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Changes to Alerting Regulations
applicable from August 2006

If alerting is new to you, this article is not intended for you! Look at the Introduction to Alerting article instead!

The EBU has recently made significant changes to the regulations which determine which calls you have to alert. My main purpose in writing this article is to make players aware of what they have to do differently, although I shall provide some motivation for the changes.

The most significant difference is that before when your partner made a call, there were only two possibilities—either you made an alert using the blue alert card, or you did nothing. That is now longer the case.

Il y a trois possibilités: 'oui', 'non', autre chose...

There is now a third possibility, which only comes into force in three specific situations. Some bids you must now announce by saying a predetermined phrase. However, like alerting, announcing only ever happens when your partner calls. You must never announce any of your own bids!

Announcing—three common situations

  1. Opening 1NT
    Whenever your partner opens 1NT you must announce the range. If you play the common weak no-trump you say "twelve to fourteen". Some partnerships agree that they may open 1NT with a singleton—if this is you, then you must add "may contain a singleton".
    The only time that you do not announce an opening 1NT is if it is conventional—alert it as before.
    This means that if an opponent opens 1NT and his partner does nothing, you know he has made a mistake, and you should remind him to announce or alert.
  2. Responding to 1NT
    Most people play Stayman and transfers after an opening 1NT. Previously, these were alertable, with the result that players largely ignored the alerts—they thought they knew what they meant.
    Now, if your partner bids 2C, Stayman, you announce it by saying "Stayman".
    If he bids 2D, promising five hearts, you announce it by saying "hearts".
    If he bids 2H, promising five spades, you announce it by saying "spades".
    If you are playing natural weak responses, you do nothing as before.
    If your partner makes any other conventional response, you alert it as before—note that this includes transfers to the minors.
    You no longer alert a 2D response to Stayman, or the completion of a transfer (unless you have some special agreements about it).
  3. Opening two of a suit
    The previous method of alerting weak twos made it easy to distinguish between weak and strong twos, but did not distinguish between natural weak twos and other methods. The new regulations are:
    If a two-bid is a weak two in that suit, you announce it as "weak".
    However, if it shows that suit and another (eg Lucas twos), it is considered conventional, so you alert.
    If it is a natural strong two you must announce it. If it is forcing you say "strong, forcing", but if you are allowed to pass with a very weak hand you say "strong non-forcing"
    If it is a natural bid which is neither weak nor strong (such as a Precision 2C) you announce it as "intermediate".
    If it is not natural you alert it as before.
    Again, any opening bid of two in a suit is alerted or announced.
High-level bidding

Once the bidding has gone past 3NT, you no longer alert anything except opening bids. So you should alert an opening 4D which shows spades, but do not alert responder's 4D which shows spade support and a diamond singleton.
Some high-level doubles and passes with highly unexpected meanings are alertable, but you needn't worry about that...

Doubles

In general, do not alert takeout doubles of suit bids (including "negative" or "responsive" doubles), but alert value-showing doubles and penalty doubles of suit bids. This may seem strange, but remember that you do not alert any doubles above 3NT.
However, if the bid is conventional, most people play double as showing that suit. You do not alert this, but any other meaning requires an alert.
If the bid doubled is in no-trumps, then do not alert penalty doubles, but alert any other doubles.


Some examples

West

2H
3H
4D
5H
North

pass
pass
pass
all pass

East

2NT
3S
4NT
South

pass
pass
pass
When West opens 2H, East says "weak".
West alerts 2NT, which is artificial, and East alerts 3H, which shows a good hand.
West alerts the 3S cue-bid, but East does not alert the 4D cue-bid because it is above 3NT. Neither player alerts RKCB or the response, for the same reason.

West

1S
dbl
North

2D
3D
East

dbl
3S
South

2S
all pass

East's double is negative, so North does not alert it.
South's 2S, showing a good raise, requires an alert.
West doubles this to show better spades—this is not alertable since the bid was conventional.

West

1NT
all pass

North

dbl
East

2H
South

dbl
When West opens 1NT, East says "twelve to fourteen".
South does not alert the penalty double, and West does not alert the natural 2H bid.
North alerts South's penalty double—a double of a natural suit is alerted unless it is takeout.

West

1NT
2D
North

pass
3C
East

2C
dbl
South

dbl
all pass
When West opens 1NT, East says "twelve to fourteen".
When East bids 2C, West says "Stayman".
North does not alert the double since it shows clubs, and East does not alert the 2D response.
Again, West must alert the final double since it is not takeout.