Cappelletti bridge bidding convention

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The Cappelletti bridge convention is named after Michael Cappelletti, an Orlando, FL-based bridge guru who travels around the country and gives bridge lectures for sizable fees. It is designed to give players tools to mount a more active defense even when the opposition has opened the auction with a strong 1 No-Trump bid.

Cappelletti’s trademark is a cigar, which he now has to keep inside the breast pocket of his jacket since smoking is no longer allowed at any duplicate tournaments sanctioned by the ACBL. The Bridge Burglar and three of his colleagues from his place of employment actually played against him at the 2010 World Championships in Philadelphia in a Swiss team competition (Cappelletii’s team won).

The Cappelletti bridge system is designed to put up a more aggressive defense after an opponent opens One No-Trump. Many times an opening 1 NT bids gets passed around when the responder has fewer than 7 points and no five-card suit. In those cases, it is often said that 1 NT is one of the most difficult contracts to make. But it is quite possible that the defenders might have been able to do something on their own that’s worth more than a plus-50 or plus-100 points for setting the 1 NT contract by one or two tricks, or the minus-90 for letting them make it. Cappelletti can help determine if there are such opportunities.

If the defender against a 1 NT opener has a long suit, he/she bids 2 Clubs (artificial). If the partner of the 1 NT opener passes and if the partner of the Cappelletti 2 Clubs bidder has something, he/she will say 2 Diamonds, which is a waiting bid, also artificial, inviting the Cappelletti 2 Clubs bidder to name his/her long suit. If the original 1 NT opener passes, the bid then reverts to the original Cappelletti bidder, who will mention his long (6-card) suit at the next available level.

A2 Diamonds overcall after the 1 NT opening would mean both majors, 2 Hearts means Hearts and a minor, 2 Spades indicates Spades and a minor, and 2 NT means both minors.

Cappelletti allows a little more energetic bidding on defense against a One No-Trump opening. In rare cases, the Bridge Burglar has even reached Game in a major by using the Cappelletti defense over a 1 NT opening bid.

(There are minor variations of the Cappelletti system. One such variation is called “Hamilton” after another bridge guru who happens to be based in Las Vegas. It follows much the same line as Cappelletti. Since Mr. Cappelletti is based on the East Coast, and Mr. Hamilton is based in the West, there is a slight Cappelletti bias in the East and a slight Hamilton bias in the West. The Bridge Burglar has played against both and met Mr. Hamilton once when he dropped in for a club game at las Vegas Bridge World while attending a professional conference along the Las Vegas strip.)

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