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New Convention Charts
New Convention Charts

ACBL Convention Charts

20  March 2018

Introduction

The four new convention charts are listed in order from least to most permissive: the Basic Chart, Basic+ Chart, Open Chart, and Open+ Chart. The Basic and Basic+ Charts are intended for limited master point events. These Charts are written in manner similar to the old charts -- by listing permitted methods. The Open and Open+ Charts are intended for events with no masterpoint limits (or high limits). In contrast to the Basic and Basic+ Charts, methods are generally allowed unless they are expressly prohibited within the Chart. A comprehensive Definitions section is included In addition to the Charts. Any word that is capitalized on a Chart is included in the Definitions section. An Examples section follows the Charts for cases where a rule might be ambiguous. Both the Definitions and the Examples should be included with the Charts. Any Definition or Chart Rule marked with three asterisks (***) has 1 or more examples in the Example section.

Chart Usage

Tournaments

 Pair Events and non-KO Team Events

 Basic Chart: Applies in any event where the upper limit per player is 750 or less.

Basic+ Chart: Applies in any event where the upper limit per player is 3000 or less.

 Open Chart:

At a Sectional: applies in any event with no masterpoint limit, and any event with a masterpoint limit above 3000;

At a Regional (including regional events at an NABC):

● applies in ​any 1-session event with no masterpoint limit; ● applies in ​any restricted event with a masterpoint limit above 3000;

● applies in ​any 2-session event with no masterpoint limit if there no 2-session event with a masterpoint limit on the same day

Nationally Rated Events: applies in any NABC event with an upper masterpoint limit between 3001 and 6000.

Open+ Chart:

At a Regional (including regional events at an NABC):

         ● applies in ​any 3+-session event with no masterpoint limit;

● applies in ​any 2-session event with no masterpoint limit as long as there is a 2-session event with a masterpoint limit on the same day

Nationally Rated Events: applies in ​any NABC event with no masterpoint limit, and any NABC event with an upper masterpoint limit above 6000.

Knockout Events

A 1-bracket knockout always uses the Open Chart.

For knockouts with more than one bracket, the Open Chart is used in most brackets with these exceptions:

Basic Chart: Any bracket where the highest team averages less than 250 masterpoints per player;

 Basic+ Chart: Any bracket where the highest team averages 251 to 1000 masterpoints per player;

Open+ Chart: Top bracket (regardless of team masterpoint holdings), and any other bracket where the lowest team averages more than 3000 masterpoints per player.

In all types of events, when the directors allow a team to play in a higher bracket than its masterpoint holding would qualify the team for, that team’s masterpoint total is ignored in determining which Chart applies.

Club Games

The Open Chart is recommended for most open club games. Particularly advanced clubs may prefer to use the Open+ Chart, while clubs that mainly cater to newer players may prefer the Basic+ Chart. The Basic and Basic+ Charts are recommended for masterpoint restricted games at clubs.

 Pre-alerts and Written Defenses

 Two classes of methods are particularly difficult to defend against, and these methods are allowed only in events governed by the Open+ Chart, and then only in segments of six boards or longer. These methods, based on #3 or #7 of the Opening Bids section of the Open+ Chart, require both a pre-alert and a written defense.

Official ACBL defenses must be provided when possible. In the event that a convention does not yet have an official ACBL defense, the pair must, before using it in an ACBL sanctioned game:

 ● Submit a full description of the convention and a proposed defense to the ACBL committee for approval. The defense must be provisionally approved. A method is “provisionally approved” if an acknowledgement receipt was sent by the ACBL upon submission and either: (a) the committee sends an email granting provisional approval; or (b) it was submitted at least 30 days before the ACBL sanctioned event in which it is used and the committee has not rejected it; and

● Provide the submitted defense to any opponents. It is recommended that any new convention and written defense be posted online for public comment.

 Note: For any method for which a written defense is required, the opposing pair may use their own defense rather than the one provided. The defending pair may refer to a pre-written copy of their own defense.

CONVENTION CHARTS

Definitions

 A group of four numbers separated by equal signs (=) denotes an exact suit distribution. For example: 5=4=3=1 denotes five spades, four hearts, three diamonds, and one club. A group of four numbers separated by hyphens (-) denotes any of the exact distributions matching that general pattern. For example: 4-3-3-3 represents: 4=3=3=3 or 3=4=3=3 or 3=3=4=3 or 3=3=3=4.

Definitions #1-4 below have specific meanings that may vary from commonly understood meanings or may not have previously been defined. Definitions #5 and higher likely match common understandings of the term, but are still defined here for specificity and clarity. Definitions #5 and higher appear alphabetically.

1. Hand strength​:

a. “Weak”:​ A hand that contains less than Near Average Strength.

b. “Near Average Strength”​: A hand that has at least 8 HCP or meets the “Rule of 17”.

 c. “Average Strength”​: A hand that has at least 10 HCP or meets the “Rule of 19”.

d. “Strong”:​ A hand that contains: i. at least 15 HCP; or ii. at least 14 HCP and meets the “Rule of 24”. iii. at least 5 Control Points and is within one trick of game assuming suits break evenly among the other hands.

e. “Very Strong”:​ A hand that contains: i. at least 20 HCP; or ii. at least 14 HCP and is within one trick of game assuming suits break evenly among the other hands. iii. at least 5 Control Points and is within one trick of game assuming suits break evenly among the other hands.

2. *** “Natural”​:

a. Any opening bid, response, or overcall in a suit at the one-level showing 4 or more cards in the suit bid, except as provided in 2(f) and 2(g).

b. Any opening bid at the two-level or higher showing 5 or more cards in the suit bid.

c. Any response or rebid in a minor at the two-level or higher showing 3 or more cards in the suit bid

d. Any response or rebid in a major at the two-level or higher showing 4 or more cards in the suit bid.

e. Any suit overcall at any level showing 4 or more cards in the suit bid.

 f. A 1C opening bid showing 3 or more clubs. This opening may also include exactly 4=4=3=2 shape.

g. A 1D opening bid, overcall, or response showing 3 or more diamonds.

h. A NT opening bid or overcall that contains no voids, no more than one singleton, which must be an ace, king, or queen, and that does not contain 10 or more cards in two suits combined.

i. A call is still Natural if it also shows distribution in another suit.

j. A pass, double, or redouble is Natural if it suggests the current contract as the final contract.

k. After the opening bid any bid is Natural if it suggests the contract bid as the final contract.

3. *** “Quasi-Natural”​:

a. A minor suit bid that is either Natural or shows a pattern that meets the definition of a Natural NT opening.

b. Any opening bid at the two-level or higher showing 4 or more cards in the suit bid.

4. *** “Purely Destructive Initial Action”​: An opening bid or an overcall that satisfies none of the following:

a. 4+ cards in a known suit.

b. 5+ cards in one of two possible suits.

c. 5+-4+ distribution in any two suits.

d. An either/or combination of any two of a, b, or c (which may be the same option twice).

e. A Three-suited hand. f. At least Average strength.

g. Any Natural or Quasi-Natural opening bid.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. “Advancer”: ​Overcaller’s partner.

6. “Agreement”:​ Partnership understandings of methods adopted by the partnership that are reached explicitly by discussion or implicitly through the mutual experience or awareness of the players. This applies to all calls, allowed and disallowed.

7. “Artificial”​: Any call that is not Natural or Quasi-Natural.

8. “Balancing Seat”​: After the bidding has been opened, a player who would end the auction if that player passed.

9. “Bid”:​ A call that names a level and a denomination (suit or notrump).

10. “Call”:​ Any bid, pass, double, or redouble.

11. “Control Bid”:​ A bid showing first or second round control of a suit.

12. “Control Points”: ​An alternate evaluation method where an Ace=2 and a King=1

13. “Cuebid”:​ A bid of a suit that an opponent has bid Naturally or Quasi-Naturally or a suit in which an opponent has shown 4 or more cards.

14. “Direct Overcall”:​ An immediate overcall by the left hand opponent of Opener.

15. *** “Encrypted Signal”:​ An encrypted signal is one where the ordering of the cards for the signal is dependent on information known only to the defenders. It is not an encrypted signal to have the type of signal (attitude, count, suit preference) dependent on information known only to the defenders.

16. “Forcing”​: A call that, by partnership Agreement, may not be passed if the intervening opponent passes.

17. “High Card Points (HCP)”​: The total number of points in a hand based on honors, counting 4 for an Ace, 3 for a King, 2 for a Queen, and 1 for a Jack.

 18. “Invitational”​: A hand sufficiently strong to indicate that partner should bid game unless partner has a minimum.

19. “Length​”: Unless otherwise specified, “showing Length in a suit” or “showing a suit” means at least four cards in the suit.

20. “Opener”: ​The first player to make a bid in the auction.

21. “Overcall”:​ The first bid made by the pair that does not consist of Opener and Responder.

22. “Preempt”:​ A jump bid (by either pair) that does not promise at least Average strength.

23. *** “Psych”​: A call that intentionally and grossly misstates the strength and/or suit length of one’s hand.

24. “Psychic Control”​: Any Bid that conveys that a prior Bid was a Psych.

25. *** “Range”​: One more than the difference between the highest number of HCP a bid can be and the lowest.

26. “Responder”:​ Opener’s partner.

27. *** “Rule of N”​: A method of determining hand strength computed by adding the High Card Points of the hand to the number of cards in the two longest suits. To meet the “Rule of N”, this total must be at least N. *

28. “Takeout”:​ A call that shows support for two or three suits and/or a strong hand.

 29. “Three-Suited”:​ A hand with 4-4-4-1, 5-4-3-1, or 5-4-4-0 shape.

Basic Chart

Bidding Agreements are disallowed unless they are specifically allowed. If an Agreement would be disallowed unless it satisfies a specific High Card Point or shape requirement, a player may not use judgment to include hands with fewer High Card Points or a different shape. Note that almost all Agreements are allowed beginning with Responder’s initial action.

Allowed Bidding Agreements

Opening Bids

1. Any Natural opening bid in a suit, as long as it shows at least Average Strength.

2. A 1C or 1D opening bid that is either Natural or Quasi-Natural, as long as it shows at least Average Strength.

3. An Artificial 1C opening bid that is Strong and Forcing.

4. A Natural NT opening bid, as long as it shows at least 10 HCP and the Range is not greater than 5 HCP.

5. An Artificial 2C or 2D opening bid that is Very Strong.

6. A 2D opening showing 0-1 diamonds along with 3+ cards in all other suits, as long as it shows at least Average Strength.

7. A 2D opening showing a 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0 pattern, as long as it shows at least Average Strength. The short suit may be known or unknown.

8. *** A 2-level opening bid showing Average Strength with at least 5-4 shape with both suits known.

9. Any Weak Natural opening bid in a suit at the 2-level showing at least 4 HCP and has a Range not greater than 7 HCP.

10. Any Weak Natural opening at the 3-level or higher showing 6 or more cards in the suit.

11. A 3NT opening bid that shows a known or unknown long minor suit (the suit may be solid or broken).

12. An Artificial 4C opening showing hearts, and an Artificial 4D opening showing spades.

13. Any opening bid of 4NT or higher.

Responses and Rebids

 1. Any Natural response.

 2. Any game forcing response at the 2 level or higher.

 3. An Artificial 1D response to any 1C opening bid.

4. Any Artificial negative response to a Strong or Very Strong opening bid.

5. A Forcing 1NT response to an opening bid of 1H or 1S. 1NT cannot guarantee an Invitational or stronger hand.

6. Any response to a NT opening bid.

7. An Artificial jump response showing a raise (of any strength) of Opener’s Natural opening bid.

8. An Artificial response of 2C and/or 2D by a passed hand showing a raise of Opener’s Natural opening bid.

9. Any response to a 2-level or higher opening bid.

10. All calls starting with Opener’s second bid (this applies to both pairs).

Overcalls and Competitive Bids

1. All Natural overcalls.

2. All doubles and redoubles, and all calls by both sides after a double or redouble.

3. All Artificial cuebids (by either pair), except a cuebid that could be Weak must show at least one known suit. All responses to a cuebid are allowed.

4. A 2NT overcall showing at least 5-4 distribution in the minors or in the two lowest unbid suits.

5. After partner’s Natural 1NT overcall, any Artificial advance.

6. After an opponent’s Natural NT opening bid or overcall:

a. An Artificial 2C bid having any meaning

b. An Artificial bid showing two known suits with 4-4 length or better

c. An Artificial bid showing a known 5+ card suit

d. A Natural bid showing 4+ cards in the suit bid and another known or unknown suit of 4+ cards.

7. In response to partner’s overcall showing an unknown suit or suits, any call asking for partner's longest or cheapest unknown suit (e.g., “pass or correct” calls).

 8. An Artificial NT overcall at any level for 2-suited or 3-suited takeout. A 1NT bid in this category must show at least Near-Average Strength.

9. After an opponent’s Artificial opening bid, any Artificial defense.

Lead and Carding Agreements

 Encrypted Signals are never allowed when leading, following suit or discarding. Otherwise:

1. Opening lead: Any method may be used on opening lead. (Leading low from doubletons must be pre-alerted.)

2. First discard: Any method may be used on the first discard. *** Following Suit & Discarding: Except for the first discard, only high-to-low or low-to-high ordering strategies are allowed when following suit or discarding.

● Note: Distinct meanings for middle cards (vs. highest and lowest) are permissible.

● Note: Defining meanings for specific spots (2,4,6…), as opposed to relative high/low agreements, are permissible only on the first discard.

 In addition, a pair may be prohibited from playing any carding method when they are deemed to be playing it in a manner that does not maintain proper tempo. A decision that prohibits a pair from playing a particular carding method may be appealed to the tournament committee.

Basic+ Chart

 Bidding Agreements are disallowed unless they are specifically allowed. If an Agreement would be disallowed unless it satisfies a specific High Card Point or shape requirement, a player may not use judgment to include hands with fewer High Card Points or a different shape. Note that almost all Agreements are allowed beginning with Responder’s initial action.

Allowed Bidding Agreements

Opening Bids

1. Any opening bid in a suit which is Natural, as long as it shows at least Near-Average Strength.

2. A 1C or 1D opening bid that is either Natural or Quasi-Natural, as long as it shows at least Average Strength.

 3. An Artificial 1C opening bid that is Strong and Forcing.

 4. A Natural NT opening bid, as long as it shows at least 10 HCP and the Range is not greater than 5 HCP.

5. Any 1NT opening bid that is Strong and Forcing.

6. A 2-level opening bid showing a Three-Suited hand and at least Average Strength.

7. Any 2-level or higher opening bid that is Very Strong.

8. Any 2-level opening bid showing at least Average Strength with at least 5-4 shape and both suits known.

9. Any Weak Natural opening bid in a suit at the 2-level showing at least 3 HCP and has a Range not greater than 8 HCP.

10. A NT opening bid at the 2-level or higher showing at least 5-4 distribution in the minors.

11. Any Weak Natural opening at the 3-level or higher.

12. A 3NT opening bid showing a known or unknown solid suit.

13. A 3NT opening bid showing a known or unknown long minor suit.

14. A 4-level opening bid showing at least 6 cards in a different known suit.

15. Any opening bid of 4NT or higher.

Responses and Rebids

1. Any Natural response.

2. Any game forcing response.

3. An Artificial 1D response to any 1C opening bid.

4. Any Artificial response to a Strong or Very Strong opening bid.

5. Any 1NT response to an opening bid of 1H or 1S.

6. Any response to a NT opening bid.

7. An Artificial jump response showing a raise (of any strength) of Opener’s Natural opening bid.

8. An Artificial jump response that shows at least 5 cards in a known suit and at least 4 cards in another known suit.

 9. An Artificial response of 2C and/or 2D by a passed hand that shows a raise of Opener’s Natural opening bid.

10. Any response to a 2-level or higher opening bid.

11. Any response after an opposing double.

Overcalls and Competitive Bids

1. All Natural overcalls.

2. All doubles and redoubles, and all calls by both sides after a double or redouble.

3. All calls in Balancing Seat.

 4. All Artificial cuebids (by either pair), except a cuebid that could be Weak must show at least one known suit. All responses to a cuebid are allowed.

5. A suit overcall showing at least 5-4 distribution in two known suits. If the overcall is not a jump, then it must show at least Average Strength.

 6. An Artificial NT overcall at any level for 2-suited takeout. A 1NT bid in this category must show at least Near-Average Strength. Below the 4-level at least one suit must be known.

7. An artificial NT overcall at any level for 3-suited takeout. A 1NT bid in this category must show at least Near-Average Strength.

8. After partner’s Natural 1NT overcall, any Artificial advance.

9. After an opponent’s Natural NT opening bid or overcall:

a. An Artificial 2C bid having any meaning

b. An Artificial 2D bid showing a one-suited hand in hearts or spades

c. Any other call showing a known suit of at least 4 cards 10. In response to partner’s overcall showing an unknown suit or suits, any call asking for partner's longest or cheapest suit (e.g., “pass or correct” calls).

11. After an Artificial opening bid, any Artificial defense.

12. After an opening bid of 2C or higher, any Artificial defense. 13. After an opening bid and an overcall or double, any call (by either side) showing Length in a known suit.

14. After an opening bid and an overcall, a bid of spades to show any of:

 a. A desire to play No Trump

b. One minor c. Both minors d. Any combination of the above Beginning with the Opening Bidder’s second call, all calls are allowed by both pairs.

Lead and Carding Agreements

< Same as Basic Chart>

 

Open Chart

 Bidding Agreements are allowed unless they are specifically disallowed. If an Agreement would be disallowed unless it satisfies a specific High Card Point or shape requirement, a player may not use judgment to include hands with fewer High Card Points or a different shape. Note that almost all Agreements are allowed beginning with Responder’s initial action.

Disallowed Bidding Agreements

Passes Before an Opening

1. *** An opening pass that is Forcing.

2. *** An opening pass in first or second seat that could be a stronger hand than an opening 1-level bid with the same shape; i.e., if two hands are exactly the same except that an honor is replaced with a low card in the same suit, you cannot open the hand with the low card and pass the hand with an honor.

Opening Bids

Disallowed Opening Bids

1. *** A Natural or Quasi-Natural 1-level opening bid in any seat that could contain less than Near-Average Strength.

2. An Artificial 1-level opening bid in any seat that could contain less than Average Strength.

3. *** In segments of fewer than 6 boards, an Artificial 1-level opening bid showing length only in a known suit other than the one opened, unless that bid is also Strong and Forcing.

4. *** A Natural 1NT opening bid that could contain fewer than 10 HCP.

5. *** A Natural 1NT opening bid that has a Range greater than 5 HCP.

6. A non-Forcing 1NT opening that does not meet the definition of Natural.

7. An Artificial opening Preempt below 3NT; except, 2NT may be used to show two known suits.

8. An Artificial opening bid showing two suits, neither of which is known.

9. *** An Artificial Three-Suited opening bid (with or without known shortness) that does not show at least Average Strength.

10. *** A 2-level or higher opening bid that could contain less than Average Strength showing a known suit and an unknown suit, where the unknown suit could be the suit opened.

11. *** A non-Forcing 2-level opening bid in first or second seat that has a Range of greater than 9 HCP and could show less than Average Strength.

12. A Purely Destructive opening bid.

13. Psyching an Artificial opening bid.

Rule Exceptions

The following are exceptions to the rules listed under “Disallowed Opening Bids”:

1. Any opening bid that promises a Very Strong hand is allowed.

2. *** Any bid that requires Average Strength to be legal may be made with Near Average Strength in 3rd and 4th seats. Bids with High Card Point minimums do not change.

Overcalls

1. After a Natural suit opening bid, a new suit Direct Overcall below 2NT that does not show at least one known suit unless that bid is an offer to play in No Trump or takeout of the opening bid.

2. After a Natural suit opening bid an Artificial direct 1NT overcall that does not show one of the following:

a. A Strong hand; or

b. At least three cards in all of the unbid suits; or

c. At least 4-4 shape in two known suits; or

d. At least 5-4 shape in two suits, at least one of which is known.

3. A Purely Destructive overcall.

4. Psyching an Artificial overcall.

Responses and Rebids

1. Psyching an Artificial response below 2NT to an opening bid or an overcall.

2. Psychic Controls.

Lead and Carding Agreements

< Same as Basic Chart>

Open+ Chart

Bidding Agreements are allowed unless they are specifically disallowed. If an Agreement would be disallowed unless it satisfies a specific High Card Point or shape requirement, a player may not use judgment to include hands with fewer High Card Points or a different shape. Note that almost all Agreements are allowed beginning with Responder’s initial action.

Disallowed Bidding Agreements

Passes Before an Opening

1. *** An opening pass that is Forcing.

2. *** An opening pass in first or second seat that could be a stronger hand than an opening 1-level bid with the same shape; i.e., if two hands are exactly the same except that an honor is replaced with a low card in the same suit, you cannot open the hand with the low card and pass the hand with an honor.

Opening Bids

 Disallowed Opening Bids

1. *** A Natural or Quasi-Natural 1-level opening bid in first or second seat that could contain less than Near-Average Strength.

2. An Artificial 1-level opening bid in any seat that could contain less than Average Strength.

3. *** In segments of fewer than 6 boards, an Artificial 1-level opening bid showing Length only in a known suit other than the one opened, unless that bid is also Strong and Forcing.

4. *** A Natural 1NT opening bid that could contain fewer than 10 HCP.

5. *** A Natural 1NT opening bid that has a Range greater than 5 HCP.

6. *** In segments of fewer than 6 boards, a non-Forcing 1NT opening that does not meet the definition of Natural. In segments of 6 boards or more, a non-Forcing 1NT with a void or 10 cards in 2 suits.

7. In segments of fewer than 6 boards, an Artificial opening Preempt below 3NT that does not show at least one known suit.

 8. *** An Artificial opening Preempt below 3NT that may have Length only in the suit opened.

9. *** An Artificial opening Preempt below 3NT showing Length in an unknown suit when there are more than two possibilities for which suit is held. 10. *** An Artificial opening bid showing two suits, neither of which is known. 11. *** An Artificial Three-Suited opening bid (with or without known shortness) that does not show at least Average Strength.

12. *** A 2-level or higher opening bid that could contain less than Average Strength showing a known suit and an unknown suit, where the unknown suit could be the suit opened.

13. *** A non-Forcing 2-level opening bid in first or second seat that has a Range greater than 9 HCP and could show less than Average Strength.

14. A Purely Destructive opening bid.

15. Psyching an Artificial opening bid.

Rule Exceptions

The following are exceptions to the rules listed under “Disallowed Opening Bids”:

1. Any opening bid which promises a Very Strong hand is allowed.

2. Any bid which requires Average Strength may be made with Near Average Strength in 3rd and 4th seats.

3. Any Artificial Preempt which would be otherwise allowed under the rules below may also contain Very Strong hands. The Very Strong hands may be any hand type, regardless of the stated restrictions to the Preempt.

Overcalls

1. *** After a Natural suit opening bid, a new suit Direct Overcall below 2NT that does not show at least one known suit unless that bid is an offer to play in No Trump or takeout of the opening bid.

2. After a Natural suit opening bid, an Artificial direct 1NT overcall that does not show one of the following:

a. A Strong hand; or

b. At least three cards in all of the unbid suits; or

c. At least 4-4 shape in two known suits; or

d. At least 5-4 shape in two suits, at least one of which is known.

3. A Purely Destructive overcall.

4. Psyching an Artificial overcall.

 Responses and Rebids

1. Psyching an Artificial response below 2NT to an opening bid or an overcall.

2. Psychic Controls.

Lead and Carding Agreements

< Same as Basic Chart>