Standard American is a bidding system for the game of bridge widely used in North America and elsewhere. Owing to the popularization of the game by Charles Goren in the 1950s and '60s, its earliest versions were sometimes referred to simply as 'Goren'. With the addition and evolution of various treatments and conventions, it is now more generally referred to as Modern Standard American. It is a natural bidding system based on five-card majors and a strong notrump; players may add conventions and refine the meanings of bids through partnership agreements summarized in their convention card.
The purpose of bidding during the auction phase of each deal is to exchange information with one's partner in order to arrive at an optimal contract while concurrently contending with the opponents' attempts to do likewise. A bidding system is a set of agreements about the meanings of the different bids that the players can make. Each bid provides information about the hand's high-card strength and suit distribution based upon hand evaluation techniques.
"Standard American" was the label given to the bridge bidding system developed by Charles Goren and his contemporaries in the 1940s. This system was the first to employ the point-count method to evaluate the strength of a bridge hand. Most bids had fairly specific requirements regarding hand strength and suit distribution. The Goren point-count system became so popular that nearly all bridge players in the United States, social and tournament players alike, used it. American bridge teams won world championships using Goren's Standard American.
Modifications began to appear from the 1960s forward. By the year 2000, some completely new bidding systems had evolved, including "Precision Club" and "2/1 Game Forcing" which, although still relying on point-count rules for hand evaluation, are otherwise substantial departures from early Goren methods. Most tournament pairs now assemble their own system from a variety of new treatments and conventions that have evolved. The nearest thing to a common system in tournament play is the "Standard American Yellow Card" (SAYC) promulgated by the American Contract Bridge League. SAYC is widely used in internet bridge play, but only rarely in on-site tournament play.
The essential common elements of modern Standard American systems are:
Standard American as a base. Some of the specific agreements in Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC) that elaborate on basic Standard American are: