|5332||=||5-3-3-2 with any five-card suit and any doubleton|
|5-3-3-2||=||5-3-3-2 distribution with 5 spades and 2 clubs|
|M||=||major suit (the first bid)|
|oM||=||the other major|
|m||=||minor suit (the first bid)|
|om||=||the other minor|
|HCP||=||High Card Points (4-3-2-1)|
|p||=||points (distributional or dummy points included)|
|F||=||forcing bid (NF = nonforcing)|
|F1||=||forcing for a round, GF=gameforcing, NF=nonforcing)|
|R||=||relay (neutral, inquiry bid)|
|GFR||=||relay, forcing to game|
|RKC||=||Roman Keycard Blackwood|
|(O)RKC||=||ORKC or RKC, depending on the level|
|CYS||=||Clarify Your Shortness|
|S1||=||step 1, S2 = second step, etc.|
|X, XX||=||double, redouble|
|=||link to continuation|
To find the best (or a good enough) contract more or less exchange of information is needed between partners. In traditional systems the flow of information is two-way, that is both players tell information on their hands until one of them has enough knowledge to propose a final contract.
Systems based on the relay principle are different: only one of the players (called Teller) gives information about her hand, while the other one (called Asker or master) keeps the bidding open until she gets enough information to decide. The given information is normally the distribution, and the other player mostly bids the first step to preserve space. This space can be utilized most effectively if Teller can use all bids up to a certain level. Regarding this the most effective method is when the relay is forcing to game, and thus the level that Teller can use for encoding her hand is the game level. This is usually 3N, exceptionally 4M, when Teller has such a strong major suit that can be played without support.
How do we bid normally? On of us bids relays (which is usually step 1), until she learns enough information, the other one gradually bids her shape, often exactly, sometimes roughly. The highest shape-showing bid is 3♠. After the last shape-showing the master hand stops in game or let Teller know the trump suit and starts a slam bidding. The specific bids vary according to the last shape-showing bid. See: the usual slam bidding. During the slam bidding the master learns the range (of strength) then keycards (4 aces + trump king), then the queen of trumps, kings, perhaps queens too. 2-suiter hands sometimes cannot show their exact distribution, only shortness and range. However instead of the last shape-ask master hand can decide to choose trump from one of Teller's long suits which asks for a more exact shape, then asks for keycards (and eventually for range if there is enough space).
How long should we ask? As far as the information we get helps us more than the opponents. Defence against relay-systems is either very easy or very hard depending on which hand will be the hidden one (the one that only asked, or the other one that showed her shape). The meaning of specific bids should be chosen regarding this one: Teller should be dummy whenever it is possible and when not then she should give useful information with each bid, i.e. we should avoid bids that mean a hand type or a completely different other hand type and long suits become known only with the full shape. A good relay system considers the memory load of the players and assigns easy to memorize meaning to bids. I played and read many different relay systems and can bravely state that this one has a simpler and easier to overview structure than any of them. Many things are logical in it, which can be realized if you tinker a lot with designing relay systems, but naturally I borrowed useful ideas from here and there too.
Schemes: I met them first in a polish strong pass system called Regres. Its gist is that same bids show same shapes independently of the main and side suit. They bid their short suit first then main suit and hand type, we bid our long suits first, sometimes majors first.
It is common to call these systems "symmetric relay" systems.
Modules: means that desciption of a hand type occurs in more places in the system, thus less thing must be remembered, and you forget with less chance if you meet them more frequently.
As an example with balanced hands we bid the same way after:
Bidding of a hand containing a 5-card major is the same after
Interrogation - when to stop it? (that is, not to bid any more relay, but something else)
Mostly we can valuate our honours (and the whole hand) better and thus bid better if we know partner's shortness. Thus it helps more if a hand with shortness shows its shape than when a balanced hand shows its shape.
Thus less profit comes from asking the shape of a balanced hand, so it's sormally worth not relaying whith a shortness but showing it instead. Either with an own suit or with support too.
Facing an unbalanced hand it's normally worth asking it, only very shapely hands might be bid better by showing them.
Sometimes there are 2 relays to position declarership better (when 2♠ would be a relay and we have not bid NT and still have enough answers then 2N is a relay too to let the strong unknown hand play NT)
Sometimes you investigate a slam on a lower level if you choose a trump before the last shape showing bid of Teller. These possibilities will be explicitely described.
Sometimes we can head to a slam on level 3 by setting the trump suit. The question is, what bids ask further in these cases, and which ones are sign-offs. If we declared a major suit as trump then even 3N is a further ask. If we declared a minor suit as trump, then 3N is always sign-off. If we asked an ORKC that was refused then even 4N is sign-off (when we already above 3N).
(1) if shortness does not surely exists then 1st step denies shortness and next 3 steps promise it according to the method described below.
(2) when 3 shortness is possible then we try to bid them directly. We also aspire to do so when one or two of this steps cannot be short. If one cannot be short then this one shows the shortness in the 3rd suit, if two cannot be shoet then the lower bid shows the lower shortness (of the 2 possible).
|(a)||each 3 suit can be bid directly:|
|2♣ (6+) - 2♦ (R) - 2♠ (1-suiter ♣) - 2N: 3♣ = no singleton, 3♦♥♠ = singleton in this one|
|(b)||2 suits can be bid directly:|
|1♦ (2+) - 1♠ (GFR) - 2♠ (1-suiter ♦) - 2N: 3♣ = no singleton, 3♦= singleton ♣, 3♥♠ = singleton in this one|
|1♦ (2+) - 1♠ (GFR) - 1N (12-14 BAL) - 2♣ (R) - 2N (5♣-332) - 3♣ (R): 3♦ = doubleton ♣, 3♥ = doubleton ♥, 3♠ = doubleton ♠|
|(c)||only 1 suit can be bid directly (this might not occur in the system)|
|for the sake of the example let us suppose that Teller promised 6♥-331 hand, and the other one asks the singleton with a 3♦ relay. The possible steps now are 3♥, 3♠ and 3N, from these only ♠ singleton can be bid directly, thus 3♥ = singleton ♣, 3♠ = singleton, 3N=singleton ♦ (lower bid = lower shortness)|
(3) When only 2 short suits are possible, then we do not intend to bid them directly, but S1 shows lower shortness in each such case and S2 the higher one. If equal length is possible then S3 shows this one. E.g. with a 5-4 hand S1 = 5431 with lower singleton, S2 = 5431 with higher singleton, S3 = 5422 shape.
In relay-sequences of the system sooner or later we bid 2♠ with
one-suiter hands, tha long suit is already known here.
Now asker's 2N is a relay:
In the relay-sequences of the system details of a 2-suiter hand are shown
by 3♣...3N bids (sometimes 2N too). Main- and side suits
are already known. Meaning of the bids are:
Full version: when 2N shows 2-suiter too (only occurs when the long suit is a minor)
This clarifies the remaining cards of 10-cards 2-suiter hands (5-5, 6-4). This ask usually serves for exploring a possible void and requires declaring the trump suit because it may end above 3N is certain cases. Teller's bids:
If Teller happened to show 6-5 (rare in the system), then its remaining distribution is clarified this way:
S1 (next relay) is (O)RKC on any of these.