Meckwell Precision

  In standard Precision, the responses to the strong 1 opening of 1,1,2 and 2 are all natural showing 8+ HCP, and a 1NT response shows a balanced 8 to about 13. The result is that a large proportion of hands that would be declared by opener after a strong no trump opening and transfer sequence are played by the weaker of the two hands, which is usually disadvantageous, as well as creating undesirable swings at match point play. Another disadvantage in a strong club system is that after a sequence starting say 1-P-1-P, opener has to start describing a hand with hearts as the main suit at 2, losing a round of bidding in comparison to standard bidders. In the system played by Eric Rodwell and Jeff Mecksroth (which we will call Meckwell) a unique system of switched responses and rebids are used which save bidding space and allow the stronger hand to play the majority of contracts. Superficially the method is more complicated than a natural approach, but since there are only a few frequently repeated concepts involved, it is not that difficult to learn.

The 1 Club Opening

                       The 1 opening is normally 17+HCP with a balanced hand, or 16+ with an unbalanced hand.   All responses other than 1 are game forcing and promise 8+HCP. 

1 - artificial negative, 0-7HCP, may be any shape

            1 - either 1) 5+ spades, 8+HCP, or 2)11-13 balanced.

            1 - shows 5+ hearts, 8+ HCP.

            1NT - shows, 5+ clubs, 8+ HCP.

             2 - shows 5+ diamonds, 8+ HCP

             2 - balanced hand, 8-10 HCP.    

 2 - balanced hand, 14+ HCP. 

 2 - three suited hand, with specifically 1444, 4144, 0445, or 0454 shape, 8+ points

             2NT - three suited hand, with specifically 4414 or 4441 shape 

3 to 4  - show specific 3 suited patterns  (4441 or 4450) and strengths, not including a 5 card major (5M4x4y hands always respond to show the major).

The response structure is such that in all but a few cases, opener can arrange to play game or slam in his own long suit or responders suit or no trump. Three suited hands or 8+ HCP were handled in the original Precision system by initially responding 1 and then making a special jump rebid (the impossible negative or unusual positive). Meckwell handle these cases with an immediate positive three suited response from 2 thru 4. Although these responses are unique to Meckwell, conceptionally the transfer principle  is used in main other systems in responding to 1.

What is really unique is the rebid structure by opener. If you are willing to accept artificiality, the advantages of  using switch rebids immediately becomes clear. Let us first consider openers problems after a 1 response (spades or 11-13 balanced). If opener is balanced (or semi-balanced with no weak doubleton or singleton other than perhaps spades, he can rebid 1NT. This method is economical and efficient with pattern that include say 4 hearts and a 5 card minor and limited values. If openers main suit is spades, or he has some kind of spade fit, he can rebid 1 (leaving plenty of room to show any two or three suited hands. The remaining hand types include mostly one suiters or two suiters in the minors or hearts. Since it is normal to show the higher ranking suit first with two suiters, a natural rebid of 2 would include more hand types than a 2 rebid showing clubs. This is an inefficient use of bidding space, it is better to use 2 to show hearts (plus a possible second lower suit) and a 2© rebid to show clubs (nearly always one suited). Note that in this auction the declarer for all club and heart contracts has already been determined, so that is not a consideration in the design of a rebid structure. We are left with the following:

                        1       1


            1 - 3+ spades

1NT - balanced or semi-balanced, denies 5 hearts or interest in a spade contract.

            2 - shows 5+ hearts and asks support

2 - shows 5+ diamonds, rebids can focus on confirming real spades or showing the balanced 11-13 hand

2 - shows 6 clubs, or rarely 5 (as with 0544 shape).

2 or higher - can be used for some special purpose (asking controls, setting trump suit or showing special 3 suited patterns)

A similar analysis applies to the rebids after the other transfer positive responses .

After 1-1 showing hearts opener can rebid 1NT with most semi-balanced or balanced hands, 2 to show 5+ spades, 2 to show 5+ diamonds, 2 to show a heart fit or heart length (also setting the declarer), and 2 to show clubs.

After 1-1NT showing clubs, opener can no longer rebid 1NT to show semi-balanced or balanced hands, and since this is the most frequent case, a rebid of 2 is assigned that meaning (with emphasis on responder showing second suits or singletons). The next most frequent hand type includes 5+ spades, so with those hands the rebid is 2, followed by 2 (showing hearts), 2 showing diamonds and 2NT (showing clubs). Bids beyond 2NT can then be assigned special meanings.

After 1-2 showing diamonds, the space saving switched responses are no longer particularly effective, it is probably better to retain all rebids of 2 thru 3 as natural (getting the majors played by the normal hand), leaving a rebid of 2 to show either balanced hands that have no desire to declare, 3 suited hands with short diamonds, or hands with diamonds and slam interest.

After 1-2 (balanced 8-10) there is also little to be gained by switched responses, so rebids of 2 thru 3 should all be natural, with the suit bids asking for trump support.

                      RM uses complex acceptance bids after a transfer suit positive. Normally, opener readily accepts the transfer at their first turn, either by bidding the known suit, or using a bid that shows a second suit in passing. By implication, simple acceptance of the transfer shows a balanced hand, or a hand that needs little to get into slam. 

The One Diamond Opening

                       The 1 opening, just like in standardized Precision, is a catchall bid showing normally a good 10 to 15 HCP hand. It denies a 5 card major, denies the ability to open NT (remember RM uses variable NT ranges so the rebid of 1NT depends on seat and vulnerability), and does NOT deny five clubs. It promises at least 2 diamonds (RM uses a three suited opening short in diamonds; see below for details).  

                      The responses are somewhat generic in scope: 

                      1 of a major - 4 (RARELY 3 carder)+ in length, unlimited. 

                      1NT - 7-11 HCP

                      2/ - forcing one round ONLY 

                      2 - 5+ spades, 4+ hearts, LESS than invitational 

                      2 - 5+ spades, 4+ hearts, invitational 

                      2NT - 11+-12 HCP 

                      3 - minors, LESS than invitational                     

                      3 - preemptive 

                      3/ - preemptive 

                      3NT - to play 

                      4 - minors, invitational 

The rebids after a one level response is as follows: 

                      2 - (54)+ in the minors, OR 1-4-(53) OR (1444) after a 1 response 

                      2 - natural 

                      2 of the supported major - natural, promising 4 in length 

                      2 of the OTHER major - (65)+ two suiter OR limit major raise with 3 or 4 card support 

                      3 - limit raise with short OTHER major 

                      (Nota bene: After 1 -2 MIN, 2 = balanced hand. Other rebids are artificial.) 

                      Over a natural overcall OTHER than double or 1NT, the usual complement of doubles are used. Negative free bids are implemented as well (to show a 2/1, double THEN free bid).

                       Over a takeout double, RM uses a unique responder scheme based on transfers of mostly unlimited strength:

                       XX - 4+ hearts 

                      1 - 4+ spades

                       1 - ARTIFICIAL, 8+, balanced

                       1NT - 5+ clubs (can be weak OR strong)

                       2 - natural, inviting

                       2 - natural

                       2 /S - 54+ in the majors, less than inviting/inviting respectively

                       3 - minors, less than inviting

                       3 of a major - short in the OTHER major or long diamonds FG

 Opening One of a Major

                       RM uses 5 card majors normally, but are limited in values showing 10+ to 15 HCP. 2/1 free bids of a minor in uncontested auctions are FG. 1NT is forcing one round. 2 over 1 is a weak jump shift, normally showing 7-10 HCP. 2NT is a limit raise or better, and 3 of a minor is natural and inviting. Splinters are used. 3NT is a balanced hand showing 3 or 4 trumps, asking opener to pick their game. Bidding 4 of a major directly does NOT infer weakness - it may be responder’s only vehicle to show a hand that is not interested in slam.

                       Over a takeout double, RM uses a transfer scheme, with 1NT transferring into clubs, 2 into diamonds, and so on. Transfer raises show a constructive raise, and may be lead directing with fit WITHOUT length in the transfer suit (two-way in nature). 2NT is Jordan, 3 is a forcing raise, 1 under 3 of a major is a mixed raise, and 3 of the known major directly is preemptive in nature. 2 level suit bids are non-forcing (negative free bids here again - XX then free bid shows the 2/1).

 Opening 1 No-trump

                       RM is one of the few methods in the world that uses multiple ranges in expressing a balanced hand (Nota Bene: It is not that uncommon for RM to open 1NT with 5 card major, a 6 card minor, a stiff singleton king, or a 5-4-2-2 with quality doubletons.). When non-vulnerable, the range is a good 9 to 12. When vulnerable and in 1st/2nd seats, a good 13 to a bad 16 is used. When vulnerable in third seat or in 4th seat regardless of the color, 14 to a bad 17 is shown by 1NT.

                       Opposite the micro NT opening, two-way Stayman is used, with 2 being forcing to at least 3NT in nature. Responder does NOT have to promise a major with the bid. 2 of a major directly is constructive and normally to play (can be raised). Responder shows a short suit forcing hand by bidding 2 , then bidding 3 over the 2 level response to force opener to bid 3 . Minor suit slam tries are shown by 1NT-2 -2X-3 to force opener to bid 3 .

                       Over a penalty double of the micro NT, RM uses Meckwell escapes, which are identical to the responses uses in competing over a strong NT opening (see appendix). An immediate pass of the double forces a redouble.

                       After a strong NT opening, the responses are similar to what is encountered in 2/1, SAYC, or Precision bidding. 2 is Stayman, 2/ are Jacoby transfers, 2 asks for strength (2NT being minimum, 3 being maximum), 2NT is FG asking for a 5 card major (think Puppet Stayman here), 3 is a transfer to diamonds (which can be passed, or if another free bid taken, showing long CLUBS), 3 showing 7+diamonds with a short majors, FG, 3 of a major showing SHORTAGE and promising 10+ cards in the minors, 4 is ace asking, and 4/ are Texas transfers.

                       Follow-ons after 1NT (strong) - 2 - 2X are:

                       2   -5+ spades, inviting

                       3 - forces 3 to show shortness

                       3  -forces 3 to show a minor, 6+ in length

                       3 over 2 - short clubs with 5+ diamonds

                       3 of the OTHER major over 2 of a major - any shortness raise

                       4 clubs over 2 of a major - balanced slam try

                       4 diamonds over 2 of a major - RKC

 Opening Two Clubs

                       RM uses the Precision 2 , showing 10+ to 15 HCP with 5+ clubs with possible 4 card major. The responses to 2 are specialized:

                       2 - asking bid

                      2/ - non-forcing, 5+ in length 

                      2NT - forces opener to bid 3 (can be passed OR FG 2 suiter) 

                      3 - forces opener to bid 3 (can be passed or FG one suited hand)  

                      After 2 - 2 , opener answers as follows: 

                      2 - artificial, promising at least one major (2 by responder asks for which one) 

                      2   - artificial with extras

                      2NT - natural with extras 

                      3 - minimum hand 

                      3// - 56+ hand 

                      After 2 - 2NT - 3 , responder shows the FG two suiters this way: 

                      3 - diamonds and hearts 

                      3 - majors 

                      3 - spades and diamonds 

                      In competition, negative doubles are used up to 3 . Over a takeout double 2 is still an asking bid. The rest of the time, natural bidding commences.

 Opening Two Diamonds

                       This is the first of the set of two-way openings RM uses. In 1st/2nd chair, it is a weak two in an unspecified major (Wagner 2). In 3rd/4th seat, it is the Precision 2 opening showing a three suited hand with short diamonds.

                       Case One: Unspecified Major

                       Just like the Multicolored 2 , 2/ and 3/ are pass or correct bids. 2NT is an asking bid for the major and its quality with the following responses:

                       3 - bad hand

                       3 - medium hearts

                       3 - medium spades

                       3 - maximum hearts

                      3NT - maximum spades

 After 2 - 2NT - 3 , 3 of a major is pass or correct with a 3 response asking opener to bid the major they do NOT possess.

                       3 directly over 2 is a long minor, artificial and game forcing. 3 is artificial with a long major and game forcing. 4 asks partner to transfer into their major (assume 4 = hearts, 4 = spades).

                       In competition, there are three groups of sequences. One is for a takeout double, one is for a 2 of a major overcall, and one is for any other bid.

                       Case One: Double (whether it’s takeout, card-showing, start of Lebensohl sequence, et al.)

                       Pass - diamonds, but not asking partner to leave it in

                       XX - responder has their own major

                       2 of a major - still pass or correct

                       2NT - as above

                       3 - to play

                       Any other bid feasible - as above

                       Case Two: An Overcall of 2 of a Major

                       Double - pass or correct

                       2NT - modified ask (3 shows the WRONG major, all other steps are size related)

                      Case Three: Any Other Bid

                       Double - penalty oriented

                       Free bid of a major - pass or correct

                       3 of a minor - non-forcing

                       In 3rd/4th seats, RM uses the Precision 2 opening. In the section explaining the 2 opening, the responses will be given, see below. The only change is with a 4-3-1-5 hand opener may correct a 2 response to 2 .

 Opening Two Hearts

                        Here like above RM uses two openings depending on seat. In 1st/2nd seat, it’s a three suiter short in diamonds, 10+ to 15 HCP. In 3rd/4th seat it’s a standard preempt.

                       Responding to the opening in 1st/2nd seats are as follows:

                       2 - to play

                       2NT - asks partner to describe hand type and quality

                       3/ - non-forcing

                       3/ - inviting game

                       3NT - to play

                       4/ - inviting

 After 2 - 2NT, opener answers as follows:

                       3 - all minimums EXCEPT (4405) shapes

                                            - 3 then asks for fragment:

                                                                 -3 of major - 3 cards in suit

                                                                 -3NT - 4414 exactly

                       3/ - 3 cards in bid suit, maximum hand

                       3 - 4414

                       3NT - 4405 minimum

                       4 - 4405 maximum

 At this juncture, 4 sets hearts, 4 sets spades, 4H is RKC in clubs, and 4 is a slam try in a minor.

                       In competition, doubles/redoubles are penalty oriented. A new suit is non-forcing. 2NT still is the asking bid.

                       In 3rd/4th seats 2 becomes a standard preempt. Little is known about follow-ons, but from my understanding, new suits are non-forcing and 2NT is an ask with fit. Transfers are on over a double.

 Opening Two Spades

                       RM uses a two-way two spade opening, depending on seat. In 1 t/2nd chair, it’s a club preempt that is poor in quality or a 3 preempt of any quality (in these seats, 3 is a good club preempt). In 3rd/4th seat it reverts to a standard preempt in spades.

                       From their WBF (World Bridge Federation) Brown Sticker declaration, the responses to the 1 t/2nd chair opening is: 

                      Pass - long spades 

                      2NT - asks with values 

                      3 , 4 of a minor, 5 - pass or correct 

                      3 - forces opener to bid 3 (can be signoff, or bid 3 to invite, or make a forcing bid in a minor)

 After 2 - 2NT, opener responds as follows:

                       3 - bad club preempt

                       3 - bad diamond preempt

                       3 - bad club suits, but decent values

                       3 - shapely diamond preempt with good diamonds

                       3NT - diamond preempt, NT oriented

 Over a takeout double, pass shows spades, a redouble shows an independent minor, and all other bids are the same as if the interference did not occur. Over an overcall, a free bid of a minor is pass or correct, double is penalty oriented, and a major suit is forcing.

                       In 3rd/4th seat, the responses are identical to the 3rd/4th 2 heart opening.

 Opening Two No-Trumps

                       RM uses a classical 2NT opening, showing a good 19 to 21 HCP hand. It does not deny a five card major or a six card minor. It is normally balanced or semi-balanced, but the same qualities about 1NT also apply here (see above).

                       The responses are somewhat similar to what most use in their regular partnerships:

                       3 - Puppet Stayman

                       3/ - Jacoby transfers (after 3 , 4 by responder is 5-5 in majors, slam try)

                      3 - minor suit slam try

                      4 - ace asking 

                      4/ - Texas transfers, slam try attempt 

                      4 - both minors, weak in nature 

                      Over 2NT - 3 , opener bids their five card major. Otherwise it’s an automatic 3 responses. At this point, responder bids 3NT to show both majors, 3 to show 4 spades OR NO major, and 3 shows 4 hearts but DENY four spades. 4 of a minor shows a 5-5 with hearts and the bid minor. 4 hearts shows a 5-5 black two suiter and mild slam interest. 4 spades shows a 5-5 pointed two suiter and mild slam interest.

                       Over 2NT - 3 - 3 , responder bid 4 to show 3-3 in the majors with slam interest. 4 asks for the major.

                       In competition, doubles are negative and free bids are forcing one round.

 Opening Three Clubs

                       This is pretty standard, with the exception that in 1st/2nd chairs the preempt will be of good quality. Otherwise it’s opened 2 spades.

 Opening Three Diamonds

                       RM uses transfer preempts in 1st/2nd seats. 3 here shows a heart preempt in these chairs. 4 over the opening is RKC in the transfer suit. Over a takeout double, all free bids of a suit up to 4 are transfers into a suit. 4 in competition over a double is a raise for partner. Over an overcall, doubles are penalty and a new suit is forcing one round.

                       In 3rd/4th seats, 3 reverts back to standard.

 Opening Three Hearts

                       Likewise, 3 in 1st/2nd position shows a spade preempt. 4 over the opening is RKC in the transfer suit. Over a takeout double, a transfer scheme is used. XX is clubs, 4 is diamonds, 4 is hearts, and 4H is a raise for partner. Over an overcall, doubles are penalty and a new suit is forcing one round.

                       In 3rd/4th seats, 3 reverts back to standard.

 Opening Three Spades

                       We return to two way bids again, this time with the 3 opening. In 1st/2nd chairs, it’s a solid 7 or 8 card suit with no outside ace or king. A response of 4 is pass or correct, and  4 is a demand bid asking partner to bid their hand. Over a double, a pass by either hand shows spades. A free bid becomes pass or correct.

                       In 3rd/4th seats, it’s natural and preemptive.

 Opening Three No-trumps

                       This opening is identical to the three spade opening except for a side ace or king. 4 remains pass or correct, 4 asks for a splinter (4 of a major is showing the OTHER major shortage, 4NT is 7222, 5 of a minor is the OTHER minor shortage), and 4NT asks for the side ace or king (5D showing an ace).

                       In competition, over a double, redouble is penalty.

 Opening Four of a Suit

                       These are natural in connotation. 4NT is RKC. 4 over 4 is a slam try in clubs. All other suits are natural and non-forcing.


                       RM Precision uses a wide assortment of treatments both in and out of competition. In this section we will describe the major elements that they use.

 A. Defending Against NT

                       Over a strong NT, RM uses their own defense known as Meckwell. It’s relatively easy to remember and is constructive in application. Its responses are:

                       Double - single suited minor hand OR both majors (forces advancer to bid 2 )

                       2 / - the bid suit plus a major

                       2 / - natural

                       2NT - good hand with hearts and a minor, 5-5 or better

                       Over a weak NT:

                       Double - 14+ HCP

                       2 - spades plus hearts OR clubs

                       2 - diamonds and a major

                       2 / - natural 

                      2NT - one suited hand 

                      3 - clubs and hearts, 5-5 or better 

                      3 - diamonds and hearts, 5-5 or better 

                      3 - majors, 5-5 or better 

                      3 - spades and diamonds 

By a passed hand, the strong NT defense is used. 

B. Defense Against Strong Openings

                      Nothing exotic here at all. RM uses Mathe over both 1C and 2 openings. Double shows the majors, 1NT the minors, and all bids are natural.

 C. Jump Overcalls

                       RM uses intermediate jump overcalls when vulnerable, and standard weak jump overcalls when non-vulnerable.

                       A nice element of RM is how they combat a one spade opening. Open 1 or a 1 - P - 1NT sequence, a jump to 3 shows a 5-5 or better in hearts and clubs (there is no documentation known to me if 3 shows the 5-5 in the red suits, will research further).

 D. Cue Bids

                       Michaels is used directly with 1 - 2 showing either a heart-diamonds hand or a strong heart-club hand. Jump cues of a minor opening are natural, but over a major it is a stopper ask looking for 3NT. A direct bid of 4 of a minor over one of that minor shows a long majors. A 4 heart overcall over a 1 heart opening shows long spades.

 E. Doubles

                       Meckwell uses certain guidelines for doubles. Negative doubles are at lower levels with card-showing doubles at higher levels. Support doubles (by the way, Mr. Rodwell created this treatment) and redoubles are used up to 4H. There is no mention about other kinds of doubles such as responsive, maximal, minimum off-shape takeouts, or specialty doubles such as Snapdragon, Thrump, or Optimal. However I am quite certain that they use them.

 F. Slam Treatments

                        RM has NUMEROUS slam treatments. They use 4 of a unbid (on their sheets the word “unfocused” is used) major as RKC for a minor. They use Kickback. They use 0314 RKC Blackwood for the last natural suit if none is clearly agreed to. However I want to focus on two of the major ones, Serious 3NT and Last Train (both created by Mr. Rodwell).

                       We will begin with Serious 3NT. Basically, when there exists an eight card or longer fit at the three level and the bidding is FORCED TO GAME, the bid of 3NT is ARTIFICIAL asking partner to either make a cuebid or sign off in game. The failure to bid 3NT denies immediate slam interest from one of the hands. A cuebid shows either the ace or king (in some partnerships, the queen as well -- should discuss this with partner).

                       Last Train (LT) is the complement to Serious 3NT. It is the bid of the suit IMMEDIATELY BENEATH four of the agreed major. The major must be agreed upon at the three level. Last Train prompts for Lackwood, which couples and RKCB treatments together into one format. Lackwood is used by directly bidding to five of the agreed major. The responses are as follows:

                       Step 1 (PASSING): no control of the LT suit

                      Step 2: First round control of the LT suit AND 0 or 3 keycards

                      Step 3: First round control of the LT suit AND 1 or 4 keycards

                      Step 4: First round control of the LT suit AND 2 keycards with NO queen

                      Step 5: First round control of the LT suit AND 2 keycards with queen

                      6 of the agreed major: 2nd round control of LT suit

 Last Train has many different adjuncts, and I STRONGLY recommend you discuss this treatment at great length before using it. If you can keep it straight, it’s a worthwhile tool to have in the arsenal.

                       Cuebids are up the line in RM showing 1 t or 2nd round controls.

 G. Defensive Agreements

                       In any solid partnership, this area has to be concrete and solid in style, approach, and substance. RM is definitely no exception. Attempting to describe in detail is pretty much impossible, but I will give you some basic guidelines they use:

                       - 3rd/5th best leads against suit contracts, 4th versus NT

                      - upside down carding, including attitude, count, and suit-preference

                      - relatively standard honor leads with some minor tweaks

                      - there exists an shift principle along the lines of Obvious Shift

                      - some coded 9’s and 10’s

                      - reverse Smith Echo vs. NT and reverse trump echo for suit preference

                      - lead 2nd through declarer at NT

 H. Gardener 1NT Overcall

                        This treatment is used only when RM are non-vulnerable versus vulnerable. It shows either a standard strong NT OR it shows a single suite hand that is similar to a weak jump overcall. Advancer assumes that it is strong. The overcaller may pass the Stayman ask and/or the Jacoby transfer bids if that is their suit. Over the 2 inquiry, the overcaller either bids 2NT to show the strong hand or jump in their suit.