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Bridge: The UK Acol bidding style

This guide to the Acol style of bidding is meant to reflect what one might expect sitting down with a pickup partner and agreeing to play 'Acol' or 'Benjaminised Acol'.

Unfortunately there is no 'Standard Acol' system and its 4cM Weak 1NT chassis gets much modified. This page has a list of things to discuss as you sit down - depending on how much time you might have.

Acol summary

Responding to
one of a Suit


Weak No Trump

Opening 2 level:
- Standard Acol
- Benjamin style


Slam Bidding


Play conventions


Sitting down opposite an "Acol" player

Here in Britain it is commonplace to sit down and agree to play "Acol" or "Benjamin" with only a little extra discussion. The following list (in a sort of rough order of importance) suggested what I'd like to clarify about partnership methods playing with a stranger.
  1. Traditional Acol or 'Benji': This is really fundamental as that 2S could be eight tricks in "trad", otherwise five!
  2. Weak NT: "WNT" is best confirmed - Default is 12-14. Assume everyone plays Stayman
  3. Red suit transfers: "RST" - Default is probably "on" and "also over 2NT
  4. Card signals: Default probably McKenny (=Lavinthal) and HELD
  5. Blackwood: Simple or RKCB? - Default is simple. Default "RKCB" is 3041
  6. Sputnik: to what level? - Default seems to be to 2S or so
  7. Defence to 1NT: there is much variation here - default should be "natural". I like 2C=majors "Landy"
  8. Jump overcalls: Default probably "intermediate" but it doesn't often matter. "Strong" (= Acol Two bid) is now rare
  9. Splinters: Most good players seem to play 4C and 4D opposite majors
    Note: A partner who doesn't play RST, Sputnik or splinters is likely to be old-fashioned in his bidding
  10. Crowhurst (checkback): over 1NT rebid is common, and implies a wide 12-16 range and 2C enquiry ?good/bad ?major fit
  11. Shall we use Michaels and/or lebensohl: If the latter, does fast arrival show or deny a stop?
    (Partner's undiscussed cue overcall is usually Michaels in my experience)

I think that's enough unless you play together regularly - good luck!

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