European Bridge League Systems Policy

July 1, 1988
Revised: October 1, 1992



1. The use of all systems is permitted at the European Team Championship, subject to proper disc.

2. In other EBL Team Championships (or parts of such) of 16 boards or more, all systems and conventions are permitted except "Highly Artificial Systems".

3. In short Team matches (less than 16 boards) and Pair Championships, the use of some conventions, against which it is difficult to devise defensive methods in short time, are prohibited.


1. Definition of Highly Artificial Systems

For the purpose of this Policy, a Highly Artificial System (H.A. System) of the following features, as a matter of partnership agreement:

a) A Pass in the opening position does not imply absence of the qualifications generally understood for an opening bid of one, and the player who passes will or may hold 12 High Card Points (or any greater number the partnership may settle upon), in a hand that would be judged worthy of initial action at the one-level in a natural system.

b) The partnership employs an opening bid at the one-level which in principle is or may be weaker than "Pass"; or which is a suit bid that is or may be made on a hand not meeting normal expectations for a natural opening bid of one-viz.: may contain fewer than 8 H.C.P.; may be a hand of only 9 or 10 H.C.P. lacking compensating distribution, such as a 6 card, two 5 card suit(s); or which is a bid of One No Trump which shows neither a balanced hand of at least 9 H.C.P., nor an unbalanced hand guaranteeing at least 17 H.C.P.

For light opening suit bids at the one-level the "Rule of 18" shall serve as the guideline for judging whether it meets normal opening bid expectations. (The "Rule of 18" is that the number of High Card Points when added to the number of cards in the two longest suits taken together, shall total no less than 18).

c) The partnership employs an opening bid at the level of one which has more than one potential meaning (e.g. shows either length or shortage in the suit; or is two- suited, suit not specified). This rule does not apply to one-club-systems where one club shows either a strong club opener or other naturally inclined or balanced one club openers.

d) Except for bids of one club or one diamond in a Strong Club or Strong Diamond system, (or as allowed in point c) above) a one-level opening suit bid is employed which does not relate to a single specified suit.

e) Employment of a one-level opening bid to define the hand by reference to a specified suit shortage.

f) The partnership employs an opening bid of one in a major suit which may be made on fewer than four cards.

g) The partnership has an agreement by which an initial overcall may be made on fewer than four cards. If transfer overcalls are used, the requirement of possession of at least four cards applies to the "real" suit. "Agreement" includes an implicit agreement arising from the practice of the partnership. In case of doubt, whether a specific system falls into the category of H.A. System under above definition, the respective N80 has the possibility to request clarification in advance in writing from the Chairman of the Systems Committee. Such letter must be received by the Chairman of the Systems Committee. Such letter must be received by the chairman of the submission deadline of completed Convention Cards for the Championship concerned.

2. Restrictions of the use of conventions in short team matches (less than 16 boards) and pair tournaments.

a) Opening conventional bids at the level of two or more

An opening bid of two or more may have a natural meaning. If, however, it has a conventional meaning it must fit with one of the following conditions:

a1) it is single-suited and the suit is identified. (No alternative exists); or

a2) the hand is two-suited and at least one of the suits is identified; or

a3) the hand is three-suited and at least one of the suits is identified; or

a4) the hand has alternative possibilities, some or all of them not strong, but an identified suit is common to all of these alternative possibilities; or

a5) the hand is by definitions strong (16 High Card points minimum or equivalent playing strength); or

a6) the convention is listed in the WBF Conventions Booklet (f.i. 3NT opening with either solid Minor; Multi 2 Diamond opening;).

b) Short suit response at the one level.

Responses to opening bids must either show (naturally or conventionally) 4+ cards in an identified suit, or they must meet one of the following conditions:

b1) the response is sufficiently strong to think of a game contract. (The response does not need to be absolutely game forcing, but opposite a normal opening bid it is interested, from strength, in finding a game contract).

b2) the response is narrowly defined as to its values; it shows a narrow range of High Card Points, or of Controls, etc.

b3) otherwise, short suit responses (including for example relay responses) are permitted so long as a precise announcement is made of the situations in which such responses with suits containing fewer than four cards, would apply. This is particularly important for responses with three card majors to a natural or prepared opening bid of one club/one diamond. This requires a careful statement of details on the supplementary sheet, under which conditions and for which types of hands such calls would be used, specifying especially any meanings based on weakness.

Pairs who play relays, for example, must recognize that players from parts of the world where these bidding procedures are rarely or never met, will not be familiar with the inferences that follow from their use.

b4) Response to opening bids of one at the one level with less than four cards, which do not fall under point a), b), c), above, are prohibited.

3. Use of systems variations by a partnership

The use of systems variations by a partnership is permitted in EBL Team Championships with matches of 16 or more boards, provided that

a) full disclosure is effected,

b) the situations in which the systems variations are to be used, are clearly defined. For instance, a pair may use different systematic arrangements according to vulnerability, or according to the position of opener in relation to dealer.

c) the variations/deviations from the principle system do not require the development of a system of special defenses. This means that the variations must be either natural or along the lines of a recognized Strong Club system (Precision Club, Blue Club).

It is not permitted to vary the use of the system against specific opponents in a manner different from the definition of use submitted in the system material. The use of systems variations by a pair is not permitted in EBL Team Championships with matches of less than 16 boards, and in all EBL Pair Championships (except for varying point count ranges of 1 No Trump openings.

4. Systems Material, European Team Championship

* It is mandatory for all pairs using H.A. Systems to lodge their complete systems material with one organizer of the Championship two weeks prior to the start of the European Team Championship. This in necessary to give the organizer adequate time to review the material to ascertain that a full and comprehensible statement of the methods has been submitted.

* Once a H.A. System has been lodged, no change in the H.A. System will be permitted for the duration of the Championship.

* If the system material is not lodged in time, the H.A. system cannot be played in the Championship.

* Once lodged, the pair must use the H.A. System throughout the Championship, and may not change its method to any other system.

* It is mandatory for all pairs planning to use systems variations (expect for varying one no-trump opening point count ranges), to lodge their complete systems material with the organizer of the Championship prior to the start of the Championship.

* It is recommended (not mandatory) that all pairs lodge their complete systems material with the organizer prior to the start of the Championship.

* Any systems material lodged with the captains bring to the Appeals Committee the complete systems material of English language.

* It is recommended (not mandatory) that captains bring to the Appeals Committee the complete systems material of pairs involved in an appeal.

Reason: The onus of full disclosure lies with the user of any system. Since generally, H.A. Systems have not been published, it is necessary to establish a procedure which protects both the users of H.A. Systems, and their opponents, in this respect. Lodging of the complete systems material prior to the start of the Championship, provides the possibility to verify statements made by the respective players in various situations during the Championship. This purpose can usefully be served only if the lodged material is in English language.

This requirement also helps to approach the concept of the desirability of publishing systems.

The European Championship is not the correct forum for the testing of unproved systems. H.A. Systems used in the Championship must be sufficiently developed to stand the rigours of a fortnight's competition. Finally, opponents of H.A. systems opponents of H.A. systems are being given the opportunity of developing defenses thereto. It is unfair to expect opponents to put in a lot of work in developing defenses, only to find that the H.A. system has been withdraw or changed.

5. WBF Convention Card

The EBL will use the WBF Convention Card (with the Guide to Competition and WBF Convention Booklet) for its Championships.

The currently used Convention Card is attached hereto as an integral part of the EBL systems Policy. We shall also basically use the WBF Guide to Completion and Convention Booklet, however, eliminating references to specific tournaments and adjusting all aspects which differ from the WBF Policy.

Pairs using substantial systems variations will have to complete a second Convention Card, whereby the second card will be supplementary to the first, and the first Convention Card must be cross-referenced to it (and bear a statement under "Systems Summary").

Any changes to the current format of the Convention Card will be communicated to the NBOs at least 4 months prior to the event in which revised format is to be used.

It is required to identify the system on the Convention Card with colored stickers:

Green: Natural.

Blue: Strong Club/Diamond, where one Club/Diamond is always strong.

Red: Artificial; This category includes all artificial systems, which do not fall under the definition of Examples would be a system where one club shows inclined or balanced one club opener; a system which contains unusual bids at the two or three-level (other than weak two or multi). Furthermore, all pairs using systems variations (except for varying one no-trump opening point count ranges) will identify their cards with a red sticker.

Yellow: Highly Artificial Systems.

The Convention Cards are to be filled-in in a readily legible manner, e.g. typed or written in block letters in black ink. The from of the Convention Cards (not their content) may be reviewed by the Systems Committee prior to the start of each Championship, and improvements will be requested, if necessary, from the pairs concerned. This review will also check that all major and essential parts of the Convention Card are completed.

6. Supplementary Sheets

In order to provide adequate scope for full and proper disclosure, up to six supplementary sheets (A4-sized, typed double spaced and on one side only) may be added to the Convention Card at the European Team Championship. For all other tournament, up to two supplementary sheets may be added. Reason: The principal objective is adequate disclosure. The objective of adequate disclosure takes precedent over the objective to limit the material.

7. defense against H.A. Systems

a) For teams which include one or more pairs using H.A. Systems, the following procedure for seating and line-up will apply: A team which includes one or more pairs using a H.A. Systems automatically gives up its seating rights for the duration of the Championship. When playing against teams which do not include pairs using a H.A. System, such team will always be the "away-team". When playing against a team which also includes one or more pairs using a H.A. System, the draw will determine whether the team will be home-team or away-team, considering an equitable distribution for matches against teams containing one or more H.A. Systems pairs. For teams playing against an "away-team" which includes one or more pairs using H.A. Systems, the rule that any pair of the home-team which is retained must remain in the same room for the second half of the match, is waved. In this manner, the captain of the home-team may line-up a pair during both half-times against a specific pair of the opposing team, using a H.A. System.

b) Pairs lined up to play against a pair using a H.A. System are required to deposit their agreed defense against such a system in written (two copies) at a specified place to be designated in the reception area of the Championship site, not later than 30 minutes prior to the start of the first half of the match, and not later than 10 minutes prior to the start of the second half of the match.

In preparing the defense against a H.A. System, pairs using "Natural", "Strong one Club / one Diamond" or "Artificial" methods are allowed to change their system including opening calls, with the restriction that they are not permitted to introduce a "Pass" showing by agreement positive values as described in section B.l.a).

Pairs using a H.A. System, are not allowed to change their opening calls.

c) The pair using the H.A. System must inform the opponents in writing (hand-written, two copies) about their defense against the defense, at the table, prior to the start of the session.

In preparing their defense to the defense, the pair using the H.A. System is not permitted to change any of the highly Artificial aspects of their system.
The Championship Rules & Regulations will provide for an adequate time period to permit proper review of the "defense against the defense" by the opponents of H.A. Systems pairs, at the start of the session.

d) The written defense to a H.A. System, and the written "defense against the defense", may be used as aides-memorize both by the defenders against the H.A. System and the users of the H.A. System during the period when the aperture of the screen is closed.

e) Any team captain may request one or more copies of the complete systems material of a pair using a H.A. System at any time during the Championship from the organizer, whereby the copying expense is to be borne by the captain requesting such information.

Reason: Pairs using H.A. Systems enjoy automatic advantages, in terms of auction inferences, even assuming highest standard of disclosure. With the help of these procedures, the opponents will have the help of these prepare themselves will have the possibility to prepare themselves adequately against Highly Artificial Systems, thus eliminating any undue advantages for pairs using H.A. Systems, caused by unfamiliarity of the opponents With the highly Artificial bidding methods. Point 7. A) of the Policy provides, that it will now be necessary for only one pair of the opposing team, to familiarize themselves fully with a specific H.A. System.

At the same time, this procedure will make it practically possible to ensure timely submission of the defense against H.A. Systems (point 7.b) ), which, in turn, will be helpful to pairs using such systems.

8. Automatic Penalties

There will be no automatic penalties for different alerts and discrepant information given on either side of the screen.

Reason: It would not correspond to the basic intention of Bridge laws to impose such automatic penalties. In case of possible damage and appeal, each case is to be decided on its own merits.

It is not appropriate to treat pairs using H.A: Systems differently from other pairs, in this respect.

The Championship Rules & Regulations, however, will point out that in Appeals Committee hearings, different alerts and discrepant information will weigh against the offending pair.

9. Period of Validity

This Systems Policy takes effect, for all EBL Championships with the date of publication. Any changes to the above Policy will be communicated to the NBOs with a notice period of at least four months.

Reason: This stipulation ascertains that all NBO selection procedures can be effected with the assurance, that assumptions in the systems area will retain their validity.


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