Introduction: HELMS to HELLO

     
Outlined below is a popular convention for competing after notrump. Depending on who you know and where you live, the convention is called either CAPPELLETTI, HAMILTON, or HELMS
     
CAPPELLETTI, HAMILTON, or HELMS
2 Relay to 2   Shows a single suited hand. Pass the forced response to show diamonds or convert to a major suit.
2 Both majors.
2 Hearts & an undisclosed minor. Advancer* uses 2NT to ask for the minor.
2 Spades & an undisclosed minor. Advancer uses 2NT to ask for the minor
2 NT Both minors.
3 Clubs
DBL Penalty. More often based on tricks rather than just scattered high card strength
  * Bridge World Magazine suggested using the term “Advancer” to identify the player responding to overcalls or doubles. If it's good enough for them ¼
     

A significant weakness, as illustrated below, seemed obvious to me:

 

Hand #1

Kxx

AJTxxx

Qxx           

x     

Hand #2

KQJTxx

x

xxxx

Kx

     

On each of the above hands, the system bid of 2§ allows the opponents the entire two-level to begin their exchange of information. The problem, along with my solution, is documented by noted bridge author, Max Hardy. “This convention . . .loses the opportunity to block the opponents out of the auction which should be one of the goals of a bidder who holds a good major suit and hears an opening bid of one notrump by his right-hand opponent . . . one theorist. . . Jerry Helms took the problem into consideration and came up with a simple but effective solution. He interchanged the meanings of an immediate bid of two in a major suit and a bid of two clubs followed by a rebid in a major suit.”*
This led to the creation of HELMS II

  * Competitive Bidding with Two Suited Hands by Max Hardy, 1996, p.117.
   
HELMS II
2 Relay to 2 . Confirm a diamond overcall by passing, or convert the forced diamond response to a major to show a major/minor two-suiter. Advancer uses 2NT to ask which minor.
2 Both Majors
2 Hearts
2 Spades
2 NT Both Minors
3 Clubs
DBL Penalty.  More often based on tricks rather than just scattered high-card strength.
     

Despite this improvement, the finishing touches of what became the original HELLO system evolved during the Jerry Helms/Bill Lohman partnership. HELLO is a unique convention to describe all single or two-suited hands without giving up penalty doubles of strong notrumps. The transfer effect achieved on many auctions may be the strongest part of the convention

     
HELLO
2 Relay to 2 . Confirm a diamond overcall by passing, or convert the forced diamond response to a major to show a major/minor two-suiter. Advancer uses 2NT to ask which minor.
2 TRANSFER overcall to HEARTS
2 BOTH MAJORS.  Achieves transfer effect when Advancer chooses spades.
2 SPADES.  A natural, space-consuming overcall.
2 NT TRANSFER overcall to CLUBS
3 BOTH MINORS. Achieves transfer effect when the Advancer chooses diamonds
3 BOTH MAJORS.  Massive playing strength.  The forced transfer eliminates the risk of a pass of 2 hearts (both majors) by Advancer.
DBL PENALTY.  Most often based on tricks from a good suit.  Occasionally a very strong, balanced hand.
     

Helms to HELLO'  first published in 1996, will be re-released early spring of 2006 by Masterpoint Press. It will be availble through all major bridge supply outlets.

 

A quote from Max Hardy:  "My own search for the best defense against the opponent's notrump opening and overcall came to a successful conclusion when I was introduced to HELLO, which I now use and teach to all my students."