XYZ Convention

BBO Advanced, and Inquiry 2/1 GF systems (and many others), use a convention called XYZ or two way checkback. So what is xyz? No doubt you have heard of "new minor forcing"? Well, xzy is just an extension of this principle. After opener makes his rebid, a rebid of either 2♣ or 2 are both forcing. 2♣ is a transfer to 2 which responder either passes (if he wants to signoff in diamonds), or he bids again to invite to game. While 2 by responder is game force.

The name, "XYZ" comes from this..

Where x, y, z can be any bids, as long as responder has a choice to bid 2♣ or 2. In fact, the way I play it, as long as responders second bid can be two of either minor, then xzy is still on. This includes hands where opponents have bid (responder must have made a bid or double at his first opportunity or XYZ is off). So 1C-(1H)-DBL-(1S)-P-(P)- xyz is still on. 1C-(1H)-Pass.... after this pass by responder, XZY is off forever. Also, note that most people don't play XZY after 1C-1D-1any, however, I do. Some people don't play xzy after 1H-1S-1NT, but again, I do.

In XYZ, a bid of 2♣ by responder at second turn forces opener to bid 2D, this might be signoff attempt in diamonds, or any game invite hand. Likewise, a bid of 2D by responder is absolutely game force. Part of xyz, often overlooked, is that an 2NT rebid by responder is also part of the system, and yes, xyz also in effect on 1H-1S-1NT.

XYZ Convention, how it works

----> 2C forces 2D
-------->2D more or less forced
-----------> any bid game try, including 2NT, jumps stronger game tries than non jumps
----> 2D game force, all further bids forcing
-----------> opener rebids unbid 4card major before raise with three
----> 2NT forces 3C
-----------> 3C
----------------> pass (signoff in clubs)
----------------> any other distribution game try (as opposed to 2♣ then 3 level, more hcp based)

All simple raises are weak, all jumps are forcing and very distributional. In addition, playing XYZ, not all game force hands start with 2. A jump shift shows a 5-5 hand and game forcing values. This means of course that jumps always show a real second suit with good distribution as does jump rebids, rather than some artificial force thing. Also, note. Inquiry 2/1GF uses Reverse flannery by responder. So that 1m-1S-1NT-2H is not forcing, but better than minimum. This addes definition to 1m-1S-1NT-2C-2D-2H, which is stronger than the direct 2H rebid (PFA). 2H here by opener is not forcing.

One issue in XZY is if game invites begin with 2♣, so to invite to 3NT, the auction would be

Since that is the case, what is 1m-1M-1N-2N for instance? And if 2♣ is game invite how does one signoff in partners (or your own) club suit? In XYZ as played by some people, a 2♣ followed by 3♣ bid is signoff. I DONT PLAY that way, if I use the 2♣ bid and then bid again, it is invitational, not signoff.

The solution is simple. A direct rebid of 2NT by RESPONDER is lebehnshol, and meant to be either:

  1. A signoff in clubs (pass forced 3♣ )
  2. A game try with good distribution for any suit other than clubs, but less hcp than an XYZ 2♣ followed by the 3 level bid
  3. Can also be used as slam tries with rebids of 3NT/4 level suits

Item number 3 above is interesting, and shows that when playing XYZ, you have GREATLY increased your accurately describe your hands types. The seperation of different game invites via 2NT versus 2♣'s is also expanded to different game forcing hands as well using 2, direct jumps to three/four level, 2NT -followed by 4 level rebid, and 2♣'s followed by four level bids. Here are the rules for "game forcing" auctions by responder.

  1. Direct Jumps to GAME by advancer on second turn is descriptive. If opener's rebid had been 1NT, these jumps are direct signoff. If opener had rebid 1 or 1♠ , responders leap to 4 of openers major shows four card support to two top honors, and five cards responders suit headed by AKJ or AKQ, no side suit singleton, no other significant values.
  2. A direct jump rebid to GAME in responders major (1-1-1♠ -4, or 1♣-1-1♠-4) shows a broken seven card suit, no control in the unbid minor, and an A or K in openers major, and minimum game going values. Typical hand might be: Ax AQJxxxx xx xx (*** I use 1m-4C and 1m-4D to show seven card solid major C=H, D=S, with no side suit A or K***).
  3. Delayed jumps to 4M after using 2♣ (1m-1M-1y-2♣-2-4M) shows the same kind of hand as under #2, except the side control is in opener's minor
  4. Delayed jumps to 4M after using 2NT (1m-1M-1y-2NT-3♣-4M) shows the same kind of hand as under #2 , except the side control is in the 4th suit
  5. Delayed jumps to four of opener's major, show the same hand types, as in number 1 above, except it conveys info about controls in one or the other suits. As before, 2♣ followed by jump to four of partners major shows additional side control openers major. On 1m-1-1♠-2♣-2-4♠, the 4S bid shows 4-5-2-2 with two top spades, two of the top three in hearts, and A or K of opener's minor. Delayed jumps via 2NT shows the same kind of hand, but with A or K of the "unbid" suit.
  6. Jumps to 4♣ and 4 are splinter jumps (yes, even after 1m by opener), showing four card support for opener major (or self-splinter but ONLY if opener had rebid 1NT). This shows any great game going hand with no control in the fourth suit. Once again, it also shows minimum values for game going hands if in support of openers major.
  7. Delayed direct jumps to 4 and 4♣ likewise show splinters. Again, the splinter is in support of opener's major (if he rebid one), or self-splinter. We apply PFA to these splinters, the lower the first rebid, the better the splinter. But in EACH CASE, the splinter denies a control in the fourth suit. So 1m-1x-1M-2NT-3♣-4m shows a stronger hand than the immediate (non-delayed) 4♣ rebid, while 1x-1M-2♣-2-4m shows a better hand (it started lower with 2C). You might think same logic would apply to using game forcing 2D then rebidding 4m, but no, since over 2D you have no control over openers rebid. He might jump 3NT or 3M for instance, taking the ability to use 4m as a splinter. The 2NT then 4m rebid promises a control in responders first suit (unless splinter is in that suit, in which case a control is held in the fourth suit after all), but maybe only one top card in the agreed major, while the auction through 2♣ shows control in openers first minor (unless splinter is in openers first suit, in which case it shows ACE in the fourth suit, plus one surpise extra card).
  8. Direct jumps to 3M (1m-1M-1NT-3M or 1m-1x-1M-3M) shows better hands than any in the group above, but with great distribution (unsuited for the jump). With more balanced hands, unsuited for any of the above bids, simply bid game forcing 2-then raise the major. PFA (principle of fast arrival) applies after 2 then raise.

Even without discussing it, 1m-1M-1N-3N is weaker than 1m-1M-1N-2C-2D-3NT, 1m-1M-1N-2D-2x-3NT, 1m-1M-1N-2N-3C-3N. The first auction is game signoff, the auction with 2D was using checkback, finding no fit is signoff, the two auction using 2NT and 2C are slam invites. Both slam invites are based upon fit for openers minor using PFA principles so that the one starting 2C is the strong of the two slam invites. Below are some examples of expaned xyz auctions using these principles.


1C-1H-1S-2S = 3/4 card support, not encouraging (1)
1C-1S-1N-2S = five six card suit, very mildly encouraging (2)
1C-1D-1S-2S = three card support, encouraging (3)
1C-1D-1S-2♣-2D-2S strong game invite, but 3 card support (else Walsh 1S first)


  1. (1) - 3/4 card support since with 44 or 45 in majors would start, not invitational becase didn't start with 2C
  2. Mildly encouraging because didn't preempt with 2S immediately
  3. Three card support because with 4S's Walsh would have required 1S response. Mildly encouraging because 1C-1D-1H/1S specifically is not forcing the way we play. So a three card raise is not required.
  4. This shows four card support (with three raise immediately). Opener can pass only with a truly horrible hand.

1C-1H-1S-2♣-2D-2S mild game invite, generally four card support
1C-1H-1S-2♣-2D-3S strong game invite, based more on hcp than distribution
1C-1H-1S-2N-3C-3S, strong invite, based but with more distribution (includes singleton)
1C-1H-1S-3S game force with good distribution (five+ in first suit), at least four in spades

1C-1H-1S-4S = picture jump, five hearts, four spades, 2-2 other suits. values in majors
1C-1H-1S-2♣-2D-4S Picture jump 4522, A/K in C, good good quality H &S, no D control
1C-1H-1S-2NT-3C-4S Picture jump, 4522 with A/K in Diamonds, good quality majors, no club control
1C-1H-1S-4C/4D = picture jump, splinter, 4531 or 4621 or minor, no control in 3 card suit, min game values
1C-1H-1S-2-2H-2S game force, possible 3 card support
1C-1H-1S-2-2x-3S strong slam try, sets trumps, more balanced than direct 3S
1C-1H-1S-2-2x/3x-4S - minimum GF hand unsuit for any non-2D auction


1C-1H-1S-2H not even mildly invitational
1C-1S-1N-2H mildly encouraging (if you play reverse flannery by responder)
1C-1H-1S-2♣-2D-2H mild to normal game try in hearts
1C-1H-1S-2♣-2D-4H Picture jump, 7H missing an honor, plus A or K Spade
1C-1H-1S-2NT-3C-3H strong game try with good distribution
1C-1H-1S-3H Game force, good hearts, strongest rebid by responder in hearts
1C-1H-1S-2♣-2D-3H strong game try in hearts, based upon HCP

1C-1H-1S-4H Picture jump, 7H missing an honor, plus A or K Spade
1C-1H-1S-2N-3C-4H Picture jump, 7H missing honor, plus Aor K of 4th suit
1C-1H-1S-2C-2D-4H Picture bid, 7 card suit missing honor, plus A or K of parnters minor
1C-1H-1N-4H - I want to play 4H, all other ways to force to 4H after 1NT rebid seek more info from 1NT bidder However, self-splinters also in effect if opener rebids 1NT. If the splinter hits openers weak suit, slam is almost surely forced.

As you can imagine, with such precise agreements, the bidding is greatly simplified. The points to remember are: PFA with leaps to game, with lower responders second bid, the stronger the hand. Direct leaps deny control in suits not bid by leaper, 2C first show control in partners first suit, 2NT first shows control in the "off-side suit". Splinters also exist, and deny control in the off-side suit, splinters also go through 2C and 2NT and direct.

You hold..♠A2 ♥KQJ9875 ♦KQ4 ♣9 Partner opens 1C, you respond 1H. Hand is too good for self splinter if partner bids 1NT, and is too good for the various jumps to 4H (1C-1H-1S-4H would be right missing the K of diamonds and the singleton club; 1C-1H-1S-2NT-3C-4H would be right if the ACE of spades was the two of clubs, and 1C-1H-1S-2C-2D-4H requires a club control (A or K) and no control in the spades or diamonds). The solution is a forcing 3H bid (over 1S or 1NT) followed by 4NT with hearts agreed as trumps. This hand can also just start with 1C-4NT if you like, asking for ACES, but then no easy way to ask for spade king.

You hold..♠2 ♥AKT7532 ♦AJ ♣Qxx Partner opened 1C, you bid 1H, partner bid 1S, time for a toy. You bid 2NT, forcing partner to bid 3C, they you leap to 4H. This shows this kind of suit plus a diamond control. Partner with ..♠Axxx ♥Q ♦Kxx ♣AKJxx can take control. He bids 4NT (blackwood), finds you have three controls (5C response), then bids 6C as a specific sauit ask. 6D shows third round control, grand slam is bid (see Kantar Roman Keycard blackwood/ By agreement after jump to 4M, responder is identified as the strong hand).

You hold..♠AT4 ♥AQJT985 ♦K ♣K4 Two possible plans. An immediate 4NT over 1C/1D which ask for aces, then drop contract in some number of hearts. Better is 1H, followed by 3H (forcing, or 4NT if partner raises hearts), then 4NT. No need for fancy stuff here. Hands like this one is why hands like the one above it are so useful. If you are strong enough, you can generally simply take control.

You hold..♠Q95 ♥AQT98652 ♦2 ♣2 A dangerous kind of hand to respond to 1C/1D with playing my system. If you respond 1H, your follow ups will be limited (unless you invite only to game). One option is to bid 4H, but with eight good hearts, I prefer not. So I will treat this as a splinter hand, showing broken heart suit, and no control the other suits. So over 1C, I respond 1H, planning or rebidding 4D if partner bids 1S and 4H if he bids 1NT (4H is signoff). If partner raises hearts, the 4D splinter is once again my choice.

You hold..♠- ♥AKQT985 ♦AJ98 ♣T9 Partner opens 1C. This hand is too good for the fancy stuff. So 1H, when partner rebids 1NT, a couple of options, 4S Exclusion Blackwood, or 3H. Here, since 2S if forcing, 3S is self-splinter, so that is another possibility. So I like 3S and if partner bids 4C, then 4S Exclusion blackwood.

You hold..♠AK3 ♥KJ98754 ♦5 ♣54 No fancy stuff. Too good for anything other than 1H response. If partner bids 1NT, signoff in 4H. If he bids 1S, dont use 3H then 4H if you are going to insist on hearts, instead, bid 2D followed by hearts and hearts.

You hold..♠K5 ♥AQJT853 ♦JT ♣85 Partner opens 1C, you bid 1H and he bids 1S. Perfect for you. Now you can show the semi-solid suit plus a spade control via a bid of 4Hs. Reverse the black suits, and you would bid 2C then jump to 4H over forced 2D. Swap spades and diamonds, and you would bid 2NT and jump to 4H over forced 3C.

You hold..♠K5 ♥AQJT853 ♦T84 ♣A Now you respond 1H to 1C, and over 1S you are too good for any of the great heart showing leaps to the four level. So you have to revert to 3H (not 2D then hearts, as you are too heart oriented on this hand, 3H insist on hearts). If partner cooperates with 3S. 4C or 4D, you will make slam try. If he bids 4H, you give.

S Vul: E-W
H AQJ9753
S AK742 C KJ762 S QJT8
H H 842
D J76532 D QT84
C 85 S 9653 === C T3
D A9
C AQ94

West North East South
Pass 1C
Pass 2H Pass 4S
Pass 5H Pass 6C
Pass 7C Pass 7H
all pass

4S = exclusion
5H = 3 key cards
6C = SSA
7C = third round club control

No one on BBO bid the grand.

You hold..♠653 ♥AKJ7642 ♦KJ ♣9 Partner opens 1C, you think, oh boy, I can bid 1H then might be able to show this heart suit with a diamond control via 2NT then 4H. You bid 1H, partner bids 1S, your 2NT and over partners 3C (Forced), you leap to 4H.

Enough long heart hands, lets look at some other hand types.

S 865 S AQJ7 -- 1C
H KQ53 H A 1H 1S
D 63 D KJ7 2C 2D
C A942 C KT765 3C 3NT

2C = xyz, force 2D
2NT = natural game invite in NT

S QT87 S J42 1C 1H
H JT H AK652 1S 2D
D A9 D KQT4 3C 3NT
C KQ942 C 6

2D = GF
3C = five+ clubs, 2 or less hearts

Notice on this last hand, after 2D, you
know if partner has three card support or not
(generally not), so you can then rebid 3H
with six, and four hearts with seven and
no slam interest or yucky suits. Which
adds VALUES to the immediate jump to 3H,
as given above, and other auctions where
you insiste on hearts.