ACBL Standard Yellow Card System Booklet

Revised September, 1988


The "ACBL Standard Yellow Card" game is one where all partnerships have agreed to play the system exactly as described in this booklet. The object is to provide a simple, modern method which will lead to a good, solid understanding in a partnership when both players have read this booklet.

The beauty of the event is that players know in advance not only their own bidding agreements, but those of their opponents. The game is free of complex bidding systems. There are few Alerts (none unexpected) and there should be a minimum of director calls.

(Few sequences are defined in the later rounds of "ACBL Standard Yellow Card" auctions. Players are free to assign forcing, invitational or non-forcing meanings to natural calls in such sequences. They are not, however, free to introduce their own sophisticated methods in these undefined areas.)

The relaxed spirit of the ACBL Standard Yellow Card game is best achieved by group cooperation. Contestants are encouraged to adhere to both the letter and the spirit of the game.

Players may still exercise their bridge judgments, such as in deciding to open a four-card major in third seat. The ACBL Standard Yellow Card "normally five-card majors" approach can withstand an occasional deviation. However players who routinely open a four-card major in third seat are not adhering to the spirit of the game. Similarly, partnerships that prefer to use light initial actions are expected to adjust their requirements or to choose the concurrent General Conventions Chart event.

Psychs are a sensitive subject to players in this event. A very rare, totally unexpected psych is not illegal, but pairs who wish to psych with any degree of frequency are encouraged to enter other games.

Please read the booklet before entering the game and understand that you have agreed to play the system as described. Enjoy!


If you are playing in an ACBL Standard Yellow Card game, you have only five choices to make. They involve defensive card play--see DEFENSIVE LEADS AND SIGNALS.



2C is "non-forcing" Stayman, meaning that the bidding can stop in two of a suit. Opener bids 2H with 4-4 in the majors. If responder rebids three of either minor, he is showing slam interest and at least a five-card suit.

Jacoby transfers showing a five-card suit are used for the majors: 2D is a transfer to hearts, 2H is a transfer to spades. Opener accepts the transfer though he can jump to the three level with 17 points and four-card support for responder's major, for example:

1NT -- 2D

2H = normal acceptance of the transfer

3H = 17 points and four-card heart support

If, after the transfer is accepted, responder bids a new suit, that is natural and game forcing. Possible calls after the accepted transfer are:

    1NT -- 2H 
        -- Pass = content to play 2S.  
        -- 2NT, 3S = invitational. Over 2NT opener can pass or
                     return to 3S with a minimum hand; bid 3NT or
                     4S with a maximum.
        -- 3C, 3D, 3H = natural and game forcing.
        -- 3NT = asking for a choice between 3NT and 4S.  
        -- 4S = placing the contract, with a six-card or longer suit.

A 2S response requires the 1NT bidder to rebid 3C, which can be passed
with a club bust, or responder can rebid 3D with a diamond bust.
    1NT -- 2S
    3C  -- Pass = club bust.
        -- 3D = diamond bust (notrump opener passes).

Other responses to 1NT:
    1NT -- 3C, 3D = invitational to 3NT with a six-card or longer suit.
        -- 3H, 3S = At least a six-card suit and slam interest (otherwise
                    responder uses a transfer bid).
        -- 4C = Gerber, asking for aces. 4C IS GERBER OVER ANY 1NT OR
                Responses show the number of aces, by steps, just as
                over a Blackwood 4NT. (5C is used to ask for kings.)

                Ace Asking                      King Asking
        1NT -- 4C                       1NT -- 4C
        4D = 0 or 4 aces                4x  -- 5C
        4H = 1 ace                      5D = 0 or 4 kings
        4S = 2 aces                     5H = 1 king
        4NT = 3 aces                    5S = 2 kings
                                        5NT = 3 kings

If the player using Gerber makes any bid other than 5C, that is to play (including 4NT).

A direct raise of 1NT to 4NT is natural and invites 6NT. 4NT is slam invitational only because 4C is available as Gerber.


If the opponents double, all conventional responses are "on." For example:

    1NT -- (double) -- 2C = (Stayman).
                    -- 2D = (transfer to hearts)

If the opponents bid over your 1NT opener, Stayman and transfers are
"off." Bids are natural except for a cuebid, which can be used with
game force strength as a substitute for Stayman. 

If the opponents intervene over a conventional response, bids carry the
same meaning as if there were no intervention. A bid says, "I'm bidding
voluntarily, so I have a real fit with you."
    1NT -- (Pass) -- 2D -- (Double)
    2H = Real fit for hearts (pass with only two hearts)


Stayman and Jacoby transfers for the majors are used.

    2NT -- 3C = Stayman.
        -- 3D, 3H = Jacoby transfers to hearts and spades respectively.
        -- 4C = Gerber.
        -- 4NT = Inviting a slam in notrump.
    3NT -- 4C = Stayman.
        -- 4D, 4H = Jacoby transfers to hearts and spades respectively.


1H and 1S openings show a five-card or longer suit. Responses:
    1H -- 1S = at least four spades, 6 or more points. Tends to deny
               a heart fit.
       -- 1NT = 6-10 points, denies four spades or three hearts. NOT 
       -- 2C, 2D = 11 points or more, promises at least four of the suit.
       -- 2H = three-card or longer heart support; 6-10 dummy points.
       -- 2NT = Game-forcing raise ("Jacoby 2NT"), 13+ dummy points.
                Asks opener to show a short suit to help responder
                evaluate slam prospects.
       -- 2S, 3C, 3D = strong jump shifts.  Invite a slam.
       -- 3H = limit raise (10-12 dummy points with three or more hearts).
       -- 3NT = 15-17 HCP, balanced hand with two-card support for partner.
       -- 4H = usually 5+ hearts, a singleton or void, and fewer than 10 HCP.

Opener's rebids are natural and standard.
Rebids with a minimum hand (13-16 points):
    Rebidding notrump at the cheapest available level;
    Raising responder's suit at the cheapest level (this can be done
        with good three-card support if desired);
    Rebidding a new suit (but not reversing);
    Rebidding opener's suit at the lowest level.
Rebids with a medium hand (17-18) points:
    Jump raise or jump rebid of opener's suit;
    Reverse in a new suit
    Non-reverse bid in a new suit (this has the wide range of 13-18 
With a maximum hand (19-21 or 22 points) opener must make a very strong
    Jump in notrump;
    Double jump raise in responder's suit or double jump rebid of opener's 
    Jump shift in a new suit.
        If responder jumps to 2NT over a 1H or 1 S opening, that is
        Jacoby 2NT, asking opener to show a singleton or void. If
        opener has no short suit, he shows his hand strength;
            1H -- 2NT
            3C, 3D, 3S = singleton or void in that suit. Other bids
                         deny a short suit.
            4H = minimum hand.
            3NT = medium hand (15-17).
            3H = maximum hand (18+).

    Responder follows up by attempting to sign off in game, bidding 4NT
    Blackwood, or cuebidding if still interested in trying to cooperate
    with opener in making the slam decision.


If responder has bid a suit at the one level, he next determines
whether he wishes to sign off in a partscore, invite game, sign off in
game, or force to game and get more information about opener's hand.
Having made his choice, he selects the best available bid.

Bids available for signoff in partscore: Pass, 1NT, 2 of a previously
bid suit.
    1H -- 1S
    2C -- Pass, 2H, 2S = 6-10 points, signoff in partscore.

Bids available for inviting game: 2NT, 3 of a previously bid suit:
    1H -- 1S
    2D -- 2NT, 3D, 3H, 3S = 11-12 points, inviting game.

Second-round forcing bids. A new suit response (other than after a 1NT
rebid by opener) is a one-round force. If it is a fourth suit in the
auction, it may be artificial.
    1H -- 1S
    2C -- 2D = one-round force, could be artificial.
... but ...
    1H -- 1S
    1NT-- 2C, 2D = non-forcing. Responder must jump shift to 3C or 3D
                   to force game.

Second round forcing bids following a 1NT rebid by opener: A reverse or
jump shift into a new suit is a game force.

    1C -- 1H
    1NT -- 2S or 3D = game force.

Bids available for signing off in game.
    3NT, 4H, 4S, 5C, 5D.

If responder initially bids a new suit at the two level, the same rules
apply EXCEPT that a subsequent jump raise of opener's first suit to the
THREE LEVEL is game forcing (responder should make a limit raise
directly over the opening with 10-12 points and at least three-card

    1S -- 2C
    2H -- 2NT, 3C, 3H = Invitational to game (11-12 points).
       -- 2S = Preference, not forcing. Responder has 11-12 points and
               a doubleton spade.
       -- 3D = Game force, could be artificial.
       -- 3S = Game force.

NOTE: Responder promises to bid again if he responded with a new suit
at the two level unless opener's rebid is at the game level.
    1S -- 2C
    2D = forcing one round. Responder can limit his hand by bidding 2S,
         2NT, 3C, or 3D at this point. He should not pass, since opener
         could have 18 points (just short of a jump shift rebid).


A 1D opener suggests a four-card or longer suit, since 1C is preferred
on hands where a three-card minor suit must be opened. The exception is
a hand with 4-4-3-2 shape: four spades, four hearts, three diamonds,
and two clubs, which should be opened 1D.

Responses and later bidding generally follow the ideas set down in the
previous section. Bidding at the one level is up-the-line in
principle.  Responder needs more trumps to raise (4 to raise 1D; 5 to
raise 1 C, though one less trump will do in a pinch in a competitive
sequence).  Responses of 2NT and 3NT are standard:
    1C -- 2NT = 13-15, game forcing
       -- 3NT = 16-17
There is no forcing minor-suit raise.


A 2C opening shows at least 22+ points, or the playing equivalent.
    2C -- 2D = artificial, could be "waiting" with a good hand not
               suited to a positive response.
       -- 2H, 2S, 3C, 3D = natural and game forcing. At least a
                           five-card suit and 8 points.
       -- 2NT = a balanced 8 HCP.

If opener rebids 2NT after a 2D response (showing 22-24 points), the
same responses are used as over a 2NT opening:
    2C  -- 2D
    2NT -- 3C = Stayman.
        -- 3D, 3H = Jacoby transfers to hearts and spades respectively.
        -- 4C = Gerber.
        -- 4NT = Inviting a slam in notrump.
If opener rebids a suit over a 2D response, the bidding is forcing to 3
of opener's major or 4 of opener's minor.
    2C -- 2D
    2H -- 2S
    3H = not forcing.


Weak two-bids show a six-card suit of reasonable quality and 5-11 HCP.
On rare occasions it may be a very good five-card suit. It is possible
to open a weak two with a poor seven-card suit (not good enough to open
with at the three level). Responses:

    A 2NT response is forcing, showing game interest. (This applies
    also if the opponents intervene with a double or a bid.) Opener
    rebids his suit with a minimum weak two (5-8 points).  With a
    maximum hand opener bids another suit to show a "feature" (ace or
    king in that suit); lacking a feature he raises to 3NT and lets
    responder place the contract.

    Any raise of opener's suit is to play and could be preemptive. A
    3NT response is also to play.

    "RONF" on the card means "Raise Only Non-Force." A new suit
    response is forcing one round and shows at least a five-card suit.
    Opener should raise a major suit response with a three-card fit, or
    perhaps with a doubleton honor.

    With no fit for responder's suit, opener rebids:

        With a minimum weak two-bid (5-8 points), rebid the suit at the
        cheapest level.

        With a maximum weak two-bid, name a new suit or bid notrump.


Blackwood 4NT is used to ask for aces. Responses show the number of
aces by steps. 5NT is then used to ask for kings; 5NT guarantees the
partnership holds all four aces.
    --  --  --                  --  --  --
    --  --  4NT                 --  --  4NT
                                5x  --  5NT
    5C = 0 or 4 aces            6C -- 0 or 4 kings
    5D = 1 ace                  6D -- 1 king
    5H = 2 aces                 6H -- 2 kings
    5S = 3 aces                 6S -- 3 kings

A jump to 5NT (and some 5NT bids when the auction is at the five level)
is "Grand Slam Force", asking partner to bid a grand slam with two of
the three top trump honors;
    5NT -- 6 of the trump suit = fewer than two top trump honors (A, K,
           or Q).
        -- 7 of the trump suit = two of the three top trump honors.


Overcalls show 8-16 points (double and bid the long suit with a
stronger hand). The only forcing response is a cuebid of opener's suit,
asking the overcaller about the quality of his overcall:

    (1D)   -- 1S -- (Pass) -- 2D
    (Pass) -- 2S = minimum overcall.
           -- other = extra strength (11 or 12 points minimum).

A 1NT overcall shows 15-18 points and a balanced hand (preferably a
stopper in opener's suit). No artificial responses are used to the 1NT
overcall except 2C, which is Stayman.

A jump overcall of 2NT shows at least 5-5 in the lower two unbid

Jump overcalls are preemptive, showing the same values as an opening
bid at the same level:
    (1D) -- 2S = a hand that would open a weak two-bid in spades.
         -- 3C = a hand that would open 3C.

A cuebid overcall when the opponents have bid two suits is natural in
either suit.

A cuebid overcall, when the opponents have bid only one suit, is a
"Michaels cuebid", showing a 5-5 two-suiter (or more distributional).
If the opening is in a minor suit, the cuebid shows the majors; if the
opening is in a major, the cuebid shows the other major and an
unspecified minor.
    (1D) -- 2D = at least 5-5 in the majors, 8 points or more.
    (1S) -- 2S = at least 5-5 in hearts and a minor; 10 points or more.
    Responder can bid 2NT over a major suit cuebid to ask for partner's
    (1H)   -- 2H -- (Pass) -- 2NT (asks for the minor).
    (Pass) -- 3C = club suit.
           -- 3D = diamond suit.

Reopening bids mean much the same as direct seat bids, though they can
be lighter at the minimum end. A reopening 1NT after an opponent has
opened shows 10-15 points. This is a wide range but there will not
usually be a game on for you.

Doubles are for takeout over opening partscore bids (4 D or lower);
penalty over opening game bids (4H or higher). A below-game jump
response to a takeout double is invitational. To force, responder
cuebids opener's suit.

Versus opening preempts, overcalls in suits or notrump are natural;
cuebids are Michaels.


There is almost an endless variety of possible sequences, so it pays to
have simple guidelines to prevent bidding misunderstandings:

Bids mean the same thing they meant without the intervening bid.
However it is sometimes necessary to pick a bid that would normally
have been a second choice without the overcall:
    1D -- (Pass) -- 1S -- (2C)
    2S with S J43 H A875 D AQJ4 C J3 (rebid 1NT if RHO has passed).

Cuebidding RHO's suit shows values for game without clear direction for
the moment. This is often used to show a game-forcing raise:
    1S -- (2C) -- 3C = game force; usually a raise.

Negative doubles are used through 2S promising four cards (at least) in
any unbid major. Bidding a major at the two level or higher shows 11 or
more points and a five-card or longer suit.
    1C -- (1D)-- Double = 4-4 or better in the majors.
    1D -- (1H)-- Double = exactly four spades (1S promises five).
    1D -- (1S)-- Double = four hearts and 6+ points or five hearts and
                          5-10 points.

If RHO makes a takeout double:
    1D -- (Double) -- 1H, 1S = forcing, point count not limited.
                   -- 2C = non-forcing (6-10 points, usually a six-card
                   -- 2NT = limit raise (at least 10 points) -- or
                   -- Redouble = 10 points or more, but it is better to
                                 make a more descriptive bid of 1H, 1S,
                                 or 2NT with the appropriate hand.
                   -- 3D = Preemptive, good trump support but fewer
                           than 10 points.

A responder's jump shift after a double is to play:
    1D -- (Double) -- 2H, 2S, 3C = six-plus-card suit, like a weak
                                   two-bid or preemptive three-bid.

A redouble can have one of three meanings:

To play if:

    Your side is at the four level or higher:
        4S -- (Double) -- Redouble = Penalty:

    The opponents double an artificial bid:
        1NT -- (Pass) -- 2D -- (Double)
        Redouble = Penalty. good diamond suit;

A good hand if their double is for takeout:
    1S -- (Double) -- Redouble = 10+ points;

SOS, requesting a different suit, if your side is doubled for penalty
in a trump suit at the three level or lower:
    1D -- (Pass) -- Pass -- (Double)
    Pass -- (Pass) -- Redouble = SOS, responder can support at least
        two of the unbid suits.

Unless otherwise noted elsewhere, any bid or double by the opponents
cancels a convention intended for non-competitive sequences.

    Examples: 1H -- 1S -- 2NT = Natural (12-14 HCP).
              2C -- Double -- 2D = Natural and Positive.

If the opponents use a convention (such as Michaels or the unusual
notrump), you can double to show at least 10 points, or you can cuebid
one of their shown suit(s) to force to game.
    1S -- (2S) -- 3H = game force.
               -- Double = at least 10 points, probably balanced.


This is the one area where choices are offered. The following are
specified: Defensive signals when following suit or discarding are
"high encourages, low discourages." Leads are top of touching honors
(with choices from AKx and interior sequences).

Pairs must choose from the following options. Where no card is
pre-marked in bold italics, pairs must mark their leads.
It is Declarer's responsibility to look at opponents' carding agreements. In the absence of a circle, cards in bold italics are presumed to be the agreement.


If you are playing the ACBL Standard Yellow Card in an open game, you may add defenses to opponents' conventions (e.g., Unusual vs. Unusual, and Mathe over big club). Put these convention-defenses in the section "Defenses vs. Opp's Conventions" on the left-hand side of the convention card.