As of August 1st 2013 there will be a significant change to the current alerting procedures which will have an impact on all players.
When you open 1 club or a natural 1NT, there will be no need to alert the bid. Instead opener’s partner must automatically “announce”, without waiting to be asked, the essential meaning of the bid.
For a natural 1NT opening, this announcement is the strength range. So partner says: “15 to 17” or “12 to 14” or whatever the range is.
For a 1 club opening, it depends on the system. For natural systems, partner announces the minimum club length guaranteed, saying “4 plus clubs” or “3 plus clubs”, etc.
For strong club systems, you announce the point range. For Precision you would say “strong, at least 16 points”.
For other systems, for example Polish Club, which has multiple means for the 1 club opening, partner simply announces “unusual”.
After any announcement, the opponents will still be able to ask supplementary questions, however the basic information already conveyed will avoid much of that need. A side benefit of this new approach is that many of the problems currently created due to inopportune (and sometimes pointed) enquiries will now disappear. And opponents will no longer be at risk of confusion caused by variable 1NT ranges and the like.
It will take some time for players to adjust to such a significant change in alert procedure. Directors are encouraged to exercise suitable tolerance in respect to inadvertent non-compliance until players become familiar with the new procedure.
Announcements have been successfully used in both England and the United States for a number of years and it is felt that the above application of the same approach will also be beneficial in Australia.