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103 posts
bridgetalk member

What Is Legal In GCC ( 20:20:19 FriApr 18 2003 )

Country: U.S.

I have been playing online bridge, and am about to start face to face bridge at one of the local clubs. I have read the GCC and the midchart, and find them vague, to my inexperienced eyes.
Please tell me if the following are legal in the GCC (and if not, in the Mid-Chart):
1) Ekren 2D and 2H - both majors - (44 and/or 54 versions). Can you use 2D as showing diamonds and hearts, and 2H as hearts and spades?
2) Transfer positives in strong club systems.
3) Relays after a strong club opening, where the responder's response is natural and/or a transfer, and the opener can start a relay with his first rebid.
4) 1NT forcing after 1 of a major, where the response can show either a weak response, or game forcing values, which will be clarified by the responder's rebid.

Would any of the above questions be given different answers by different tournament directors?


172 posts
Forum Host

Re: What Is Legal In GCC ( 06:01:17 SatApr 19 2003 )

1. Ekrens bids, as I understand them, are weak, so not allowed on the GCC. Nor on the Mid-Chart, since there's no defence for them in the database.

2. and 3. are legal on the GCC.

4. is GCC legal - item 2 under responses and rebids.

The answer to your last question, unfortunately, is "probably". Also keep in mind that clubs may make their own regulations - they do not have to use the GCC or any other chart, except for ACBL-wide games (like a STAC, for example). At least two clubs around here seem to have the rule "if it's legal on the GCC, it's legal here, unless the TD decides otherwise," but the rule is not published - at one of those clubs I was once told "you can play anything you like", and then some years later told I could not play a GCC legal convention unless I treated it as a mid-chart convention - after my partner and I started playing it.


175 posts
Forum Host

Re: What Is Legal In GCC ( 15:21:53 SatApr 19 2003 )

Country: USA

Allowed on the Mid-Chart:
4. Any call which promises 4 or more cards in a known suit.

-Jim O'Neil
Oak Park, IL
Dan Neill

Re: What Is Legal In GCC ( 17:06:57 SatApr 19 2003 )

Country: UDA

Currently there is a defense to Ekrens in the database.


67 posts
bridgetalk member

Re: What Is Legal In GCC ( 23:54:02 SunApr 20 2003 )

Country: Canada

Oh goody - the ACBL is going through another website change; so I can't guarantee that they haven't scrounged up an old copy of the defence database (they're back(?) to two multi-2D defences), but:

Ekrens, like all strange weak openers (ok, 5-xs are GCC legal, provided you open the 5-card suit), is Mid-Chart. However, it is legal under one of the sections that requires a defence in the Defence database (Midchart, Allowed, 4). (I know, others have said this, I'm just putting it all in one spot)

The defence database has an entry for 2H showing hearts and spades, so you can play that. You can not, however, play 2D as hearts and spades, nor as diamonds and hearts unless you promise 5 diamonds. (you can, provided you promise 5 diamonds, play diamonds and a major, though!)

It should, however, be fairly straightforward to adapt the 2H defence to 2D for the reds and submit it for approval.

In other news (again, others have given this, I'm just collecting and giving the evidence):

Transfer Positives to a Strong 1C are GCC legal, provided 1C promises 15+ (definition of "strong" for the GCC) and are not part of a relay system (1C!-1H!; 1S! starting relays is not "relay system" - see below - but 1C!-1H! starting relays would be).
(GCC, Responses, 6, and definition of relay system).

Transfer Positives to a non-Strong 1C (i.e. 14+, or two-way, say 17+ or 11-13 balanced) are also GCC legal provided they are: GF, and not the start of the relays (GCC, Responses, 3).

Relays after a Strong, forcing opening *and a response* are GCC legal - any constructive call starting with opener's rebid is legal
(GCC, Responses, 7, and definition of relay system).

1NT, forcing 1 round, weak or GF, is GCC legal; provided "weak" is weaker than invitational ("cannot guarantee invitational values", GCC Responses #2. I don't understand why this restriction is in there, by the way).

As for getting different responses from different directors, unfortunately, 99+% of the ACBL plays the same system, and most of them play the same (sub-)set of conventions. Therefore, if you do anything different, you will get directors called on them, and they occasionally may, at first, read the chart incorrectly. I've carried around a copy of the GCC sometimes, just in case - I have had directors go away and read the GCC, quite carefully sometimes, and come back with the right answer.

This applies to tournaments, but not necessarily to clubs, as Ed pointed out. Clubs in the ACBL are semi-autonomous, and provided they aren't playing a multi-club game (a STaC, or a Instant Matchpoint Pairs game, or a local qualifier for the GNTs, say) may restrict conventions any way they like. *Most* allow the GCC (perhaps with a couple of restrictions or additions - which they rarely post for visitors :-), and you can't award ACBL masterpoints if your game allows things illegal on the Superchart; but some are very restrictive, or their definition of "too complicated for my pairs" is "I know it when I see it". I would never expect any random ACBL club to allow any Mid-Chart convention (they may have one "local favourite"); they might, especially on a certain night, but don't expect it.

Have fun!


80 posts
bridgetalk member

Re: What Is Legal In GCC ( 07:58:59 MonApr 21 2003 )

Someone here can probably answer this for me, but what is the big deal with relays? Why are they banned in the States. After all they are used in constructive auctions, and are not destructive methods.

To me it seems just a case of banning something with which you are unfamiliar. That is a pathetic philosophy.


67 posts
bridgetalk member

Re: What Is Legal In GCC ( 20:38:54 MonApr 21 2003 )

Country: Canada

This is very strongly only my own opinion, even though some of the comments are what I've heard from others. And I'm not subject to many relay systems, not playing internationally, and living in GCC-land :-)

First, remember that it's only a "relay system" to the ACBL if "after an opening of one of a suit, [relays commence] prior to opener's rebid" - i.e. if responder's initial response is a relay. Yes, I know it cuts down on a lot - and whether any of us like it or not, that's the point - but there's no problem playing full relay after a strong Club (I've done it!)

From what I've read, there are three reasons why the ACBL would want to restrict relay systems - some are bridge technical reasons, others are "people reasons" (some are both - making 2+2 equal 3 :-).

  • Contracts arrived at by relay systems are inherently difficult to defend against. This is the real "bridge reason". When the opponents get to 6, and the explanation of the auction is "Dummy has 5314, at least 9 high, with the SA and the CK, I have 16+ any and want to play 6", it's just harder to defend than after a standard auction, where you are almost certainly going to know something about the closed hand.

    Of course there's a down-side - if it turns out that the relay responder becomes declarer, the defence is playing double-dummy from trick 1. A well-designed system will right-side the contract (from the relay point of view, anyway) 90+% of the time, though...

    The ACBL moves to the Mid-Chart those things that they believe to be inherently <-this-> difficult to defend against, for whatever definition of this they feel appropriate. Multi-2D, Transfer 1-level openings, (1NT)-2D without an anchor suit, relay systems...

  • Relay systems are slow. Yeah, MOSCITO players will explain that the time they take up in their 7-round relay auctions they buy back with several 1red-2M; P auctions, and it's true; that doesn't mollify the pair that manages to get them for a two-board round with two relay auctions. The MOSCITO pair will catch up - eventually - but the defenders will be playing pairs with "normal" timings for the next rounds.

    And many pairs playing relay, especially if they haven't spent the time practicing - RLel, a frequent poster here, has played relays for 20 years, and talks about hundreds of hours studying and practicing a new relay system before being ready to take it to the table - take lots of time to remember the responses/work out what partner said he had. They're *slow*. And those relay pairs don't catch up, because they take twice as long as they should on *every* relay auction.

    Also, defenders of a relay auction are put in an unenviable position, at least in FTF bridge; either they ask about every call, most of which won't make any sense for the first three rounds, anyway, and allowing the relayers to be perfect in their UI - and usually upsetting the relayers, because it makes their auction *even slower*, or they don't bother asking, and don't know what bids they can safely lead-directing double, or sac on, or...with screens, or online - provided the bloody players automatically self-explain, this isn't as much of a problem.

  • Relay systems are complicated, and prone to error. Again, this doesn't mean much for those that really *have* practiced their system and know it cold - but every relay player I've talked to has at least one "partner changed the system, emailed me the changes, but I forgot/we decided not to play it and he forgot/he mailed the wrong draft/..."

    I know that opps are upset every time I make a mistake and talk them out of their fit - in a system they understand. They are still upset if I didn't make a mistake and talked them out of their fit (this happens a lot over here playing 4-card Majors!). Imagine 1D!-1H!; 1S!-1NT!; 2H! 4H. The explanation, when asked, is that opener is 4414 with... Opener leads, and dummy comes down with 1444 "oops, he's right, I misbid", and either a diamond is necessary to set, or the spade lead gives away the contract, or 4S is a good sacrifice. The TD is called, system notes are pulled out, it's proven to be a misbid, "it happens, rub of the green, next hand", but the opps are livid.

    Yeah, I know, that for every time that happens in the relayers' favour, there are three or four total disasters. But some of those go for an ok score when they get out for 50-a-trick, some of them make on lucky lies of the cards (or mis- or poor defence) or...It is the nature of bridge players (all humans?) that they will remember the one "fix" and forget the three gifts, anyway.

    And full relay is *complicated*, no matter what. Those same players that have to think hard before/after every response are going to be the ones who work it out wrong, explain it wrong (or poorly, or incompletely, or frustratedly) and cause most of these problems, and are those that the world sees.

So, basically relay systems are Mid- (or, if not GF, Super-)chart because it's hard to defend against and makes many of the 25 pairs they face every day upset (because *they* have to catch up for their opponents being slow, because they don't understand, because the relayers weren't 100% in their bidding/explanations/demeanour, and at least now that they have been rare in ACBLland for thirty years, because it's "new" and "different" and "they're trying to win by being strange, rather than playing good bridge" (yeah, I know, but I've heard it often enough, playing stuff a lot more familiar than full symmetric relay!) ). And like any good carnival operator, if they have the choice of upsetting one pair or 5-a-day, they upset the one pair, especially if the 5-a-day are the backbone of their money-making (and, frankly, it's the cardpushers that fund the ACBL - both with their dollars and those of many of the sharks who only come to the tournaments because of the easy food available!)

Now, I think they have gone overboard a little - I do see certain places trying to provide *some* non-GCC events for those that should be able to/want to handle them (even as the ACBL simultaneously make the hoops players wishing to use non-GCC conventions more and more difficult to completely satisfy), but I find the fact that 95+% of the players I see in any ACBL game will be playing some form of SA or 2/1, with a subset of "the usual gadgets" very frustrating, from a "in the game for the future" point of view. Especially when I look at all the Magic and other CCG players, who have no problem dealing with the complexities of over 5000 cards interacting with each other in strange and often broken ways - hey, for most of them, that's the point!

Yep, another overly-long post for a short answer. Sorry.
[3 edits; Last edit by mycroft at 20:45:01 Mon Apr 21 2003]


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