Bacon Torpedo
By Rob Morris and Phil Smith


Bacon Torpedo is a Bridge bidding system, developed at Durham University. It is easy to learn and works well with your existing system — you merely add the vital 'bacon' bids. We tend to play ACOL-flavoured bacon, featuring a weak NT, four-card majors and 3 weak twos, but the system works equally well with Standard American and many other systems, including forcing pass systems, MOSCITO and the Polish Club.

Bacon comes from an unclean animal — the pig — and the Torpedo has been one of the most effective weapons of war at sea. This unholy alliance is the perfect representation of the new, radical approach to bidding that has been developed at the University of Durham, UK. The methods may seem a little unclean and underhand (Bacon) and the results will certainly be stark (Torpedo), but if you take the time to learn these methods you'll see big differences in your own view of the game and the kinds of score you get.

Bacon Torpedo is not licensed for tournaments in the UK, however this is no great problem: it is not the kind of system — and not for the kind of player — who believes that bridge is a game of comparing scores; a game that starts at 7pm and ends 24 boards later. But we, the enlightened, realise that bridge is a life-long endeavor and, indeed, a way of life. It must be played beyond the score sheet and translated, as the Hog once observed, into the 5th dimension.

Let me explain further: there are bridge players who believe that the pleasure of the game revolves around getting good scores and winning matches. Rubbish! The pleasure of the game is in outwitting your opponent and leaving him wondering just how you got the better of him. (and it is a him — there is no great satisfaction in beating a woman). If you don't understand this, read no further — keep on arguing about conventions and 'style' (like you have any) and be happy that your life is tolerable. If you wish to view bridge in a new way — with real style — then welcome, friends, to the gaping maw.

So you hold a hand such as:
SK 10 9 3
HQ 10 9 6 2
CA 5 4

What is your first reaction? Is it that you have 4-5 in the majors? Is it that you have 9 points, seven losers, and maybe a very light opening bid (an argument about two suited openings might follow)? — Or is it that you have the singleton beer card and thus your changes of winning a pint are minimal on this deal (the hand should be bought as cheaply and quickly as possible so the next hand can be dealt)?

Clearly the first two questions have many books written about them and we shall not deal with them here. The third question is, however, not catered for in standard texts and this is the oversight that we shall address here.

Look at the last question again. Are you serious about winning the beer card? Do you care about your social standing? If you do then the bidding should start here, right now.

Make a Bacon 2 Spade opening.
A what?
Simple — always open 2S with the singleton beer card!
You will pick up a 2S pre-empt every day of your life, you will not be able to show the singleton beer card and communicate to your partner that your chances of winning a pint of beer on this deal are minimal every day.
Just bid it. Yes you might have a spade shortage, or length(!) you might be very weak or strong... but would you rather DENY your partner the important information about the beer card? Are you all that bothered that your oppo might happen to get a good score on this board? The 'advertising' might well do you good (later your opponent may double you in a making contract because he believes you are a fool); the 'psyche' — as your opponent might see it — may work out well in the general sense of the game, putting your opponent 'on tilt.' Your partner will know what you are doing and will appreciate your efforts. In short the only possible down side is a bad score; the up sides are well worth the risks.

In this outlining of the Bacon Torpedo 2 Spade bid, and its rationale as an approach to bridge as a game, we have included some thinking from the world of poker. Image, table presence, 'advertising' and taking the longer view (putting your opponent on tilt) are an important part of our view of the game. Other aspects of the system reflect our poker background — the straight flush and the jackpot hand — and extend our ideas such that we are always looking to put our opponents on the back foot — never sure of whether to believe us — and turn their uncertainty against them.

The Bacon Torpedo Bids

  • With a singleton beer card, bid 2S at your first opportunity.
  • With a straight flush in your hand, bid 2H at your first opportunity.
  • With a Jackpot hand, bid 2D at your first opportunity.
  • These bids are in addition to your usual systematic meaning for the bid. So an opening of 2D is a weak two in diamonds or a jackpot; a response of 2H to 1H shows a simple raise or a straight flush; a response of 2S to 1D is a jump shift or a singleton beer card. This makes it very difficult for anyone at the table to know what is going on — but you have two opponents and only one partner, so the odds are 2 to 1 in favour of your bid.

    It should be noted that these are in order of precedence, so a hand with a singleton beer card is opened 2S, regardless of the presence of a straight flush or jackpot.


  • Beer card: The D7. Winning trick 13 with this card to make or set a contract, with diamonds not trumps, obliges partner to buy a round of beer for the table. This is a highly desirable result, and should always be accompanied by a loud cry of "Beer!" Some opponents will defend helpfully in order to help you make this play; others consider it vital to stop you, even if they concede extra tricks.
  • Straight flush: A run of five cards in the same suit. Ace can be high or low but not both. e.g C A 2 3 4 5.
  • Jackpot hand: A hand containing a card of the same rank in each suit. For example,
    SA 9 7 6
    HQ 10 6 5
    D6 4
    CJ 10 6
  • Alerting

    It is usual to alert any bid of 2D, 2H or 2S in any situation, explaining its meaning as "[Usual systematic meaning] or [Bacon meaning]"


    Bacon Torpedo is not licensed by the EBU for use in any events. The rules about systematic psyching, and lack of an anchor suit make it likely that anyone playing Bacon in an EBU event would be disqualified from the event and (forcibly) ejected from the EBU. This is unlikely to change in the forseeable future.

    At present, no national bridge governing body has seen fit to allow Bacon Torpedo to be played in any of its tournaments, nor has the Portland Club or any other rubber bridge club announced any intention to add Bacon to its allowed conventions list. This is unlikely to change in the forseeable future.


    It is not recommended you psyche a bacon bid. While it may be tempting to make a bacon bid with a singleton D9, or C8 7 6 5 3, this increases your psyching frequency to quite dangerous levels, and raises problems of full disclosure if an implicit agreement to bid with 'semi-bacon' hands develops.

    Occasionally a player may wish to make some call other than the required bid when holding a bacon-type hand, in order to bid 'constructively' or to avoid bidding to dangerous levels. While this is allowed, and unlikely to mislead opponents, it goes against the philosophy of Bacon Torpedo.


    Bacon Torpedo, a strange genetic monstrosity, has three fathers and no mother. The fathers are Luke Porter, Michael Clark, and Philip S. Smith. One evening in the summer of 2002 at Brighton, during the EBU Summer Congress, Luke and Michael drank an inordinate amount of alcohol and began to think visionary thoughts about bidding. Surely there would be better definition in the auction if all openings had an extra, specific, strong option. The name Bacon Torpedo was devised that night, but all other details of the conversation are lost in the mists of time, or were forgotten by the next morning.

    From alcohol-fuelled conception to birth took around nine months (as is usual in such matters). The addition of poker-type thinking was made by Philip S. Smith in the early summer of 2003. He suggested the jackpot hand and straight flush bids. Some unknown genius, overhearing the conversation, pointed out the importance of knowing about a singleton beer card, and the system was born.