40. Glossary


The American Contract Bridge League (acbl.org) issues the rules that govern most tournament play in North America.


The partner of the overcaller.


To give a required notification to the opponents. The need for an alert is shown by an exclamation point following the bid. If the opponents ask what the bid means, the proper explanation is shown following the exclamation point.


To say aloud certain explanations, such as notrump ranges.


When signaling on defense, refers to showing if you want a suit continued or not.


A hand with an even distribution of suit lengths, 5-3-3-2, 4-4-3-2, or 4-3-3-3. Usually the term includes the semi-balanced hands also. Otherwise put, a hand with no singleton or void and at most two doubletons.


To make a bid in passout seat when your partner has passed. For example, (1♥) - P - (P) - 1♠ and (1♥) - P- (2♥) - P; (P) 2♠ are balancing bids.


A bid is a call other than a Pass, including double or redouble.

business double

A synonym for penalty double


A hand with very few points; no Aces or Kings, and at most one Queen.


A call is a person’s choice of contribution to the auction when it is their turn. A call could be Pass. A bid is a call that is not a Pass.


Refers to the partner who knows the other’s strength and shape within sufficient limits that he must decide the correct path to the final contract, after possibly gathering more information. Later, switches of leadership may occur, but generally the Captain is in charge.


A convention that asks if opener has three-card support for our major or four cards in the other major. See Fourth Suit Forcing, New Minor Forcing, and Two Way New Minor Forcing.


A hand, or a bid indicating a hand, strong enough to bid but not strong enough for bidding game.

control bid
control bidding

A bid showing an Ace or void; or in the Italian system, first or second round control of that suit. See Control Bidding.


Refers to the number of control points in a hand, counting an Ace as 2 and a King as 1. Also refers to a certain advanced system for responding to a 2♣ opener.


A bid which changes the standard meaning of that bid to serve another purpose, together with its followups.

cooperative double

A double that is nominally for takeout but which seeks partner’s opinion on the best action to take.


When signaling on defense, refers to showing the current number of cards held in a suit.

cue bid

A bid of a suit already bid by the opponents. In slam bidding, a cue bid is also an older synonym for control bid.

current count

When signaling on defense, refers to showing the number of cards in a suit that one holds at the moment, as opposed to originally.


A suit of exactly two cards. Called worthless or weak if it does not contain an Ace or King.

drop dead

A bid that partner must pass.


A convention played after a major opening in third or fourth seat when the responder is a passed hand, to show a limit raise or better. Reverse Drury and Two-Way Reverse Drury are two variants; the original version is almost never played today.

fast arrival

A jump bid to reach game when a slower yet forcing bid was available. It means a hand with no independent interest in slam. Usually in the context of a 2/1 auction.

fast denies

The opposite of slow shows.


A fit in a given suit is when we find our side has eight or more cards in it. See also Moysian Fit.

flag bid

An artificial bid that shows one of two different suits. An example is after a 1N - 2♠ minor relay convention, opener bids 3♣. If responder then bids 3 of a major it is a flag bid, 3♥ showing a slam try in clubs and 3♠ a slam try in diamonds.


A flat hand is one with a shape of 4333. The most frequent shapes are 5332, 4432, and 4333. These hands are called balanced. They often take fewer tricks than you hope.


A gadget is a convention that is usually applicable in a small niche bidding situation, or which is considered a minor tweak on another convention. Gadgets are often inappropriate for intermediates or casual partnerships.

game forcing

A hand, or bid indicating a hand, strong enough to require bidding that leads to a game or four of a minor suit. Abbreviated “gf”.

game try

A game try is a bid suggesting that we are close to game if partner has a suitable hand, and asks partner to decide or to show interest but not enough to bid game by themselves. There are several systems for doing this, the most popular being help-suit game tries.

Garbage Stayman

An optional convention used with Stayman to show weak hands 5-4 or 5-5 in the majors. Responder bids 2♥! after a 2♦ response to Stayman, asking opener to pass or correct to spades.


A bid of 4 clubs that asks responder how many Aces he holds.


An abbreviation of game forcing.

good suit

A good suit is one with 2 of the top 3 honors or 3 of the top 5, but not QJT, and usually five or more cards.


Short for grand slam.


High-card points. See Hand Evaluation.


A help-suit game try is a game try asking partner to bid game if they have help in the suit bid or a near-maximal holding for their bid. Help is defined as an Ace, King, singleton, void, or five cards in the suit.


Another word for overcaller.


An abbreviation of invitational.


A hand, or a bid indicating a hand, within 2 points of being game forcing. Abbreviated inv.


A bid of a new suit (a shift) one level higher than it needs to be (a jump).

Law of Total Tricks

A guideline used to help determine how high to bid in a competitive auction. With a trump fit of 8 cards or more, and the HCP fairly evenly divided, the number of tricks the partnership can expect to win is approximately the total number of trump held by the partners.


A bid made for the purpose of asking for a certain suit on opening lead. Any double of an artificial bid is usually lead-directing.

leave it in

To pass partner’s takeout double.


An advanced convention for disambiguating strengths of responder’s hand especially after an overcall of a 1N opener.


The number of tricks in excess of six that a bid contracts for. For a bid of 3♥ the level is 3 and the strain is hearts.


Left hand opponent; the player to the left of the player


A kind of double of a final contract that asks for an unusual lead, often dummy’s first bid suit. See Lightner Double.

limit raise

An invitational-strength raise, so called because the raise limits the player’s strength for partner.

LMH steps

In some advanced conventions, the next three steps show the corresponding three suits not including a suit (such as trump) that would not have the desired property (such as shortness) in a low - middle - high order.

Losing Trick Count

A way to estimate of how many tricks we’ll take, once we’ve agreed on a fit. From a book by Ron Klinger.


Spades or hearts; frequently abbreviated M.


A style of making two-suited bids, in which the bid is not used for intermediate hands.


Diamonds or clubs; frequently abbreviated m.


An ace-asking bid of four of the minor, played with inverted minors.


A pair of hands with no fit.

mixed raise

A raise that is better than minimal, but not enough for a limit raise.

Moysian Fit

Having exactly seven cards in a suit between the partner’s hands. This is not treated as “having a fit”.

negative double

A double that shows strength in unbid suits is called a negative double. The most common example is partner opens a suit and is overcalled in another suit; then a double by responder is a negative double.


The player that overcalled; the partner of the advancer. We also call him the intervenor.

pass or correct

A bid intended to either be passed or corrected to another suit. See Minor Relay for an example.

passout seat

A bidder about to make the third consecutive pass, ending the auction. After an opening bid and two passes, to bid in passout seat is called balancing.

penalty double

A double made with the intent of having partner pass, to collect penalties.


The total value of both HCP and distributional factors.

power double

A takeout double that is a very strong hand rather than a normal opening hand. It might not have support for the unbid suits.


(Noun) preemptive bid


Describes a bid intended to interfere in the opponents auction, usually by or opening or jumping in a long suit.


To pull a double means to bid over partner’s penalty double.


A bid that forces partner to bid the opposite major, used to make the larger hand declare a contract. See Smolen for example.


A bid that invites partner to bid slam if on the top of his known range. In conversation, often abbreviated as quant.


A card’s rank is the symbol on it, such as 2, 3, .., King. The rank of a suit is its position in the sequence (from lowest to highest) ♣, ♦, ♥, ♠. rattlesnake Describes a hand with a 4441 shape (or 5440, if the five-card suit is a minor).


A bid which requires partner to bid a certain suit, but does not imply possession of that suit by the bidder. Compare to transfer.


The partner of the opener

responsive double

An advanced convention used to compete after partner makes a takeout double.


(1) a bid in a suit higher than the suit you first bid, showing a stronger hand than you’ve shown so far; or (2) an adjective applied to the name of a convention indicating a variant in which two of the bids are interchanged, as in Reverse Bergen or Reverse Drury.


Right hand opponent; the player to the right of the player


A bidding manuever designed to have the stronger hand be the declarer.


A transfer version of Lebensohl. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Rule of

Add your HCP and the lengths of your longest two suits. If that number is 20 or more your hand is said to satisfy the “Rule of 20”. The Rule of 17 and The Rule of 19 are also used in ACBL convention charts. You may see Rule of 21 or Rule of 22 in books; those are the Rule of 20 with additional requirements.

Rule of 17

A guideline used to help determine whether or not to raise a preemptive major bid by partner to game. The rule says to add your HCP and number of trumps, and bid game if the total is 17 or more.

Rule of 20

A hand is said to satisfy the Rule of 20 if its number of high card points plus the sum of the lengths of its two longest suits adds up to 20 or more.


A method of escaping from a penalty double, such as a double of a 1N opener.

Sandwich 1N

After opponents have bid 1x - 1y, a 1N conventional bid to show the other two suits with a sub-opening hand.


A hand with a 5-4-2-2 or 6-3-2-2 shape, the longest being a minor.


A bid that is forcing but passable by a hand with an utter minimum. See oxymoron. Usually refers to making 1M - 1N semi-forcing rather than forcing.


A suit is short if it contains 2 or fewer cards.


A suit containing just one card.


A hand, or a bid showing a hand, that possibly but not definitively might contribute to a slam.

slow shows

This expression is used when there are two bids that denote the same strain, one immediate and one through a slower mechanism; the slower of the two shows a hand that is the stronger or possesses a stopper.


An artificial convention to show the five-card suit in a five-four hand.

SOS redouble

A redouble in the passout seat after an opening bid has been doubled for takeout or for balancing.


A triple-jump bid showing a stiff or a void in the suit bid and agreeing to partner’s last-bid suit as trump. Examples are 1♠ - 4♥!, 1♥ - 4♣!, and the tricky one, 1♥ - 3♠!.


The Stayman Convention is classically a bid of the lowest number of clubs after a notrump opening; it inquires about the opener’s major suit holdings. The term is also used to refer other bids with the same purpose.


Slang for singleton.


Strain is a word used to avoid saying the wordy “suit or notrump”. Used in phrases such as “What strain should we play in?” or “the next higher strain”.


A jump agreement in response to a major transfer.

support double

An advanced convention used to show exactly 3-card support for responder’s suit.


A bid (most often a double) is said to be “for takeout” if partner is expected to bid rather than pass.

takeout double

A double that asks partner to bid, usually with an emphasis on getting partner to reveal an unbid major suit.


A holding that includes two cards separated by one missing one, such as AQ or KJ. Such a holding is strong if behind the missing card, but weak if the stronger card(s) are behind it. The missing card is said to be onside if ahead of the tenace, and offside otherwise.


The most important number in bridge.


A bid which requests partner to bid a certain suit which is held by the bidder; the intent is usually to cause partner to be the declarer if that suit is trump. Usually the suit bid is one denomination belows than the suit requested, known as the target suit.

If partner bids the target suit as requested it is called accepting the transfer. If he bids it but one level higher than necessary it is called a super-accept; and if he bids something else it is called breaking the transfer.

Compare to relay.

Two Over One

An advanced version of Standard American, “Two Over One Game Force”, is so-named for the signature non-jump bid of two of a new suit over partner’s opening one-level bid in a suit.


Short for “upside down attitude, right-side up count”. A low card is encouraging or from an even number.


Short for “upside-down count and upside-down attitude” card signals. A low card is encouraging or from an odd number.


To lead a small card from a suit containing an honor; for example to lead the 5 from K985.

unpassed hand

A hand that has not yet had a chance to bid, or did have a chance but did not pass.


A suit containing no cards.


W is our notation for the “other” major in an auction where a major M has been bid.


w is our notation for the “other” minor in an auction where the a minor m has been bid.


The style, taught in this book, where a less-than-game-forcing hand will bypass a diamond suit when replying to a 1♣ opener in favor of showing a four-card major.


A hand, or a bid indicating a hand, too weak for any but obstructive action.






A hand containing no honors; a real bust.