Additional Pages on Alerts

The new Alert procedure includes a number of definitions whose purpose is to clarify important concepts and create standard terminology. This procedure uses the admittedly “fuzzy” terminology of   “highly unusual and unexpected” as the best practical solution to simplifying the Alert Procedure. The “highly unusual and unexpected” should be determined in light of historical usage rather than local geographical usage. To ensure full disclosure, however, at the end of the auction and before the opening lead, declarer is encouraged to volunteer to explain the auction (including available inferences).

Definition of expected length for natural bids for the Alert Procedure are:

  • Suit bids:
    • 3+ in a minor and 4+ in a major for opening bids, rebids and responses.
    • 4+ for an overcall at the one level, 5+ for higher levels.
    • 5+ for a weak two-bid.
    • 6+ for a weak three-bid.
  • Notrump openings and overcalls:
    • A notrump opening or overcall if not unbalanced (generally, no singleton or void and only one or two doubletons) is considered natural.


  • Alert: A manner specified by the sponsoring organization by which opponents are notified of your pair’s special agreements. These may be given aloud, in writing and/or by using an Alert card or strip.
  • Convention: A bid which, by partnership agreement, conveys a meaning not necessarily related to the denomination named or, in the case of a pass, double or redouble, the last denomination named. In addition, a pass which promises more than a specified amount of strength, or artificially promises or denies values other than in the last suit named.
  • Transfer: A bid of a suit to show another specific suit (e.g., a diamond bid showing hearts).
  • Cuebid: A bid in a suit which an opponent has either bid naturally or in which he has shown four or more cards.
  • Control bid: A bid, not intended as a place to play, which denotes a control (usually first or second round). The control need not be in the denomination named. These bids are usually used to investigate slam.
  • Doubles (in increasing order of penalty orientation):
    • Takeout: Partner is requested to bid.
    • Competitive: Shows a desire to compete further; partner usually bids.
    • Optional: Shows extra high-card values; offers partner a choice between bidding or passing.
    • Penalty-oriented: Partner normally passes but occasionally bids.
    • Penalty: Partner is requested to pass.

Other useful definitions:

    • Treatment: A natural call which, by partnership agreement, carries a specific message about the suit bid or the general strength or shape of the hand.
    • Relay: A bid which does not guarantee any specific suit; partner is requested to make the next-step bid (usually) or make another descriptive bid if appropriate (e.g., a diamond bid which usually shows hearts but may not have hearts in some cases).
    • Puppet: A bid which requires partner to make a specific bid (e.g., a 2NT bid which requires partner to bid 3 clubs).
    • Alerts: Many previously Alertable calls no longer require an Alert. However, when in doubt Alert (there is no penalty for Alerting unnecessarily but there may be one for failing to Alert when one is required).
    • Pre-Alerts (Alerts before hands are removed from the first board of a round or match segment):
      • Two-system methods (e.g., strong club when equal or favorable vulnerability; a natural two-over-one when not).
      • Systems based on very light openings or other highly aggressive methods or preempts.
      • Systems which may be unfamiliar to opponents, such as canapé. SuperChart and Mid-Chart methods.
      • Leading low from a doubleton
    • Delayed Alerts (Beginning with and including opener’s second call, an Alertable bid above the level of 3NT bid is a delayed Alert. Passes, doubles and redoubles requiring an Alert must always be Alerted immediately. A delayed Alert is made as follows:
      Declaring side: the partner or the person making the Alertable call alerts after the auction is completed and prior to the opening lead.
      Defending side: the partner of the player making the Alertable call Alerts after the opening lead is made face-down and before the dummy is tabled.