With so many artificial convention that being use commonly or rarely, alerting a special bid will be more often than before. Some people might think the alert is just a courtesy and while the opponent can ask, but it’s not a compulsory to make an alert. Well, that’s no longer true. Alert of every artificial bid that implies other meaning than the willingness to play on that denomination (suit or NT), have to be alert. It’s compulsory.
Why You Need to Alert?Being gentlemen & ladies game, Bridge respects sportsmanship to the highest level. Meaning everything that you communicate through bidding and play on the table to partner, opponents need to know so that they can act accordingly. No secret agreement. Therefore if a bidding has special meaning, everybody need to know. It’s just fair as they need to let you know everything they communicate as well.
When You Need to Alert
You need to make an alert when:
- A bid does not show that the hand has at least 3 card on that suit -or- willingness to play on that suit. (For example: if you sign off 2♥ with singleton ♥, this does not warrant an alert as you are willing to play ♥ contract). Inclusive in this category will be all “transfer” bid, “puppet” bit (such as 3C over 2NT Lebensohl convention), fourth suit forcing, splinter bid, strong pass, penalty pass, etc.
- A bid contains additional information such as 2nd suit or different level of strength. (For example: opening 1♦ with 3+♦ – no need to be alerted, but an answer of Stayman convention that contain additional information such as 2♥ 4 cards ♥ minimum, 3♥ 4 cards ♥ maximum need to be alerted).
- A bid contains different meaning that the “normal” . For example:
- bidding NT over opponent overcall implies having a stopper, if you specifically has a convention that do not require a stopper, this has to be alerted.
- jump raise usually mean “invite”/limit to game, so if it’s preemptive jump raise (blocking opponent), that need to be alerted
- single raise usually non-forcing, alert if your convention is a forcing one (for example: 1♦ – 2♦)
Remember, alert is compulsory.
When You Should Not Alert
At this moment there are 5 type of bids that should not be alerted as they are known as “self alerting call”:
- Doubles (“X”)
- Redouble (“XX”)
- Cue bids of an Opponent Denomination/Suit
- All calls at Four Level or Higher
- Stayman Bid (2♣) as response to 1NT opening bid in uncontested situation.
All of the bidding above are not necessary to be alerted.
If you alert above call, there might be suspicion that you try to convey hidden message to partner and penalty could be applied. On the other hand, although not alerted, opponent still able to make an inquiry to check if there is specific meaning. But do NOT explain if you are not asked.
- You only alert partner bidding as soon as he/she made the bid. Never alert your own bidding as this will be perceived as alerting partner that the bid is special (of course unless you play in tournament that uses screen, where you need to alert your won as well partner bid to the opponent in your side of the screen)
- Do the alert by circling partner’s bid (if using written bidding method) -or- say “Alert” (if you use verbal bidding) -or- place Alert card (as picture) to the bid (if using bidding box). That’s the common method, but some custom used to knock on the table to make an alert. Do what’s common, it’s not really important how you do it, but you need to make the alert.
Using written bidding and circling it as alert is a good way to avoid any further dispute regarding the bidding.
- NEVER explain a bid, even alerted one, if the opponent did not ask.
- If opponent has continued bidding before you make an alert (late alert), opponent need to call director to reserve their right. Fail to do this, they may jeopardize their right.
- If partner or you forget to alert or make a wrong explanation, before opponent make an opening lead, call Director and explain the mistaken one -or- if you become defender call Director after the hand has been played
Type of Alerts
There are 3 kind of alert:
- Pre-Alert: before the play you brief opponent about your unusual bidding convention in general
- Alert During Auction/Bidding: where you will make most of your alert.
- Delayed Alert: alert at the end of the auction for any unusual bid, especially the one non-alerted call.
All of the explanation above is based on Australian Bridge Federation’s Alert Regulations which is aligned and adopted from WBF (World Bridge Federation). For further detail go to this page and look for “Alerting Regulation”. Although the principles in general are the same, you should check your local bridge authority should there be any special/unique custom.
Category: Bridge General