ACBL Alerts January 1 2021
This document uses the ACBL Alert Procedure last updated 11/6/2020 and directly copies information from it. It is not in the same order as the original document.
Bridge has never been a game of secret agreements. Your opponents are entitled to know just as much about what your bids mean as you do. Alerts have always been about making that process easier. Whether or not a call requires an Alert, you have an obligation to explain all of your partnership understandings related to that call upon the request of an opponent.
The objective of an Alert is to indicate to the opponents that the meaning of a call is unexpected, In an ideal world we would just Alert “what the opponents don’t know.” In the real world, we don’t know what the opponents know, so we must use a set of rules instead.
Penalties for failing to Alert are not automatic. However, a player who is misinformed by an
opponent’s failure to Alert will be protected. A player who does not ask about an Alerted call will not be protected, even if the meaning of the call is not what they expect.
If you are not sure whether to Alert a call, err on the side of Alerting it. You should Alert a call
that requires (or may require) an Alert even if you do not remember its meaning. However, do
not Alert any call that this document says not to Alert.
The default rule for Natural bids and Passes is that they should not be alerted, with exceptions
shown in italics. The default rule for Artificial bids, Doubles, and Redoubles is that they should
be alerted, with exceptions shown in plain text.
Items in BLUE, other than hyperlinks, are examples of Alerts or Non-Alerts and listed as a. b. etc.
Capitalized words are defined in this document or in the ACBL Convention Charts
The rules for Alerts change when playing behind screens or online. See Appendix G of the
ACBL Conditions of Contest (http://web2.acbl.org/coc/AppendixG.pdf) for the rules for playing
behind screens and Appendix O (https://web2.acbl.org/documentLibrary/play/AppendixO.pdf)
for the rules for playing online.
- Takeout Double - A double that generally contains length in the unbid suits and for which the expectation is that partner will bid without an independent desire to defend if the next hand passes. A Takeout Double may also contain strong options without support for all unbid suits.
- Negative Double - A kind of Takeout Double made by the partner of the Opening Bidder after a Direct Overcall. A Negative Double shows 4 cards in any major that could be bid at the one level, and may have more than 4 cards in a major that could only be bid at a higher level.
- Negative doubles are NOT alertable. Doubles that are not Negative are normally alertable.
A double that by agreement occasionally has only 3 cards in a major is a Negative
After 1♣ (1♦), a double that shows length in both majors, possibly with more than 4 cards
in one or both majors is a Negative Double.
After 1minor (1♥ by opponent), a double that shows fewer than 4 spades or a double that
is frequently made with 5 or more spades is NOT a Negative Double.
A double that could be a strong hand without length in the unbid major(s) or a strong hand
with 5 or more cards in the unbid major(s) (as frequently played in combination with
negative free bids) is NOT a Negative Double.
- Semi-Forcing - A response of 1NT to a Natural Opening Bid of 1♥ or 1♠ that can contain Invitational values but may be passed.
- Opening No Trump Sequence - A Natural Opening Bid of 1NT or 2NT or a sequence of Artificial bids that does not show length in any suit ending with a Natural 1NT or 2NT.
When asked a question or for an explanation you must give complete information. Below are some examples.
4th best against NT and suits,
4th best against NT and 3rd and 5th against suits,
2nd and 4th against NT and suits. We lead low from 2 small (no longer alertable.)
UDCA (Upside Down Count & Attitude),
UDA (Upside Down Attitude) & Standard Count.
4+ cards, 7 - 10,
5 cards, 11 - 12, (No more Constructive or Limit or Limit+.)
11 - 14 (NT range),
Majors, < 8 HCP,
Minors, 0 - 20 HCP
Penalty, T/O, Negative, Stolen Bid Announce“Suit”.
Could be 2.
Before the auction begins on the first board of a match or round, you must inform the opponents if you play any of these systems.
- Any system that includes at least one 1-level Opening Bid that is not Natural or that is Forcing.
- Precision, Schenken
- Any canape system (a system where a 4 card suit is bid before a longer suit.)
- Playing different systems depending on seat or vulnerability. It is not considered a different system if the only change is No Trump Range (and responses) or Opening Bid strength.
Additionally, you must inform the opponents about any Artificial Opening Preempts below 3NT.
An Announcement is a word or a short phrase that describes the meaning of partner’s call.
Announcements are a form of Alerting, and you must still visually Alert the call. Calls that require Announcements must be immediately announced, even if the call would otherwise not be Alerted or if the Alert would be delayed. Announce the following Agreements.
- The minimum length of any Non-Forcing minor suit Opening that could be fewer than 3 cards. Use the form, “Could be X” where X is the minimum length of the suit as the announcement.
- X could be 0 or 1 or 2.
- The HCP Range of any Natural 1NT Opening.
- If your range is 12 - 14 HCP and you frequently open with 11. Announce “Good 11 to 14.”
- Any Artificial bid that primarily shows Length in one specific suit and any double or redouble that shows Length in the next higher suit. Use the name of the suit being shown as the announcement. This does not apply to suits in which you or your Partner have already shown Length.
- If you make call that shows a particular suit then announce the suit name e.g “Hearts.”
- No longer Announce “Transfer” but state the suit name. 1NT - 2♥ - say “Spades” or 1NT - 2NT - say “Diamonds or weak 5/5 in minors”.
- After a 1-level major suit Opening in first or second seat, a 1NT response that is Forcing or Semi-Forcing. Also announce “could have 4 spades” in the unopposed auction 1♥ - 1NT if you routinely bypass a 4-card spade suit.
- If partner opens a major in 3rd or 4th seat and you play 1NT as “Semi-forcing” then no Announce or Alert required.
- If partner opens a major in 3rd or 4th seat and you play 1NT as “Forcing” then Announce it.
Alert the Natural bids listed below.
- A Natural 2♣ Opening.
- Any 2♣ opener that guarantees clubs. “Alert.”
- A Natural Opening suit bid at the 2 or 3 level that may contain 12 or more HCP. This does not apply to an Opening in fourth seat.
- A Natural Preemptive bid if there is a second way to Preempt in the same suit at the same level.
- A Natural 4♥ preempt when the partnership also uses 4♦ as a stronger preempt. “Alert.”
- A Natural Opening suit bid where a second suit bid later in the auction would routinely be longer than the opened suit (canape.)
- An Opening No Trump bid that is Natural but always based on a long suit.
- A 3NT Opening Bid based on a running suit and stoppers outside. “Alert.”
- After a Natural or Quasi-Natural 1-level suit bid, a Natural 1NT Direct Overcall that does not show at least 14 HCP.
- After a Natural 1-level suit bid, a Natural 2-level Cuebid.
- Opener bids 1♣, 2♣ is overcalled showing a club suit. “Alert.”
- After a Natural 1-level suit bid, a Natural jump overcall that shows at least Average strength.
- A Natural 1♠ Opening, a 3♥ Direct Overcall that show 11 - 15 HCP and a 6 card heart suit. “Alert.”
- After a Natural 1-level suit bid, a Natural 2NT that shows a Strong hand.
Responses to Opening Bids
- By an unpassed hand, and after an Opening suit bid and an opponent’s pass or overcall, a Non-Forcing new suit bid at the cheapest level (unless that bid is at the level of game or higher).
- After a 1♣ Opening, a Non-Forcing 1♥ Response. “Alert.”
- After a 1♣ Opening and a 1♠ Direct Overcall, a Non-Forcing 2♥ Response. “Alert.”
- By an unpassed hand, and after an Opening Bid and an opponent’s double, a Non-Forcing new suit bid at the one level.
- After a 1♥ Opening and a Takeout Double, a Non-Forcing 1♠ response. “Alert.”
- After a Natural 1-level Opening Bid, a single raise that is Forcing.
- Opener bids 1♣, 2♣ raise that is forcing at least 1 round. “Alert.”
- After a Natural 1-level Opening suit bid and an opponent’s pass, a double raise that does not show Invitational values.
- After a Natural 1♠ Opening and a Pass, a Preemptive or Forcing 3♠ Response. “Alert.”
- After a Natural 1♠ Opening and a Takeout Double, a Preemptive or Forcing 3♠ Response. No Announce or Alert.
- After a Preempt, a Natural response in a new suit that is below game and not Forcing or a 2NT response that is not Forcing.
- 2NT or a new suit that can be Passed over a weak 2 bid. “Alert.”
- 2NT that asks the preempter a question. Do not Alert or Announce.
- After a Preempt, a below-game raise that is Invitational or Forcing.
Rebids By Opener and Overcaller
- Unless the Opening bid showed a Strong hand, a 1NT rebid or a raise of a 1-level major suit response to 2 of that major that may contain hands of 16 or more HCP.
- You play a 1NT showing 12 - 14 HCP, Open at the 1 level, Responder bids 1♠, Opener rebids 2♠ promising a Strong NT hand. “Alert.”
- After a Natural Opening Bid, a rebid by Opener that shows a suit that is routinely longer than the suit opened.
- Opener bids 1♠, partner responds and Opener bids 2♥ with promises at least 1 card longer in hearts than spades (canape.) “Alert.”
- After an Opening No Trump Sequence or a Natural No Trump Direct Overcall and a 2♣ or 3♣ bid asking for major suit length, a rebid that shows 5 cards in a major.
- Puppet Stayman. After bidding the 5 card major, “Alert.”
- A Natural bid which also shows Length or values in another suit.
- A 2♥ Opening Bid that shows hearts and a minor. “Alert.”
- In the auction 1NT (P) 2♣ (X) where 2♣ asked about major suit holdings, Opener’s 2♠ Rebid that shows four spades and also shows a stopper in clubs. “Alert.”
- After a 1♠ Opening and a 2♣ Direct Overcall, a 3♥ Response that shows both hearts (a fit bid) and spades. “Alert.”
Alert the passes listed below.
- A pass that is Forcing when the hand passing has not previously shown any strength, unless the partner of the passing hand has shown a Very Strong hand.
- After a Very Strong 2♣ Opening and a 2♥ Direct Overcall, a Pass that is Forcing. Do not Alert or Announce.
- After a 1NT Opening, a penalty double, and a 2♥ Response, a Pass that is Forcing. “Alert.”
- A pass that shows the hand is not minimum strength in context of the current auction.
- After a Very Strong 2♣ Opening and a 2♥ Direct Overcall, a Pass showing 0-4 HCP. Do not Alert or Announce.
- After a Very Strong 2♣ Opening and a 2♥ Direct Overcall, a Pass showing 4+ HCP. “Alert.”
- After a Strong 1♣ Opening and a 1♠ Direct Overcall, a Pass showing 0-5 HCP or a trap. Do not Alert or Announce.
- A pass that shows Length or strength in a suit that was neither the suit most recently shown by partner nor the suit most recently shown by opponents.
- After 1♥ (2♥) X, where 2♥ showed spades and a minor, a Pass asking the overcaller to bid 2♠ with diamonds and 3♣ with clubs. “Alert.”
Alert all Artificial bids except as listed in Non-Alerts. Alert any Quasi-Natural bid that is not announced.
A 2♣ Artificial opener that is less than Very Strong Artificial bid. “Alert.”
Alert a double;
- of an Artificial Bid that asks for the doubled suit to not be led, or
- that asks for a specific suit to be led that is not the doubled strain.
- below 3NT except as listed in Non-Alerts.
Alert redoubles except as listed in Non-Alerts.
- In any case where a bid is Alertable, but the bid is 3NT or higher, and the auction is at or beyond opener’s rebid, delay the Alert until the end of the auction.
- In the unopposed auction 1♥ - 2NT - 3♦ - 4♠ - 5♣ - 6♥ where 2NT was an Artificial raise of hearts, 3♦ showed diamond shortness, 4♠ asked for keycards in hearts, and 5♣ showed 1 or 4 keycards. Alert 2NT and 3♦ at the time they are bid. Explain 4♠ and 5♣ at the end of the auction.
- Additionally, Control Bids should be Alerted at the end of the auction even if they are below 3NT.
- In the unopposed auction 1♠ - 2♣ - 2♥ - 3♥ - 3♠ - 4♣ - 4♥ where 3♠ and 4♣ were control bids. Explain 3♠ and 4♣ at the end of the auction.
- Alerts of passes, doubles, and redoubles are not delayed regardless of the level of the auction.
- In the unopposed auction 1NT - 2♦ - 2♥ - 4♣ - 4♦ - 6♥ where 2♦ was a transfer, 4♣ asked for keycards in hearts, and 4♦ showed 0 or 3 keycards. Announce “Hearts” when 2♦ is bid. Explain 4♦ at the end of the auction.
When behind screens or online, do not delay any Alerts.
At the end of the auction both defenders should Alert any Alertable bids by their partners with a Delayed Alert.
The declaring side should explain any Alertable bids where Alerts were delayed.
Do NOT Alert the following bids.
Examples will show sequences that are not covered by the non-alert or explain what they mean.
- A Very Strong Artificial 2♣ Opening Bid.
- After a Natural 1-level minor suit bid, a 2-level Cuebid that shows Length in both majors.
- After a Natural 1♦ Opening, a 2♦ Direct Overcall showing spades and clubs. “Alert.”
- After a Natural 1-level major suit bid, a 2-level Cuebid that shows Length in the unbid major and an unspecified minor.
- After a Natural 1♥ Opening, A 2♥ Direct Overcall showing spades and clubs. “Alert.”
- After a Quasi-Natural Opening Bid, any Cuebid.
- After a Precision-style 1♦ Opening showing 2 or more diamonds, a 2♦ Direct Overcall showing both majors. Do not Alert or Announce.
- After a Precision-style 1♦ Opening showing 2 or more diamonds, a 2♦ Direct Overcall showing spades and clubs. Do not Alert or Announce.
- After an Artificial Opening Bid, any bid in the same suit or in a suit shown by the Artificial Opening Bid.
- After a Natural 1-level Opening Bid, a 2NT Overcall showing the lowest two unbid suits.
- After a Quasi-Natural or Artificial Opening Bid, a 2NT Overcall that shows two suits (known or unknown).
- Any Cuebid that is a jump.
Responses to Opening Bids and Overcalls
- After a 2-level Preempt, a Forcing 2NT response regardless of its meaning.
- After a 2♦ Opening showing a Three-Suited hand with 11-15 HCP and diamond shortness, a 2NT Response asking about the shape of the hand. “Alert.”
- After an Opening No Trump Sequence or a Natural No Trump Direct Overcall, a 2♣ bid over 1NT or a 3♣ bid over 2NT that asks about the No Trump bidder’s major suit holdings. Alert any follow-up bid that reveals that the 2♣ or 3♣ bidder may not (or did not) hold a major suit for the bid.
- After the unopposed auction 1♣ - 1♦ - 1NT where 1♣ showed a Strong hand, 1♦ showed 0-7 HCP, and 1NT showed a balanced 17-19 HCP, a 2♣ bid asking for major suit length. Do not Alert or Announce.
- After the unopposed auction 2♣ - 2♦ - 2♥ - 2♠ - 2NT where 2♣ showed a Very Strong hand, 2♦ was a waiting bid, 2♥ showed either hearts or a balanced hand, 2♠ was automatic, and 2NT showed a balanced hand with 24+ HCP (Kokish), a 3♣ bid asking for major length. Do not Alert or Announce.
- A 2♦ response to a Strong (or Very Strong) Artificial 2♣ Opening Bid.
- After a strong 2♣ Opening, a 2♥ Response showing 0-3 HCP. “Alert.”
Other Artificial Bids
- A 4♣ bid asking for aces or keycards directly over a No Trump bid or in an auction that started with an Opening No Trump Sequence.
- A 4NT bid asking for aces or keycards.
- After an Opening Bid and an Overcall, a Cuebid by either side that shows a raise, or an Average Strength or stronger hand, or either possibility.
- After an Opening Bid and a Response, a Cuebid with any meaning.
- After an Opening Bid and a Response, any suit bid that shows strength in the suit or at least three cards in the suit.
- After a 1♥ Opening and a 2♥ Response, a 3♣ game try asking for help in the club suit that might be bid on a small doubleton. “Alert.”
- Any No Trump Overcall at the 4-level or higher.
- After a 2♣ major asking bid, a 2♦ response that denies a four card major, and after a 3♣ major asking bid, a 3♦ response that denies a four card major.
- After a 2NT Opening and a 3♣ Response asking about majors, a 3♦ rebid that shows no 5-card major, but shows a 4-card major. “Alert.”
Do NOT alert a double of 3NT or higher or doubles listed below.
After an Opening Bid
- After a Natural or Quasi-Natural suit Opening at any level, a Takeout Double.
- After a No Trump Opening Bid, a penalty or card-showing double.
- After an Artificial Opening Bid, any double.
After an Opening Bid and an Overcall
- After a 1-level suit Opening Bid and a Natural suit overcall, a Negative Double by Responder.
- After a 1♦ Opening and a 1♥ Direct Overcall, a Double showing 4 or more spades. Announce “Spades." Most players bid Spades over the Heart overcall to show 5+ cards.
- After a 1♦ Opening and a 1♥ Direct Overcall, a Double showing fewer than 4 spades. “Alert.”
- After a 1♦ Opening and a 1♥ Direct Overcall, a Double showing 4 spades. Do not Alert or Announce. Most players play Negative Doubles over Hearts to show exactly 4 card Spades.
- After a 1-level suit Opening and an Artificial overcall, any double by Responder.
- After a 2-level or higher suit Opening Bid and a Natural suit overcall, a penalty double by Responder.
- After a Preemptive 2♦ Opening and a 2♥ Direct Overcall, a Takeout Double. “Alert.”
- After a Natural 1NT or 2NT Overcall, a penalty double by Responder. After an Artificial 1NT or 2NT Overcall, any double.
- After a 1♥ Opening and a 1NT Direct Overcall, a Takeout Double. “Alert.”
- After a 1NT or 2NT Opening and an overcall at the two or three level, Negative Doubles, penalty doubles and card-showing doubles by Responder.
- After a 1NT Opening and a 2♥ Direct Overcall, a Double showing 5 or more spades. Announce “Spades."
After an Opening Bid and a Response (whether or not there was interference)
- After a Natural or Quasi-Natural Opening suit Bid and a Natural or Quasi-Natural Response, a Takeout Double.
- After an Opening Bid and a Response if either the Opening Bid or the Response is Artificial, any double.
- After a Natural Opening, Natural overcall, and Natural 1NT Response, any double.
At Opener’s Rebid and Later
- All doubles by both sides.
Do NOT alert the redoubles listed below
- A redouble that shows general strength, and suggests playing the current contract or penalizing other contracts.
- A redouble that shows a specific number of cards or strength in partner’s suit.
- A redouble in balancing seat or after a balancing double that suggests doubt about the current contract or is a suggestion to play a different contract.
- A redouble that shows a control in the suit that was doubled.