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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'.

Unfortunately there is no 'Standard Acol' system and its 4cM Weak 1NT chassis gets much modified. For slam purposes a good partner should understand a cue bid, but poorer one's won't. You should assume 'Gerber' will not be understood.

Acol summary

Responding to
one of a Suit


Weak No Trump

Opening 2 level:
- Standard Acol
- Benjamin style


Slam Bidding


Play conventions


Slam tries at Acol

There isn't too much different from other systems here. A partnership must identify the level of fit and that it has excess strength.
  • Default Blackwood is "ol' Easley's" version with 0,1,2,3,4 ace responses.
  • Gerber is not commonly used (and so should be explicitly agreed)
  • Default RKCB (only if agreed) is 3041 method with responses
    Roman Key Card Blackwood
    4NT - 5C = 0 or 3 'aces' (trump K another ace)
    4NT - 5D = 1 or 4 of the five aces
    4NT - 5H = 2 or 5, no trump queen
    4NT - 5S = 2 or 5 with the trump queen

    Over 5C/D the lowest non-trump call asks for 5NT or cue a king with the trump queen .. otherwise sign off in lowest trump contract. 5NT says all key cards are held ? kings not yet shown

    You will occasionally hear 5NT or 6x response to 4NT! 5NT shows 2 aces and a "useful" void. 6 of a new suit is 1 ace and cues a void. 6 of our suit is 1 ace, void in a higher suit. 4031 RKCB is also in use but should be agreed explicitly. "Out of the blue" RKCB agrees the last suit called naturally.
  • Cues Generally a new suit at the 4 level should be a cue agreeing the last called suit. Default is that is is an ace or void. Subsequent cue of a "missed" suit is second round control. Italian style cues which include kings and singletons are becoming popular again, best combined with RKCB and needing a sound understanding of the method! You will also see 4 level cues of their suit in competitive auctions and opposite a good player this may simple mean "I have a really good raise of your suit" rather than control - the "unassuming cue".
  • Raises of 1NT or 2NT to 4NT are quantitative, and commonly played as passable Blackwood. A transfer, followed by 4NT is probably RKCB if these are agreed. With trad. Blackwood it is simply ambiguous.
  • Calls of 4C/4D opposite major openings are usually splinter bids showing four trumps, 7 losers and shortage. You shouldn't assume any other splinters unless you have agreed explicitly
  • Raises of minor suit to the 4 level are best played as forcing and slam ambition "please cue"
  • Raises of a major to the 5 level should only be made once partner is limited and ask (in order)
    1. Can you control my xx in their (or unbid) suit?
    2. Have you got good trumps (assuming RKCB not available)?
    3. Just bid six with extra power!
  • If you have agreed RKCB, a modern style is that 5NT says "pick a slam". Otherwise it is grand slam force
  • As ever, any messing around above the level of 5 of our suit should suggest that a grand slam might be on

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