In the context of a precision system, the 1D bid is nominally 11-15 high card points and could be one of the following hand types:

  • Unbalanced with 3+ diamonds, no 5-card major, no 6-card club suit (balanced hands and minor-major 5422s are opened 1NT)
  • 2=2=4=5 or 2=2=5=4
  • A semibalanced hand with 6+ diamonds
  • A 6-5 (or more distributional) hand with clubs or diamonds as the longest suit, not strong enough to open 1C (note: this hand type may have 0-2 diamonds)

The last hand type makes it difficult to alert completely and succinctly. I don't think it's reasonable to have a 1-minute explanation of such a common bid as an opening 1D, but I want to make sure to inform my opponents of our agreement.

As a secondary question, do you think that this opening is legal under the ACBL general chart (presumably under the rubric of "all-purpose opening bid (artificial or natural) promising a minimum of 10 high-card points").

  • Tell them what you are playing, alert everytime you open 1D and when they ask, explain?
    – petqwe
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 9:51
  • @petqwe Yes, obviously. The question is how to explain. If I reel off the hand types, I'm more likely to confuse than inform, particularly at the club. Too much information can be as uninformative as too little.
    – ruds
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 13:46
  • 3
    Whether they find it informative is of no concern as long as you strictly follow a full disclosure principle. Just tell them the above combinations. If it really bugs you that opponents may be left with the dark, perhaps you should consider playing some other system? I was playing an equally messy 'catchall' bid with my previous partner, and I am not afraid to explain to them everytime I open such bid.
    – petqwe
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 9:03

2 Answers 2


With the new ACBL Alert regulations (effective January 2021), the following seems correct:

  1. You Pre-Alert your system, because of your 1C (not Natural, Forcing) and 1D (not Natural) openers. "We play Precision" should be fine, but you should probably prepare a slightly longer one if you want to be clear. "Our 1C is 16+, any distribution; 1D is 3+ except in very rare cases; 1NT is 11-15 and can include 4M5m22s."

  2. You Alert 1C. When they ask, you should be more clear than the Pre-Alert.

  3. You Announce 1D "could be zero". Here is where, I agree, it gets difficult. This is why I recommend the expanded Pre-Alert, because most "could be 1" and "could be zero" Precision 1Ds include things like (43)=1=5 and 4=4=0=5s (and put the 2D opener to better use). If they ask, you can say that it's 3+ unless you're 6C-5M or better. I tend to ask "when could it be short" and this is a great answer (for me)!

    Of course, if they ask for a better description of 1D, you can come out with what you have above; but your agreement isn't that much different from a "normal" 3+ 1D (limited to 15) that you should feel a requirement to routinely explain it.

  4. You Announce 1NT "11-15" as before. Be prepared to explain (if asked, or at the end of the auction if you're declaring) that you put more hands into 1NT than "normal", especially the 4M5m22s. Again, if it doesn't take too much time, the Pre-Alert should handle that.


My partner and I have always played Precision, but I also looked at the English Bridge Union's Handbook of Permitted Understandings to make sure my own personal understanding of this was reasonable.

Remember it's not up to the bidder, but their partner, to alert the opposition of a bid that may have a special meaning:

4 A 4    Alert or announce only your partner’s calls, never your own. (Special 
         regulations apply when playing online or with screens.)

Even if you can't actually fully explain your partner's bid, you should alert it:

4 A 5    Even if you cannot explain the meaning of partner’s call, you should still 
         alert (or announce) it if you believe that it may be required.

It's then up to you to explain in as much detail what you understand from your partner's non-natural bid. If you follow the link above and take a look at the whole document, you'll see that there are guidelines set out about all the bids that require alerting, including strong artificial bids like the Precision 1D.

4 D 1    ... Strong and artificial 1C and 1D openings are alerted as are a two way 1C 
         opening such as the Polish Club and any opening which may be short but is 
         unconditionally forcing.

It is expected that these sort of bids will be described with a series of "may be"s and minimums.

  • 1
    I'm not asking whether I should alert my partner's opening; the question is more about what words to use to minimize opponent confusion.
    – ruds
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 11:18

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