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Bridge: Defensive bidding

Here are some of defensive ideas I've played with Joan Marray. Our general philosophy is to get into the auction as much as possible, as this seems to disquiet the opponents. We over-call light and don't raise on less than Qxx. The spade suit is so critical in bridge that we will make a "but-in" bid on SKQTx as long as the rest of the hand is unbalanced just to grab the suit. Another typical aggressive bid is 2C over 1 D on say CKTxxx. We are using the "exclusive" overcall as a prempt here and I would strain to do this with say Sx.HJT9x in the majors. With balanced majors it is better to shut up - their suits are breaking, and we could go for 1100!

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Incidentally I feel it's a tad unfair for EBU not to allow a pause after these exclusive overcalls, which can be as awkward as any pre-empt ... not that I can offer any simple and workable alternative I'm afraid.

Advancing an overcall

Top notch for an overcall is around 16, and with such a broad range advancer needs to steady things down.
We play the following gadgets to this end:


Defending a strong or artificial 1 Club

note Big club systems are not too common in EBUland, but 'any defense is allowed' so I thought I'd use my experience from the Web to upset our vorpal opponents. The objectives of overcalling a strong club are
  • To cut out their informative low level responses
  • To stop them playing powerful asymmetric relays
  • To prepare a lead
  • To prepare a sacrifice
  • Sow confusion!

The traditional British aproach is Truscott in which calls of double..1NT are two suited, and weak jumps apply. This is simple and can be played with a new partner. However two-suiters (which shold be nasty) are tamed as partner cannot tell whether your (1C*) 1H is a powerful 5-5, or a cheeky 4-4. To make a jump overcall is to lose the other major.

Weak two styles turn out to be a very good source of ideas and ready made system. I first tried a Multi/Muiderberg based method, adding in semi 3-suited ovecalls at the one level to prepare partner's preempt.

We then experimented with the evil Polish Wilkosz 2D call as a generic two suiter including a major, but found pre-empt advances too difficult to control.

Western Australia's Myxomatosis_Two's provided a much easier structure, and gets you to the 3-4 level rapidly - cutting out their relays. In Myxo opening all two level bids show either suit above, or both suits above that (plus a few other things as an opening). I added in the Polish/Swedish Raptor method to allow safe 4 card major overcalls.

This present structure is detailed below and is essentially fine tuned to pre-empt their suits. You might also look at the TWERB approach pupularised here in the 70's by Joe Amsbury.


Myxoma/Raptor based overcalls of strong club


This is the experimental system we are trying out over the 1999/2000/2001 seasons. It seems to work. In UK there are no regulations on calls over a forcing opening that nay have 2 or less cards in the suit bid - so this can be used over artificial 1D too.

  • Double as simply showing clubs (boring, I know!)
  • 1D/H as transfers into the majors We play our usual fit jumps and non-jumps opposite this and try to bid up.
  • paradox 1S as a Raptor showing 4 (exactly) spades and a longer minor - ParadoX responses "naturellement" The idea is to grab the spade suit. In some circumstances spades will be their proper trump suit ad you will rob them. Against this you might scare them out of a failing game.

    Hearts are preempted and they cannot use double as both takout and penalty. The companion minor makes the Raptor style overcall very slippery. Advancer will prempt minors on a pass/correct basis

  • 1NT as the other Raptor with 4 hearts and a longer minor. The bid pre-empts the spades response, and if you play in the minor it has lost nothing. With either Raptor you might occasionally cheat a 5/5 (or even a 4/4?) if you don't fancy the alternative Myxoma overcall listed below.

    Overcall 1NT on SAQ73 H104 DJ63 CQJ94 "for the lead"

    The two bids are based on Australia's Myxomatosis Two's

  • 2C = {six diamonds or 5-5 majors}
  • 2D = {six hearts or 5-5 in S/C}
  • 2H = {six spades or 5-5 in C/D}
  • 2S = (5-5 in S/D}
    I wanted 2S to be passable to avoid the 3 level. This is the only perm left You could make the minor "either" leaving 2D as purely hearts
  • 2NT: 5-5 in hearts and a minor. Getting above their spade suit (at some risk!)
  • 3 level and higher bids are simply natural and preemptive
S AQ73
H 104
D J63
C QJ94
Advancing a myxo overcall

  (1C*)   2H!   (x) 'values'

You simply bid up to the level of your fit. Here you have either a 10 card spade fit or 9 card club fit. I would bid 4C giving the message that I can also tolerate 4S

I got the Raptor concept from and there is some controversy as to its origins.
It was originally used as (1H/S)-1NT showing four in the other major, long minor.
I'd thought it was from Poland, but then got this email from the Swedish coach Ulf Nilsson:


note The Raptor 1NT overcall is a Swedish innovation from the mid-80 by Magnus Lindkvist and played at the time in his partnership with Bjørn Fallenius. ..{snip}.. This convention was adapted by a lot of Swedish players in the mid-level and generally extended to include, after 1m, some 4-card M and specifically 5+ om. It was later picked up by Zmudzinski-Balichi (who often has played against Sweden) and under debate during the 94 semifinals against Sweden(!), who actually is very familiar with the convention.

But Tomasz Kozlecki countered in another email ..

I can only congratulate Mr Nilsson his good sense of humor and perfect feeling. I've never played against Fallenius-Lindkvist, but I started to use 1NT 5-4 in 1988. I've learned this convention from special edition of Polish "Bridge" magazine from 1987. In the begining of 90s, I've found original description of this convention in Polish "Bridge" from 1979, if I remember exactly. When I return to Poland, I'll try find it again.

I know it was played in Poland at the beginning of eighties, and the supposition we learned it from Swedish is complete nonsense. I think, it could be in reverse direction.


then Konrad Ciborowski of Krakow, citing the following 1981 article in the polish Pikier magazine, by (or quoting?) Slawinski and Ruminski

One of the strong pass players came to the right conclusion that it is a lot better to show the 4M-5+m distribution in one bid - 1NT! Who was it? I don't remember; it wasn't me, that's for sure. It is quite possible that this convention was created during one of our endless café discussions. This convention has become very popular since then (especially when it was described in Brydz).

As far as Poland is concerned and it was created by anonymous inventor in the middle 70s and became popular in the early 80s. Konrad feels that what happened is that the Swedish players arrived to this concept independantly - a thing that happens quite often in the world of bridge. On the other hand Sweden and Poland are geographically close and one suspects a link.

The name however seems to have come from Canada. Ron Sutherland and his son wrote claiming a third (and too late!) invention in the 90's, but they gave it the acronym "wRAP around TORonto" style, publishing in a Toronto magazine in 1993. So nothing to do with birds of prey, or dinosaurs

There is some more Raptor stuff on John Schuler's site.


Classical UK Truscott Defence

note Devised by UK (now US) international Alan Truscott: Over a strong 1 club
  • Bids of 2D and above are natural, preemptive
  • Double = clubs and hearts (non touching)
  • 1D = diamonds and hearts (touching)
  • 1H, 1S and 2C similarly show suit, and suit above (touching)
  • 1NT = diamonds and spades (non touching)
  • Extension over (1C*) pass (1D) pattern is as above except that
    double is non touching with diamonds; 1NT = {clubs + hearts}; 2C = minors
Truscott is easy to remember, but preempt extension is not so easy as you do2C not know whether partner is a good 5-5, or cheeky 4-4

Defending the Multi 2D

note This convention is more or less ubiquitous in UK tournaments, having been initiated here by Terence Reece. An excellent idea from is to use a Multi-double against the Multi 2D. I have adapted the original from our constructive method. (Method on a separate page). David Stevenson has a writeup of UK standard Dixon

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