link: Bridge home page
Weak 2 icon - click for main page

Bridge: Two level preempts

Multi 2 diamonds - variations

WHOOPS! Either Javascript or a style sheet has failed. This page should be readable,but layout will be spoiled. Causes include turning Javascript off, or simply an out-of-date browser!

On technical considerations the Multi should be a Brown sticker convention as it lacks an anchor suit. However it is hugely popular over the anglophone areas of Britain Australia and New Zealand, and in Holland; less so in the ACBL jurisdiction.

As such the opening is given fairly free licence over much of the World. It is "midchart" in ACBL land where a cut-down 'weak in one nominated major' flavour is permitted. WBU and EBU generic regulations would permit in more general competition as specifying a suit whenl weak avoids the browns sticker.

So we are left with a "brown sticker" opening getting special dispensation for use right down to local club level. EBU permit just 2D but a Multi 2C is acceptable elsewhere (including WBU events).


Multi coloured 2 Diamonds

note Defined Britain's popular EBU "level 3" of competition is essentially there to allow the Multi. Definition is very specific, enforcing the multicoloured characteristic. There must be several flavours, and your mélange must contain at least two options chosen from
  • Weak two 5+ cards in hearts (compulsory option) in a style of your choice
  • Weak two 5+ cards in spades in a style of your choice
    Ambiguous major used to be compulsory. Then "weak in hearts only" was legalised in Britain in 2005. "Spades only" is quite acceptable elsewhere in the World but for some bizarre reason not here!
  • A big NT (18+) - commonly 20-21 or 22-23 is used in UK
  • Acol two (rule of 25) in clubs or diamonds
    A nice inclusion should opponents overcall .. partner is pure either weak-major or strong-minor
  • Acol two (rule of 25) in a hearts or spades (rare - and can be confusing in competitive auctions)
  • Roman 4441 strong (16+) hand (rare nowadays) but see below
  • Game forcing hand (rare)

Furthermore at least one of your strong flavours must be "reasonably frequent". It would be unacceptable to include only a 28-30 NT (this would make the opening 99.9% weak) but a 24-26 balanced has been cleared by EBU directors. Regulations define "strong" as rule of 23+, but my own preference is to play close to game force, to provide clear space between weak and strong flavours in subsequent competitive auctions.

Furthermore you may not psych a Multi, and partner must explore game if this is possible opposite any of your strong "colours". EBU allow him to pass at his own risk with a poor hand and lots of diamonds This is very generous - Bridge Law 40a gives any player this right anyway! L&EC have ruled in 2004 that psyches after the original 2D are all right (subject to fielding etc). Indeed the auction in some hands might now resemble high stakes poker.

EBU's rules have been compared to a camel. It seems there were two strong camps when it was discussed and a camel is of course a horse designed by a committee. Other jurisdictions are more permissive, for example Holland, and ACBL (higher levels) permit weak only multi's or combos that include only one major. You can legally get close to a weak only version in Britain by making a shrewd choice amongst the strong inclusions

Responses - curiously "anything" is permitted and Reese's original scheme was quite strange. Typically in 2000's Britain ...
  • Paradox advances - anticipating opener is weak in a major
    • 2H "To play opposite weak 2H" {may yet raise spades}
      Opener will pass, or convert into 2S if weak
    • 2S "game interest in hearts" only (usually 11+)
      Opener passes or chooses 3-4H holding hearts
    Commonly this ends the exchange. Opener will rebid 2NT or 3 of a suit to show a strong variant. (Multi was the paradigm for my own more general evolution of Paradox bids).
  • 2NT enquiry: usually 14+
    Responses dependent on your mixture - eg
    • 3C/3D= feeble preempt in hearts/spades
    • 3H/3S = better preempt in the suit
      (I prefer these reversed "fast arrival" = feeble, but both work fine)
    • 3NT = 23-25 balanced (or to suit your other openings)
      You need to agree what Stayman/transfers etc you need here! I trust you have agreed some system over partner's natural 3NT?
    • 4C/4D = Acol Two in the suit
      New suit now a cue bid
    2NT is sometimes used as a bluff on a weak hand and this has caused some heated exchanges in ACBL circles. If your right hand opponent advances 2NT and you have values - my advice is to double or bid!
  • 3C/3D are generally played as one round forces
  • Fast ParadoX advances are perfect for the Multi. Bid as high as you dare in the suit you don't like! I use
    • 3H= preempt to 3 level
    • 3S = preempt to 3 level in spades, or to 4 level in hearts
      Typically S Jxx H Qxxx D Ax C 9xxx
      NB - call the strain you don't like
    • If you like to advance to the 4 level you should allow partner's big hand. I use 3NT and 4C/4D as 0-9 points with 4/4 ,4/5 and 5/4 majors respectively.
    • 4 of a major is best simply as "to play"

If you choose rarer inclusions then opener may rebid naturally with big major hands.

4441 hands are in my view not a good idea. A whole gamut of conventional rebids are needed to define the singleton and range. More importantly thus type is difficult to express should your opponents get into the auction.

I like to express strong 4441's via strong 2C and 2NT rebid

Pro points Multi bundles several hand types into one bid may free 2H/S for something more exotic. It requires judgement to defend, but really very easy once you understand the opening.

Against If opponents butt in ... it is we who need judgement!

Defence There are as many defences to the Multi as it has colours - see link for separate page.

Note At the 2000 Olympiad atempts were made to play the brown sticker Wilkosz opening as Multi using Muiderberg as its weak inclusion (5-5 only - Wilkosz always has a major) This took advantage of absent WBU requirement for strong types. The directors would have none of this nonsense.

Correspondent Ruthanne Williams has reported a "Multi" 2D showing length in any suit (Turkey/internet), but this is perhaps just Terrorist preempt in another guise.


Sidestepping the UK regulations


There seems to be a classic Catch 22 in the UK rules. Although you might wish to pass 2D holding length in the suit, you are forced to bid on with any minimal values - because of the obligation to "explore reasonable game possibilities opposite a possible strong type".

S 3
H 85
D Q87532
C A854

Writing in r.g.b England International Frances Hinden gets round this rather neatly by making her only strong inclusion a 'solid suit' Acol two in diamonds! With the poor hand illustrated she can then pass, hoping for an 8 card fit in diamonds rather than risking partner correcting to spades. Frances credits the idea to Jeffrey Allerton.

There are of course further tactical possibilites in any hand with one or more diamond top and the style becomes similar to a weak only multi. Somewhat incredibly, senior EBU TDs have endorsed a 24-26 balanced inclusion as "reasonably frequent" - the solid diamonds type is more common than this, so don't worry. It certainly makes passing our example hand easier.


Alternative method using lebensohl 2NT, and minor enquiries

note Frances also posted this nice response scheme using the lebensohl puppet method..
  • Any major suit bid is pass or correct (2S may have game interest opposite hearts)
  • 3 of a minor forcing one round
  • 2NT is lebensohl, forces 3C after which responder can
    • a) pass or correct to his own suit at any level (including game in a major)
    • b) bid 3NT, offering 3NT or 4 of opener's major
    With strong types opener breaks the transfer - clearly this method is well suited to a "strong diamonds only" mix
  • 3C = major enquiry
    • 3D = spades then 3H = range enquiry
    • 3H = min in hearts
    • 3H = max in hearts
    • 3NT+ = strong options)
  • 3D = game force with own major (usually good 5 carder) - continuations are natural.
  • 3NT is to play - not to be pulled
  • 4C/D are pre-emptive


Strong 2 suited - filling in a system weakness

note Piotr Radzikowski of Krakow chooses to include awkward strong 2 suiters
"We generally play a variation of Precision club, so 1H and 1S openings are limited to 10-15 HCP. 2NT is a preempt (either very weak minor or a constructive major, usually 7+ cards) or 24-25 balanced. 2H is weak Muiderberg"

Multi choices

  • weak 6-card major, 4-9 HCP (denies 4 in other major)
  • 20-21 balanced
  • "Almost game force" two-suiters
    It is hard to develop 16-21 55+ hands after strong club

Most is standard, but after a 2H pass/correct ..

  • 3C = strong two-suiter, clubs+major (3D relay)
  • 3D = same, diamonds+hearts
  • 3H = same, spades and diamonds
  • 3S = same, both minors
after 2SS..
  • 3C = strong, clubs+major
  • 3D = strong, diamonds+major
  • 3H = weak in hearts
  • 3/4S = natural
  • 3NT = strong, both minors
  • 4C = strong, both majors
after 2NT ? ..
  • 3C = weak hearts (then 3H passable, 3D GF relay)
  • 3D = weak spades (3S passable, 3H GF relay)
  • 3H = strong two-suiter with hearts
  • 3/4S = strong two-suiter, spades+minor
  • 3NT = 20-21 balanced
  • 4C = strong two-suiter, both minors
Complex, but it all seems to work.

Tayloring in with your system

note John (MadDog) Probst of London plays another Precision optimised version, prefering to include a strong 4441 type, and with hearts as the only the weak option. EBU restriction of this (to level 4) was relaxed in 2005. John kindly sent his notes .. Mad Dog Probst
2D-2H To play facing weak 2 else 4441 distibution
.. 2S stiff M 17-20, 2N?
.. .. 3C stiff H 17-20, 3D?
.. .. .. 3H 17-18
.. .. .. 3S 19-20
.. .. 3D, stiff S 17-18
.. .. 2NT stiff C 17-20, 3C?
.. .. .. 3D, 17-18
.. .. .. 3H, 19-20
.. 3C stiff D 17-20, 3H?
.. .. 3S, 17-18
.. .. 3N, 19-20

.. 3D stiff H 21-24
.. 3H stiff S 21-24
.. 3S stiff C 21-24
.. 3N stiff D 21-24

2D-2S ? Capable of handling weak-2 in H
.. 2N 4441 17-24 any 3C?
.. .. 3D stiff H 17-20
.. .. 3H stiff S 17-20
.. 3S stiff C 17-20
.. .. 3N stiff D 17-20

After this, bidding into stiff asks for controls from 4 up

.. .. 4C stiff D 21-24
.. .. 4D stiff H 21-24
.. .. 4H stiff S 21-24
.. .. 4S stiff C 21-24

After strong sequences, bidding stiff is ?controls from 6 up, then wholesale queens. After weaker 4441s the control scale is 4 up. Any bid other than these is Natural to play

John uses his now spare 2H bid for the Precision short diamonds type, gaining on the cloverleaf strong hands. I did warn you that 4441 sequences could be complex. If you are into asking bid for three suiters then I would offer my own approach which can be adapted by any competent systems buff.


An alternative 4441 method

note I too am a beliver in keeping 4441 strongs out of normal bidding (I go via my 2C). In a Multi, the following approach should work but has only been tested at the table wrt the 3 suiters. It maintains both majors as inclusions together with the awkward 4441's. My strong preference is to value 4441's by losing count rather than points as this makes it very easy for responder to assess the right level for play. I have also found a way to find out about that trump suit queen for grand slam. I agree with John (and the Blue team) that A=2 K=1 bulk control showing works just fine.

2D - 2H = pass/correct, as ever
2D - 2S = paradox raise of hearts, as ever
2D - 2NT = paradox raise of hearts = forcing enquiry as ever

What can we now include and still sort out later? The problem is 2D-2NT, but as that should show 12+ we should be safe to game level. I'd suggest:

2D - 2NT = forcing enquiry, as ever
..3C = Any long major type
..3D and above as my 4441 method "as if a 3C enquiry had been made". This is proven to work well .. over 6 seasons now/p>

Over the 2H/S response, a 2NT rebid shows the 4441 type. Then 3C enquiry and continuations exactly as above. To sort out opener's 3C="long major" reply to 2NT - You'll need ParadoX again, as you want to pack the sequence efficiently and perhaps still play in 3M.

2D - 2NT
..3C - 3D = GF: please call 3-major if weak, 4-level if stong
..3C - 3H = NF ParadoX call: (may yet raise spades)
..3C - 3S = NF ParadoX call: ... support for hearts!

It's up to you whether you want opener to always call game with a maximum, depending on this and how you play the 2NT response you might code (and remember!) futher options.

There is no room to fit in a massive no trump inclusion as well, but should the auction become competitive your high level decisions are all the simpler. If you play your multi "hearts only" you could probably pack in a strong no trump too, but will have to write your own coded sequence ....


Early history of the Multi

annals don Quixote The Multi emerged in England, somewhat dubiously during the 70's. The EBU's rules and ethics comittee minutes first mention it as a failed application from Terence Reese.
16 December 1970 - Multi-coloured Two Diamonds An application from Mr J T Reese for this system, which covers weak two bids in the majors, a very strong 2NT opening or a Roman 2 diamond bid was refused any type of licence by a vote of seven to one.

Stan Collins of Harrowgate tells me that his partner John Rumbelow had proposed what was virtually the Multi method to EBU from Singapore in 1972. Again this is minuted as "declined". Minutes do not detail exact method or reason, but perhaps their chosen epithet of "RumCol" didn't help. There is also a report of multi ideas from Northern Ireland. What is clear is that this was a major area of thoretical debate in the late '60s.

The convention was finally given a restricted 'A' licence in 1974 under somewhat dubious circumstances. A tediously long R&E committee meeting on 4th December had failed to complete its agenda. The eight members present agreed to adjourn to 19 December - that's just before Christmas. Not surprisingly attendance was poor (5 apologies), but given that new conventions were supposed to undergo a formal proposal and acceptance process and that this meeting was barely quorate, the four who made it somehow felt able to agree the following astonishing minute (quoted verbatim)

19 December 1974 - (3) Multi-coloured 2D opening bid In view of the numbers of applications received for the licencing of this bid, the fact that it is now widely played in international events and the amount of publicity which it has received, the committee decided on its own initiative to give it and "A" licence for a strictly limited period until the 31st December 1975. This was voted by a majority of 3 to one. Details :- It covers three types of holdings. A weak two bid in the majors; Balanced hand of either above or below a 2NT opening bid, by decision of the partnership; Roman 2D type, with 4-4-4-1 shape, with 17-20 points if the singleton in the minor suit and with 21-23 if singleton in the major suit. Responses Always assume opener has weak two bid. 2H = negative; 2S = prepared to play in 2S or 3H; Opener passes 2S if that is his suit, rebids 3C to show a maximim weak 2H, rebids 3H to show a minmum weak 2H. 3C/D/H/S to play. 2NT forcing, over which opener rebids 3C = maximum weak 2H; 3D = maximum weak 2S; 3H = minimum weak 2H; 3S = minimum weak 2S.
A rebid in no-trumps shows the balanced type of strong hand. The Roman 2D type is shown by bidding the "odd man out", ie 4H = single S; 4S = single H; 4C = single S; 4D = single C.

The licence was extended in October 1975. Multi then really took off in the late 70's led by the Reese/Flint partnership, who promoted it as a constructive opening It seems likely that Multi's generally Anglo-Saxon distribution may reflect the celebrity of these two English players during that era. There is a minuted "protest" from a lady in Cumbria.

An April 1976 minute asked C D Dixon to summarise defenses to be published in the May EBU quarterly, and the "Dixon defence" is still the most popular in this country. There is also an undefined reference to "Acol type Multi 2D" in that year. Perhaps a strong two.

In 1978 a "blanket" Multi licence permitted the following inclusions

  • Balanced 18+
  • One suiter - "Weak Two"
  • One suiter - 11 to 14
  • One suiter - Acol Two
  • Two suiter - Flannery 17+
  • Three suiter - 18+

Such was the popularity of the Multi that a later L&E comittee was instructed by Council to create a special competition category for it during the move to generic licences. EBU 'level 3' at inception was almost identical to level two, with Multi added restricted as above. In practice this quickly became the default regulation for most UK club and congress bridge.

From 1st April 2005 there will be a further relaxation to allow a Multi in which the only weak option is a long heart suit.

As for the name - "colour" is a term used in many European languages for suits: hearts, clubs etcetera. However in England we don't use this word and I doubt that Multi a reference to heart/spade ambiguity. The musical "Joseph's Technicolour Dreamcoat" was a London hit in the 70's and this might have been an influence. I guess it reflects the multiplicity of strong and weak options, as well as the major ambiguity.

CSS "" Style sheet control has failed. Pages on this site should still be readable, but layout may be spoiled. Your browser may be out of date, or style sheets disabled !!

link: site uses validated HTML-4.01 and CSS-2 - visit for more info © Chris Ryall 1987-2008