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The “Standard BBO Italia” System by Mario Martinelli (9): Jump shift responses

Posted on 27 February 2012

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Mario Martinelli is a Neapolitan excellent player and accredited bridge teacher. He is an expert about systems and he developed the system “Standard BBO Italia”. The last version of it (2012) can be browsed on Vincenzo delle Cave’s BBO Italia website. Mario is also the nephew of Eugenio Chiaradia, the creator of the Neapolitan Club, a system which our magazine is dedicated to. Neapolitan Club has been publishing a summary of the system developed by Martinelli both in Italian and in English. In todays’ article we publish the third part of chapter about “Jump shift responses”.


Jump shift responses

Third Part



Jump shifts at the three level

Jump shifts at the three level occur when responder’s suit is lower in rank than opener’s, a situation in which a 1/1 response is not possible. These jumps often occur after 1M openings and this makes it possible to assign them many artificial meanings.

It is very important in bridge tournaments to have many responses to 1M openings, in order to describe in one go responder’s strength and number of trumps. For this reason three-level jump shifts are often used to show fit in opener’s suit. Bergen responses are the most popular example, but certainly not the only one of this kind.


Examples of Bergen responses:


South West North

1 Pass 3♣

North: ♠7 Q1082 J10876 ♣A54

A 3♣ response over 1M opening bid shows four trumps and roughly 7-9 points


South West North

1♠ Pass 3

North: ♠AQ76 J8 1043 ♣KJ42

A 3 response over 1M opening bid shows four trumps and roughly 10-12 points.


Some pairs prefer to leave more space to stronger hands and thus swap the meanings of the 3♣ and 3 responses, thus playing Inverted Bergen raises.

It is also possible to play natural jump shifts at the three level, thus showing at least 6 cards in the suit bid. In this case the strength needs to be specified, since the waste of space makes it impossible to inquire any further within safe limits. Jump shifts at the three level can be either weak, invitational, or strong: it is necessary for a partnership to have a precise agreement, otherwise it is best for responder to avoid jumping.


Examples of weak jump shifts

South West North

1 Pass 3♣

North: ♠43 2 J73 ♣KJ108543


South West North

1♠ Pass 3

North: ♠76 QJ109654 J2 ♣Q4


Examples of invitational jump shifts

South West North

1 Pass 3♣

North: ♠K3 982 107 ♣AQJ943


South West North

1♠ Pass 3

North: ♠8 A4 KQ96543 ♣765


Examples of strong jump shifts

South West North

1♠ Pass 3♣

North: ♠A3 982 2 ♣AKQJ943


South West North

1♠ Pass 3

North: ♠A AKJ1065 AJ5 ♣765


The choice between these three options is not random but it depends on what the system says about 2/1 and 1NT responses over 1M openings.


If the system prescribes 2/1 GF responses with no exceptions, and non forcing 1NT, then it is reasonable to play three-level jump shifts as invitational. Standard BBO Italia 2012 adopts this version.


If the system prescribes 2/1 GF responses, unless responder repeats his suit, then invitational jump shifts are not necessary any more, because responder can bid his suit and then rebid it next time round. In this case it is reasonable to play either strong jump shifts (in order to avoid rebidding problems for responder), or play artificial jump shifts, usually showing fit in opener’s suit. Weak jump shifts are usually the last option on the table because they waste space to show marginal hands, where it is more important to differentiate between different types of constructive hands.


If the system prescribes 2/1 GF responses with no exceptions and 1NT response forcing for one round (as it is in the popular “2/1”), then strong jump shifts are not useful, since responder can bid 2/1 and then rebid his suit. Invitational hands can be bid through the 1NT response, planning to bid the long suit at the three level next time round. As a consequence, it is best to use jump shifts as fit showing, or as weak, in order to reduce the number of agreements to remember.


In old-style systems where 2/1 is not GF, strong three-level jump shifts are useful. Alternatively, one can have either weak or artificial jumps, but not invitational jumps, because invitational hands can be shown by bidding 2/1 and then repeating the suit next time round.


Remarks about single jump shifts.

The author’s opinion is that two-level jump shifts can be played in any way, because the possibility to bid 1/1 gives responder space to show constructive hands. Modern systems offer accurate tools to show invitational or strong hands by responder, even after a 1/1 initial response. In this scenario two-level jumps are jacks of all trades, that partnerships can use as they please in order to show specific hands, thus restricting the meaning of 1/1 responses.


On the other hand, three-level single jump shifts have to be accurately defined and logically match with the style of 2/1 and 1NT responses. The overall purpose should be to leave space to describe constructive hands, since the impossibility to respond 1/1 limits responder’s actions. According to this idea, weak jump shifts are the least desirable option, because even though they can describe weak hands otherwise impossible to bid, it also true that it is more useful to describe constructive hands, either naturally or artificially.


The “Standard BBO Italia” System by Mario Martinelli – English edition by Laura Cecilia Porro for Neapolitan Club.

February 27, 2012


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