Culbertson asking bids

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For criticism see Criticism of Culbertson asking bids

Culbertson asking bids are a slam convention in contract bridge. They were originally devised by Ely Culbertson and first published in the first edition of his Contract Bridge Complete in 1936. The revised version, called "new asking bids", appeared in his final edition of the book, in 1954, and is the one described here.

A suit bid is an asking bid in either of the following two cases:

  1. when one partner has bid a suit and the other has raised it, a bid of another suit at the 4-level or higher
  2. an unusual jump to the 3-level or higher in a new suit, e.g.
    1. one partner opens 1 of a suit and responder makes a double jump response in a new suit
    2. opener makes a double jump rebid in a new suit

In case 2 the suit bid last by the asker's partner is treated as the agreed suit.

Responses to asking bid:

  1. with neither first nor second round control in the asked suit, sign off with the lowest bid in the agreed suit
  2. with second round control in the asked suit, but no first round control in any suit, sign off likewise
  3. with first or second round control in the asked suit and a total of two aces, bid the minimum in no-trumps
  4. with first or second round control in the asked suit and a total of three aces, jump in no-trumps
  5. with first round control of the asked suit and no other ace, raise the asked suit
  6. with second round control in the asked suit and the ace of the agreed suit, jump in the latter
  7. with second round control in the asked suit and the ace of another suit, bid the latter
  8. with a void in the asked suit and two aces, jump in the suit of one of them (if one is the agreed suit, the jump must be in the other suit)

If responder signs off and asker asks again in the same suit:

  1. with second round control in the asked suit but no first round control in another suit, bid no-trumps at the minimum level
  2. with third round control in the asked suit and first round control in another suit, bid that suit
  3. otherwise sign off again

If responder makes another response and asker asks again in the same suit:

  1. with no third round control in that suit, sign off
  2. with third round control in that suit, and a second round control in another suit, bid that suit
  3. with third round control in the asked suit but no second round control in another suit, bid no-trumps

If responder signs off and asker asks again in a different suit, this is treated like an inital asking bid.

If responder makes some other response and asker then asks again in another suit:

  1. with no second round control in the asked suit, sign off
  2. with second round control in the asked suit, but none in another suit, bid no-trumps
  3. with second round control in the asked suit and another suit, bid that suit

The same principles can be applied to third asking bids, taking into account what previous responses have shown and/or denied.