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Multiple Meaning Responses

May 10, 2013

Bids with multiple meanings have come to stay in the modern style of bidding. No longer does a bid have to have a single meaning assigned to it – but may have several meanings which is subsequently clarified.


Amongst the earliest of the “multi” opening bids one finds the Roman 1C opening which describes any one of the three types of hands. In the more popular Standard system of bidding, there were hardly any opening bids which could be termed ”multi”. (Until the mid 60’s, most standard bidders used the 2D bid as a preemptive bid (unless used as a natural strong bid), till they realized that the bid hardly ever preempted anybody, and thus the advent of the Flannery 2D or the “multi” 2D opening bids.


In this article, we will not discuss the various “multi” opening bids, but will confine our attention to take two examples of what we call “multi-responses” which occur in the middle auction. Any “multi response” to an opening bid attempts to describe three or four specific hand patterns which the responder clarifies subsequently. The first of these examples we call the 2S/2NT package response: the second is what we have labeled “ Super-Splinter” on a 5-card Major opening.




An 1NT opening weak or strong usually describes a balanced hand with in the point range which one uses. Other than the popular Stayman and distribution asking bids which ask about a hand pattern and transfer bids which describes a hand, we would like to suggest a sequence of “multi responses” describing three or four different hand pattern which cannot be adequately handled by either the Stayman or the transfer sequences.


The 2S response


This particular response we would like to discuss separately for the strong or the weak variety of NT.


Strong NT


The 2S bid describes the following three types of hands:-

    1. Type I : A balance raise to 2NT


    1. Type II: Weak 2-suiter( 5-5) minor, with no game interest


    1. Type III: A 4-4-4-1 hand with a major singleton, 9-14 HCP (where there is no slam possibility).


The opener rebids 2NT with a minimum point range, and 3 of the better minor with a maximum hand. Responder now clarifies the type I hand by either passing in the first case, or converting to 3NT in the second case.


Type II hand is clarified by bidding 3S over 2NT, or passing the openers minor bid. With Type III hand, the responder bids his singleton major at the 3 level. The usefulness of including this third type becomes evident when with this hand pattern, and a negative response to a Stayman query, the responding hand frequently lands in a bad 3NT contract with either 10 cards out in a major suit or with a thin stopper, when an excellent game contract can be played in a 4-3 minor fit.


Weak NT


The 2S response describes the following three kinds of hands:


    1. Type I : 11 HCP, balanced hand, with no 4 card major


    1. Type II : Strong 6 card single-suiter 16+HCP


    1. Type III: 2-suiter minor, 6-8 HCP


We include the Type II strong single-suiter in the 2S response to a weak NT, since on a weak NT a jump to 3C/3D is used to describe hands with 9-10 points and a 6 card suit, whereas over strong NT such jumps are usually strong.


The opener responds 2NT with a minimum hand, and 3 of the better minor with a maximum hand. Responder now clarifies the Type I hand by either passing in the first instance or converting to 3NT in the second instance.


Type II hand is clarified by bidding 3H with a C single-suiter and 3D with a D single-suiter. On a 3C response, 3H shows a C single-suiter and 3S a D single-suiter.


With Type III hand, responder bids 3C over a 2NT rebid by opener and passes the minor bid of the opener.




This is a “multi” bid showing the following three types of hands:

    1. Type I : weak, sign off in a minor


    1. Type II: 2-suiter (5-5) minor, game going hand


    1. Type III: Equivalent to a quantitative raise to 4NT


On a 2NT response, the opener is obliged to bid 3C, which responder passes or converts to 3D with Type I hand.


With Type II hand, responder bids 3H/S showing a singleton of the named suit. 4C/4D with 6 cards in the named suit and no singleton, and 4H/4S with a void in the named suit.


With Type III hand, responder bids 3NT or 4NT. 4NT showing 1 point more. Using a weak NT, with good 18 to bad 19 HCP bid 3 NT, and good 19 to 20 HCP bid 4NT.


The advantage of including Type III, is that your 1NT-4NT bid may be used for Blackwood and 1NT-4H bid is free to be used in different ways, according to your choice. Also, for those playing up-the-line bidding, one can conveniently stop at the 4NT/5NT level.




Today in the Standard system, the trend is towards playing 5-card majors with limit raises. Consequently, game forcing raises have been replaced by either a system of Swiss responses or a package consisting of Splinter bids showing an unbalanced raise with a singleton or void, and a 3NT bid showing a raise of the balanced type.


The original Splinter being limited in high card points and controls, we propose a Super-Splinter bid for any partnership playing 5-card majors and a forcing NT. Playing Super-Splinter, the 1NT response to a major opening is a “multi” bid showing either :- (1) the standard kind of hand with 6-11 HCP or (2) a 15+ HCP with 4 card support of the major, with a singleton or void and atleast 6 Neopolitan Controls. Over opener’s response, responder clarifies the second type of hand by jumping in his short suit. In the event his short suit happens to be opener’s second suit, he jumps to 3NT.


For example:-
1H – 1NT

2C – ?

3NT = Super-Splinter in ♣

3S/4D = Super-Splinter in S and D respectively.

Playing Splinter, Super-Splinter is an useful addition to the slam bidding arsenal of any partnership.


This article has presented two examples of multi-meaning responses. However, any partnership depending on the system one plays, can develop quite a few multi-bid sequences which in the long run would enrich the partnership language. In developing multi-bid sequences, however, one should keep a couple of factors in mind. Firstly, the bid to be used as “multi” should more or less be idle or free in the partnership system. More importantly, it should be possible to clarify the different meanings attached to the bid at an appropriate level without going overboard.


This above article was presented by Kamal Roy in the Souvenir on the occasion of 29th National Bridge championship organized by WBBA in 1987. Thanks to both of them.

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posted on May 10, 2013
in Articles, Bidding Systems and Methods
tagged , ,
about author Kamal Roykamal_roy

Kamal Roy

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