Chuck Arthur


The game is matchpoints: an 18½ table game at your local club. You are South, East deals, you are vulnerable, the opponents not.













West North East South
1 1NT
2   3  ??


You and your partner have agreed to play systems on after a notrump overcall: without the 2 raise, 2 would have been a transfer to hearts. Not much has been discussed past that. Does the club raise change anything? Undiscussed, how would you have taken 2 diamonds? What should the default treatment be? After the hand is over and you have a chance to discuss with partner how we are going to treat this in the future, what would be your input? What is your recommendation for a general structure here?

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Doug DrewOctober 30th, 2010 at 3:18 pm

It’s a live auction and I would bid 3 hearts natural in all circumstances.If we had agreed systems on they are also on after 2clubs and double in my world and 3hearts could be passed with the appropriate junk.

LindaOctober 31st, 2010 at 11:13 am

I usually play that we ignore a natural 2C overcall of 1NT. If you do that then 2D should be a transfer to hearts) double would be Stayman. Since partner could have passed he should be showing some values. Over 3C since I can pass 3H should show at least good three card heart support. I certainly have enough for 3H. At imps vulnerable I would be bidding 4H but at matchpoints I would think 3H is enough.

Steve MackayOctober 31st, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Hi Chuck,

When LHO opens, partner overcalls 1NT, and RHO says something, my preference (and I believe this is mainstream) is to play “System On.” In other words, we will more or less ignore the opening bid. Over 2C (whether or not a raise), transfers would apply and double would be Stayman. Double could be followed by Crawling Stayman if that is part of our methods. It could be followed by Smolen if that is part of our methods. Lebensohl would apply (though not after 2C) and if we were showing or denying a stopper it would be with respect to RHO’s suit, not opener’s suit.

With these methods, in the auction given, we would not be able to bid 2D for play. But with the North hand (I peeked), I would certainly compete to 3D (using whatever my methods were to show a weak hand with diamonds – 2NT transfer? 2S relay to 3C?)

All the best,


Steve GoldinOctober 31st, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I really prefer to use the cuebid as the only real force and all other bids as natural when partner overcalls 1NT, but many partners prefer FoC. Clearly one needs to have this discussion with one’s regular partners. I believe that any good hand would have started with X, so the 2C bid is just noise. The partner of the 1NT overcall (Advancer) has X or a cuebid available to force, therefore 2D, without discussion, should be played as natural and not forcing as a default bid.

After discussion, with a partner that you’d like to play with regularly, I’d choose the above suggested default as the easiest to remember in this and other situations where the Advancer has a number of forcing options available and chooses otherwise.

David LindopOctober 31st, 2010 at 11:13 pm

If the agreement is “Systems On”, then the fact that West raised clubs doesn’t have any impact. If you would have treated double of 2C as Stayman and 2D as a transfer after interference over an opening 1NT, then that is what applies here. So you can’t play in 2D…only in 3D (through four-suit transfer or 2S relay).

Playing “Systems On” (Front-of-Card) is certainly an easy thing to play (remember), even if it may not theoretically be best (after a 1H opening and a 1NT overcall, do you really want to play advancer’s 2D as a transfer to hearts?). I usually agree to play Systems On after a balancing 1NT overcall – again, keeping the memory work to a minimum.

On the actual deal, I would probably jump to 4H. Partner is unlikely to have 3-5-3-2 yarborough, and I can place most of the missing high cards. If partner has as little as: S x x x H x x x x x x D x x C x x I have a play for game. (If partner has S K x x H x x x x x D Q x x C x x, I’ll apologize – but we wouldn’t have done much damage to 3C.)

David BNovember 1st, 2010 at 10:16 am

Working under the assumption that you are not passing or doubling 3C here, why not make a simple cover all bases bid of 4C. If partner bids 4D here, then you have a problem, was the original bid a transfer or not? But a thoughtful partner will likely take you off the hook, and there is no reason to play this hand from your side, partner might have the K of Spades that needs protecting.

Abe BirenbaumNovember 1st, 2010 at 4:37 pm

I expect the 2D bid (assuming you do not treat it as a transfer) would be a 5 card diamond suit with no points. I would still like to jump to 4 diamonds. Abe

Roy HughesNovember 2nd, 2010 at 9:44 am

For me, “systems on” can apply independently in 2 ways here. To play it over your 1NT overcalls implies that you ignore the opening bid. You can also choose to play “systems on” after a double or 2C overcall of your 1NT bid — but that is a separate decision. So if I had agreed to play “systems on” after our 1NT overcall, but not said anything about what to do after their 2C overcall of our 1NT, I would consider 2D natural but realize that partner might think differently. In that context, I think I would bid 3D.

Chuck ArthurNovember 5th, 2010 at 10:08 am

Here is my 2¢ worth. If we open 1nt and there is immediate interference, we play “systems on” over 2 clubs and over double… that is unless 2 clubs was for the majors. Over any other direct interference and over 2c for the majors, we play narural methods for the most part: any 2-level bid is natural and non forcing; double or redouble shows enough HCP to claim the hand for our side; 2nt is lebensohl; etc. If we overcall 1nt and there is no bid by the next hand, then we ignore the opening bid and play systems on, period. If there is a bid by the next hand, then we should again play as if we had opened 1 notrump: over 2 clubs (except as noted above), double is Stayman, 2d and 2h are major suit transfers, etc. If responder bids any other suit at the 2-level (whether or not it was a raise), then natural methods apply, except 2nt is lebensohl.

Mike HamiltonNovember 6th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

If you have decided to play system “on” over the club raise, you are, in essence, playing bidding sequences that start with an overcall of 1NT the same way as you would sequences that start with an opening bid of 1NT. That is, you have decided to play your system in first or second seat, meaning you will play it the same way in second seat whether the opponents pass or open the bidding in first seat.

Part of the skill of bidding is anticipation of the next round. With modern bidding as competitive as it is, you must anticipate continuations. Therefore, a systems-“on” overcall of 2D that is meant to be a Jacoby transfer bid must promise values for play at the 3-level in anticipation of another call by RHO over the 2D bid. That means values for play at the 3-level assuming no more than small-doubleton support in hearts (the 1NT overcall promises only 15-18 HCP and a stopper in the opponents’ suit; the hand MUST have values elsewhere, but does not PROMISE values elsewhere). On this deal, a systems-“on” Jacoby 2D would look something like

SA 10 6 HK J 9 5 4 DJ 8 4 C7 3

If the Law of Total Tricks is being taken seriously, the opponents should be showing a 9-card club fit to be bidding to the 3-level, leaving my hand with a singleton club, so maybe

SA 10 6 HK J 9 5 4 DJ 8 4 3 C7

If the situation is undiscussed, there must be a default. This has to be some form of bare-bones standard bidding along the lines of SAYC or BWS. I think the 2D bid would be a free call promising some self-sufficiency in the suit being bid, assuming no more than small-doubleton support in the no-trump overcalling hand. This would require values close to those of a weak-two opening bid in diamonds, for a 15-17 1NT opener (15-18 for a 1NT overcall). You would want 7-11 HCP and a 6-card suit for a free call of 2D in this auction, something like

SA 10 6 H9 4 DK J 10 8 4 3 C7 3

My recommendation for general structure would be to adopt a Jacoby transfer approach and refine the details for use in competitive auctions as shown here. After a 1NT overcall and competition in clubs, we should be looking for a fit in one of the majors. being 2 of the 3 unbid suits, the odds move in our favour of finding a major-suit fit once the opponents show a club fit. Failing a major-suit fit, we must have a good diamond fit and our best chance for game will be in no-trump, predicated on our diamond suit being as good as their club suit. With a good club stop, we should have time to take 9 tricks before they can take 5.

After partner accepts a Jacoby transfer and bid hearts, I would want 2NT by me to show invitational values facing a 15-18 count with exactly 5 hearts to give partner a chance to pass, bid 3H (which I would pass), or bid a game in no-trump or hearts with a 17-18 count.

Daniel KorbelNovember 6th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Regardless of what the bid should mean, I would always bid either 3D or 4D at the table. Just in case partner oopsed and has diamonds, I am not going to have a disaster.

Abraham BirenbaumDecember 17th, 2010 at 5:21 pm

re Oct.30, I would definitely bid 3H it is less harmful than a pass.

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