Structural Differences



PrefaceA historical evolution

ACOL was the startingpoint for the evolution to BETA. The initial important change was removing the concept of reverse - the stumbling block that limits ACOL's evolution! This fundamental change could not be made without further complimentary changes: Most essential were strong Major 2 openings and this in turn led to the introduction of  Multi 2 in order to retain an ability to show weak Major 2's.

Other changes followed: a multi 2 also coding for 19-20 balanced hands too and this in turn allowed Beta to possess sequences that allowed strong balanced hands to be shown in 2 point ranges: 2 with 2N rebid 19-20; 2N opening :21-22; 2 and rebid 2N following a negative 2 response with 23-24 and 3N with 25-26 and finally a 2N rebid with jump showing 17-18. Weaker NT hands were shown by opening 1N with 12-14 or a 1N rebid of 12-16 with a 2 Crowhurst style inquiry showing 9+ HCP.

Early on BETA introduced a relatively simple system for signalling and a style for leading too: see: LS.   Our preference was a system suitable for NT as well as suit contract, Simple to administer - not requiring any mental strain - or depending on having the right type of small cards!

Later we introduced our defence to strong club systems when Precision or other strong club systems appeared: Briefly: we use TRAP over 1 and  bidding our shortage over 1; Lebensohl, in turn got replaced by Rubinsohl -  more direct - in defence of weak 2's and 1NT openings & interventions over our 1NT opening.

Next we introduced our 2 sequences in a 'Q & A' form: where the strong hand did the asking and the weak hand responds in 4 steps. This avoided losing bidding space, however we developed the concept of Break-Outs available only when partner otherwise had a negative response, that allowed the introduce of a long suit of his own. 

BETA introduced strong and weak opening bids & defensive bidding to declare  2 5+ card suits. This allowed for a more appropriate development for these special hands. Their introduction had a knock on effect in other bidding sequences to be more precise in shape.

A huge further step was made when BETA introduced the ability to show 2 suits in a single bid: in protective bidding, in defence of  the weak NT and in responses to a T-O double.

The most recent change was to adopt 5 card Major & Diamond openings  - only exception  being  1 with precisely 4-4 in Majors. This allowed the discovery of any major 4-4, 5-3 or even 6-2 fit to be discovered by the 2-level following a 1 opening! - this involves Major transfer responses following a 1 opening.

The outcome is BETA is now far from ACOL! indeed a system in its own right. It has inherited from ACOL, 5 card Majors & Italian systems. We call it BETA now (pronounced 'better'. It is a strongly integrated syetem using a number standard conventions - some from yesteryear! The reader is strongly advised to take it as a whole - care must be taken to make modifications, given its intense level of  integration.

Beta has also adopted a number of important conventions, some modified & others limited. :
NP Stayman (adjusted), Transfers (extensibly used to get a contract played by the most appropriate hand), BARON, SWISS, CROWHURST, RUBINSOHL(largely), TRUSCOTT (partially),  TRAP, TURBO with cue-bidding, MULTI 2Ds, DGR sequences, CDH, PUPPET(full), Splinters(limited) - NOT allowed opposite a 1-level opening bid - but are used over a responders major bid!), not to forget some basics: Change of suit in principle forcing on partner & a new suit at 3-level is a game force & rebids in a suit by responder are WEAK & jump rebids by opener announce a short suit with controls in a strong single-suited  hand. 

The author has tried hard to follow a common style throughout  - which once understood  - really does help to make the system easier to pick-up & adopt. At first sight, admittedly, it really does look tough.

BETA promotes Cue-bidding following any suit agreement. Complimenting Cue-bidding we use a TURBO 4NT. An amazing handling of 5-5 hands with our unique 3N & 4N inquiries and our strong NF Major 2 openings.

BETA Curiously has 5 different meanings for 4N easily discernable by context!

Alertable artificial opening bids are 1: 2+ cards; 2: Multi 3-way; 2: virtual game force; 2Ma NF: 5+-4 & 4-5LTC; 3mi 5-5 2 suited hands - not pre-empts..

The key structural differences (relative to ACOL) summary:

A) Abandonment of reversing values
B) Significant reduction in the frequency  of the weak 1NT usage and a much increased frequency of a 1 opening. While ACOL players are opening 1NT with increasing frequency as years have gone by - some even permitting a singleton! While a 1NT opening can somewhat impede some opponents it can also fail to properly disclose your own hand! In Beta we are required to make a choice between a 1NT opening and a 1 opening:- there are strict rules to follow in making this choice.
C) In truth Beta is independent of any chosen strength of a 1NT with a 2 point range ( We recommend and the text concentrates on a 12-14 range as it takes more weight off our 1 opening). Regardless of your chosen range, our 1NT opening has to respect our minor configuration requirements. 1 is also available to any strictly 12+HCP  hand (not fitting any other Beta opening including 1N) and is almost Forcing!
D) 1 openings are always 5+ cards and the longest suit (1Ma 10+, 1 11+) and usual minimum of   <=7 1/2 LTC.. There is just one exception: With  specifically 4-4 in the majors: open 1, also 10+, Still 90% of the time it will be 5+ cards and we impose  an obligatory Major response with 4+ following a 1C,1D or 1H openings.
E) 1! opening will be a almost forcing, 12+HCP well almost forcing say 99% Prob!! the exception being almost a Yarborough with 5+ Clubs!  Neverless it also strictly denies a 1NT opening. If using a 12-14 NT: 1 will  12+ HCP and 2-6 clubs may  be held - also it may or may not hold a 4+ card major - but never both 4-4! of course! Major transfers will be a cornerstone of the immediate responses.
F) Betaacol's other structural MUSTS:  2 Multi forcing opening  and 2Ma non-forcing strongish, usually 15+ HCP but precisely a conservative 4-5 LTC being their 'gold' standard - these may also be strongly distributional 2-suited hands with especially with 5-4+ or better in Spades  & Clubs. 5+-5 in any suit other than Clubs are opened in other ways!
G) Betaacol's:  2 opening - strictly FORCING - is either a 23+ Balanced hand or any distributional hand with maximum 3 1/2 LTC & usually 18+ HCP - but less is allowed with exceptional single-suited hands. Proceeds in a Q & A style and its very own unique 4N bid!
H) A new suit at the 3-level in any auction is game forcing and NOT necessarily a suit.
I) A new suit in  any bidding sequence should NOT normally be passed in BETA. (this may cause a small loss occasionally) but the structural  value is important - saves bidding space and allows us to forget about reverses which carry no information about being stronger!
J) Specific to Beta: A jump rebid in a new suit by opener is strong (15)16+ and shows a SHORT suit of usually (1)2-3 cards containing at least 2 top honours (an Ace if singleton), this bid also informs of a strictly single suited hand and categorically denies 4 card support for partners suit.
K) Beta is rather sporting: allowing responder to announce a long suit with a 3-level 'break-out': bid usually a 7+ card suit, possibly 6 card, when strictly not able to show any  positive response bid whatsoever in the given context following 1, 1, 2, 2(minors only), 2Ma(minors only) openings. A break-out may also be made in response to a T-O *. Without intervention at the 3 level but may also be bid at the 4 lebel with a suitable suit.
L) ACOL sequences where opener rebids his Major suffer from a problem of 5 & 6 card ambiguity. Beta sequences  - like other 5 card Major systems: eliminate this ambiguity entirely. In NT bidding Beta's bids are showing a 2 point range e.g.17-18 with the one exception of a 1NT opening that announces: 12-14. This eliminates 'ambiguity' of honour strength in fairly balanced hands.
M) Inverted minors: 1-2 or 1-2 showing 10+ and 4+ cards. While any jump has distributio and a pre-emptive nature.
N) The specific sequence: 1-1N-2 is conventional asking for ideally a 5 card red suit or else to make the best choice between PASS(clubs) or 2..

Beta's loss of 3-level minor pre-empts is not as diasdvantgeous as it might appear at first glance. First of all, these minor  pre-empts are never the most effective and good defence mechanisms help to negate them. Minor pre-empts can be fairly easily overcome in bidding and also help an opposing declarer in forming his plan of play - early knowledge of  opponents distribution is far more out in the open! Beta invariably pre-empt with 4 of a minor where we would have previously have opened at the 3-level with far more ooumff and admittedly some increased risk all round the table!!

Formalising HCP adjustments for 1NT openings:
Deduct 1 if 4333 (flat) OR if Aceless OR holding 3 J's
Add 1 with working  (that is supportive of higher honours) T's and 9's found  in 2 suits.

Lastly 4NT which for most means some flavour of  blackwood, however it takes on many different guises in Beta depending on context!
-In 2 sequences it asks for number of kings: 0,1,2,34
-In sequences that have shown 2 suits at least 5-5- in ONE bid : it asks the LTC count: 7,6,5,4,3
-Directly over 1N or 2N openings or rebids it is Quantitative  showing 30-31HCP.
-Also 2-2N-3N(forcing to slam) uses Blackwood responses at the 4-level.
- In cue bidding sequences it is TURBO showing 2 or 4 Key Cards.
-Over  a 4-level pre-emptive bid by opponents it will ask partner about the 2-lowest unbid suits
-Otherwise it is ERKCB.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND and be REWARDED! All the above is very much a synopsis, gives an outline idea of what Beta is about - but the full detail really needs to be read.....Its designed for competitive bridge with your fitted partner.
Follow the system and you may expect good results will follow automatically....

Coming from 5 card Major systems

On the face of it and if you stick to your strong NT the move would be easier than coming from ACOL.
The 1 of a minor sequences have a strong parallellism in Beta that will need to be mastered and we strongly suggest migration to our weak NT opening.