Free bridge lessons in video format

Author: John Stell Page 1 of 6

Lockdown League 11/01/21

Feels like I haven’t played in ages…anyway a nice win…some nice games bid.

Transfer Splinters over NT

Transfer splinters over a NT opening.

These are bids all on the 3 level directly after a 1NT opening.

These bids show a singleton above the suit mentioned showing either 4441 or 5440 shapes. Or can be 5431/5413 shapes.

Responder bids the splinter suit if maximum and without wastage in the short suit. This is not completely game forcing opposite a minimum for the bid, but does encourage slam investigation.

The opener will not by-pass a major if available.

Meaning of Bids

Let’s look at the meaning of these bids after 1NT:-

  • 3♣ – Singleton / void in diamonds
  • 3 – Singleton / void in hearts
  • 3 – Singleton / void in spades
  • 3♠ – Singleton / void in clubs

Example Hands

Example hands would be:-

  1. ♠ AQ54 QJ84 6 ♣ KQ107 Bid 3♣
  2. ♠ 4 AQ109 A986 ♣ Q742 Bid 3
  3. ♠ AQJ10 void K1072 ♣ QJ32 Bid 3
  4. ♠ KJ109 Q743 AK54 ♣ 7 Bid 3♠

Responding by 1NT opener

  1. 3 shows a minimum but 4/5 hearts
  2. 3♠ maximum and slam try…3NT by responder would be serious slam try
  3. 3NT – I’ve got good values in hearts…no interest in slam
  4. 4♣ – slam try in the other 3 suits..4 by opener would just be a relay


If the 3X bid is doubled…Pass is to play…RD shows weakness in that suit but shows a good hand. Bids show weakness.

If the opponents have an agreement that the double shows the splinter suit, then RD shows a penalty interest if they sacrifice, bids of the splinter suit shows slam interest and other bids are weak.

You can of course have your own agreements.


Kickback is a keycard asking bid which tries to keep the bidding lower, especially useful when the trump suit is a minor suit.

In short instead of using 4NT as the RKB asking bid you use the suit above the agreed suit.

TrumpsKeycard AskStep1 (1/4)Step2 (0/3)Step3 (2)Step4 (2+Q)

Playing kickback you can play 3041 if you prefer which will swap steps 1 and 2 around.

What is the king ask

Assuming you are responding with specific kings…that is you respond 6♣ to show the king of clubs or it shows 2 non touching kings…

The basic rules are:-

  • The king asking suit is a cue-bid of 5 of the next higher strain after the trump suit…so 5NT would still be a king ask when spades are trumps.
  • The negative response would be to bid 6 of the trump suit
  • The three kings response would be to bid 6 of the asking suit
  • The cheapest specific king – simply cue bid the king you have or paradox kings and bypassing a bid then denies that king
  • 5NT response now shows the king of the asking suit

Asking for a 2nd King

  • The secondary ask – A secondary ask you bid the next strain up
  • The negative response showing no additional kings is simply to bid 6 of the trump suit
  • The positive response is to bid 6 of the asking suit to show that king or 6NT if the response pushes to the 7 level
  • The 3rd round control ask positive would then be to bid 7NT

Queen Ask

The queen ask is only employed after a 1st or 2nd step response to the ask.

  • To deny the trump queen simply bid 5 of the trump suit.
  • To show the trump queen bid 6 of the agreed trump suit with no kings
  • Bid 6 of the asking suit to show all three kings and the trump queen
  • Cue bid a king to show that king and the trump queen…again paradox kings apply

Some Examples

♠ A76
♣ KQ753
♠ AK4
♣ K7
♠ KQ
♣ 7652
♠ K2
♣ AJ986
♠ 73
♣ AJ108
♠ A987
♣ 3

The Bidding

a) 2NT (20-22) – 3 – 3 – 4♣ – 4 – 4 – 5 – 5♠ – 7♣

4♣ shows the second suit and 4 is kickback for clubs and 4 is one. 5 is the king ask and 5♠ shows that king.

b) 2NT (20-22) – 3 – 3 – 4♣ – 4♠ – 5 – 5♠ – 6 – 7

4♣ shows the second suit and 4 is kickback for hearts, 5 is two. 5♠ is the king ask and 6 is the king of diamonds.

c) 1NT (12-14) – 2 – 2 – 4♣ – 4♠ – 5♣ – 5 – 6

2♣ is Stayman and 4♣ is a splinter, 4♠ is now kickback and 5♣ shows 3 keycards, 5 asks for the trump queen and 6 is saying I have the queen.

Defending in Bridge

Defending is one of the most important things in bridge…if not the most important…as you are doing it roughly 50% of the time.

Here we look at leading Ace for attitude and King for count…

Splinter Bids

So this is a recorded live stream of splinter bids opposite major bids.

In this long video we cover the rule of 26 and we also use RKCB to bid slams more confidently.


Namyats (Stayman backwards) is a bidding convention to describe hands with long majors between 7 and 9 Playing tricks.

The opening bids are between 4♣ and 4♠.

Let’s look at the meaning of these bids:-

  • 4♣ – 8 or 9 Playing tricks with 7+Hearts
  • 4 – 8 or 9 Playing tricks with 7+Spades
  • 4 – 7 or 8 Playing tricks with 7+Hearts
  • 4♠ – 7 or 8 Playing tricks with 7+Spades

I really like this very simple system for a couple of reasons.

Firstly I never like opening a natural pre-empt of 4♣/ because i’m worried I might be missing 3NT…so for me the 4♣/ opening bids never existed as opening bids. Now I have a good use for them with the Namyats convention.

Secondly so many times my partner had 8 hearts/spades in their hand and opened 4/♠ and then we missed an easy slam because they were stronger than I expected them to be…or I bid slam and went off because the converse was true.

Example hands would be:-

  1. ♠ – AKJ107654 – Q7 – 6 ♣ – 95
  2. ♠ – 4 – AK1098743 – A6 ♣ – 42
  3. ♠ – AQJ107654 – 87 – K2 ♣ – 6
  4. ♠ – AJ1097654 – Q7 – AK ♣ – 7
  5. ♠ – 54 – AKQJ876 – AQJ ♣ – 3
  6. ♠ – KQJ107654 – K7 – 6 ♣ – 42
  7. ♠ – A4 – KQJ109876 – 6 ♣ – 32
  8. ♠ – KQJ107654 – 72 – KQ ♣ – 2

So with the weaker hand (7-8) playing tricks you would open 4or 4♠ (hands 1,3,6,7,8) and the stronger hand with (8-9) playing tricks you would open 4♣ or 4 (hands 2,4,5).


Most of the time you are just going to pass a 4 of a major opening bid or put partners 4 of a minor into the correct major.

If you bid 4 over 4♣ you are investigating slam in Hearts.
If you bid 4 over 4 you are investigating slam in Spades.

You have two choices going forward:

  • Italian cue bids or use RKCB to investigate if slam is on.
  • bid the suit you have 2 losers in – an anti-cuebid


Over an artificial minor opening, opponents can double which would be lead directing…or possibly the start of a way of showing a two-suited hand.

Over a double system can be kept on…so a re-double would imply interest in slam and possible a cue bid in that suit or the higher ranking suit and a bid of the next suit up would imply slam interest still and could show no minor ace.

For example

4♣DoublePassMaybe ace of spades or two aces?
RedoubleControl in Clubs…heart interest
4Control in Diamonds…heart interest
4No Slam Interest
4♠Natural or ace of spades? Two aces? a void?
4NTRKCB for Hearts

As you can tell by this…I’m making this up as I go! Again the most important aspect of bridge is that you and your partner should have a comprehensive understanding of what the bids mean after you’ve opened 4♣.

This is the great thing about bridge…if you love the game these are the precise topics that people will talk for hours about 🙂


In short Lebensohl is the use of the 2NT bid as an artificial bid to describe various hands after partner has opened 1NT (either weak or strong) or when partner has doubled a weak two. We will also look at other situations where you can use it as well.

Let’s look at how Lebensohl works after partner has opened a weak NT (12-14 points balanced).

So partner opens 1NT and RHO bids a suit naturally and now it’s your turn to bid!

So the 1NT bidder needs to know what your bids are….are they a:-

  • forcing response
  • non-forcing response
  • natural response
  • artificial response
  • invitational response
  • game-showing response

It is exactly these questions, which needed to be answered in order to structure a proper defense method for the No Trump bidder and partner. Without any guidelines the partnership would be lost as to how to continue. You’d be guessing and that is something we try and avoid in bridge if at all possible.

Responses to Lebensohl

Following is an outline of the responses available to the responder after a natural overcall in a suit.

1NT2♣2//♠ / XTo Play / Values
1NT22/♠ / XTo Play / Values
1NT22♠ / XTo Play / Values
1NT2♣3Natural Game Forcing
1NT2♣3Natural Game Forcing
1NT2♣3♠Natural Game Forcing
1NT2♣2NTPuppet to 3♣

The 2NT forces opener to bid 3♣. The 2NT is a puppet bid forcing the 1NT opener to bid 3♣. We have the 1NT opener on strings…they are the puppet.

The rebids by the responder after 3 Clubs by his partner:

  1. Pass with a weak hand and long Clubs.
  2. Any bid suit below the rank of the overcall is a sign-off.
  3. Any bid suit above the rank of the overcall is invitational.

Any immediate cuebid of the suit of the opponent is Staymanic (asking opener to bid 4 card majors) and promises a good 12 high card point count.

Any immediate cuebid promises a 4-card Major suit, but it is important to remember that the cuebid also denies having a stopper in the suit bid by the opponent. This cuebid by the responder is forcing to game unless the partnership cannot find a Major fit.

1NT2♣3♣Stayman (no club stop)
23Stayman (no diamond stop)
23Stayman (no heart stop)
2♠3♠Stayman (no spade stop)

The options for the No Trump bidder, after a cuebid by his partner, are as follows:

  1. to bid a 4-card Major, if he has a 4-card Major.
  2. to bid 3 No Trump with a stopper in the suit of the opponent.
  3. to seek a better contract, if neither condition is fulfilled.
    3.1. With a minimum No Trump, bid 4 Clubs or 4 Diamonds.
    3.2. If the 4-card Major suit of the responder is known, then the No Trump bidder can consider playing in a 4-3 Major fit.
    3.3. Holding a maximum No Trump and no wasted strength in the suit bid by the opponent, a jump to five of long Minor suit is advisable.
    3.4. Cuebidding the suit of the opponent at the four level is requesting the partner to choose his better Minor suit at the five level.  
    3 No Trump Response

1NT – 2X – 3NT

Any 3 No Trump response after any intervening overcall promises sufficient values and no 4-card Major suit, but it also denies having a stopper in the suit bid by the opponent. The No Trump bidder has then several options:

  • Pass with a stopper in the suit of the opponent.
  • Bids a 5-card Major suit, if he has one.
  • Explores for a better contract, generally in the Minor suits.

2NT Response

If the responder bids 2 No Trump after the immediate overcall, forcing his partner to rebid 3 Clubs, and then cuebids the suit of the opponent, then this cuebid is a Stayman bid, asking for a 4-card Major suit. The difference in this bidding sequence is the fact that the responder is showing a stopper in the suit of the opponent.

  1. Using the Lebensohl convention, it is apparent that the partnership only loses the natural 2 No Trump bid.
  2. The advantages are that each response can be recognized and determined as to whether they are:
    2.1. Forcing.
    2.2. Invitational.
    2.3. Non-forcing.
    2.4. Game-forcing. 
Lebensohl After A Takeout Double of a Weak Two Bid

After the opponents have opened the auction with a Weak Two bid and your partner doubles, defensive guidelines are necessary to inform your partner whether or not you, who are forced to bid, have a weak holding, a moderate holding, or a strong holding. The Lebensohl convention can assist greatly with this dilemma. The following guidelines should clarify.

  1. The 2 No Trump response by the responder forces the partner to rebid 3 Clubs. This gives the responder the opportunity to sign off in a long suit with a weak holding, and the partner must pass.
  2. A non-jump suit bid by the responder at the three level is constructive and informs the partner that his holding contains useful values and/or suit length and/or distribution.

This situation arose after such bidding sequences and holdings were encountered, such as the following:


Holding 1

♠ – 754 – 86 – 109743 ♣ – 985

S 754 S 865
H 86 H K7
D 109764 D KQJ86
C 985 C 1082

Holding 2

♠ – 754 – K7 – KQJ86 ♣ – 985

Now using Lebensohl we have a method to define a weak hand and a hand that might be interested in game. Before Lebensohl it would be your best guess as whether the doubler should continue or not.

Other Lebensohl Situations

In a competitive situation…

1♠Double2♠? (Lebensohl)

West can now use 2NT to try and sign off in a 3 level suit contract or bid a 3 level suit as invitational. Bid 2NT followed by 3♠ to show a stopper and 4 hearts or just bid 3♠ directly to show 4 hearts with no stopper.

After a weak jump overcall…

1♣2♠ (weak)? (Lebensohl)

South can now use 2NT to try and sign off in a 3 level suit contract or bid a 3 level suit as invitational. Bid 2NT followed by 3♠ to show a stopper and 4 hearts or just bid 3♠ directly to show 4 hearts with no stopper.

After a strong reverse…


South can now use 2NT to try and sign off in 3 clubs when you’ve responded with a 5 count for example and can now use a simple 3♣ bid for example to explore slam without taking up valuable bidding space.

Two Different ways of playing Lebensohl

Going through 2NT with a stopper is known as FASS (Fast Arrival Shows Stopper).

Alternatively you can play it as going through 2NT denies a stopper or FADS (Fast Arrival Denies Stop).

My preference is for FADS!

The important thing is you agree what you are playing with your partner.


This is a bridge acronym standing for:

  • Colour
  • Rank
  • Other

It’s similar to the Unusual NT and the Michael’s cue bid all wrapped in one. I think some people (me) have also called it Modified Ghestem as well.

It’s used to specify 55 distributions when the opponents have opened at the 1 level…the difference is you can specify exactly what suits the 55 are in where you might be left guessing using the Michael’s cue bid.

Same Colour (C)

So the Cue-bid (C) show at least 55 in two suits of the same colour…

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣2♣Shows 55 in the red suits
12Shows 55 in the black suits
12Shows 55 in the black suits
1♠2♠Shows 55 in the red suits

Same Rank (R)

This time the 2NT bid shows two suits of the same rank. Soif they bid a minor…you have at least 55 in the majors and if they bid the majors then you have the minors again at least 55.

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣2NTShows 55 in the majors
12NTShows 55 in the majors
12NTShows 55 in the minors
1♠2NTShows 55 in the minors

3♣ – The Other bid (O)

This one usually takes a bit more thinking about to work out but it’s easy when you get used to it!

Oppo BidYour BidMeaning
1♣3♣Shows 55 in diamonds and spades
13♣Shows 55 in clubs and hearts
13♣Shows 55 in diamonds and spades
1♠3♣Shows 55 in clubs and hearts

So the advantage of using CRO over say the Michael’s Cue Bid is partner knows what the other minor is:-

So if the bidding for example goes:-

Using a Michael’s Cue Bid


Suppose east has made a michael’s cue bid showing hearts and an unspecified minor. West might have a good sacrifice in Clubs but not have a sacrifice in hearts or diamonds…so he’s forced to pass as otherwise he’d be guessing to bid at the 5 level which could be a worse score than them making 4 spades.

This time using CRO


This time West is able to bid clubs and find a good sacrifice…North south collect 300 for the doubled club contract but they could have made 4 spades vulnerable for 620!

The disadvantages of CRO are:

  • You tell the opposition what the other minor is
  • It’s slightly more stuff to remember
  • You lose the 3♣ bid as a natural bid
  • The opposition can use the minor as a cue bid as well

It sounds like I’m putting more negatives than positives but personally I think it’s worth it as I’ve found loads of sacrifices in the minors using this system and for me that outweighs the negatives.

Typical hands To use CRO

So these hands you could use CRO to describe your hand

  • ♠ 4 KQ1076 AJ1073 ♣ 72
  • ♠ AJ987 KJ1086 J7 ♣ 7

So I tend to visualise a hand with about 10 points

Hands NOT to use CRO

You wouldn’t do it with these hands:

  • ♠ AQ 107654 J10873 ♣ K
  • ♠ AKQ KJ1086 65432 ♣ Void

The first hand you don’t have 10 points in the two suits…but you have some defensive values. The second hand again has a lot of your points in the other major.


Most people these days play a short club with a strong no trump and five card majors, therefore opening 1 club is quite often a weak no trump holding.

The Landik 2♣ bid describes a 5-4 or 5-5 holding in the majors up to about 9 points after the bidding has gone… 1♣ from partner and a strong 1NT overcall from the opposition. Now you bid 2♣ hoping to find a fit in the majors.

Specific Ace Ask

Very simply you can open 4NT which asks partner if they hold an ace.

5♣No aces
5The ace of Diamonds
5The ace of Hearts
5♠The ace of spades
5NT2 aces
6♣The ace of clubs
6Three aces!?

Alternatively you can play a step response:-

5♣No aces
5The ace of Clubs
5The ace of Diamonds
5♠The ace of Hearts
5NTThe ace of spades
6♣Two aces
6Three Aces!?

Again the most important thing is make sure you agree what you are playing with partner…as the specific ace convention doesn’t arise very often I would suggest you play the first alternative described here.

Please make sure you can handle any response…if you hold:-

Now the opposition are bound to lead a red suit and take you one off in 6♠.

Whereas if you have this you can cater for any response:-

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