Richard Unger wrote an article called “Always Drury” on the Bridge Winners website in which he said “In Gatlinburg we played against some pairs playing that 2C is always at least a three card limit raise over major suit openers. Anyone have the system notes for this system? Thanks!”

After we responded to this request we received many more emails and messages asking us for our Always Drury system so here are the Cooper responses.


Coopers: We have found it is very powerful to be able to stop at the two level, particularly in spades. Before we played this it often went 1S-1NT (forcing)-2X-3S down one. Plus, our game and slam bidding is improved by having the extra room to explore.

Here is a somewhat simplified version of how we play Always Drury.

When an unpassed responder bids 2C over one of a major, opener rebids 2M with a hand that cannot imagine game opposite a limit raise - typically an eight loser hand or less than 13 HCP and no extra playing strength or controls. Opener can also bid 2H, non-forcing, with a minimum hand 5-4 in the majors that opened 1S. Bidding a new suit above two of our major shows shortness with a minimum, or even a sub-minimum that does not accept a limit raise unless there is no wastage in this suit. We like short suit game tries over Always Drury because when partner is limited it is very useful to ask if his strength in the other three suits. Note that these short suit bids can be jumps, for example 3H when our suit is spades or 3D in both cases. Jumping in a suit above three of our major is a short suit slam try, typically five losers; if partner accepts the slam try he responds as if to keycard. A response of 2NT to 2C shows a 2NT rebid and is game forcing. A response of 3NT is an offer. That leaves the 2D bid for a full opening bid including hands that will make a game or slam try in a long suit.

If opener bids 2M or lower in response to Always Drury, responder can bid a new suit above 2M to show  also show shortness and try for game. Since we play two-tiered splinters, this will either be a three card limit raise or four cards not good enough to insist on game initially. A jump to 3M by responder is a four or more card limit raise with no shortness, while bidding only two (or passing 2M) is the three card limit raise. If responder has a good 12 HCP with three card support he should force to game over a 2D response. Thus a jump to game shows less than a real game force with no shortness which can be that good limit raise hand or some other hand too good to jump to four immediately but not slammish. Jumping to game over the 2M response is typically a hand that might have looked for slam over some other response. Responder’s 2NT over opener’s two level response is game forcing and demands Jacoby responses since 2NT over one of a major is no longer Jacoby (see below). A jump to 3NT over opener’s 2D response is a offer with a 4333 pattern and usually three poor trumps. Responder can also bid 2H when the opened suit was spades with a minimum three card limit raise and four or more hearts.

After the auction 1M-2C-2D-2M, opener’s new suits are help suit game tries showing length. Opener’s jumps in a new suit are help suit slam tries (HSST) which ask for keycard responses if partner has help, Hxx or better, in the suit bid. Opener’s rebid of the HSST suit is an RKC asking bid and the cheapest notrump bid asks for a side king. With a balanced 14 or marginal six loser hand that is not sure it should bid a game over a three card limit raise opener bids 2NT after responder’s 2M response to the 2D bid.

When responder shows a four card or longer limit raise by jumping to 3M, we play serious 3NT and new suits as help suit slam tries.

The price we pay for these methods is that with a real 2/1 in clubs responder must bid 2NT, which uses up room and adds complexity. So we require good clubs to make that bid. Plus with 45 in the minors we will often bid 2D and with a 2434 pattern we will also bid 2D.

Always Drury is currently only allowed in mid-chart events. It is illegal to combine 2C as a limit raise or better  with possible real clubs and no support. That is because Barry Crane used to play that way.

Summary of Cooper responses to Always Drury (1M-2C):

2D full opener
2M no game opposite three card limit raise (subminimum)
2H if S natural, non forcing, and minimum
2S if H short suit game try, usually seven losers
2N 18+ balanced
3 minor short suit game try, usually seven losers
3H if S short suit game try, usually seven losers
3M natural forcing, demands cuebids
3NT an offer
Double JS short suit slam try

Summary of Cooper continuations after 1M-2C-2x:

2M three card limit raise
2H if S three card limit raise with four plus hearts non-forcing
2S if H short suit game try
2N Jacoby (game forcing raise)
3 minor short suit game try
3H if S short suit game try
3M four card limit raise



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