The Ripstra convention was devised by Mr. Joseph G. Ripstra of Canada, but presently of Kansas, USA, who was President of ACBL in 1957. This conventional defense method shows actually a three-suited hand. It is an overcall after a 1 No Trump opening by an opponent, and can be used either in the immediate position or in the pass-out seat after two consecutive passes. The range of the No Trump opening can either be a range for a strong No Trump opening or a weak No Trump opening.
The actual values of the holding varies slightly and is very much dependent on the vulnerability. The fact that the overcaller does not have any other descriptive, natural overcall plays an important part in using the Ripstra convention. The priority of the partnership is to find an immediate Major suit fit. The conventional defense method calls for a minimum of 10 points required by equal vulnerability or a minimum of 6 playing tricks.
The Ripstra convention is another method used after a No Trump opening, usually on the one level. Overcalling a 1 No Trump is generally risky, because the overcaller is bidding mainly in the dark, attempting to find a fit. On the other hand, the partner of the overcaller knows the strength and distribution of his partner, the overcaller.
The Ripstra convention is quite similar to the Landy Convention, but the difference lies in the fact that the overcaller will use the 2 Clubs bid as the takeout bid only when the Clubs of the overcaller are as strong, or stronger than his Diamonds. If the Diamonds of the overcaller are stronger than the Clubs, then the overcaller will bid 2 Diamonds.
Therefore, the overcaller is showing with an overcall of either 2 Clubs or 2 Diamonds:
1. both Major suits
2. minimum 4-4 distribution in both Major suits
3. the stronger of the Minor suits is the suit bid (or the third suit)
4. These requirements result in a distribution of 4-4-3-2, 4-4-2-3, 5-4-1-3, 4-4-4-1, 4-4-1-4, or 5-4-3-1.
5. If the overcall is 2 No Trump, then the overcaller is showing a distribution of 5-5, a two-suited holding.
* Note: The bridge student will recognize immediately that this conventional defense method does not include a double. Since defense methods were in their infancy in the 1950s, they normally did not include the double as showing a single-suited holding nor were any doubles intended as being penalty-oriented. The later versions, variations, and modifications included the double.
The overcaller should be aware of the state of vulnerability. Certain guidelines and requirements are necessary and should be met before deciding to compete. Generally the overcaller will have about 10 points to overcall by favorable vulnerability, values almost equal to the minimum range of the No Trump opening by equal vulnerability, and additional values by non-favorable vulnerability. The location of these values in the intended suits are also a main factor. The main feature of the holding is the distributional shape and a minimum of 6 playing tricks or about 7 Losing Tricks maximum.
In both instances, the overcaller is showing at least 8 card distribution in both Major suits. Let us examine, with the use of examples, the possible bids of the overcaller of a 1 No Trump bid to show strength and distribution.
KQ74 AJ95 7 K954
KQ74 AJ975 J98 8 Overcall: 2 Overcall: 2
The reason why the Ripstra convention was devised, was to give the responder, or advancer, more choices. The responder may simply pass the suit of his partner, the overcaller or intervenor, if he has sufficient length in that suit, be it Clubs or Diamonds.
KQ74 AJ95 7 K954
108 K104 64 QJ8762 Overcaller Advancer 2 Pass
KQ74 AJ975 J98 8
983 Q2 Q107532 96 Overcaller Advancer 2 Pass
The following guidelines are for the advancer depending on his holding:
1. With minimum values:
Pass: Shows a minimum of four cards in the Minor suit bid by the intervenor and denies a 3-card Major suit. A pass by the advancer may show a 5-card suit in the bid Minor suit by the intervenor. 2 : Shows a 4-card suit in Hearts and minimum values. 2 : Shows a 4-card suit in Spades and minimum values.
2. With additional values, more than minimum:
3 : Shows a 4-card suit in Hearts and moderate values. This first response is invitational. 3 : Shows a 4-card suit in Spades and moderate values. This first response is invitational. Other Minor: This bid promises at least a 6-card suit in the other Minor suit and two or fewer cards support in either Major suit.
3. With possible game values:
2 NT: This first response is game forcing and shows a strong fit with one of the Major suits. The intervenor rebids his better Major suit. The advancer either bids game in that suit or corrects by bidding game in the other Major suit.
If the overcaller has a 5-5 distribution, then the overcaller, or intervenor, can show this with an overcall of 2 No Trump. The general guideline is that such an overcall can be made when the two-suited holding contains a maximum of five Losing Tricks, as in the following two examples:
AQJ83 9 KQJ97 54
KQJ94 AJ6 AQJ76 Overcall: 2 NT Overcall: 2 NT
The advancer, forced to bid one round, will bid his longest suit first, since neither of the two suits held by the intervenor are known. If the suit bid by the advancer is not one of the two suits held by the intervenor, then the intervenor will bid the cheaper suit above the suit bid by the advancer in order to consume bidding space. Whether or not the advancer is then forced to bid game is questionable. The general idea is that the advancer count his Losing Tricks and add them to the maximum number of allowed Losing Tricks held by the intervenor, which is five. If the result equals game, then the advancer will bid game.
If the advancer bids one of the two suits held by the intervenor, then the intervenor has several options:
Pass: Shows the maximum number of Losing Tricks and no interest in game, especially if the suit bid by the advancer is a Minor suit. Bid Game in a Major: This promises an excellent holding with a maximum of five Losing Tricks. Raise to the four level in a Minor suit: This promises an excellent holding with a maximum of five Losing Tricks. 3 NT: This rebid is game forcing and shows a holding with only three Losing Tricks. The advancer is then requested to show a control in another suit. This action is an attempt at bidding slam. If the advancer holds no side suit control, then the advancer rebids the agreed trump suit.
If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.
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