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What is ACOL?

#1 User is offline   oldfogey 

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Posted 2003-April-07, 21:47

The ACOL bidding system was devised by leading British players using a club in Acol Street, London.

It is a basically natural system, apart of course from Stayman, Blackwood, and any other conventions agreed by a partnership.

As far as I know the only features that make it ACOL as distinct from any other system are:-

* Weak NT, 12-14 (because of its preemptive value and greater frequency);

* Ability to open a 4-card major if that's the best bid (don't like missing a 4-4 fit);

* Limit bids in partner's suit and NT responses and rebids (bid what you've got);

* In standard ACOL strong 2 openings (in Benjaminised ACOL wk 2s in majors with 2C showing a strong 2 in any suit);

*  2C opening is game forcing except in the sequence 2C - 2D - 2NT.

So there are not many features defining ACOL.    Yet we see described as ACOL, e.g. 15-17 NT, 5-card majors, 5-card Spades (why?), weak 2s in S, H and D, and sometimes a 2C opening which obviously isn't good enough to force to game.

If you take away more than half the few definitions of a system, how much is left of it?     When a partner wants to play ACOL with 15-17 NT, 5-card majors, and weak 2s in 3 suits, I say lets just call it SAYC.
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#2 User is offline   EricK 

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Posted 2003-April-08, 07:48

I would add another thing to the list of things that make it Acol:-

* Light 2/1 responses (8+ in traditional Acol, slightly stronger in modern Acol)

As for the 2 level bids, I think Acol 2s in the majors, a GF 2C (except for the sequence 2C 2D 2NT) and a multi 2D (weak 2M, Acol 2 in minor, or some strong NT) is common enough in the UK to be part of Acol (In my opinion it is better than "Benji").

Note also that Acol is not an acronym, so shouldn't be spelt all in capitals.

I agree that "Dutch Acol" which has strong NT and 5 card majors isn't Acol.

Eric
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#3 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-April-08, 09:20

Also, I seem to remember that the "Variable NT" was once part of Acol?

The 12-14 NT was Tournament Acol?

I still prefer to open my 4-card S suit, if I have ...

The 5-card S suit is implied by opening 1H when 4-4 in the majors... times change... <sigh>.

& yup, Dutch Acol just ain't Acol,  :).
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#4 User is offline   oldfogey 

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Posted 2003-April-08, 11:02

Thanks for the replies.   I'd forgotten 2-level response on 8+ and 5+ suit.     I stand corrected about Acol not ACOL.   5-card spade suit implied by opening 1H when 4-4 in majors?   But what if the hand, eg, AKxx, Kxx, QJx, Kxx and NT weak: prepared minor?
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#5 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-April-08, 14:12

In "modern" Acol, a 1S opening almost promises a 5-card suit... I don't like it but....

With 4-4 in the majors & 15+? "Modern" opening is 1H, <shrug>

Yup, 15+ 4-3-3-3 is a "prepared C" (never a prepared minor) , it always was with the Weak NT?

Personally, I think "modern" Acol is a perversion but "modern" Acol or SAYC... lol.
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#6 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 05:07

Very basic questions for those who've played 12-14 NT>

I've never played 12-14  NT.  What I've read (perhaps all by Americans) is that you get a lot of bad results because the responder frequently is too weak to use stayman to find a 44 fit in the majors.

What is your experience with this? Does the preemptive value outweigh the bad results? Is it more of a problem at IMPs or matchpoints? Do you play 12-14 when playing SAYC or 2/1?
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#7 User is offline   oldfogey 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 05:33

Quote

Very basic questions for those who've played 12-14 NT>

I've never played 12-14  NT.  What I've read (perhaps all by Americans) is that you get a lot of bad results because the responder frequently is too weak to use stayman to find a 44 fit in the majors.

What is your experience with this? Does the preemptive value outweigh the bad results? Is it more of a problem at IMPs or matchpoints? Do you play 12-14 when playing SAYC or 2/1?


An earlier correspondent mentioned variable NT, e.g. 12-14 non-vul, 15-17 vul.    This is logical at rubber bridge and IMPs.

Responder could still be too weak to try Stayman opposite a 15-17 NT.

I believe SAYC and 2/1 don't allow 12-14 NT.  
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#8 User is offline   Orla 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 06:26

Hi PB, here is an answer from an non-expert - just giving my thoughts.  ::) ::) ::) ::) ::) ::) ::)

I was a real scaredy cat of NTs. For a long time I had written in my profile: "do not leave me in 1NT". I finally got used to it, and let myself(after considerable time) be persuaded by Draco to try Weak NT!! It took 1 day of playing it to have me hooked. I  consider it the best bid in bridge (though, scary is playing against Opps who play an even weaker weak NT. Not sure I would like to try that).

As to bidding Stayman. Difficult. I have asked P the same question. I usually am happy to pass though, if I am weak. P might be able to make use of my distribution, and if Opps bid, likely they will not be making a game in majors anyway. Of course I will transfer to a major with zippo.

Maybe it is just me, but I don't think I have ever played a rotten 1NT hand  going down that I have regretted playing weak NT. It does make Opps squirm. I luv it  ;D :)

However, as to playing SAYC and weak NT:
There are a few people that I do play that combination with. Only yesterday, we were confronted by the same problem twice. The dreaded 4 4 4 1 - combination. This is a scourge for any player. However, in Acol you are allowed bid 4-card major suits. So you deal with this problem by bidding the suit below the singleton(can be still messy, though). Yesterday P held a 4 4 4 - hand with a singleton  club (12 or 13 points). I responded by bidding clubs(to be expected!!). He bid NT and there lies the problem. By bidding NT he promises 15-17 points. He cannot reverse either. I guess, uncompetitive as it may seem, maybe he should pass in first seat??   :) :o :o :o :o :o :o

Maybe someone could comment on the SAYC problem. I am killing  2 birds with 1 stone here, because I was going to ask it somewhere !!

Orla
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#9 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 06:51

Quote

Very basic questions for those who've played 12-14 NT>

I've never played 12-14  NT.  What I've read (perhaps all by Americans) is that you get a lot of bad results because the responder frequently is too weak to use stayman to find a 44 fit in the majors.

What is your experience with this? Does the preemptive value outweigh the bad results? Is it more of a problem at IMPs or matchpoints? Do you play 12-14 when playing SAYC or 2/1?


The preemtive value of the Weak NT is, actually, secondary! The main value of the bid is that it is both common, about 10% of all hands, and descriptive.

In one bid you give partner a fairly complete description of your hand, both offensively and defensively, and yield control of the hand to your partner.

When you don't open 1NT you are conveying the information that you either have 15+ or distribution or both.

Bad results? Nah, very few attributable to the Weak NT, and many good results that are attributable,  ;D.
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#10 User is offline   inquiry 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 07:06

Quote

[size=2] What I've read (perhaps all by Americans) is that you get a lot of bad results because the responder frequently is too weak to use stayman to find a 44 fit in the majors.


I think the previous posters gloss over the problem of missing 4-4 major fit at matchpoints. This problem is so frequent, that "matchpoint precision" recommended not opening 1NT with any four card major.....  Having said that, my experience with kaplan-sheinwold is that the good results from opening a weak notrump outweigh the bad results. And at imps, I wouldn't worry about this 4-4 major fit problem at all. Besides, at mp, playing 1NT when the field is in 2S or 2H, give you a chance to try your matchpoint play risking your contract to steal, or grab an extra trick to scavenge a few extra matchpoints.
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#11 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 08:05

Quote


I think the previous posters gloss over the problem of missing 4-4 major fit at matchpoints. This problem is so frequent, that "matchpoint precision" recommended not opening 1NT with any four card major.....  Having said that, my experience with kaplan-sheinwold is that the good results from opening a weak notrump outweigh the bad results. And at imps, I wouldn't worry about this 4-4 major fit problem at all. Besides, at mp, playing 1NT when the field is in 2S or 2H, give you a chance to try your matchpoint play risking your contract to steal, or grab an extra trick to scavenge a few extra matchpoints.





Good points,  :).

I will admit a reluctance to bid 1NT when 4-4 in the majors... Ooooh, that 10 looks nice, maybe worth 3/4 point?

It's one of the reasons that I don't like opening 1H when 4-4 (Modern Acol), 1S-blah-2H is a way out of the 4-4 major dilemma, it really shouldn't show 5-4, lol.

Also, 1NT as a contract, tends to be a bit of a lottery! Many, as Orla pointed out, are scared of it; but, it is probably the hardest contract to defend. Even 1 down is acceptable, opps had a partial,  ;D.
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#12 User is offline   EricK 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 08:32

Quote

Very basic questions for those who've played 12-14 NT>

I've never played 12-14  NT.  What I've read (perhaps all by Americans) is that you get a lot of bad results because the responder frequently is too weak to use stayman to find a 44 fit in the majors.

What is your experience with this? Does the preemptive value outweigh the bad results? Is it more of a problem at IMPs or matchpoints? Do you play 12-14 when playing SAYC or 2/1?


There are pluses to a weak NT and there are minuses.  These have been outlined in the other responses.

What you might notice is that many of the pluses occur in competitive auctions eg

1) 1NT is pre-emptive - Often you see the auction 1NT All pass, compared with 1C 1H (1S) P (2S) etc

2) 1 of a suit shows extras, and (in Acol) is always a genuine suit.  Allowing partner to compete more effectively.

3) 1 of a suit becomes more lead directing.  Most 12-14 balanced hands don't have a good suit that you wan't led, but, not playing weak NT, you would have to bid one of them

Missing a 4-4 major suit fit, is only a problem in non-competitive part score hands.  These days, how many of those do you see!

The other potential drawback is that 1NT X can go for 300/500 with nothing on the other way.  All I can say is, that this rarely seems to happen.

I suppose that if the people you play against don't like to overcall, then you might gain playing SAYC or 2/1, where the frequent 1C/1D openings make purely constructive bidding easier.

But if you play in the rough and tumble of the real world, then a system which allows you to open 1H/1S/1NT as often as possible (eg Acol,  Mosicto or Blue Club) will make life much more difficult for your opponents.

Eric
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#13 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 09:08

"The other potential drawback is that 1NT X can go for 300/500 with nothing on the other way.  All I can say is, that this rarely seems to happen."

One reason is that partner can keep quiet with 10- hcp; 1NTX, tick is almost always bad.

Another reason is that defences like DONT aren't effective v the Weak NT; you have to kiss for penalties,  ;D.
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#14 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 10:28

One poster said he thought 12-14 NT was illegal in SAYC or 2/1.  SAYC that's right (it seems to specify everything), but is there any reason a Standard or 2/1 bidder can't/shouldn't use it, as long as both partners agree?
Do those of you who like it play it vulnerable?
If yes, do you open 1 of a suit sometimes vul rather than 1NT?
If you were to play it with 5 card majors, would you open some/all of NT hands with 5 of a major in the major?
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#15 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 12:31

"Do those of you who like it play it vulnerable? "

Yes, why not?

"If yes, do you open 1 of a suit sometimes vul rather than 1NT? "

Definitely no. Why would you distort your system?

"If you were to play it with 5 card majors, would you open some/all of NT hands with 5 of a major in the major?"

Of course. Balanced hands are balanced hands. You may lose occasionally, however there is no guarantee that even if you have a 5-3 or occasionally a 5-4 fit that the NT contract is not as good or even better. In the long term this style is a huge winner in constructive bidding. Many will disagree, no doubt, especially if they haven't played this method for any length of time.
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#16 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 12:36

The Weak NT is very strict; you bend the rules to open 1NT with a 5-card major!

1NT shows 4-3-3-3 or 4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2(5-card minor) & 12-14hcp.
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#17 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2003-April-09, 12:54

"The Weak NT is very strict".
Strict according to whom? Reese and Schapiro frequently opened NTs with 5 card Ms or 6 card ms. Lanzarotti and Buratti, one of the world's top pairs, do this today on an 11-13 garbage NT in their "Nightmare" system. I know of many expert pairs who take this even further and open 1NT on some awkward 4441 shapes.

On the contrary, you should strive to open 1NT as often as you can, including with a balanced hand 5332s with Ms and the occasional 6223 with a m. It is pre emptive in nature and the inferences available when pd does not open 1NT are a huge boon to constructive bidding - read my previous comment.
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#18 User is offline   Laird 

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Posted 2003-April-10, 00:44

Hello All

A successful pair I know play Benjamine Acol with 10 -12 NT at 1st position and 15 - 17 Nt in 3rd position and I believe they rely on a 5 card suit being present .... for added security i suppose :)

regards

john
UDCA...'You take the High Road an I'll take the Low Road'...
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#19 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-April-10, 00:44

More basic questions:
1) For The Hog - sinnce you open 6322 with 6m, do you open 5422 with 5m?  Either/both cases, do you do this only with a weak long suit?
2) When you overcall 1 of a suit, does this also mean 12-14?
3) From what I've read, Cappeletti (and Hamilton) use a penalty double after 1NT. How effective is this? Do you use it with partners who are willing?
4) Do you use transfers with a 12-14 NT, or do you prefer to keep 2D as a bailout in diamonds?
5) When you play this in a field where a strong NT is more common (i.e. BBO), do you alert?
6) Playing a strong NT, and using the rule of 20 for openings, I will almost always pass a 4333 shape with 12 pts, and sometimes pass 4332s and (less often)5332s. Do you open all/almost all 12-14 balanced hands? Do you open doggy looking 15 pointers as 1NT?
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#20 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2003-April-10, 02:02

Well, I'm not the Hog, but we both play a weak NT embedded into the same strong club system, so I'm guess ing that we have somewhat similar criteria.

First and foremost, MOSCITO allows players enormous latitude to appy judgement regarding opening bids.  The official range for a 1NT opening is 11+ - 14 HCP, however, I have happy opened upgraded 10 counts with 1 NT opening and once chose to dowgrade a 16 count.

In a similar fashion, holding 12 -14 HCP and a balanced hand containing a 4 card major, opener has a great deal of discretion whether to show the majr or open 1NT.  For example holding

73
KQT9
AT52
K82

I would clearly open 1D, showing 4+ hearts.

However, with

QT4
8632
AJT4
AQ

I would open 1NT, showing 11+ - 14 balanced.

In answer to your specific questions

>1) For The Hog - sinnce you open 6322 with 6m, do you >open 5422 with 5m?  Either/both cases, do you do this >only with a weak long suit?

5422 hands depend on the strength of the major.
Holding a Kxxx or better I will always open in the major.  With a weak major, I prefer to open in NT.

Weak long suits take more tricks in suit contracts than in NT.  I'll always open 1S holding 6 Diamonds or 2C holding 6 clubs.

>2) When you overcall 1 of a suit, does this also mean >12-14?

I am assuming that you mean open 1 of a suit?
Not sure regarding the question.

>3) From what I've read, Cappeletti (and Hamilton) use a >penalty double after 1NT. How effective is this? Do you >use it with partners who are willing?

I prefer not to play penalty doubles of NT.
You never catch a good pair in 1N X
I prefer Lionel in which double shows a 2 or three sutied hand with Spades.

>4) Do you use transfers with a 12-14 NT, or do you prefer >to keep 2D as a bailout in diamonds?

I use Scanian responses in which 2D is an X-fer to hearts, but only promises 4 Hearts.

>5) When you play this in a field where a strong NT is >more common (i.e. BBO), do you alert?

I pre-alert my methods.
I announce 1NT as 12-14 each time that it comes up.
However, I expect that the opponents recognize that
11+ - 14 HCP is an approximation and not a rule.

>6) Playing a strong NT, and using the rule of 20 for >openings, I will almost always pass a 4333 shape with >12 pts, and sometimes pass 4332s and (less >often)5332s. Do you open all/almost all 12-14 balanced >hands? Do you open doggy looking 15 pointers as
>1NT?

First, I consider the rule of 20 far too conservative for serious play.  However, I have also been willing to make significant adjustments in system to compensate for my light opening style.

I happily opened 1D showing 4+ Hearts (approximately 9 - 14 HCP) in ACBL land a couple years ago.  

7
AK73
986543
63

Sadly, the director refused to rule against me
[We were tryin to generate a test case regarding just what a Queen below average strength means]
Alderaan delenda est
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