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103 posts
bridgetalk member

Overcall Structure ( 19:46:04 ThuJul 3 2003 )

Country: USA

I just ran across this (called simply Overcall Structure), and am strongly considering playing it (at least, a simplified version to start). It seems to me that it is GCC legal, but I would like confirmation.

If you are not familiar with it, over an opening bid of one of a suit, it uses:
1) Double is 15+ hcp, may be any shape, though there are tendencies.
2) 1NT overcall is for takeout, generally 6-15 hcp, though it can occasionally be more.
3) 1 level overcalls frequently are made on 4 cards, aren't made on hands which qualify for 1NT, and are almost always (always? - I'm not sure) less than 15 hcp.
4) 2 level overcalls are either standard or preemptive, depending on the circumstances (the writeup is unclear).
5) Jump overcalls either promise or strongly suggest a two suiter.
6) Many conventional responses to the overcalls are available.

Do you see any problem with any of this?

Do you have any experience playing this, or playing against it? Who invented it?

Are you aware of any comparable systems?

How common is this or other very aggressive overcall systems in the US, and elsewhere?
[1 edits; Last edit by pbleighton at 20:35:55 Thu Jul 3 2003]


Re: Overcall Structure ( 07:10:49 FriJul 4 2003 )

This overcall structure is sometimes called Fout after the person who devised it. It is highly aggressive and works quite well. However if you want to try something a little different, play canape overcalls. They are enormous fun! These are not legal in the US, but you can play them on line and in countries with civilised system regulations.


67 posts
bridgetalk member

Re: Overcall Structure ( 21:12:43 MonJul 7 2003 )

I've played it (not enough, though) and had it played against me. One thing I will tell you is that you will annoy the opponents (in the good and legal "can't you just pass once?" sense). And so, like any such system, it is best for you (and definately proper and as far as I am concerned, your responsibility if you want to play something unusual) to be complete and clear about your Alerts and explanations. And patient! The opponents will not understand sometimes, and it will seem "so obvious" to you, because you're used to it. Just calmly explain again. Practice your explanations. Once you have, throw them on your friends, and see what they don't understand. Refine. Repeat. *Then* play it.

On the legal side:
1. I would Alert the Power doubles. It probably isn't necessary, but the excess strength and the "feel free to pass, I'm not short" nature of them will be really unexpected.
2. 1NT as a three-suit takeout is GCC (as is the rest of the system - oops, maybe not - see below), but definately Alertable. And, at least in my club, if you explain it simply as "takeout", without mentioning that it can be from 4432 to 7330, incomplete explanation rulings will go against you much more frequently than for "standard" MI.
3. Frequent 4-card overcalls at the 1 level are Pre-Alertable. You'll want to discuss the "unsound" nature of the suits in the PreAlert - IIRC, a typical average suit for a simple overcall is KJ9x.

Just looking over the GCC again, I'm not sure that the "lebensohlish" 1NT response to a simple overcall is legal! Fascinating, as it has been played in NA for years...
4. *Simple* - non-jump - two-level overcalls seem to be EHAA-style; very wide-ranging both in suit quality and strength. Be *very careful* responding to these (says the EHAA player). No problem with legality, as long as they show 5+ cards; I'd probably Pre-Alert these as well, though.
5. Both RJOs and IJOs (make sure you know which is which!) are fine, Alertable, but fine.

Like any system that is 180 degrees away from Standard, be prepared to try it for three or four sessions before deciding on it. And be prepared to get it horribly, terribly wrong a few times while you break your "standard" instincts. Be prepared to get a *lot* of practice playing at the one and two level in inadequate fits or with inadequate suits. Be prepared to go down, often a lot, but usually undoubled. Remember that -200, even -250, beats a game their way. Learn what you need to lead partner's 1-level overcall; this will take time (I haven't played it enough to know myself; I'm extrapolating from EHAA 2-bids).

Make *sure* you and your partner are reading from the same book; IIRC, Jeff Goldsmith has some "thoughts" on the Overcall Structure; and a quick Google search brings up lots of hits. Get the Fout PDF - unadapted by Abraham; transfer advances of overcalls are not GCC legal (yet!) Then decide what you want to adapt from there.

And I definately suggest that you always remember to bid with "bad" hands, especially at the beginning. As the system notes say, "partner will expect you to, and he definately will be upset if he misdefends because you failed to bid." Pass is one of the strongest overcalls in the system, because you have *so much more* information about partner's hand (even if it is all negative) than standard pairs do. Conversely, if partner passes - be very wary of getting in! Do *not* automatically balance; opener has a 20 count! And remember "get in and get out". Unless you clearly have the balance of power or are doing a systemic scramble, your first bids should be all you need or want to make.

You might be interested in EHAA if you like aggressive systems. This one is aggressive starting at 1NT, and *very sound* below that. One key on that one, however, is that 2-level opener/overcaller is usually captain - don't worry, the response structure is designed to do that, and it makes sense.



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