The Herbert Negative is a conventional response to show a weak hand after partner advertises strength. Responder makes the cheapest step response, typically with 0-7 points, as an artificial "negative."

The eponymous convention was invented by expert Walter Herbert (1902-1975), who was a member of the Austrian team that won the 1937 World Bridge Team Championship.1

In the Austrians' Vienna System, an artificial 1C opening showed 11-17 points. (An artificial 1NT opening promised 18+.) In response to 1C, 1D was the Herbert Negative that indicated 0-7 points.

While the Vienna System has not survived the ensuing decades of modern bidding theory, the principle of the Herbert Negative lives on. A few examples are below.

Strong 1C Opening Bid

In strong club systems like Precision, a 1D response shows 0-7 points. This is a classic derivative of the Herbert Negative convention, although the eponym has faded over time.

Strong 2C Opening Bid

The strong 2C opening bid, a staple of Standard American bidding, uses a 2D negative response showing 0-7 points. (It can also show a hand with 8+ points and no other suitable reply.)

ACOL Two Bids

The Herbert Negative can also be used in response to an ACOL Two Bid. The cheapest step response by responder is artificial, showing 0-7 points without support for opener's suit. Examples:

    2D : 2H
    2H : 2S
    2S : 2NT

Opener's rebids are natural.


1Francis, H., Francis, D. and Alan Truscott (2001). The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, 6th Editition. The American Contract Bridge League, Inc.

See also

  • ACOL 2C
    A strong, conventional opening bid showing a balanced 23 HCP or an unbalanced, game-forcing hand.

  • ACOL Two Bid
    A strong ACOL 2, 2, or 2 opening bid.

  • Strong 2C Opening Bid
    The Standard American method of using a 2C as a strong, artificial opening bid.