ACBL04J – Notrump: Systems On               Ward Trumbull

                                                                                                             Mar 26, 2011

                                                                                                             Page 1 of 4


The Problem

            A 2-level overcall of a standard opening one notrump (15-17 or

      15-18 HCP) should be 8-14 HCP.  Thus, a double of that notrump      

      should be 15+ HCP.  The problem is whether or not the responder

      should use Stayman and/or transfers.  If not, any response would

      indicate a natural 4+ card suit.  This partnership decision is called

      “Systems On” or “Systems Off”.  There is a box on the ACBL

      convention card to mark when a pair is playing Systems On.


Doubling Hand


            The doubler’s hand with 15+ HCP can be a balanced notump

      hand or it may be distributional hand.  On distributional hands, it is

      more important to inform your partner of your 15+ HCP by doubling

      than to overcall a 5+ card suit with HCP unknown.


Response HCP Problem


            With few exceptions, the responder to a notrump double MUST bid.

      So any responder bid at the 2-level would indicate zero HCP.  If your

      pair is playing Systems On, a Stayman 2 clubs bid would also require

      no HCP.  Likewise, a 2 notrump response would indicate no HCP.


            However, for Systems On transfer bids it makes no difference

      because responder can transfer with no HCP.  


Systems On - Stayman      (note: must be alerted)


      1. Doubler Has a Balanced Hand (15+ HCP)


          He/she should bid the standard Stayman replies:


                       a. at the 2-level with 15-17 HCP

                       b. at the 3-level with 18+ HCP


                       ACBL04J – Notrump: Systems On                Mar 26, 2011

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Systems On - Stayman (continued)


      2. Doubler Has a Distributional Hand (15+ HCP)


          He/she should ignore the Stayman request and just bid his/her long

          suit.  A 2-level major suit bid or a 3-level minor suit bid should

          indicate 15-17 HCP hand.  A level higher bid in those suits should

          indicate 18+ HCP.


Systems On - Jacoby Major Suit Transfer


      1. Doubler Has a Balanced Hand (15+ HCP)


          He/she should bid responder’s major at the 2-level, regardless of the

         doubler’s HCP.  That’s just in case the responder has a bust hand.


      2. Doubler Has a Distributional Hand (15+ HCP)


          He/she has two options:


               a. With 3+ cards in responder’s major transfer suit, bid that suit at

                   the 2 level with 15-17 HCP or 3 level with 18+ HCP.  Declaring

                   in the responder’s suit will mean entries for sure to the



               b. Without 3+ cards in responder’s transfer suit, ignore partner’s

                   transfer suit and bid your long suit at the 2, 3 or 4 level per the

                   HCP rules above.


Systems On - Minor Suit Transfer


      1. Doubler Has a Balanced Hand (15+ HCP)


          He/she should bid responder’s minor suit at the 3-level.  Responder

          is in control and will probably pass (Drop Dead).


                       ACBL04J – Notrump: Systems On                Mar 26, 2011

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Systems On - Minor Suit Transfer (continued)


      2. Doubler Has a Distributional Hand (15+ HCP)


          He/she has these options:


                  1. If the transfer minor is your long suit minor, he/she should bid

                      that minor at the 4-level.  Remember responder has less

                      than 8 HCP.


                  2. If you have high card strength and length (3+) in that minor,

                      take a shot at 3 notrump.


                  3. If you have length in the other minor and a singleton or void

                      in responder’s minor, bid 3 diamonds or 4 clubs.  But with 2+

                      cards in responder’s minor, take the transfer.  Responder

                      has less than 8 HCP.


                  4. If your long suit is a major, take the transfer with 2+ cards

                      in responder’s minor suit.  With a singleton or void in  

                      responder’s minor suit:


                            a. If responder bid 2 spades (transfer to 3 clubs), and

                                your long suit is spades, pass.


                            b. Otherwise, bid hearts or spades at the 3 level.


 Systems On - 5/5 Major Transfer


            Remember, if responder makes the 5/5 Major Transfer by bidding

       3 diamonds, he/she still is not indicating any HCP.  Balanced or

       distributional, if the doubler has 3+ cards in a major, bid 3 of that





                       ACBL04J – Notrump: Systems On                Mar 26, 2011

                                                                                                             Page 4 of 4

Systems On - 5/5 Major Transfer (continued)


       Without a 3+ card major, the options are:


            1. Take a gamble by bidding 3 notrump.


            2. Bid the distributional minor at the 4 level.


Systems On - 5/5 Minor Transfer


            It isn’t gonna happen because the opponent has 15+ HCP, the

      doubler has 15+ HCP and responder would need 15 HCP.  With a

      5/5 minor suit hand, the responder should just bid 2/3 notrump.  Note

      again that the 8 HCP requirement for 2 notrump is not applicable.

      A 3 notrump bid indicates 8+ HCP.


Systems On - 5/5 Texas Transfer


            Note that responder must have 6+ HCP for a Texas Transfer.   

       The options are:


                   1. If you have a balanced hand, bid the transfer major.

                   2. If it’s a distributional hand:


                            a. With 1+ hearts, take a 4 hearts transfer.

                                With no hearts, pass 4 diams, bid 4 spades or 5 clubs.

                            b. With 1+ spades, take a 4 spades transfer.

                                With no spades, pass 4 hearts, bid 5 clubs or diams.

Final Note


            System On works pretty well whether the doubler’s hand is

      balanced or distributional as long as partner’s response is no higher

      than 2 notrump.  With higher response bids for the 5/5 Major and

      Texas Transfers it gets a little sticky.  But it is still far better than

      Systems Off where responder just names a 4+ card suit.