A Forcing One Club Bidding System

Welcome to an explanation of a modern but simple and effective bidding system based on a strong and forcing one club opening bid.
      -Roy Wilson

A bit of history...
In the early 1920s Harold Vanderbilt devised a strong club system which came to be known as the Vanderbilt Club.  A few years later it was surpassed by the Schenken Club, which became an alternate for the Standard American system used by most players in the U.S.  In Europe the Neapolitan and Blue Team Club systems were the preferred forcing club methods.  All of these older systems were built around a strong one club opening and four card majors, although the Europeans tended to favor a canapé style of bidding where their second bid suit was longer than the first one.  Strong club systems were not a popular choice, though, in either Europe or the United States.

In 1963 an improved system was developed by Mr. C.C. Wei with some help from Alan Truscott and several friends.  It became known as the Precision Club and was used successfully by the Taiwan team for three consective years in 1967, 1968, and 1969 in the Far East Championships.  That team also reached the finals again in 1970.

C.C. Wei sponsored a number of top-level teams in the United States so he could popularize his Precision bidding system, and in 1972 the Famed Italian Blue Team came out of retirement to enter the World Team Olympiad where the entire team used versions of Precision.  Giorgio Belladonna and Benito Garozzo, the top pair in the world for many years, had a modified version called Super Precision.

Today the two highest ranked players in US history, Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell, play their own heavily modified version of Precision.  Paul Soloway preferred that system also, but most of the players in the American Contract Bridge League today are using either Max Hardy's version of Two-Over-One or Mike Lawrence's slightly different version of that system.  Strong club systems are still not very popular in the world.    (Players say... Too complicated!    It's not.)
    Anyway, this system is much less complicated but very effective.  You might consider it an introduction to Precision methods.

What are the advantages or disadvantages?
Primarily the major strengths of any strong club system are:
  • Highly accurate in auctions where there is a possibility of slam.  This is because the bidding starts at the very lowest level of one club and provides better methods of exchanging information.
  • All opening bids other than one club have a narrower range of points than standard forms of bidding, making judgments easier in both constructive and competitive situations.

  • And the acknowledged weakness of these systems is that opponents are prone to bid aggressively with weak hands over a 1 opening so as to take away bidding room.
  • Another problem is that since the bid of one club is reserved for strong hands, there is a lot of ambiguity when the opening bid is one diamond, which may be as short as a singleton.  Unfortunately, players who use a forcing club system find that perhaps as many as 40% of the hands are opened 1.
The bidding agreements described here are not Precision bids, but they do make a simple and effective system that can serve as a stepping stone to learning Precision.

Perhaps, though, the single most important reason to adopt a strong club bidding system is that it is just plain fun!

Below is a short description of the opening bids, but the links, which are the suit symbols on the left side, will give you a more detailed explanation of each one.

1-Level Opening Bids

       17+ HCP with any distribution - Alert as "Forcing"

       11-16 HCP and may be a singleton - Alert as "May be short"

       11-16 HCP with at least a 5-card suit - A different response

       11-16 HCP with at least a 5-card suit - A different response

       14-16 HCP or 15-17 HCP - Both are popular agreements

2-Level Opening Bids
       11-16 HCP with 5+ clubs - May have a 4-card major

       11-16 HCP with 5+ diamonds - Denies a 4-card major

         8-10 HCP with a good suit

         8-10 HCP with a good suit

       10+ HCP with at least 5-5 in the majors

3-Level Opening Bids

There are two alternate approaches to 3-level bids, depending on your style and approach to the game.  Both methods use the same meaning for preemptive majors, though.
        8-10 HCP - 7+ card preemptive suit

        8-10 HCP - 7+ card preemptive suit

For minor suit preempts there is a choice, depending on which method you prefer:
(The choice depends on how you want to use the opening bid of 3NT.)

Method 1
       10+ HCP with at least 5-5 in the minors
An opening bid of 3NT shows a hand with at least 5-5 in the minors and 10+ HCP. With this approach your 3-level minor suit bids are pretty standard; any 7-card suit that you feel comfortable opening as a preempt is used.

Method 2
         A preemptive minor suit
An opening bid of 3NT is alertable and shows a hand with a broken 7-card minor or longer.
With this agreement in place you will agree that your opening 3-level minors show solid suits and invite partner to bid 3NT.  Do you recognize this as the opposite of a Gambling 3NT bid?  You can think of it as the "Guaranteed 3NT."
(The Gambling 3NT call is always played from the wrong side!  The lead should come up to the other hand.)

Other Bids


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