Alerting and announcing

The purpose of alerting and announcing is to draw the opponents’ attention to any call by partner that may have a special meaning.

Alerting and announcing are compulsory; a player may not ask opponents not to alert or announce.

Alert or announce only your partner's calls, never your own.

Alert or announce any of partner’s calls believed to be alertable or announceable even if the meaning cannot be explained.

If there is no alert and no announcement, opponents can assume that there is no agreement that the call falls within an alertable or announceable category.

Do not alert or announce any play of the cards.

Passes and bids

Unless it is announceable, a pass or bid must be alerted if:

  1. it is not natural; or
  2. it is natural but has a potentially unexpected meaning.

Natural 1NT and 2NT openings are announced by stating the range, e.g. by saying "12 to 14" or "20 to 22".

A natural NT opening may be made by agreement on some hands that contain a singleton. It is announced by stating the range, followed by "possible singleton".

A 2 response to a natural 1NT/2NT opening is announced as "Stayman" if there has been no intervention, and where it asks for a 4-card major, i.e. with responses 2¨/3¨ with no major, and 2©/3© and 2ª/3ª to show that major. The 2¨/3¨ rebid by opener does not need an alert.

Note that Stayman is announced whether or not it promises a 4-card major. Players who wish to know whether it does may ask or consult the convention card.

5-card Stayman (e.g. Puppet Stayman) must be alerted.

Red suit transfers i.e ¨ to © and © to ª are announced but only in response to a natural NT opening where there has been no intervention, and where the transfer shows at least 5 cards in the major suit concerned. Opener says 'Hearts' when 2¨/3¨ is bid, and 'Spades' when 2©/3© is bid.

Announcements - Two of a suit openings

A natural opening bid of two of a suit is announced by stating the range into which it falls, from the following categories. Partner of the opener says the words shown.

(a) "Strong, forcing"                (b) "Strong, not forcing
(c) “Intermediate”                   (d) “Weak”

It is possible to play a wide-ranging opening that covers more than one category, in which case the announcement should say so. Examples are:
(a) “Intermediate to strong, forcing”    (b) “Weak to Intermediate"
For example, a 6-12 opening would be described as “Weak to intermediate”.

It is possible to have certain distributional constraints but this does not stop an opening being considered natural. E.g. a Precision 2§ opening is traditionally only made on a 5-cd suit when there is a 4-cd major, but also may be made with a longer Club suit and no major. A Precision 2§ is considered natural since no other suit is guaranteed and thus is announced as “Intermediate”.

On the other hand, some openings show another suit so are not natural. For example a Lucas 2ª shows another suit, so is not natural and is alerted, not announced.

Announcements - Others

An opening 1§ or 1¨ can be announced with “May be X” (X = 0, 1 or 2) if applicable.
An opening 1 or 1ª can be announced with “May be 4” if applicable.
No other statement, such as “better minor” or “Muiderberg” is permitted.

Basic alerting rules

 Passes and bids
Unless it is announceable, a pass or bid must be alerted if
(a) it is not natural; or
(b) it is natural but has an extra or potentially unexpected meaning.

The rules for alerting doubles are:

(a) Suit bids that show the suit bid
Double of these bids is not alertable if for take-out; alertable otherwise

(b) Short, Nebulous, Prepared and Phoney minor openings
Double of these bids is not alertable if for take-out; alertable otherwise

(c) No-trump bids
Double of these bids is not alertable if for penalties; alertable otherwise

(d) Suit bids that do not show the suit bid
Double of these bids is not alertable if showing the suit; alertable otherwise

Doubles are also alertable if they convey a potentially unexpected meaning in addition to take-out or penalties as defined above.

The rules for alerting redoubles are:
(a) Redoubles that are for business or show general strength, which partner is normally expected to pass if the next hand passes – not alertable.
(b) Other redoubles (notably those partner is expected to take out) – alertable.

Calls above 3NT
No calls are to be alerted except for:
(a) Artificial suit bids on 1st round (opening bid and 3 subsequent calls) of the auction
(b) Lead-directing passes
(c) Doubles or redoubles that are lead-directing but ask for the lead of a suit other than the suit (re)doubled. This includes a Lightner double calling for a specific lead.

Improper use of alerts, questions and explanations
Alerting, or querying an opponent's alert must never be solely for partner's benefit. Explanations of an alert are confined to descriptions of the hand alerted, and must not extend to cover behaviour of the alerter in response.

'Natural' Bids and passes

The following are considered 'natural' for alerting purposes

(a) A bid of a suit which shows that suit and does not show any other suit; the suit must be at least 3 cards long, but preference bids and raises may be on shorter suits. In the earlier rounds of bidding a natural suit bid usually shows at least 4 cards.

 (b) A bid of no trumps which shows a preparedness to play in no trumps, and which conveys no unusual information about suit holdings; it must not be forcing unless a forcing auction has already been created.

(c) A pass that does not unexpectedly convey values or specify suit holdings.


Before any bidding commences, itis wise to advise your opponents, briefly, of the basic aspects of the system you are playing. This is particularly the case if your system includes a 1© and/or 1ª opening that may be a 4-card suit.


Before the opening lead is faced, the declaring side must inform the opponents of any information about declarer's or dummy's hand that has been revealed by the auction but of which the defence may not be aware.

The defending side must do likewise but only after play of the hand is completed.


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