SAYC is a bidding system based on 5-card majors and a strong 1NT. It is prevalent in online bridge games and derives its origins from the ACBL.

ACBL Publications

General Approach

The following is from the ACBL's treatise on SAYC:

  • Normally open five-card majors in all seats.
  • Open the higher of long suits of equal length: 5-5 or 6-6.
  • Normally open 1D with 4-4 in the minors.
  • Normally open 1C with 3-3 in the minors.
  • Notrump openings show a balanced hand and can be made with a five-card major suit or a five-card minor suit.
  • 1NT = 15-17
  • 2NT = 20-21
  • 3NT = 25-27
  • Strong conventional 2C opening.
  • Weak two-bids in diamonds, hearts and spades.

Opening Bids

Bid Description Related Conventions
1C opening bid 3+ clubs, 13-22 points Limit Raises
1D opening bid 3+ diamonds, 13-22 points Limit Raises
1H opening bid 5+ hearts, 13-22 points Limit Raises
Jacoby 2NT
Jordan 2NT
1S opening bid 5+ spades, 13-22 points Limit Raises
Jacoby 2NT
Jordan 2NT
1NT opening bid Balanced, 15-17 HCP Gerber
Jacoby Transfers
2C opening bid 22+ HCP or 9+ tricks
2d"/H/S opening bids 6-card suit, 5-11 HCP RONF
2NT opening bid Balanced, 20-21 HCP Gerber
Jacoby Transfers
3C/d"/H/S opening bids 7-card suit, 5-11 HCP
3NT opening bid Balanced, 25-27 HCP Jacoby Transfers
4C/C" opening bids 8-card suit, 5-11 HCP
4H/S" opening bids 7+ card suit, 7 tricks not vul. or 8 tricks vul.


Bid Description Related Conventions
Takeout Doubles Takeout for the unbid suits, OR 17+ points
Negative Doubles Through 2S
SOS Redoubles Redoubling for takeout after the opponents double for penalty

Slam Bidding

Bid Description Related Conventions
4C Gerber Asks for aces in a no-trump contract DOPI
4NT Blackwood Asks for aces in a trump contract DOPI
5NT Grand Slam Force Invites a grand slam with 2 of 3 top trump honors


Bid Description Related Conventions
1-level suit overcall 8-16 HCP, 4+ card suit
1NT Balanced, 15-18 HCP Gerber
Jacoby Transfers
Michaels Cuebid 5-5 or longer in two suits
Unusual 2NT 5-5 or longer in the lower two unbid suits
Weak jump overcalls 6-card suit, 5-11 points RONF

Defensive Leads

Vs. Suit Vs. Notrump Notes
xx xx Includes all doubletons, such as KJ, QJ, J5, and 32. The only exception is AK - lead the king.
JT9x JT9x
KT9x KT9x
QT9x QT9x
xxx xxx Low vs. suit contracts. Top of nothing vs. no-trumps.
xxxx xxxx 4th-best vs suit contracts. Second-highest vs. no-trumps (without holding an honor).
xxxxx xxxxx 4th-best vs suit contracts. Second-highest vs. no-trumps (without holding an honor).

Defensive Carding


SAYC is a bidding system created by the ACBL in the 1980s for tournament play. The intent was to offer "Yellow Card" events in which everyone played the same system, thereby avoiding alerts and misunderstandings.

When online duplicate bridge began in the late 1990's, SAYC filled the need for a default convention card. It gained traction on OKbridge and was later adopted by Bridge Base Online. Ironically, SAYC is more popular today as the de facto system in online pickup games than the carefully standardized sit-down events which the ACBL originally envisioned.

Online adoption has led to grassroots modifications of the system, with some players defining "SAYC Basic" vs. "SAYC Full". Officially, the ACBL does not make this distinction.

It is also worth noting that SAYC lacks several conventions and treatments that are popular in modern tournaments. Experienced players may consider filling some "holes" in the system, including (but not limited to):

See also