Alerting and Announcing

I've been asked to write something in the club newsletter on this subject. Does anyone have an article that they've written for their club members that they would be willing to let me have? The problem seems to be that there is a lot to remember eg when is a double alerted or what is alerted/announced after 2C 2D 2NT 3C? I guess what is needed are some simple guiding principles. Even some of our very experienced players have admitted to having trouble remembering when to alert or announce.

Comments

  • Guiding principles for announcements:
    * announcements only apply to opening bids and (first round) responses to NT openings
    * 1C/1D announcements are complicated, the other opening-bid announcements are for natural opening bid 1NT thru 2NT.
    * Responses to 1NT/2NT opening: announce 4-card stayman and transfer to a major only

  • See Blue Book section 4.

  • Thanks all. I think I'll use Robin and Gordon's Brighton answer since the table is not one that I think most will remember. Alan.

  • Here's my own try at listing the full announce/alert rules. I've tried to make them as short/clear as possible whilst being logically equivalent to the full rules from the Blue Book. (There's one exception: following the letter of the rules in the Blue Book, a lead-directing redouble is alertable below 3NT, but not above, if it requests the lead of the suit that the opponents doubled. I suspect that's a mistake, so I haven't reproduced it here; it would be a ridiculous meaning for a redouble above 3NT in any case, given that you will probably end up declaring rather than defending.)

    Despite my attempt to simplify them as far as possible, they're still rather complex, which is a pity given that everyone needs to memorise the entire list of rules to be able to legally compete at bridge (and the "alert if your call has a meaning that the opponents might not expect" rule is hiding a lot of knowledge in its own right); it's one of the things that rather adds a barrier to entry to the game. (One obvious improvement I can spot here would be to make doubles of natural bids have "penalty" and "takeout" announcements. Unlike most announcements, this reduces memory load rather than increasing it, because it simplifies the rules for how to react to a double; it also makes it possible for the opponents to determine that an announcement/alert has been missed, and ask for it, which is good as in my experience players often forget to alert penalty doubles when they're alertable; and it's unlikely to cause UI problems because the same information is available under the current system when your partner knows the alerting rules.)

    Alerting and announcing rules

    Overriding rules

    If two of these rules contradict, use the first rule.

    • Announceable bids are not alertable, and vice versa
    • Doubling an artificial suit bid to request the lead of that suit is never alertable
    • Otherwise, lead-directing passes/doubles/redoubles are alertable, even above 3NT
    • Do not alert bids of 4!c and above, unless a) it's the opening bid, or b) it's one of the next three calls
    • Alert if your bid shows a suit other than the suit you bid, or shows two or more suits
    • Alert if your call has a meaning that the opponents might not expect
    • Alert if you're unsure of the meaning of the bid, and an alertable or announcable meaning is a possibility

    Other alertable cases

    • Forcing bids in notrumps (unless the force was created by an earlier call)
    • New-suit bids that could be shorter than 3 cards (4 cards for openings of 1!h+ and overcalls)
    • Doubles that aren't penalty or takeout (and aren't covered in the discussion above)
    • Penalty doubles of natural suit bids
    • Takeout doubles of notrump or artificial bids
    • Redouble with any meaning but "to play"

    Announce, don't alert

    • Non-forcing 1!c and 1!d openings that are normally 3+ cards, but shorter in specific cases (e.g. "may be 2"; also mention potential 5-card sidesuits)
    • Natural 1NT and 2NT (exact point range, + "may contain a singleton" if it can)
    • Natural 2!c, 2!d, 2!h, 2!s (approximate range: "weak"/"intermediate"/"strong not forcing"/"strong forcing")
    • Stayman of 2!c in response to opening 1NT followed by Pass ("Stayman")
    • Transfers of 2!d/2!h meaning 5+ hearts/spades ("hearts"/"spades") in response to opening 1NT followed by Pass
    • 2NT, (Pass), 3x is announceable in the same situations as 1NT, (Pass), 2x
  • The three 'meta' rules of announcing.

    1) Never annouce your own calls.
    2) Never announce anything in a competitive auction.
    3) Never announce a 2nd (or later) call from your partner.

  • One announce that I have concerns regarding is the "natural" Precision 2C bid. It is suitable to announce the bid as "intermediate" but many play it as promising a four-card major if the clubs suit is only of five cards length. Many Acol-only players might view this as an unexpected feature of the 2C opener.

    The rules say to announce the bid but I'm often torn as to whether one should announce the bid as "intermediate" and then add an alert card to suggest to the opponents that there is something they might care to ask about.

  • If the bid PROMISES a four-card major then it has to be alerted. If the bid MAY include a four-card major then it is announced.

    Announcing, I agree, can be a bit vague - I mean if you annouce a 2 Heart call as 'weak' you don't have to indicate that it could only be five cards, nor that it could have a secondary 4-card suit.

    However those are the rules. We do not question them - we only apply them. I think that adding an 'alert' card would confuse the opponents who may not be sure whether your alert is just the normal (at least for me) confusion as to whether the call should be alerted ot announced.

  • That's my whole point, weejonnie, it does promise a four-card major if the clubs suit is of only five cards. Some play that it always promises any outside four-card suit if the clubs suit is of only five cards, i.e. that it is definitely not a 5332 hand. Promising that it is not a 5332 hand does strike me as an unexpected aspect to the bid when it is only described as "intermediate".

    I'm aware of all the points you raise but this particular announcement continues to feel uncomfortable.

  • A few comments.

    • In this forum (for example) you are entirely welcome to question to rules. They will improve the more people raise questions/issues or disagreements - even if they aren't changed as a consequence, the L&E will always think about proposed changes and that helps future regulation.

    • if you think there is a mistake (as in the comment about redoubles above) then please say so. I've been thinking a bit about this now. I do see the confusion, and I think it's complicating matters, although I think it's a bit subtle.

    • Below 3NT there are lead-directing redoubles (typically of the suit doubled) which do show 'general strength in the suit redoubled' but also (I would say) need alerting under 4B3 because they are very specific about the holding: for example, some people play (1D) 1S (dbl) redbl as showing specifically Ax or Kx in spades, inviting partner to underlead the ace/lead the suit anyway; others play it as more general strength without an honour requirement. The former needs alerting.

    • Above 3NT I suspect it might be easier to go for any conventional redouble (i.e. anything that isn't "general strength") is alertable, although then we'd have to alert redouble showing first round control (for example).... except that I think most people do that anyway... I guess it's possible to have an auction something like this:

    1S 2H 2S 3S
    4C 4D dbl rdbl

    where redbl means = I don't want a diamond lead (but I like diamonds so you can bid 4H if you want), or where
    redbl = Please lead a diamond because I've got a top honour (or a void/singleton?), but I don't want to play here.

  • Tag - there is definitely a point at which an announcement morphs into an alert, and sometimes the rules are not entirely explicit on when that should be.

    For example, I play a 2C response to 1NT as promising at least invitational values, but the L&E decided that as long as it is still Stayman (it is), it should still be announced as Stayman.

    I think for the opening bids, the announcement should never replace full disclosure. if 2C is 5+ clubs, not 5332 then I think it's fair enough to continue to announce it as 'intermediate'; in the same way that if a 1NT opening denies a 4-card major we don't start alerting it instead - although it should be clear on the card.

    Some people have specific rules about the number of top honours in a pre-empt.

    At some point I agree it becomes sufficiently odd to need more disclosure i.e. an alert instead of an announcement. But I don't think the 2C opening you describe is there yet. One downside would be that opponents assume that an alerted 2C opening is strong/Benji of some sort - they shouldn't do, but if they know that a natural opening is announced, they may get confused by accident.

  • ais123:

    If I were teaching the alert rules to new-ish players, I would just go with the following:

    Alert
    - if it isn't natural
    - if opponents might be surprised by what it means
    - If you aren't sure whether or not it needs alerting (e.g. because you aren't sure what it means)
    - if it's a penalty double of a natural bid

    BUT don't alert above 3NT after the first round of the auction

    Announce
    - Natural 1NT and 2NT openings, and Stayman/red suit transfers in response
    - Short 1m openings
    - Natural 2-level openings

    If you follow those principles, I can't see much going wrong. Most of the pages of explanations and examples in the Blue Book are there because someone at some point has not alerted something and there's been a discussion about whether there has been MI or not. If you just go with the basic 'tell 'em what you play' (to quote D Burn) I really see no issues.

  • Come to think of it, there are some common cases that aren't really covered by any of our descriptions of when to alert.

    For example, after 1!h by opener, 2!s by responder is alertable if it shows a weak hand with long spades (unless responder is a passed hand, then it isn't alertable!). This is alertable under the "potentially unexpected meaning" requirement, but it's probably a more common meaning nowadays than showing a game force with long spades, and it doesn't fit any of the other requirements for alertability (e.g. it's obviously natural; more so than the strong jump shift, in fact!).

    I would have pointed out the issue with lead-directing redoubles above 3NT earlier, if I'd seen it; I only noticed it while I was preparing my post.

  • edited June 2019

    @ais523 said:
    Come to think of it, there are some common cases that aren't really covered by any of our descriptions of when to alert.

    For example, after 1!h by opener, 2!s by responder is alertable if it shows a weak hand with long spades (unless responder is a passed hand, then it isn't alertable!). This is alertable under the "potentially unexpected meaning" requirement, but it's probably a more common meaning nowadays than showing a game force with long spades, and it doesn't fit any of the other requirements for alertability (e.g. it's obviously natural; more so than the strong jump shift, in fact!).

    I would have pointed out the issue with lead-directing redoubles above 3NT earlier, if I'd seen it; I only noticed it while I was preparing my post.

    I'm not sure what strength of jump shift is more common. You are probably right that in EBU tournaments WJS is now the most common, but probably not in clubs. I think it would be reasonable for us to change the regulations so that any natural meaning (weak, intermediate, strong) is not alertable, in the same way as for jump overcalls, and leave the alert for unexpected things like fit jumps, mini-splinters and Bergen. However, due to our antipathy towards changing things, I think that's unlikely to happen.

  • TagTag
    edited June 2019

    Thank you, Frances. I once tried the remedy of announcing "intermediate" and then flashing the alert card for partner's 2C opening, suggesting that there's something about the bid that they might care to enquire about. One of the opponents followed my intent but the other got miffed, so I never tried that again. :)

  • If you are writing about alerts and announcements in a club newsletter, it is important to make the point that getting it wrong is not a big issue, as long as the end point is that the opposition know what your bids mean. Alerting when you should announce only wastes a little time, and other variations change the probability of Unauthorised Information but there might be no UI and even if there is it might have no consequence.

    Most importantly, people with more knowledge of the system than others have must not be allowed to become bullies.

  • patricks - getting it wrong can depend on what is wrong.
    We have club members who play Precision Club.
    They open 2C which the EBU says is announced as "Intermediate".
    They disagree with the EBU, they alert it!
    This led to a situation whereby I doubled the 2C (for takeout) and my partner believed the alert, expected ME to have the Clubs and left it in. A large dent in our minus column.
    I have explained to the pair, I have shown them the Alerting/Announcements table, even printed and laminated for them an A5 size copy but they are adamant that "the EBU are wrong, we shall continue to alert it".

  • edited June 2019

    The alert doesn't necessarily mean that the bid denies clubs. A 2!c bid which means "strong, both minors" is clearly an obviously alertable bid under EBU rules, but doubling it as though it's a purely artificial bid without asking what it means is asking for trouble. The only way to protect yourself when you hear an alert is to always ask the meaning. (That's why you're supposed to alert, rather than something else, if you're doubtful about what to do.)

  • We've been through this before; I am prevented, by law, from asking about the 2C bid because I know what it means (they have done it often enough and I do understand some elements of Precision) so I cannot warn my partner that 2C shows Clubs.
    I can, however, ask about it if I believe they may have changed their system - there is my get-out clause. I have to operate in a shady area in order to overcome someone who chooses to deviate from the rules.
    I do agree, however, with those above who suggest we shouldn't put off potential newcomers by calling the TD as if we are accusing opponents.

  • It's not a "shady area" at all. :) You "know" that they have changed their system because if they hadn't, the 2!c would have been announced and not alerted.
    So they then explain that it shows 5+ clubs whatever and you say "Ah! That's announce-able and not alertable" and you can reasonably assume that next time one of them opens 2!c, they will have seen the light, and if not, the same cycle occurs.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • :3
    Thanks, Barrie. I shall try that.

  • Good solution, Barrie

  • I find that people don't have a problem with the "intermediate" announcement of my Precision-style 2!c opener (which I do play as guaranteeing a 4-card major only if the club suit is as short as 5). The reason is perhaps unexpected: a surprising number of people (and I am talking here about a club where most of the players are pretty experienced) just don't really seem to get the implications of an "intermediate" announcement.

    So it goes:
    Partner: Stop 2!c
    Me: Intermediate
    RHO: What's that all about then? / So does it show clubs? / Sorry?
    Me: It shows a good 10 to a bad 16 HCP. Clubs is always the longest suit. If the clubs are as short as 5, there will be a side 4-card major (if the clubs are 6+ there may or may not be a major).

    It's curious, but at least the rarer announcements* do seem to generate questions where alerts do not (I have lost count of the times when we have a (Precision) auction with lots of alerts, and opponents just lead a card without a care in the world).

    *Exactly the same for our Precision 1!d , announced as "May be one, or may have long clubs"

  • A number of people like to use Stayman, both to find a 4-card major, or with a long minor to sign off in clubs or diamonds:
    1NT : 2C
    2D/H/S: 3C

    or
    1NT : 2C
    2D : Pass

    or
    1NT : 2C
    2H/S : 3D

    My understanding is that only the 2C bid is announced as Stayman, and that none of the other bids needs to be alerted.

    Is that correct?

  • @TonyStaw said:
    A number of people like to use Stayman, both to find a 4-card major, or with a long minor to sign off in clubs or diamonds:
    1NT : 2C
    2D/H/S: 3C

    or
    1NT : 2C
    2D : Pass

    or
    1NT : 2C
    2H/S : 3D

    My understanding is that only the 2C bid is announced as Stayman, and that none of the other bids needs to be alerted.

    Is that correct?

    I play a version of this and alert the 3C or 3D rebids as not-forcing on the grounds that this is a potentially unexpected meaning (at least in the circles where I play).

  • TagTag
    edited February 26

    Surely, with such a treatment, the 2C bid should be alerted and described as "either Stayman or a weak takeout to a minor", rather than simply announced as Stayman.

    On second thoughts, and re-reading Frances's comments above, it is still Stayman and the announcement suffices. I assume there's some comment on the card.

  • edited February 26

    @Tag said:
    Surely, with such a treatment, the 2C bid should be alerted and described as "either Stayman or a weak takeout to a minor", rather than simply announced as Stayman.

    Stayman originally included this possibility, since it was around before transfers were.

  • But this possibility (weak with a minor) is very much a minority sport. If you give me a hand which is 5-5 majors after 1N-P-2C then I might well pass as I expect major suit length on my right, but if I am told it might be weak in one minor, then I am likely to bid spades so that I can later bid hearts and describe this hand (passing and then coming in is much less descriptive). If all I have to rely on is an announcement of Stayman then I am going to be misled. I need the bid to be alerted if it might lack both major length and values (one of which is always present otherwise).

  • edited March 14

    It's something of a loophole that announceable bids are not alertable even if they're really weird. (A simple example that isn't all that weird but most inexperienced players won't know about is opening 2!c announced "intermediate"; this most commonly guarantees either 6 clubs or (5 clubs and a 4-card major), but the announcement does nothing to imply this and a bid announced as such might not have the major requirement.) I'm not sure if it happens often enough to be worth the extra complexity in the announcing and alerting rules, though.

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