The Precision Bidding System for the Game of Bridge

Welcome to an explanation of the Precision Bidding System, a system based on a strong and forcing one club opening bid.
      -Roy Wilson

A bit of history...
In the early 1920s Harold Vanderbilt devised a strong club system which came to be known as the Vanderbilt Club.  A few years later it was surpassed by the Schenken Club, which became an alternate for the Standard American system used by most players in the U.S.  In Europe the Neapolitan and Blue Team Club systems were the preferred forcing club methods.  All of these older systems were built around a strong one club opening and four card majors, although the Europeans tended to favor a canapé style of bidding where their second bid suit was longer than the first one.  Strong club systems were never a popular choice, though, in either Europe or the United States.

In 1963 an improved system was developed by Mr. C.C. Wei with some help from Alan Truscott and several friends.  It became known as the Precision Club and was used successfully by the Taiwan team for three consective years in 1967, 1968, and 1969 in the Far East Championships.  That team also reached the finals again in 1970.

C.C. Wei sponsored a number of top-level teams in the United States so he could popularize his Precision bidding system and the system was adopted by some of the very best players in the United States as well as many lesser players who want to to step away from the standard methods.

in 1972 the Famed Italian Blue Team came out of retirement to enter the World Team Olympiad where the entire team used versions of Precision.  Giorgio Belladonna and Benito Garozzo, the top pair, had a modified version called Super Precision.  They won the event.

Today the two highest ranked players in US history, Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell, play their own heavily modified version of Precision.  Paul Soloway preferred that system also, but most of the players in the American Contract Bridge League today are using either Max Hardy's version of Two-Over-One or Mike Lawrence's slightly different version of that system.  Even so, strong club systems are still not very popular in the world.
(Players say... Too complicated!    It's not.  It's just different.)

What are the advantages or disadvantages?
Primarily the major strengths of any strong club system are:
  • Highly accurate in auctions where there is a possibility of slam.  This is because the bidding starts at the very lowest level of one club and provides better methods of exchanging information.
  • All opening bids other than one club have a narrower range of points than standard forms of bidding, making judgments easier in both constructive and competitive situations.

  • And the acknowledged weakness of any forcing club system is that good opponents are prone to bid aggressively with weak hands over a 1 opening so as to take away bidding room.
  • Another problem is that since the bid of one club is reserved for strong hands, there is a lot of ambiguity when the opening bid is one diamond, which may be as short as a singleton.  Unfortunately, players who use a forcing club system find that perhaps as many as 40% of the hands are opened with this catch-all bid.

And just for the record...
Critics of Precision question the wisdom of combining a strong club with 5-card majors.  If you require a 5-card suit to open either 1 or 1 you will find that a large number of of hands must be opened with a one 1 call, including in some cases hands with only a singleton diamond.  There's nothing wrong with 4-card major systems, and bidding them solves many of the opening bid problems with Precision.   (But 4-card majors are not popular with most players.)
    This is so absurd that I wish to go on record in stating that the Big Club cannot be played with any hope of success if you attempt to use it by bidding only 5-card majors.  That agreement causes more problems than it solves.
          Howard Schenken, "Howard Schenken's Big Club," Simon and Schuster, 1968

    My opinion on Precision is that combining five-card majors with a forcing club is like trying to mix oil and water, the combination causes serious structural defects."
          Bob Hamman in "Conversations with the Bridge Masters," Master Point Press, 1999

Although those were the opinions of experts years ago, most modern Precision players are using 5-card majors.

The bidding agreements described here are widely used with this system, but this is not a "standard" form of Precision.  As with any bidding system or style, players have devised modifications and agreements to improve on the basic structure.  I have included those which I found useful after years and years of my own playing and also after discussing system bids with other Precision players.  Many of them have found diverse ways of describing certain hands which means there probably never was and never will be a standard.  Where possible I will show you different methods and let you decide which you prefer.

There are dozens of websites where you can find different variations of this system, but a great site for discussions is here:
One of the more complete systems is described at this website, but it's rather terse and not very descriptive.  Still, it generally has more information than some of the others.

NOTE: This website is only partially completed and is a work in progress...

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