The Ghestem conventional method is a concept to show a strong two-suited holding after an opening by the opponents. This concept was devised by Mr. Pierre Ghestem of France. He was born on February 14, 1922 and died on April 11, 2000. The concept is not difficult and can be learned within minutes, but the important feature is to remember that the Ghestem overcall promises a strong holding.

Biographical Data

He was a World Bridge Federation Grand Master and won the World Team Olympiad in 1960 and Bermuda Bowl in 1956 as a member of the French bridge team, as well as European titles in 1953, 1955, 1962, and second places in 1956 and 1961.

Note: Team mates for the 1st World Team Olympiad conducted in Turin, Italy, between April 27, and May 4, 1960, were Mr. Rene Bacherich, Mr. Gerald Bourchtoff, Mr. Claude Delmouly, Mr. Pierre Jais, Mr. Roger Trezel, and Mr. Robert de Nexon (npc).

Note: Team mates for the Bermuda Bowl, conducted in Paris, France between January 8 and January 12, 1956, were Mr. Rene Bacherich, Mr. Pierre Jais, Mr. Roger Lattes, Mr. Bertrand Romanet, Mr. Roger Trezel, and Mr. Robert de Nexon (npc).

In his early years Ghestem also played chess, and made it to the fourth position in the 1944 Chess Championship of North France.

In bridge, Pierre Ghestem is well known for his contributions to the theory of bidding. He was the author of Ghestem convention two-suiter bids, and has significantly contributed to the theory of relay systems. He authored and played the relay-based Monaco system with his regular partner Mr. Rene Bacherich.

All Ghestem conventional bids are Alertable and, upon request, they must be explained in an accurate manner. The explanation should include the fact that the high card point range is particularly non-relevant owing to the distribution of the holding. The better explanation should be that, in general and by partnership agreement, the holding is calculated on Losing Tricks, approximately a maximum of 6 Losing Tricks if vulnerable and approximately a maximum of 8 Losing Tricks by favorable vulnerability.

Note: It is also essential that the honor cards of the Ghestem bidder are located in such a manner as to secure no more than the number of allowed Losing Tricks.

     

Principles and Elements of the Concept

The Ghestem overcall structure is generally applied after a 1 Club opening by the opponents, but is also used when the opponents open any other suit on the one level. These overcalls can be confused with other natural overcalls, and therefore the partner of the overcaller must be aware at all times that the difference must be distinguished.

The immediate player in rotation, following an opening suit bid by the opposing side, can show two-suited holdings containing the three possible two-suited holdings, all of which exclude the opened suit.

The overcall structure demands that the two-suited holding contain at least a 5-5 distribution and also opening values. Since several partnerships have relaxed the requirement of opening values there exists the increased risk that if the opponents indeed declare, then the opposing side will have obtained too much information about the distribution of the Ghestem bidder, and thus the contract will be easier to declare. It is noteworthy that since Ghestem structured overcalls are forcing many partnerships do not restrict the number of high card strength.

Note: The concept requires the advancer to compete if the responder does not compete. If, however, the responder does indeed compete, then the overcaller and advancer must have a strategy for any continuations.

The following outline of the overcall structure shows the meaning of the immediate overcalls. It is important to remember that the Ghestem overcall structure does neither apply in the fourth seat, nor when there are two previous passes following the opening suit bid on the one level.

Ghestem Overcall Structure
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1   2 NT Promises the two lowest-ranking unbid suits, or Diamonds and Hearts, both red suits.
    3 Promises the two highest-ranking unbid suits, or Hearts and Spades, both Major suits.
    2 A cuebid of the opening suit promises the top and bottom ranking unbid suits, or Spades and Diamonds.
       
Ghestem Overcall Structure
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1   2 NT Promises the two lowest-ranking unbid suits, or Hearts and Spades, both Major suits.
    3 Promises the two highest-ranking unbid suits, or Spades and Clubs.
    2 A cuebid of the opening suit promises the top and bottom ranking unbid suits, or Hearts and Clubs.
       

Note: When researching the Ghestem overcall structure the bridge student will discover several variations of the original concept. The purpose is to present the original version as best as possible, and then address several variations.

Responses to Ghestem Overcall

Opener   Overcaller Responder Advancer Meaning
1   2 Pass 2 Shows a total mis-fit and is generally shown by passing.
      2 Shows support in Spades, but also weak in values.
      3 Shows support in Clubs, but also weak in values.
      3 Generally regarded as invitational with Spades as the trump suit.
      4 To play.
      3 Note: following a cuebid by the advancer to the Ghestem overcaller, the overcaller initiates a relay bid in the next strain, whereby the Ghestem overcaller's rebid announces the trump suit.

Illustrations

An illustration showing the difference between a Michaels Cuebid and the Ghestem conventional method, which shows a strong two-suited holding. If North overcalls 2 Clubs, then his partner will know the distribution and the two suits but his partner will not know his range of values, weak, medium, or strong. With the Ghestem system, the partner knows immediately that the 2 Diamonds overcall promises a strong holding and a two-suited holding. In the following illustration, North calculates a minimum of four Losing Tricks.

West
North
1
2
8
A72
AKJ4
QJ965
 
AQ965
KQ1098
75
A

With the following example, North can also apply the Ghestem conventional method owing to the strength of the distribution. In the following illustration, North again calculates a minimum of three losers. And even though North does not have the identical amount of points as in the first example, North can still apply the Ghestem system, informing his partner that he holds a strong two-suited holding.

West
North
1
2
8
A72
AKJ4
QJ965
 
KQ9765
KQJ1098
8

In the case that the opponents opens the auction with any other bid on the one level besides 1 Club, the Ghestem system can be used also to show a strong two-suited holding, generally with at least a 5-5 and sometimes a 5-6 distribution.

Auction 1
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1   2 Cuebid promises the top and bottom suits - Clubs and Spades.
  2 NT Promises the low-ranking suits - Clubs and Hearts.
    3 Promises the high-ranking suits - Hearts and Spades.
       
Auction 2
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1   2 Cuebid promises the top and bottom suits - Spades and Clubs.
  2 NT Promises the low-ranking suits - Diamonds and Clubs.
    3 Promises the high-ranking suits - Diamonds and Spades.
       
Auction 3
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1   2 Cuebid promises the top and bottom suits - Hearts and Clubs.
  2 NT Promises the low-ranking suits - Diamonds and Clubs.
    3 Promises the high-ranking suits - Hearts and Diamonds.

Modified Ghestem

A variation of the original version includes only the feature that the meaning of the cuebid and the 3 overcall are simply reversed.

Defense Method

The best defense method against a Ghestem overcall is the same as with all other interfering overcalls. If the overcall does not interfere with the natural bidding structure of the partnership, then the partnership plays system on. If the overcall does interfere with the natural structure of the partnership, then certain general guidelines can be employed. As with all defense mechanisms, nothing is etched in stone and partnerships may form their own defense structure. It is of the utmost importance, after such an overcall, to review the Convention Card of the opponents before continuing the bidding auction.

Modified Version

Some partnerships have decided to alter the Ghestem conventional method and use a modified version or a version called Upside-Down Ghestem. These versions use interchanged and reversed meanings of the original Ghestem conventional method.

1. A double is for penalties of at least one of their known suits.
2. Bidding one of their known suits shows a tolerance for the suit of the partner, and values in that bid suit.
  *Note: bidding one of their known suits also asks partner to bid No Trump, if partner has the other known suit covered.
3. Bidding the 4th suit is forcing and shows support in the suit of partner and no interest in penalty.
4. A raise of the suit of partner is a Limited Raise.
5. A jump raise of the suit of the partner is preemptive.
6. A jump raise in one of the suits of the opponents is preemptive and is intended as obstructive.
7. A jump in one of the known suits of the opponents is a Splinter bid.
8. A jump in the 4th suit promises a bid hand and is a slam attempt.

Mr. Jean-Paul Fremery

A complete compilation of the Ghestem conventional method has been prepared for the Internet and has been posted online by Mr. Jean-Paul Fremery of France in .pdf file format. His online contributions are no longer available on the Internet. The .pdf files have been only archived and preserved on this site in .pdf file format for future reference. They are listed below in the same order as presented on the web by Mr. Jean-Paul Fremery. These .pdf files are in French only and are not translated.

Principles Generaux     Les Encheres Competitives
1SA     Les Interventions
1P     REVEILS
1C     Les Baremes Bicolores
1K     Baremes Unicolores
1T     Blackwood
2T et +     La Signalisation

Anyone wishing to translate these .pdf files, please feel free to do so. We would greatly appreciate the effort and publish them on this site for the benefit of all bridge players using the Internet to improve their game skills.

Variations

As with many concepts the Ghestem conventional method has several variations, which are presented below for the convenience of the reader and student. The reason for such a modification and/or variation is also included.

Note: the following variations and/or partnership modifications are in no manner assigned importance or insignificance owing to the number of the variation.

Variation 1

Both Michaels Cuebid and the Ghestem convention can be employed using a mutural partnership agreement. In order to maintain the defined 3 Clubs overcall, however, as natural, the mutural partnership agreement must be modified in the following manner. The origin is unknown.

Variation 1
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1   2 NT Promises the lowest two unbid suits, namely Hearts and Clubs.
  2 Promises the top and bottom unbid suits, namely Spades and Clubs, or both black suits.
    3 Natural. (The solution to employing this bid in both the Michaels Cuebid and the Ghestem convention.)
    3 Promises both Major suits.

Variation 2

Considering those partnership agreements, which demand a bid on the three-level to show the Major suits over a bid of 1 Club by the opposing side, and at the same time maintain the natural 1 Club-2 Clubs overcall (Michaels Cuebid) to show both 4-5 card Major suits, various partnerships have adopted the following as a modified structure. The origin is unknown.

Variation 2
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1   2 NT Promises the lowest two unbid suits, namely Hearts and Diamonds, both red suits.
  3 Promises the pointed suits, namely Spades and Diamonds.
    2

Instead of 2 Clubs (Michaels Cuebid) to show both Major suits, this Ghestem variation employs 2 Diamonds to show both Major suits.

    2 This overcall is natural. The overcall can also be Ilead-directional as over an opening of 1 Diamond / 1 Heart / 1 Spade.

Variation 3

Another modified version allows the partnership to show both Major suits at the two-level after a Minor suit opening. This modiied version carries the name of Mr. Benito Garozzo as the bridge personality, who conceived the idea.

Variation 3
Opponent   Overcaller Meaning
1 /   2 NT Promises the lowest two unbid suits. (Over 1 Club, 2NT promises Hearts and Diamonds. Over 1 Diamond, 2NT promises Hearts and Clubs.)
  2 This overcall is natural.
    2

Promises both Major suits.

    3 Promises the top and bottom unbid suits. Over an opening of 1 Diamond this overcall is considered non-forcing. Individual partnership agreement.

Note: It is imperative for the bridge student to be aware that the overcaller preserves the option of a natural 2 Clubs overcall following a 1 Club opening by the opposing side.

Note: With this particular partnership agreement by Mr. Benito Garozzo the partnership plays that an overcall of 3 Clubs over 1 Diamond is considered non-forcing, whereas 1 Diamond - 3 Diamonds (overcall) promises both Spades and Clubs, or both black suits, with additional values, at least more than opening values.

 

 

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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