows 4 hearts, but not 4 spades)
- 3♦! shows a shape of 4=3=1=5 (shows 4 spades but not 4 hearts)
- 3♥! shows a shape of 4=4=1=4 (4 hearts and 4 spades)
- 3♠! shows a shape of 4=4=0=5 (4 hearts, and 4 spades, diamond void)
- 3N! shows a shape of 4=4=1=4 with the Ace or King of Diamonds and a 15-point hand.
After the reply, 4♦! is Beta (2), asking for a count of controls.
3♦! is Beta (2).
Interference Over Two Diamonds¶
- If there is an overcall of 2♦!, 2N! is on. A double is for penalty.
- If 2♦! is doubled (usually showing diamonds)
- Redouble shows a willingness to penalize it. Responder has diamonds.
- Pass is waiting:
- Opener will redouble if 4414 or 4405 with a minimum;
- Bid 2♥ if 3=4=1=5; or maximum with hearts and maybe spades.
- Bid 2♠ if 4=3=1=5, or maximum with spades but not hearts.
- All other bids over the double are as if there was no interference: 2N! asks shape, 2M or 3♣ to play, 3♦ to play, 3♦ Beta(2).
Unusual 2N Opener¶
Open 2N with hands at least 5-5 in the minors with limited strength: 4-8 HCP if not vulnerable, 8-12 HCP if vulnerable.
Responses are all to play, except 2N! - 3♥!(inquiry), which is Ogust-like:
- 3♠! means a minimum 5-5 hand for the vulnerability.
- 3N! maximum hand for the vulnerability.
- 4♣ six clubs, five diamonds, minimum.
- 4♦ six diamonds, five clubs, minimum.
- 4♥! six clubs, five diamonds, maximum.
- 4♠! six diamonds, five clubs, maximum.
- 4N! six - six in the minors.
Interference Over 2N¶
If the opponents double 2N!, the system is on. If they interfere by making a suit bid, any double is for penalty.