Standard American,
Yellow Card (SAYC)



    This document covers basic SAYC as used as a default in the BidBase bidding database. This document is based on the ACBL SAYC System Booklet dated January 2006, which is the latest revision at this date (10-04-2018).

    The temptation is very strong to add a few conventions to SAYC which are widely used and extremely important, such as Splinter Bids. However, the goal of SAYC is to have a very simple system, which is the same as the goal of the basic system of the bidding database so that newcomers to bridge will not be confused or intimidated (any more than necessary) and can add conventions as they progress.

    It should be noted that SAYC's specifications can be violated if your judgement tells you to do so. For example, while opening a major promises at least 5 in the suit, you might elect to open a strong 4-card major if the circumstances call for it.

    BidBase does not use any conventions for SAYC not specified in this document; and even for bids which are not conventional, we use the specifications for bids detailed here. Beyond that, many, many situations will arise which have not been covered in detail by SAYC. In these situations, BidBase will use its best judgment, just as you would do.

    You can, of course, make any changes you wish to the specs used in the SAYC database for your own use. The best way to do this is by making a new entry to replace it and deactivating the existing entry by placing a zero ("0") or "T" in the Pct Used field.

General Approach

    Notrump openings show a balanced hand and can be made with a five-card major or minor suit (e.g.: 5-3-3-2).

    • 1N = 15-17
    • 2N = 20-21
    • 2 then 2N rebid = 22-24
    • 3N = 25-27

    With a strong hand (within 1 trick of game on its own):

    With a 6-10 HCP hand and a 6-card suit:

    • Open 2 of the suit (See: Weak Twos).
    • A 2N response asks opener to bid a feature.

    With opening strength:

    • Open the longest suit of 5 cards or more.
    • Open the higher of long suits of equal length -- 5-5 or 6-6 -- including Spades and Clubs.

    Opening a major in any seat promises 5+ of the suit, but a minor suit may be opened with fewer than 4 cards, when none of the above bids may be made:

    • Normally open 1 with 4-4 in the minors.
    • Normally open 1 with 3-3 in the minors.
    • Open 1 when exactly 4=4=3=2.

    Conventions - Few are used in SAYC by default:

1N Bidding

      1N 2 is "non-forcing" Stayman, meaning that the bidding can stop in two of a suit.
      2 .. denies a 4-card major
      2 .. shows 4 Hearts, but may also have 4 Spades
      2 3 Bidding 3 (3 of a minor) over 2 (2 of a Major) shows 5+ of the minor bid, a 4-card major, and slam interest.

      Although opener should treat this bid as if it shows slam interest, opener should not just jump to slam. Simply cue bidding an ace on the 3 or even 4 level can show slam co-interest without getting too high.

      It is possible that responder has no slam interest, but is simply giving opener more information for deciding whether to play 3N or 4 of responder's major. See Kit Woolsey's book, Matchpoints, page 80.

    Jacoby Transfers:

      1N-2 is a transfer to hearts (the "target suit")
      1N-2 is a transfer to spades ("target suit").

      Opener accepts the transfer by bidding 2 of the target suit.

      After the transfer is accepted, responder has the following options:

        Pass - weak hand
        2N - invites to game, but just shows 5 of the target suit.
          With 3+ of the suit, opener bids 4 of the suit
          with max HCPs or 3 of the suit otherwise.
          With <3 of the suit, opener bids 3N with
          max HCPs or 2N otherwise.
        3// - shows 4+ in the suit bid and slam interest.
        3N - opener passes or corrects to 4 of the major.
        4 - sets the contract. Shows 6+ in the suit.

      Opener can Super Accept to show maximum HCPs (e.g.: 17 if 1N shows 15-17) and four-card support by jumping to 3 of the target suit, after which, responder has enough information to place the contract or explore for slam.

    Minor Suit Transfer:

      1N-2 transfers to 3. The transfer is made with a bust hand.
      Responder can then pass or correct to 3.

    Other Responses To 1N:

      3 shows 6+ suit, invites to 3N.

      3 shows 6+ suit, invites to slam.

      4NT invites slam. Opener bids 6 with a max.

      4 is Gerber --

          Ace Asking           King Asking
          1NT -- 4            1NT -- 4
          4 = 0 or 4 aces     4x  -- 5
          4 = 1 ace           5 = 0 or 4 kings
          4 = 2 aces          5 = 1 king
          4NT = 3 aces         5 = 2 kings
                               5NT = 3 kings
      If the player using Gerber makes any bid other than 5, that is to play (including 4NT).

    Interference After 1N Opening:

      If the opponents double, all conventional responses (e.g.: Stayman, transfers) are on.

      If the opponents overcall, Stayman and transfers are off.
      Bids are natural except for a cue bid, which is game-forcing Stayman.

      If the opponents intervene over a conventional response, rebids by opener show true fits.

      For example, after 1N-(P)-2-(2), 3 (the suit to which responder wanted to transfer) shows 3+ Hearts. With just 2 Hearts, opener would pass or possibly bid 2N.

Responses to 2N or 3N

    The following conventions are on:
    • Stayman
    • Jacoby Transfers for Majors
    • Gerber
    • 4N Slam Invitation (not Blackwood)

Responses To 1-Major Opening

    Opening 1 or 1 shows a 5+ card suit.

    Responder's Bids:

      1-1 shows 4+ Spades, 6+ points.
      1-1N denies 3 Hearts or 4 Spades; shows 6-9 HCPs
        1-2 shows 5+ suit, 10+ HCPs
        1-2 shows 3+ Hearts, 6-10 points
        1-2N is Jacoby 2N: 13+ points. Asks opener to bid a short suit.
        1-2/3/3 are strong jump-shifts, slam interest.
        1-3 is a limit raise, 10-11 points.
        1-3N shows 15-17 HCP, balanced with 2 Hearts.
        1-4 shows 5+ Hearts, singleton/void, <10 HCPs.

    Rebids By Opener:

      Opener's rebids are natural and standard.

      With 13-15 points:

        Raise responder's suit at the cheapest level, usually 4+ but good 3-card support possible.
        Rebid his own 6+ card suit at the lowest possible level.
        Rebid a new 4+ card suit of a lower rank or a higher rank at the 1 level.
        Rebid notrump at the cheapest level if balanced

      With 16-18 points:

        Jump raise responder with 4+ card support
        Jump rebid his own 6+ card suit
        Reverse (bid a higher ranking suit)
        Bid a lower-ranking suit.

      With 19+ points:

        Double jump raise in responder's suit with 4+ cards
        Double jump rebid his own 6+ card suit
        Jump shift in a new 4+ card suit
        Jump in notrump

      Responding to Jacoby 2N

        Bid a suit with a singleton or void
        With no singleton/void:
          4 of original suit shows <15 HCPs
          3N shows 15-17 HCPs
          3 of original suit shows 18+ HCPs

    Rebids By Responder:
      Weakest possible rebids:
        Raise first suit (e.g.: 1-1, 2-2)
        Rebid own suit (e.g.: 1-1, 2-2)

      Game invitational rebids after opener rebids a suit:

        2N (e.g.: 1-1, 2-2N)
        Raise 2nd suit (1-1, 2-3)
        Jump-rebid own suit (1-1, 2-3)
        Reverse (1-1, 2-2)
        Bid 4th suit (1-1, 2-2 - may be artificial)
        Jump-rebid new suit (1-1, 2-3)

      Game forcing rebids after opener rebids 1N:

        Jump-rebid new suit

      A 2-over-1 bid promises a rebid by responder, but it is not game forcing in SAYC, so the game-invitational type bids listed above still apply. For example: after 1-2, 2-3/2N/3/3 are all invitational which opener may pass.

      Game force after making a 2-over-1 bid:

        Bid 4th suit (1-2, 2-3 - may be artificial)
        Jump-raise opener's 1st suit (1-2, 2-3)

Responding To 1-Minor Opening

    When a hand cannot be opened 1N or 1 or 1, then an opening bid of 1 shows 4+ in the suit except when exactly 4-4-3-2, and a 1 opening always shows 3+.

    Responses and later bidding follow the same principles as responding to a 1 or 1 opening.

    A 1-over-1 bid is "up the line" when no 5-card suit is available. So with 4 of each major, bid Hearts first, with a 4-card major and 4 Diamonds, bid Diamonds first.

    If 5-5, bid the higher ranked suit first; otherwise, bid the longer suit first; e.g.: with 5 Hearts and 6 Diamonds, bid Diamonds first in response to an opening bid of 1C.

    A jump-raise of opener's minor denies any other 4+ card suit and is game invitational. There is no game-forcing raise of a minor in SAYC.

    Notrump responses are natural:

      1-1N shows 8-10 HCP.
      1-2N shows 13-15 HCP and is game forcing.
      1-3N shows 16-17 HCP.

Strong 2C Opening

    A 2 opening shows 22+ HCPs or one trick shy of game in hand.


      2 is a negative bid showing a hand lacking either 8+ points or a 5+ card suit.
      2/2/3/3 show a 5+ suit and 8+ HCPs.
      2N shows a balanced 8+ HCP.

    Rebids By Opener

      2N over 2 shows 22-24 HCPs.
        Stayman, Jacoby Transfers, Gerber are on.
      Suit bid over 2 is forcing to 3 of opener's major or 4 of his minor.

    Second Negative

      SAYC does not specify the use of 3C as a second negative, but we believe this to just be standard bridge, so BidBase uses it for SAYC.

Weak 2's

    Weak two-bids are made with a good six-card suit and 5-11 HCP.
    Also acceptable are a very good 5-card suit or a poor 7-card suit.


      2N is artificial and "feature asking".
        Opener rebids:
          A suit with an Ace or King with 9-11 HCPs.
          3N with 9-11 HCPs and no outside A/K.
          3 of his suit with 5-8 HCPs, even if holding an A/K.

      Raise is a sign-off. Could be preemptive.

      3N is to play.

      New suit is forcing 1 round, shows 5+ suit.

        Opener rebids:
          Raise with 3+ or doubleton honor
          Rebid his own suit with 5-8 HCPs.
          Bid a new suit or NT with 9-11 HCPs.

Opening Preempts

    Preempt soundess is dependant upon vulnerability:

      Unfavorable: within 2 tricks of the bid.
      Equal: within 3 tricks of the bid.
      Favorable: within 4 tricks of the bid.

Slam Bidding

    4N - is standard Blackwood, asking for Aces
      5N after the response to 4N asks for Kings
      and shows that all Aces are accounted for.

    5N - A jump to 5N is a Grand Slam Force.

      Partner bids 7 of the agreed trump suit with 2
      of the top 3 trump and otherwise bids 6.

Defensive Bidding

    Overcalls show 8-16 points.
        Cue bid of opener's suit by overcaller's partner ("advancer") is forcing.
          Overcaller's responses to advancer's cue bid:
            Rebid same suit to show 8-11
            Any other bid shows 12-16

    Doubles are for takeout through 4, penalty at 4 up.

      Responses to takeout double:
        Bidding a suit at lowest level shows 4+ cards, 0-8 HCPs.
        Jump-bidding a suit shows 4+ cards, 9-11 HCPs.
        Cue bid of opener's suit shows 12+ HCPs.

    1N overcall shows 15-18 HCPs, balanced, stopper in opener's suit.

      Responses to 1N overcall
        2 is Stayman
        All other systems are off

    2N (jump) (the Unusual Notrump) shows 5-5 or more in lower 2 unbid suits.

    Jump overcalls are preemptive except over a preemptive opening. (You never preempt a preempt.) They follow the rules for opening Weak Twos and 3- or 4-level preempts.

    A cue bid overcall when the opponents have bid two suits is natural. For example: (1)-P-(1)-2  and (1)-P-(1)-2 are both natural.

    A cue bid overcall when the opponents have bid only one suit is Michaels. Responder can bid 2N in response to a major suit cue bid to ask for partner's minor. Example: (1)-2-(P)-2N, (P)-3.

    Balancing bids in the pass-out seat after LHO has opened can be lighter than normal. A balancing 1N can be made with 10-15 HCPs. With more points and a balanced hand, double first then rebid notrump.

Responses By Opener's Partner - Summary/Comparison Chart

    Bid Type Uncontested Over T-O Double Over Overcall
    1-Over-1 6+ HCPs, 4+ suit 6+ HCPs, 4+ suit 8+ HCPs, 5+ suit
    11+ HCPs, 5+ suit 6-10, 6+ suit or
    strong 5
    11+ HCPs, 5+ suit
    1-1N 6-10 HCPs, Bal. 6-10 HCPs, Bal. 8-11 HCPs, Bal.
    1-2N 12-14 HCPs, Bal. Limit Raise 12-14 HCPs, Bal.
    1-2N Jacoby Raise Limit Raise 12-14 HCPs, Bal.
    3N 15-17 HCPs, Bal. 15-17 HCPs, Bal. 15-17 HCPs, Bal.
    Redouble - 10+ HCPs,
    no other bid avail.
    SOS in pass-out
    Cue bid - - Game-force (13+)
    Jump Raise Limit Raise Weak, Preempt Limit Raise
    Jump Shift Strong (17+) Weak, Preempt Strong
    2-2 Waiting Natural Natural

    Notice above that bids like 2-Over-1, 2N, Jump Raise, and Jump Shift are similar (strong) for Uncontested and Over Overcall, but are weak Over T-O Double. That is because after partner has opened and RHO doubled, there are usually not enough points left in the deck for responder to be able to make strong bids.

    Also note that 2-Over-1 mentioned in this document is not the same as 2-Over-1 Forcing. The one here is not forcing to game while the "Forcing" one, uh, is. However, 2-Over-1 Forcing is "off" in competition and bids revert to regular SAYC (or whatever adjustments or additions you've made to SAYC).

Responding To Takeout Doubles and to Overcalls

    Bidding Over A Takeout Double:
    • 1-Over-1 shows 6+ HCPs (unlimited), 4+ card suit, keeping in mind that the doubler has promised 4+ in the suit you are bidding.
    • 2-Over-1 (non-jump) shows 6-10 HCPs, 6+ suit or strong 5 cards.
    • 2N is a limit raise, 10+ HCPs, extra trump support.
    • Redouble shows 10+ HCPs and the inability to bid 1-over-1 or 2N.
      If opener preempted at the 4 level, then a redouble is to play.
      In the pass-out position (e.g.: 1H-P-P-D, P-P), a redouble is SOS, asking partner to bid a different suit.
    • Jump Raise is preemptive, <10 HCPs, Total Tricks type bid.
    • Jump Shift is preemptive and to play.

    Bidding Over An Overcall:
    • A cue bid is game forcing, including cue bids of suits promised by an artificial bid such as Michaels.
    • Negative doubles are used through 2 though partners often agree to play it through 4 or higher.
    • Bidding 1-over-1 shows 8+ HCPs and a 5+ suit.
    • Bidding 2-over-1 (non-jump) shows 11+ HCPs and a 5+ suit.
    • Jump Raise is a Limit Raise (11-13 HCPs)
    • Jump Shift is game-forcing, slam interest.
    • Conventional responses used in non-competitive auctions are off unless indicated otherwise in this document.
      1-(1)-2N is 12-14 HCPs and balanced, not a Jacoby 2N.
      2-(Dbl)-2 is natural and positive, not waiting/negative.

What Now?

    The ACBL SAYC document only goes as far as responder's rebids in uncontested auctions (i.e.: 2 rounds) and through 4th seat's bids in competition (1 round).

    By a round or two of natural bidding (very few conventions), partners have basically described their hands and further bidding relies on partnership fits and points.