his bidding system was developed by Mr. Fred R. Thomas, born in the year 1925, and was published in the year 1980 by the Uniclub Press, located in Los Angeles, California, United States. The title of his publication is Universal: The System For Everyone, and in the words of the author, is so named because it is the one system that is natural and also universally suitable for everyone, average players as well as the experts.

Note: Any additional information as to the bridge personality of Mr. Fred R. Thomas, especially photographic material, would be greatly appreciated.

     
     

This bidding system, also known as Uni-Club, employs a forcing 1 Club opening bid for two types of holdings.

1. The holding contains 17 plus high card points and can be various shapes.
2. The holding contains between 13-16 high card points and the longest suit is Clubs.

Opening Bids

1 : 12-15 high card points Shows a 5-card plus Club suit, or
  17+ high card points shows various shapes, which cannot be opened with any other opening bid.
1 : 12-15 high card points Shows a 4-card plus Diamond suit.
1 : 12-15 high card points Shows a 5-card plus Heart suit.
1 : 12-15 high card points Shows a 5-card plus Spade suit.
1 NT: 13-16 high card points Shows balanced shape.
2 : 12-17 high card points Distribution: 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0; Diamond shortage. Non-forcing,
2 : 16-21 high card points Distribution: 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0; no Diamond shortage. Non-forcing.
2 : 14+ high card points Distribution: 5-5 in Hearts and a second suit. Forcing for one round.
2 : 14+ high card points Distribution: 5-5 in Spades and a second suit. Forcing for one round.
2NT: 23-24 high card points Shows balanced shape.

The opening of any suit on the two level shows either of the following holdings, which are treated separately below:

1. Two-suited holdings of different point ranges with one known suit and an unspecified second suit.
2. Three suited holdings of different point ranges with/without Diamond shortage.

Rebids of No Trump

In the Universal Club bidding system the rebid of the opener is important, in that the rebid can more clearly define the shape of the holding. This is especially true if the opening bid is 1 Club followed by a No Trump rebid. However, the first response by partner should be a negative response as in the following diagram, which should clarify the auction:

Opener   Responder   Meaning
1 NT       Shows limited values between 13 and 16 high card points with balanced distribution.
         
1   1   The responder's bid is a negative response showing 6 or fewer high card points.
1 NT       This rebid by opener now promises a balanced distribution with a range between 17 and 20 high card points.
         
1   1   The responder's bid is a negative response showing 6 or fewer high card points.
2 NT       This rebid by opener now promises a balanced distribution with a range between 21 and 22 high card points.
         
2 NT       The opener promises values between 23 and 24 high card points and a balanced distribution.

Various Bidding Sequences

After a 1 Club opening, if the first response is 1 Diamond, then this first response is considered artificial and conveys the information that the responder has anywhere between 0-6 points. The cornerstone of this bidding system lies in the second bid of the opener, when the opening has been 1 Club followed by a the different possible first responses by the responder. The meanings of these second, clarifying rebids by the opener are shown in the schematic below.

Opener Responder Meaning
First bidding sequence:
1 1 Positive response showing 0-6 points.
1 Natural; promises 16/17 plus high card points; 4-card Spade suit.
     
Second bidding sequence:
1 1 / 1 Natural responses showing at least a 4-card Heart/Spade suit.
2 Natural; minimum 12-14 points and a 5-card plus Club suit.
     
Third bidding sequence:
1 1 Positive response showing 0-6 points.
1 Two-Way rebid showing either 16+ high card points and a 5-card plus Heart suit.
or: shows a minimum holding of 12-16 high card points and a 5-card plus Club suit.
The 1 rebid is one-round forcing.
1 This second response asks opener to clarify the 1 rebid.
2 Shows a minimum holding of 12-16 high card points and a 5-card plus Club suit.
2 Shows 16+ high card points and a 5-card plus Heart suit.

Continuances

If the opening bid on the one level is other than 1 Club, then the bidding sequence continues naturally promising at least a 4-card suit and sufficient values to continue bidding. Several auctions are outlined below.

Opener Responder Meaning
1 2 Promises either 10-11 high card points and a 5-card plus Club suit, or
promises 12 plus high card points and various distributions; one-round forcing.
2 // 3 Shows a minimum holding with a 5-card plus Club suit.
Important: any other rebid, which does not support the opener's rebid.
Promises 12 plus high card points and is game-forcing.

The first responses to a 1 Heart opening are different. If the opening is 1 Spade, then the ensuing auction is generally identical in nature.

Opener Responder Meaning
1 2 The first response is artificial and is game-forcing; promises 12+ high card points.
2 An artificial rebid indicating an unspecified second suit.
2 Promises a 6-card Heart suit and minimum.
2 Promises a 5-card Heart suit, no second suit, and 12-14 high card points.
2 NT Promises a 5-card Heart suit, no second suit, and 15-16 high card points.

After a Major suit opening, the responder, with sufficient values, can employ the limit raise convention to show a good 3-card, honor-topped support or otherwise a 4-card support with 10-12 points. With 13-16 high card points the responder can jump immediately to 4 Clubs, which promises such values and a 4-card support.

After a Major suit opening, the responder can jump to 4 Diamonds, which is the Thomas convention, or properly designated as the Thomas Four Diamond Convention, which is Ace-asking.

 

 

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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