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Bridge: The UK Acol bidding style

This guide to the Acol style of bidding is meant to reflect what one might expect sitting down with a pickup partner and agreeing to play 'Acol' or 'Benjaminised Acol'.

The principles used when both sides are bidding are common to all bridge. You should be less keen to support partner's possibly 4 card major.

.. much on this page is of course just .. "bridge"

Acol summary

Responding to
one of a Suit


Weak No Trump

Opening 2 level:
- Standard Acol
- Benjamin style


Slam Bidding


Play conventions


Competitive auctions

Overcall bring you outside "system" into "bridge" and the following simply reflects UK style, tempered by underlying weak 1NT and 4 card majors. Most "Acol" bridge is played in the modern style with takeout "Sputnik" doubles and unassuming cues available. I would recommend agreeing "sputnik up to 2S level" or whatever explicitly. Check whether jump overcalls are weak intermediate or strong - not discussed, assume about 13 points and a six card suit.

They open
  • Overcalls show a 5 cards suit and normally suggest a lead
  • Double should deny a 5 card major or 6 card minor unless very strong
    A player who doubles and then bids a suit has 17+ and forcing 1 round
    A player who doubles and then bids NT has 18+ and and a stop
    The sequence (1-any) double 1-major double shows the suit (exposing a psych)
  • 1NT overcall shows 15-18 and a good stop - default should be full 1NT system on
  • Jump overcalls vary and should be discussed - assume opening hand 6 carder otherwise
  • 2NT overcall is usually UNT
  • 3NT overcall is 'to play'
  • Cue overcall could be Micheals, or (old style) a massive hand (use your judgement with an unknown partner)
  • A 3NT overcall is to play (usually a minor to run)
  • In any competitive auction: 4 of a major is usually to play
Overcalling their 1NT
  • Default defence is natural, and double = top of their range. There are many others ...
We open, they overcall
  • If they overcall - modern default is double takeout to 2S level (but some still play penalty). 4 card majors are a mixed blessing here. You may have to raise 2M on 3 cards, especially with a ruffing value. At least partner has got his major bid in somewhat more often!
  • A cue bid nearly always shows a sound raise to three (10-12)
  • A "modern" raise to 3 or 4 therefore shows length (4+)
  • Splinters stay on if played
  • 2NT is natural, 3NT to play
They double for takeout
  • Minimum new suit is traditionally non forcing - and may be only 3 card
  • Raises are made a level higher preemptively (within reason)
  • 2NT opposite a major shows the sound raise
  • 1NT shows values 7-9 and a stop in the other major
  • redouble suggests a penalty 9+. Ideally short in partner's suit. You won't get rich if there is fit about.
They overcall our 1NT
  • Default x is for business
  • lebensolh is not o unless agreed - and there are 2 types! Agree whether 3NT shows, or denies a stop!
They double our 1NT
  • Default xx is for business, sets up a forcing pass over their bids
  • Pass is also to play
  • Suit is weak take out (there are many fancy methods)
Partner overcalls
  • I think that a new suit is forcing unless you have passed. But some play this as NF ...
  • ... However a cue says bid again. In the modern style it's a sound raise to 3
  • A new suit when passed usually has something for partner's suit
  • 1NT shows 11-14 and a stop
  • x should be sound (11+, couple of tricks) in case partner passes it!
  • New suit is natural and limited to about an opening bid
  • Jump new suit usually intermediate and length. 3C/D should be HHxxxx, an entry and 3NT suggestion
  • 2NT varies natural or inors, but cue usually suggests a good 2 suiter
They open a preempt
  • Default double is for takeout = opening hand points, a queen or so lighter in 4th
  • (4H) x = takeout
  • (4S) x = penalty ... 4NT is now used for takeout. ie standard methods.

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