~NBC Precision #1


INTRODUCTION: Over the last half century, many bridge experts have recognized that major problems existed with the so-called Standard American bridge bidding system. Two of the major problems were that strong hands required an opening bid at the two-level and that strong hands by responder required a jump shift, often to the three-level. All too often, by the time the fit was found, no room was left for the exploration of side suits and shape that are often the determinant of success at slam. What was needed was a means of forcing the action at a lower level so that a better exchange of information could take place concerning game or slam before the partnership got too high in the bidding. Clever minds solve problems; over the years top bridge players invented a variety of bids to help with these problems. Among these conventions are reverses, jump shifts by opener, the strong (18-19 HCP) raise to 2NT by opener over a one-level bid by responder, new minor forcing, fourth suit forcing, inverted minors, maximal doubles, just to name a few. The invention of 1NT forcing and two-over-one methods mesh well with these forcing conventions. So does Standard American.

Some holdings were still difficult to describe, usually when a strong hand faced a weak hand and the strong hand did not meet the strength or shape requirements for an existing forcing bid. For example, perhaps opener has 21 HCP but not the shape for a strong forcing opener (2C) and responder has 5 HCP and passes the opening one-bid. A second example would be where opener has 16 HCP and a weak 6-card major or a strong 5-card major, but not quite enough values to make an invitational bid (three of the major, 2NT) or 17 HCP but not the shape for a reverse. These hands could be passed out prematurely.

Other bidding systems such as the Schenken Big Club, methods of the Italian Blue Team, and Precision also solved some of the problems encountered by all bridge players. Their methodology was to show big hands with a 1C opener and to make a determination based on partner’s response of whether a game was probable based on this initial point count. If so, exploration could be conducted in relative safety to find the best fit.

What follows is a bidding system common to many in use today that combines the principles of Standard American, Two-Over-One, and a strong, artificial, and forcing 1C opening bid. This system solves many, if not all, of the remaining bidding problems that still exist without such a system.

GENERAL CONCEPTS: This bidding system is based on early determination of the partnership’s point count and, under certain circumstances, on early description of distribution. There are two main advantages of the 1C opener: to match a strong hand with a weak hand where game points are in the combined hands but where there are no obvious suit fits that allow the partnership to comfortably keep the bidding open while searching for the fit. By definition, if the hand is so strong that game is likely even if partner has a hand that might be passed first round (4-5 points), open with a forcing bid of 1C. A second purpose is to limit opener’s strength so responder can start finding a stopping place before getting overboard. If partner open with any one-level bid other than 1C, partner holds no more than 16 HCP. Therefore, a jump in opener’s suit, a jump shift, or a reverse is  limited to 15-16 HCP (the hand should have some additional value in shape–a short suit, for instance). Knowing that partner opened with 1D, 1H, or 1S and then made a jump shift, strongly inviting game helps the weaker hand to better evaluate the potential of the two hands.

This system is played with a 1NT range of 12-14 HCP, regardless of vulnerability; however the system works well with a 15-17 HCP range. There are various bids used to describe hands with similar point count but different makeup. Throughout this pamphlet, “points” may include total distribution points, while HCP may include only very specific and limited distribution values. The following bids are forcing to game or are at game, giving partner a choice of game contracts:
~Any positive response to a 1C opener.
~A “splinter” response to partner’s one-level opener in a major suit.
~Jacoby 2NT
~3NT over partner’s major-suit opener.
~A “two over one” response to partner’s one-level major suit opener.

Following these bids, and if not vulnerable, the partnership should compete vigorously for game. No game bid if NV would be overly dangerous. Neither partner should pass short of game unless vulnerable and subsequent bidding has devalued the holding or the opponents have overbid and a rewarding penalty is possible.
If responder has passed partner’s opener, neither partner should reenter the bidding if vulnerable unless at the upper end of the point count previously shown or in the balancing seat. If NV, some discretion is allowed.

~1 Club: 17+ HCP (or 7 ½ + Quick Tricks), says nothing about clubs.
~1 Diamond: 11-16 HCP and no 5-card major, could he as short as a void in diamonds.
~1 Heart or 1 Spade: 10-16 HCP and at least 5 cards in the suit. With less than 13 HCP, the hand must meet the requirements of the Rule of Twenty except in 3rd seat. Any hand that contains sufficient strength that a game is likely opposite 4-5 HCP should be opened 1C except a hand worthy of a 2C opening bid.
~1 No Trump: 12-14 HCP and no five card major suit.
Responder adds 3 points to the count required for a 1NT opener of 15-17 HCP
~To 1C:
~1D: < 9 HCP. If  holding < about 3-5 HCP and 6+ cards in a major, make a weak jump shift to two of the major.
~1H: 9+ HCP and 4+ hearts
~1S: 9+ HCP and 5+ spades
~1NT: 9-12 HCP, balanced (no 5-card suit), and Systems ON
~2C: 9+ HCP and 5+ clubs. Does not deny a 4-card major.
~2D: 9+ HCP and 5+ diamonds. Does not deny a 4-card major.
~2H: 3-4 HCP and 6+ hearts, a weak jump shift.
~2S: 3-4 HCP and 6+ spades, a weak jump shift.
~2NT: 13-16 HCP (no 5-card major) and systems ON.
~3C: 4-4-4-1 shape, 9+ HCP and a singleton or void in the suit bid. With 4-4-5-0 shape, bid the 5-card suit at the one level if it is a major.
~3D: 4-4-1-4 shape, 9+ HCP and a singleton or void in the suit bid. With 4-4-5-0 shape, bid the 5-card suit  at the one level if it is a major.
~3H/3S: 4-4-4-1 shape, 9+ HCP and a singleton in the suit bid.
~3NT: 17+ HCP (no 5-card major) and systems Off.
Responder may bid 1NT, 2NT, or 3NT directly over 1C. Over 1NT and 2NT, play systems ON.  Over 3NT, 4C is Stayman and 4NT is Blackwood.    

When responder makes a negative bid of 1D over 1C, opener then shows HCP:
~1H: 17-19 HCP
~1S: 20-21 HCP and unbalanced (didn’t open 2NT)
~1NT: 18-19 HCP and balanced and Systems ON.
~2C (after 1C-1D): shows a big, unbalanced hand that contains 22+ HCP (unbalanced or 8 ½ + QT with length in the suit bid. Opener will be 1-suited or two-suited. Respond showing Controls.
~2NT: shows 20-21 HCP and NT distribution
~3C/3D/3H/3S shows 20+ HCP and a three-suited hand with no 5-card major and a splinter in the suit bid.

After opener has shown a more definitive point count, the problem is to find the best fit and the appropriate contract. Responder bids 1NT over either 1H or 1S to show a very weak hand with no significant shape. Over 1C-1D-1H, responder may bid 1S to show a 4-card spade suit (or longer) and weakness (less than an invitational hand of 7-8 HCP). Keep the bidding at the one-level. Otherwise, holding invitational points , responder enters the NBC System: Note that the values for an invitational bid by a responder who has bid 1D over 1C changes depending on whether opener bids 1H to show 17-19 HCP, 1S to show 20-21 HCP (unbalanced), 1NT to show 18-19 HCP (balanced) or 2NT to show 20-21 HCP (balanced). Over 1H, responder needs 7-8 HCP to bid at the 2-lvl; over 1S, he needs 5-8 HCP—invitational points add up to 24 or more opposite opener’s lowest possible count. Thus, every invitational bid is forcing to game in a major suit contract unless a misfit exists and is invitational to a minor suit or NT game contact. An invitational bid is forcing to at least the 3-lvl.
~2C: asks opener to bid a 4-card major but may also represent a club suit of  5+cards. With clubs, responder will next bid 3C.
~2D: denies a 4-card major and may have 5+ diamonds. To show a 2-suited hand in the minors without a 4-card major, bid 2D and then    respond with 3C unless holding 2+ more clubs than diamonds. A 2D bid is preferred if responder has 3-cards in a major—an 8-card major suit fit may exist. Over 2D, opener would bid a 5-card major (2H or 2S) to explore for an 8-card fit. With 2-2-5-4 shape, responder must decide whether to bid 2D or 2NT. 2NT would deny a 3-card major suit, however, the right cards in the two-card suits may suggest a 2NT bid.
~2H: 5+ hearts with similar comments about point count.
~2S: 5+ spades and similar comments about point count.
~2NT: meets none of the other distribution bids (shows a balanced hand).
<         ~3C/3D/3H/3S: A hand of 6+ cards and less than invitational points. This is the method for responder to make a weak jump shift in a minor suit. Take vulnerability into account before making the bid. Holding less than invitational points and a 5-card spade suit, consider bidding 1S first (1C-1D, 1H-1S), then rebid the suit if given a chance.

When opener has 11-16 HCP and no 5-card major, an artificial bid of 1D should be made. A 1D bid does not promise any diamonds, but since we use the Precision 2D opener, the 1D bid will usually show 2+ diamonds. The bidding after a 1D opener is 2/1. Responder will bid with 6+ points. An immediate raise of 1D to 2D by responder is Inverted Minors and should show 4+ diamonds with a stopper, 10+ HCP, and initiate the IM process. The IM bid of 3D usually shows 6 diamonds (or 5 good diamonds), as opener does not promise any diamonds. A bid of 1NT, then supporting diamonds may be the best response.

An Inverted Minors bid in clubs is not needed as 1C-2C shows a responder hand with 9+ HCP and 5+ clubs, essentially the same holding as the IM bid of 2C. A 3NT contract should be found in subsequent bidding if such a contract is indicated.

If the bidding has gone 1D-1NT, 2C-(opponents pass), responder should not raise to the three-level even with a club fit unless holding invitational points of 10+ HCP since opener is known to have no more than 16 HCP. When opening 1D with a 4-card or better club suit, opener will often have the choices of 1NT or 2C on the second bid. Partner’s response and the makeup of the hand will dictate the bid.

~An opening bid of 2NT shows a two-suited hand in the minors and about 7-12 HCP. Partner bids his longest minor suit

~Ignore the double.
~Redouble: Less than 9 HCP but good club support.

~Pass: < 9 HCP
~Double: 9+ HCP and a takeout. Bidder needs to force but cannot cue-bid.
~Suit bid: 5-8 HCP and 5-card suit.
~1N (9+ HCP and holds the A of the overcalled suit.
~2NT (opponent overcalled at the 2-lvl): 7-8 HCP and stoppers.
~2NT (opponent overcalled at the 1-level): 5+ HCP and Unusual No-Trump distribution. Note–the Unusual NT bid is still a jump to 2NT.
</strong ~Cue-bid of enemy suit shows 9+ HCP, is for takeout, promises the ace of the enemy suit, and is forcing. Note: the only forcing bids (9+ HCP) after a suit overcall are a double or a NT bid.
~If responder doubles an overcall and opener then bids 1NT, it shows stoppers in the enemy suit. Play systems ON.  

~Ignore the double.

~If the overcall is at the 1-level:

~Over 1H, bid 1S (20-21 HCP), or 1NT (18-19 HCP) or 2NT (20-21 HCP) to show the higher point count. However, a double of 1H is not needed to show 17-19 HCP, as failing to bid 1S or 1 NT does that–so play the double as negative, showing 4 spades. If unable to double or bid 1S/1NT, opener may pass or make an NBC bid as his hand warrants. Over a second-round pass by opener, responder may bid if the hand warrants it.
~Over 1S, bid 1NT to show the balance and higher point count. Double to show 20-21 HCP. Otherwise, pass or make an NBC bid based on the merits of the hand.
~Over 1NT, double to show 18-19 HCP and a balanced hand, pass, or make an NBC bid. Over a pass, responder can bid as if the overcall was made before his 1D

~If the overcall is at a higher level:
~Double for penalty. Opener may pull the double. A few large losses by the opponents will limit the overcalls made just as interference.


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