2.1 Splinter Bids After an Opening Suit Bid
2.2 Splinter Bids After Partner's Response


4.1 What is Truscott and Why Use It?
4.2 Responses to an Opening Suit Bid Using ‘Extended’ Truscott




In the Basic Acol - Suit Agreement Bidding Tuition Module, there were several instances where it was difficult to describe a hand accurately through the bidding. A number of more advanced Acol bidding techniques can overcome these problems and make it easier to bid the right contract. Five particular techniques are discussed in this Tuition Module.

Splinter Bids

If you have a game going hand with support for partner's suit and also have a singleton or void, then this latter distributional feature makes it more likely that a slam can be made. Basic Acol bidding cannot describe this kind of hand easily but the bidding technique, Splinter Bids, which has become widely adopted, can describe the hand and identify the shortage. An example of such a sequence is: -

The 4 bid says you have at least 4-card spade support, you have at least a game going hand and you have a singleton in diamonds.
Another example is: -

In this case, opener has 4-card support for responder's spade suit, has a much stronger hand than a simple opening hand, and has a singleton in clubs.

3NT Pudding Raise

In the Basic Acol - Suit Agreement Tuition Module, the game raise bid in a major was shown to be based on two different types of hand, either a 13 - 15 point hand with trump support, or a very distributional hand. The 3NT Pudding Raise e.g. 1 - 3NT is used to identify the strong even-distribution hand with support for partner’s suit. This means that a straight game raise is therefore only used on a weaker distributional hand.

Truscott 2NT Response

When first introduced, the Truscott 2NT response was used in a specific situation, where the opponents had doubled partner’s opening bid of a major, e.g.:

and was equivalent to a good raise to three of the major. The single and double raise bids were correspondingly reduced in strength and therefore had a pre-emptive effect, making it more difficult for the opponents to bid. This technique has been developed and the 2NT bid can be used to show a good raise to three or a 16+ point hand with trump support. It can also be used whether the opponents have doubled, overcalled or remained silent.

Cue Bids

A Cue Bid using Basic Acol identifies first control initially when suit agreement has been achieved, and shows interest in a slam. Advanced Acol Cue Bids identify either first or second round control immediately.

Key Card Blackwood

Basic Acol Blackwood is used to identify the number Aces and Kings held. Key Card Blackwood is a more advanced form of Blackwood and: -

This additional information allows for a more accurate assessment of whether a slam should be bid.

2.0 Splinter Bids

2.1 Splinter Bids After an Opening Suit Bid.

When partner makes an opening bid and you as responder can make a Splinter Bid when you have: -

Splinter bids apply to the minors as well as to the majors and the Splinter Bid is a double jump in a new suit - often referred to as an unnecessarily high jump. Splinter bids over simple suit opening bids are: -

Use of the Splinter Bid suggests interest in a slam and is usually followed by Cue Bids and / or Blackwood or Key Card Blackwood.

A word of caution, the sequence 1 - 4 is a Splinter bid but it can easily be forgotten and you finish in a contract of 4 with a singleton heart!

2.2 Splinter Bids After Partner’s Response

As well as responder bidding Splinters after opener’s simple suit opening, Splinters can also be used by opener after partner’s response in a new suit. In this case, the criteria for a Splinter Bid are: - As with immediate responder's Splinter bids, the bid is an unnecessarily high jump, a double raise or more in a new suit. An examples of this is: - This shows spade support, a singleton or void in clubs / diamonds and a strong opening hand with interest in slam. In this case, a triple jump is needed to show the Splinter as 1 - 1 - 3 / 3 is a natural sequence showing a very strong suiter by opener.
Other similar examples of this are 1 - 1 - 3 or 1 - 1 - 3 / 3. Again, a triple jump is needed as the double jump would be natural, showing a very strong two suited hand.

The following sequence is also a splinter, but this time a double jump, not triple jump, is needed: -

If opener had bid 2 over responder's 1, it would have been a reverse, unconditionally forcing, so the jump to 3 here is a Splinter bid.

3.0 3NT Pudding Raise

Using Basic Acol, the following two hands would use the same response to a 1 opener, namely 4.

The first hand is a strong hand and is showing 13 - 15 points with support for partner’s suit. If opener is stronger than minimum, then there is potential for a slam in spades or in No Trumps.
The second hand is quite different, a distributional hand with far less honour points and much less likely to be potential for a slam. Even counting distribution, there are only ten points but on a Losing Trick Count, there are only seven losers and it is therefore worth a  raise to 4. The value of this bid is its pre-emptive effect, making it difficult for the opponents to intervene and find a contract.

Supposing opener had the following hand: -

With the first hand above, 6 is cold and 6NT has a chance. With the second hand above, 6 is impossible and there are three possible losers if the A is covering the K♥ - opener could go one off in 5 if he tried Blackwood. Opener is really at a loss to know what to do after a straight game raise from partner with this kind of hand.

The Pudding Raise was introduced to overcome this dilemma and is a hand with: -

With this bid available, the game raise is now only bid on the highly distributional hand.

After a response of 3NT over partner’s opening, a number of options are available: -

The disadvantage of the Pudding Raise is that the natural raise by responder with even distribution and 13 - 15 points can no longer be used. This response is seldom used anyway - it takes up too much bidding space. If responder has even distribution and 13 - 15 points but not 4-card support, he can always bid his 4-card suit and then show his strength next round.


4.1 What is Truscott and Why Use it?

When first introduced many decades ago, the Truscott 2NT response was used in a specific situation where the opponents had doubled partner’s opening bid of a major, e.g.: and was equivalent to a good raise to three of the major, i.e. around 10 - 12 points with 4-card support for partner. The single and double raise bids were correspondingly reduced in strength, around 4 - 6 points for a single raise and around 7 - 9 points for a double raise. This has a pre-emptive effect, making it more difficult for the opponents to bid.

Truscott is now widely accepted as Standard Acol. However, the 2NT bid is now more widely adopted and has been developed further over a number of years. See, for example, Daavid Bird and Tim Bourke's book "Tournament Acol", first published in 1995. There are three main areas of development: -

1. Rather than just used after an opponent’s double, it can also be used over an opponent’s overcall and can even be used even if there is no intervention by the opposition.
2. As well as the 2NT raise showing a good raise to three, another option is that it is based on a 16+ point hand with trump support, a difficult hand to tackle otherwise.
3. It can also be used with diamonds, not just the majors, as was originally  envisaged.

4.2 Responses to an Opening using 'Extended' Truscott

 In the following guidelines, it assumed that Extended Truscott is used for Spades, Hearts and Diamonds, whether the opposition have intervened or not. It is also assumed that support is only given if responder has 4-card support. If the opponents intervene such that the 2NT bid can no longer be bid by responder, then its use is abandoned.

Because of the 3C relay bid, Extended Truscott is not used for the club suit and normal Acol 1C - 2C / 3C raises are used. Long suit trial bids aimed at 3NT are used but require by opener 17+ points for the sequence 1C - 2C and 14+ points are required for the 1C - 3C sequence.

 After a 1-level suit opening, responses by partner with 4-card support of opener’s diamond, heart or spade suit are as follows: -

 Subsequent bidding by partner is straight forward on all except the 2NT response, where opener needs to find out what kind of hand responder has.

 After the 2NT bid: -

 Some examples of use of the 2NT response are shown below: -


2NT - interested in game
3 - minimum opener
Pass, minimum.







2NT - interested in game
3 - let’s find out more,   game’s possible

4 - 12 points including the point for a doubleton,  maximum.







2NT - the big one!
3 - let’s find out more 

3 - 1st / 2nd round control in diamonds
3 - 1st / 2nd round control in hearts

4 - 1st / 2nd  round control in clubs
4 - 1st / 2nd round control in , has he got K?

4 - Yes
4NT - Has he A♠ and is the club control the Ace?  

5 - 0/ 3 Aces, Key Card Blackwood
7 - must be cold, and only 31 honour points!

 Truscott also applies if partner overcalls, but because partner’s overcall may have less strength than an opening bid from him, the points requirement is increased: -

 The other option of or 16+ isn't applicable as there aren’t enough points in the pack!


 A Cue Bid using Basic Acol identifies first round control when suit agreement has been achieved, and shows interest in a slam. If a suit is mentioned a second time in a sequence of Cue Bids, then it is showing second round control.

 It is often the situation that there is not enough bidding space to identify second round controls. It is also often the case that a partnership has a lot of points, is missing one Ace but does not know whether the King in that suit is also missing - and the opponents can take Ace and King off the top!

 Advanced Acol overcomes this problem by Cue Bids showing either first or second round control, always Cue Bidding up the line. The great benefit of this is that if the Cue Bid has missed out a suit, then partner knows that you have neither first nor second round control in that suit - and the embarrassment of a slam going one off when opponents take the Ace and King is avoided. The downside of this Cue Bidding technique is that occasionally, you won’t know whether the Cue Bid is first or second round control. But I would put two arguments forward for this technique: -

 1. If you read the expert books or look at expert quizzes, articles or Simultaneous commentaries, you will find they use this technique.
 2. My partner and I adopted this about two years ago. There have been many instances where we have stayed out of an unmakeable slam, but I cannot remember an instance where we have got into trouble because we didn’t know whether we had first or second round control.


With Key Card Blackwood, there are five key cards, the four Aces and the King of trumps. If trumps haven't been agreed, then the fifth key card is the King of the last suit bid, and the Queen holdings below refer to that suit. The responses to the 4NT request are: - After the 5 or 5 responses, the next non-trump suit up asks for the Queen of trumps. A sign off in trumps denies the Queen, and a  bid 6 of the suit shows the holding of  the Queen. If trumps haven't been agreed, then the Queen being requested is that of the last suit bid before 4NT.

To escape to 5NT, bid an unbid suit, as long as it isn’t the agreed trump suit or the request for the Queen of trumps, i.e. not the next suit up, e.g. with hearts as the agreed suit,  4NT - 5 - 5 - 5NT - Pass.

5NT after 4NT asks how many kings, excluding king of trumps, with simple sliding response 6 - 0, 6 - 1, etc.


In the following two cases, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to find a successful bidding sequence in Basic Acol to reach the correct contract.

Example 1 - Keeping out of a Slam

With these hands, there is an excellent fit in both majors and 33 points plus a point for the doubleton. With Basic Acol, it's not possible to identify the fact that you are missing both Ace and King of diamonds - so there's a very fair chance with such powerful hands that you get into 6, going one off. But with Advanced Acol techniques described in this Tuition Module, it's very easy to identify the two top losers and stay in game.






2NT - the big one!
3 - let’s find out more

3 - no control in diamonds but a control in hearts.
3 - shame, I mustn't encourage as we have two diamond losers.

4 - settle for game, he evidently hasn't a first or second level control in diamonds or he'd have bid it.


After West's 3 bid, East is so good he might even have cue bid 4, but again West would sign off in 4. Then both partners know they are missing Ace & King of diamonds!

Example 2 - Bidding a Grand Slam

These hands have only 28 honour points plus three points for the void, yet the Grand Slam is cold. Basic Acol couldn't possibly have shown the holding of the K and the Q in West's hand, both of which are essential for the Grand Slam.






2 - Fit Jump
3 - support in diamonds 

4 - Fit jump, not just a second suit (can't be a cue bid as bypassed 2 controls in each of hearts  & spades)
4 - control in diamonds 

4 - control in hearts
4 - control in Spades 

4NT - key cards and possibly Queen of trumps?
5 - 2 key cards and Q of clubs

7 - the control in spades was an Ace, he has the K and also Queen of clubs, so Grand Slam must be cold! NB If there was a misunderstanding about the 4 bid and diamonds is the suit, 7 is also there!