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 1
opening showed 11-17 points. (An artificial 1NT opening promised 18+.) In response to 1, 1
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 1 Opening Bid
In strong club systems like Precision, a 1
response shows 0-7 points. This is a classic derivative of the Herbert Negative convention, although the eponym has faded over time.
Strong 2 Opening Bid
The strong 2
opening bid, a staple of Standard American bidding, uses a 2
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:
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.