The "Finnish standard" bidding system for bridge


This document describes the "Finnish standard" bidding system for bridge. Officially the standard is defined for the bidding panel of the Finnish Bridge magazin, but it is often regarded as a more general standard. Finnish bridge players quite often base their bidding system on this standard, usually omitting some conventions or adding their own.

Currently this document describes the standard as defined in the 1/1995 issue of Finnish Bridge magazin. Beware: there is a newer version, "modern standard".

This English document is the author's translation of a Finnish version. Neither of these documents is official.

The standard in a nutshell

Opening bids and responses

1 of a suit  4+ cards             limit, Stenberg, splinter

1 NT         15-17 hcp balanced;  two-way Stayman, Gerber, Texas
             5 card major allowed

2 clubs      forcing to game      2 diamonds negative or relay,
             or 23-24 hcp bal.    others natural and positive (GF)

2 D/H/S      6 cards, 6-11 hcp    2 NT asks

2 NT         20-22 hcp balanced;  Baron, Flint, Gerber, Texas
             5 card major allowed

3 NT         gambling,            4 C suit-searching,
             no side strength     4 D asks for shortness

4 C/D        strong pre-empt      4 H/S signoff;
             in hearts/spades     others controls/Blackwood


Fourth suit is general force, which does not promise the suit bid. This also applies to a passed hand, but in that case it does not promise a new bid.
Classical (four aces) Blackwood.
Control-showing cue bids; first cue bid promises first-round control.
Free 5 NT.
Sputnik double up to 2 spades.
Responsive double up to 3 hearts.
Lightner double.

Defensive bidding

Simple overcall: about 8 - 16 hcp and usually at least 5 card suit. If the overcaller's partner makes a bid in the opening bid (general force), then a minimum rebid in the overcall suit shows a weak hand and does not promise additional length in the suit.

Jump overcalls are weak.

Takeout double promises either support to unbid suits or extra strength.

1 NT overcall promises 15 - 18 hcp. Partner can then make a major suit query by bidding 2 clubs, unless the opening bid was 1 diamonds, in which case the major suit query is 2 diamonds.

Fourth-hand 1 NT (protective no-trump): 11 - 14 hcp.

Michaels cue: an overcall in the opponent's suit promises at least 5 cards in the highest unbid suit and in another unbid suit.

Unusual 2 NT. (Promises at least 5 cards in the two lowest unbid suits.)

Additional information about opening bids and responses

After 2 clubs opening and the 2 diamonds response, the 2 NT rebid shows a balanced hand with 23 - 24 hcp, and after this the continuation is similar to that after the 2 NT opening. Other rebids after the 2 diamonds response are forcing to game.

In response to a 2 diamonds opening, 2 NT is a query, to which the opener responds:

In response to a 2 hearts/spades opening, 2 NT is also a query, but with the wollowing responses:

3 NT openind is gambling: solid minor suit, usually no side strength. A 4 diamonds response asks for a shortness, with the following responses:

Descriptions of conventions

No-trump conventions

Two-way Stayman

The responses to a 1 NT opening have the following meanings: The query 2 clubs can also be made with a weak hand, with the intention to pass opener's rebid. On the hand it can also be made with a strong hand, if the opener's rebid gives sufficient information for deciding the final contract. The opener's rebids are: After this the responder can raise opener's major, bid a new suit with at least 5 cards (bidding a minor suit does not promise the unbid major), or bid 2 NT. These are all invitational. The responder can also set the final contract bidding a game.

The 2 clubs query must not be made without a reason. For instance, in the series 1 NT - 2 clubs - 2 hearts - 2 or 3 NT the responder promises a spade suit of four cards.

After the 2 diamonds query the opener rebids:


After a 2 NT opening, 3 clubs is a request to bid suits from below. If opener's only suit is clubs, he rebids 3 NT.

This convention is also applied in the series 2 clubs - 2 diamonds - 2 NT - 3 clubs.


After a 2 NT opening, 3 diamonds commands the opener to rebid 3 hearts. Then the responder rebids:

This convention is also applied in the series 2 clubs - 2 diamonds - 2 NT - 3 diamonds.


After a 1 or 2 NT opening or after the series 2 clubs - 2 diamonds - 2 NT, a 4 clubs bid asks for aces, with the following responses: After this 5 clubs ask for kings analogously, other bids set the final contract.


After a 1 or 2 NT opening or after the series 2 clubs - 2 diamonds - 2 NT,

Conventions which indicate trump support


In response to an opening bid of 1 of a suit, the 2 NT response shows at least 4 card support and is forcing to game.

With a minimum hand, the opener's rebid is always 3 clubs. Thus, other rebids by opener show a better than minimum hand, and in addition to this

After a minimum rebid (3 clubs) by opener, In the sequal 4 NT is Blackwood. Otherwise further bids are control bids.


A double jump (or an unnecessary jump) in a new suit shows trump support and shortness in the suit bid.

The strength required for the bid depends on the bidding series. A basic splinter (eg 1 hearts - 4 clubs) promises about 11 - 15 hcp.

The standard does not specify exactly, when is a splinter. It states that an unnecessary jump is a splinter, if there is some other way of making a slam invitation in the latest suit bid without difficulties. An example is the series 1 diamonds - 1 hearts - 1 spades - 4 clubs. On the other hand, the series 1 hearts - 1 spades - 2 hearts - 4 clubs is an example of a series where a jump is not a splinter but only a control bid (shortness or genuine control).

Slam conventions


Basic Blackwood (four aces Blackwood) is used.

After Blackwood, 5 NT asks to show kings by control bids. The bid promises that the pair has all aces, so partner can bid grand slam with sufficient tricks.

Control bids

The first control bid promises first-round control (ace or void). In a control bid series, 4 NT is Blackwood only immediately after the first control bid; otherwise it is a general forward-going bid.

Free 5 NT

Free 5 NT is a trump honour query, with stepwise answers: 6 clubs = 0 honours, 6 diamonds = 1 honour, 6 hearts = 2 honours and 6 spades = 3 honours in the trump suit.

Other conventions and principles

Fourth suit is a general forcing bid (does not promise the suit) also by a passed hand, but in that case the bid does not promise a rebid.

Raise of fourth suit by opener promises a maximum opening without a natural bid and is forcing to game.

2-over-1 is forcing up to two of the opening suit.

Reverse at the level of two by opener promises additional strength and is an unlimited round force, also after 1-over-1 response.

A game force that has been established cannot be cancelled later.

After opponent's interference with 1 NT, a bid in a new suit by responder is not forcing, and 2 NT is a game force with a distributional hand.

4 NT as a raise of a natural no trump bid is quantitative, not ace asking.

4 NT in a tight situation (ie when opponents have bidden so that natural forward-going bids are not available) is neither natural nor ace-asking.

After redouble, ie when opening bid has been doubled by an opponent and redoubled by responder (and the other opponent has passed), a simple rebid by opener shows that the high-card strength is minimal, and a jump rebid promises more playing strength but not more high card strength. Thus, with good high card strength, the opener in this position passes even with a distributional hand.


General principles:

Responsive double is applied in a bidding series where an opponent has made an opening bid in a suit and after a double or an overcall the other opponent has supported the opening suit. (Eg 1 hearts - X - 3 hearts - X or 1 hearts - 1 spades - 2 hearts - X.) If the other opponent has bid a new suit, a double is not responsive; in this situation, if partner had doubled, a double is for penalties.

If there is, after partner's opening bid, a jump overcall higher than 2 spades, then a double is conditional/optional, promising a few useful cards but not necessarily support to unbid suits. The same applies to situations where the doubler is "under" the suit or the opponents have a fit in a suit.

A protective double by a hand that has passed after a takeout double is a takeout double by a weak hand. (Thus, the standard does not allow a "bush pass" after a takeout double, ie passing with an opening strength and shortness in partner's suit.)

A double is for penalties especially in the following situations:

Jukka Korpela