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The Owen Wriggle is a bidding method after your side has opened 1NT and the opponents have doubled for penalty.

Partner Opp 1 You Opp 2
1NT X ? 

Partner Opp 1 You Opp 2
1NT Pass Pass X

After the opposing double, the "wriggle" bids are:

Bid Meaning
Pass   Requires partner to make an artificial redouble. Shows one of four possible hands:
  • A strong hand that wants to play 1NT redoubled. Pass after partner redoubles.
  • A weak hand with 5+ clubs. Bid 2 after partner redoubles.
  • A weak hand with 5+ diamonds. Bid 2 after partner redoubles.
  • A hand with at least 5-5 in the majors (rare). Bid 2 after partner redoubles.
XX Shows a weak two-suited hand (at least 4-4). Can be any two suits. (Note however that 5-5 majors are shown via a Pass, above.) Requires partner to bid his cheapest 3+ card suit. The intent is to find the cheapest 7+ card fit, or hope that the opponents get impatient and 'rescue' you by bidding their own contract. Wriggling at its finest.

2 Shows a weak 4333 (any distribution) and insufficient points to play 1NT redoubled. This is an SOS bid. Partner is expected to bid his cheapest 4+ card suit.

2 A Jacoby transfer to hearts. Shows 5+ hearts.

2 A Jacoby transfer to spades. Shows 5+ spades.

2 Not used.

Compared to other escape systems, here's what I like about the Owen Wriggle:

  1. You get to keep Jacoby transfers, which can be quite useful. When partner opens a 13-point 1NT and you've got 0 points, it's better to let partner play the contract to defend his tenaces. Also, if you actually have game-invitational values or better in a major suit, they are best shown via transfers as well.

  2. The redouble showing two unspecified suits is great. It's abstract enough to force the opponents into a guessing game about the distribution around the table.

What I dislike about the Owen Wriggle is the 2 reply showing a weak 4333 SOS. In my opinion, this provides too much information to the opponents. If they end up declaring a contract (which is common), they already know your partner's no-trump range, his approximate shape (balanced), and your exact shape (4333).


The Owen Wriggle originated in the UK, where a "wriggle" system for 1NT-doubled has the same meaning as an "escape" or "runout" system in the U.S. You say football, I say soccer. Undoubtedly it was named for its inventor, but I cannot find who that is. If you have any insight, please let me know.

See also

  • Brozel Escapes
    An escape system based on the Brozel convention.

  • Dig-Out
    An escape system that emphasizes 2-suiters with spades.

  • Exit Transfers
    An escape system that uses transfer bids.

  • Helvic Wriggle
    An escape system (wriggle) that includes a conventional pass and redouble, as well as "touching" suit escapes.

  • Meckwell Escapes
    An escape system used by American experts Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell.

  • Moscow Escapes
    An escape system with suit runouts very similar to the DONT convention.

  • Staveley Wriggle
    An escape system (wriggle) with a "multi" style 2 runout.

    An escape system by Australians Bob Sebesfi and Paul Woods.

  • Touching Escapes
    An escape system that uses suit bids to show "touching" 2-suiters.

  • Twisted SWINE
    A variation of the SWINE convention.