Standard Bidding with SAYC

by: Ned Downey and Ellen Pomer ("Caitlin")

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What is Standard Bidding?

This is an increasingly hard question to answer, but the proliferation of bridge on the Internet in pickup partnerships makes it imperative that someone does so. Perhaps the most popular natural system for the hundreds of thousands of online players worldwide is the Standard American Yellow Card, or SAYC. In this book, for the first time, SAYC is fully described and explained. This will be an invaluable to aid to anyone wanting to learn and understand SAYC, or anyone who simply knows the basics and is eager to fill in the missing pieces in their repertoire.

Critics’ Viewpoint
A gorgeous book; first at all pedagogically (being a retired teacher I have a couple of ideas about what is and what is not) it's a precious jewel. Even the historical notes are so well put that they help you understanding what follows. Then the comments of the great players; I much appreciate those by Marty Bergen (whose system I played for a couple of years) and I have learnt still a couple of things: that great 1NT with a major, which gives the importance it deserves to the ninth trump). The example hands (I like particularly Mike Lawrence's examples) show perfectly the delicate points and establish quite neat frontiers with other hands. The book shows how much can be achieved with a (relatively) simple system if used judiciously. It's a perfect book to initiate a partnership, easy to implement. So, thank you very very much for such an artistic production. It is in the top of my bridge library (some thirty volumes). — Miquel Dalmau (Barcelona)  05/28/2014

"A few months ago someone asked me to recommend a good, up-to-date book on standard American bidding. I couldn't think of one and so asked my American friends to do so. After much head scratching the best that anyone could come up with was a Kaplan classic - written 40 years ago! This book fills therefore not a gap in the market but a gaping hole.

The marketing literature suggests that the book will particularly interest Online bridge players. I suggest that tournament players will seek it out as well. The authors cover all aspects of bidding - competitive, constructive - as well as a short piece on opening leads. They have broken down the material into 20 easily digestible chunks, with chapter headings such as 'notrump openings', 'responding to one of a major', 'fourth suit forcing' and 'the negative double'. Their style is clear and diplomatic and they take care to point out where there are common variations to SAYC. The quality and quantity of the names on the acknowledgements page demonstrate how determined the authors are to ensure that they present the very best book possible on the subject.

I found the text helpful in explaining each concept and the examples in support of the text well chosen. The authors conclude each chapter with a summary. This is a good idea in my view as it helps you to remember what has just been covered. The authors have - again correctly in my opinion - resisted the urge to have a quiz accompany each chapter. By so doing they have kept the size of the book down to a manageable and readable 174 pages. There is no index at the end, but the chapter headings are sufficiently clear that you should be able to find whatever you may be looking for without one."

— Julian Pottage

"Do you ever wonder exactly what standard bidding is? When we present new material that is not covered in a basic lesson series, it is often difficult to know exactly what to teach. I have several books on my bookshelf that I use to research the answers before I decide exactly how to teach the meaning of a specific bid. I have just added a book that I expect to refer to frequently. Standard Bidding with SAYC by Ned Downey and Ellen Pomer is a wonderful resource for bidding according to the Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC) system. Standard Bidding with SAYC provides much more than the summary you'll get from the ACBL website. Twenty chapters cover topics including Notrump Opening Bids, Responding to 1NT, Responding to One of A Major (including Jacoby 2NT), Reverses, Fourth Suit Forcing, Overcalls, Doubles, the Negative Double, Slam Bidding, and even Leads and Carding. Numerous examples are discussed in a manner that makes it clear that judgment can be a factor in your choice of action. While I don't expect to be teaching SAYC any time soon, Standard Bidding with SAYC provides me with information on standard bidding that fits into my basic lessons nicely. SAYC... is the accepted bidding system for online play and also a very good start for duplicate bridge players. As well as providing great reference material, the book can be used as a text for a course (or - more likely - courses) in SAYC."

— Pat Harrington, American Bridge Teachers' Association

"This very readable and useful book does an excellent job of documenting the current "standard" bidding system. The popularity of on-line bridge and the potential for playing with a partner who is a complete stranger makes the need for a standard definition that much more relevant."

— Celveland Plain Dealer

"If you play on the internet, you must have noticed that SAYC has established itself as the default on-line system. But what exactly is SAYC? Like Acol and other systems, it has spawned a number of variations over the years. Which unfortunately means that, virtually or otherwise, if you agree SAYC, you are not proof against silly bidding misunderstandings even though you are supposed to be playing the same system. The authors of this book say 'We hope that, after reading this book . . . you will have a much clearer idea of what you have just agreed to play.' And I am happy to be able to report that they are correct: I do. In fact, this is much more than just a book about SAYC. It is stuffed full of sound bridge advice which is valid whatever system you play."

— Bridge Plus Magazine

"The most popular system for hundreds of thousands of online players is the "Standard American Yellow Card." First developed in the mid-80s by the American Contract Bridge League, the system has never been developed in book form - until now. The authors' aim was to describe the system as it is played today.

Along the way, however, they discovered that even in areas where you would think the system was well-defined, there was room for discussion. They consulted a number of bridge authorities to come up with an expert consensus on what SAYC really is. The chapters in the book follow the layout of a convention card, starting with a discussion of responses to notrump openings and ending with an examination of defensive carding.

Wherever possible, the authors have used example hands to illustrate their ideas. I particularly liked their discussion of third-seat openings. This was more a primer on sensible bidding than an illustration of bidding peculiar to the SAYC."

— Belleville Intelligencer

"This book shows precisely what are the SAYC methods; there are a lot of example hands, and much intelligent discussion as to the reasons for (and sometimes against) a particular practice. If you are looking for a lingua franca for bridge, this could be it."

— BRIDGE Magazine


Ned Downey
Ned Downey
Ned Downey is the owner/operator of the Maui Bridge Club, in Kihei, Hawaii and an ACBL accredited Star teacher. He teaches regularly in his club and on board cruise ships.

Ellen Pomer ("Caitlin")
Ellen Pomer ("Caitlin")
Ellen Pomer, better known as 'Caitlin' online, is founder of Bridge Forum International ( the largest online bridge school featuring [prominent expert affiliates and teachers from around the world. Ellen, who lives in Toronto, Canada, has contributed to many online publications, as well as to The Bridge Teacher and The Bridge Bulletin.

Date Added: 12/16/2008 by Larry (llande) Lande
Great book for beginners and intermediate players who want to learn SAYC.

Date Added: 12/16/2008 by Ricardo Zampino
Standard Bidding with SAYC is easy reading and with a large quantity of comprehensive examples of the issues, it is an essential book. It most definitely should be part of the libraries of those,like ...

Date Added: 12/16/2008 by Bill (athene) Frisby
SAYC-a standardized,universally agreed bidding system-is a great idea, and nowadays with the proliferation of online bridge and frequent pickup parternships, it's potentially more useful than ever. Un...

Current Reviews: 11

This product was added to our catalog on Friday 03 October, 2008.

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