Friday, July 25, 2014

Bidding after opening 1NT

It's been almost a year since my last post, and that's mostly because I haven't been playing/researching much. In my random attempts to improve my regular partner's and my bidding system, MG Precision, I have recently looked to 1NT.

We open this bid with 10-12 HCP in 1st and 2nd seat, and with 12-15 HCP in 3rd and 4th seat, regardless of vulnerability. Both are considered in the "weak" range for this opening since most people play a 15-17 range. We have a complicated runout system in place for when opponents want to punish us with a double, but when we have competitive hands and game-forcing hands, we have relied heavily on the conventions we've been playing since we first learned SAYC. So I have researched and I think I like the following set of responses best:

2C = Stayman
2D = Transfer to hearts
2H = Transfer to spades
2S = Transfer to clubs OR balanced invitation to 3NT
2NT = Transfer to diamonds OR weak 2-suiter in the minors
3C = GF, 3-1-5-4 or 3-1-4-5 shape
3D = GF, 1-3-5-4 or 1-3-4-5 shape
3H = GF, 5 hearts
3S = GF, 5 spades
3NT = To play
4C = Puppet to 4H
4D = Puppet to 4S
4M = To play
4NT = Quantitative Raise
5m = To play

As my wife who went to law school told me, "show me all the wrinkles." Some of these are easier to explain than others, so let me start there.

I've seen many experts have a bid at the 3-level reserved for the GF 5431 with 54 in the minors. Apparently, it's a tough situation to deal with when deciding where to play, so we let opener make that decision instead. :)

The 3M bids are included because sometimes responder is the bigger hand and would like to be the declarer if partner has fit. Notice 4M is also to play. Sometimes, though, responder doesn't want to declare in a major, so that's why we employ the NAMYATS convention (4C/4D puppet to the majors). You could also just use the ol' Jacoby transfer at the 2-level then bid game.

The 2S and 2NT dual-meaning bids are a nice invention and work rather well. Opener responds to 2S as if partner has the balanced invitational hand: 2NT shows min and 3C shows a max. This way responder can pass 2NT if he actually had a balanced invite or bid anything else to show clubs (3C would be a weak, sign-off bid), or responder can pass 3C if he had a weak club hand or bid another suit with a stronger club hand or bid 3NT.

Opener can respond to 2NT with only two bids as well: 3C shows a tolerance for clubs in case responder has the 2-suited hand (responder will bid 3D with a weak diamond hand or bid anything else with a stronger diamond hand) and 3D shows 2 clubs (either way if responder is weak, 3D is where he wants to be).

Some other interesting things:

With a weak 2-suited hand in the majors, bid 2C first. If opener bids a major, great! If he bids 2D, though, just bid 2H to show that hand, and he can pass or correct to 2S.

With an invitational 2-suited hand in the majors, bid 2D first, partner will bid 2H, then you bid 2S. Opener will pick the better fit and go to game with a max. Please notice that we do NOT play super-accepts in this system.

With a game-forcing 2-suited hand in the majors, bid 2H first, partner will bid 2S, then you bid 3H.

With 54 in the majors and invitational values, bid 2C (Stayman) then if opener bids 2D, responder bids 2S. This doesn't distinguish which suit is 5 cards, so opener bids 2NT to ask, and 3C shows 5 hearts while 3D shows 5 spades.

With 54 in the majors and game-forcing values, we employ the Smolen convention: bid 2C (Stayman) first, then if opener bids 2D, responder jumps to 3 of a major to show the 4-card major suit. You can reverse this if you like.

With a 4-card major and a longer minor, it's important to distinguish between invitational hands and game-forcing hands. With an invitational hand, bid 2C (Stayman) and if partner doesn't bid your major, bid 3 of the minor. With a game-forcing hand, transfer into the minor first and then bid 3 of the major.

With an invitational or better 2-suited hand in the minors, transfer into the clubs, then bid 3D. This is forcing, and opener can bid 3NT with stoppers in the majors, 4C/4D to show a min and preference for the bid suit, and 5 of a minor to show a max with support in that suit.

With an invitational major/minor 2-suited hand, transfer into the major first, then bid 3 of the minor. With a game-forcing hand of this shape, transfer into the major and then bid 4 of the minor. This is the only part of responding to 1NT I dislike. You miss the ability to be in 3NT, so you'll have to have a very strong case for being in a suit contract over NT when bidding a major/minor GF hand.

If there are any wrinkles I've left off, I would be happy to hear. I'm also including a bid chart in case this helps with memorizing. Happy bidding!

1NT = 10-12, balanced (1st/2nd seat) OR 12-15, balanced (3rd/4th seat)
       2C = Stayman
              2D = no 4-card major
                     2H = weak, 2-suited in majors (opener may pass or correct to 2S)
                     2S = INV, 54 in the majors
                            2NT = asks
                                   3C = 5 hearts & 4 spades
                                   3D = 5 spades & 4 hearts
                     2NT = INV to 3NT (responder has at least one 4-card major)
                     3C/3D = INV, 5+ cards in bid minor & a 4-card major
                     3H/3S = GF, 4 cards in bid major & 5 cards in other major
              2H = 4 hearts (responder can raise to 2NT/3H to invite or bid a new suit to force to game)
              2S = 4 spades (responder can raise to 2NT/3S to invite or bid a new suit to force to game)
       2D = Transfer to hearts
              2H = automatic
                     2S = INV, 2-suited in the majors
                     2NT = INV, 5 hearts
                     3C/3D = INV, 2-suited in hearts and bid minor
                     3H = INV to 4H
                     4C/4D = GF, 2-suited in hearts and bid minor
       2H = Transfer to spades
              2S = automatic
                     2NT = INV, 5 spades
                     3C/3D = INV, 2-suited in spades and bid minor
                     3H = GF, 2-suited in the majors
                     3S = INV to 4S
                     4C/4D = GF, 2-suited in spades and bid minor
       2S = Transfer to clubs OR invitational, balanced
              2NT = min
                     pass = INV, balanced
                     3C = weak, clubs
                     3D = INV+, 2-suited in the minors
                     3H/3S = GF, 4 card bid major & 5+ clubs
                     4C = slam-try, starts cue-bids
                     4D = Kickback for clubs (Ace-asking like RKC Blackwood)
              3C = max
                     pass = weak, clubs
                     3D = INV+, 2-suited in the minors
                     3H/3S = GF, 4 card bid major & 5+ clubs
                     4C = slam-try, starts cue-bids
                     4D = Kickback for clubs
       2NT = Transfer to diamonds OR weak, 2-suited in the minors
              3C = tolerance for clubs (3-5 cards)
                     pass = weak, 2-suited in minors
                     3D = weak, diamonds
                     3H/3S = GF, 4 card bid major & 5+ diamonds
                     4C = slam-try, cue-bid
                     4D = slam-try, no club control
                     4H = Kickback for diamonds
              3D = no tolerance for clubs (2 cards)
                     pass = weak
                     3H/3S = GF, 4 card bid major & 5+ diamonds
                     4C = slam-try, cue-bid
                     4D = slam-try, no club control
                     4H = Kickback for diamonds
       3C = GF, 3-1-4-5 or 3-1-5-4 shape
              3D = asks for minor shape
                     3H = 4 diamonds & 5 clubs
                     3S = 5 diamonds & 4 clubs
              3H/3S = shows a stopper (trouble in other major)
              3NT = stoppers in the majors
       3D = GF, 1-3-4-5 or 1-3-5-4 shape
              3H = asks for minor shape
                     3S = 4 diamonds & 5 clubs
                     3NT = 5 diamonds & 4 clubs
              3S = shows a stopper (trouble in hearts)
              3NT = stoppers in the majors
       3H/3S = GF, 5 cards in bid major (opener bids 3NT or 4 of the bid major)
       4C = Puppet to 4H
              4D = Opener wants to be dummy
              4H = Opener wants to be declarer
       4D = Puppet to 4S
              4H = Opener wants to be dummy
              4S = Opener wants to be declarer

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Strangely Natural Bidding System

A long-time bridge friend, David, was seeking a partner to play a new system with. Naturally, knowing my fascination in bidding systems, he asked me. Devised by a couple of Italian pros, Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes, this system has a very natural way of bidding, but in the land of conventions and artificial bids, it seems strange. The gimmick is that all 13+ point hands are opened at the one-level, making all of them FORCING. No more playing in 1 of suit without bidding as an overcaller, which in my mind isn't that important. Here's the opening bids:

1C = 13+ pts, 2+ clubs
1D = 13+ pts, 4+ diamonds (unbalanced, could be x-x-4-5 shape)
1M = 13+ pts, 5+ card major
1NT = 12-14 pts, balanced (may have a 5-card major)
2 suit = 9-12 pts, 5+ card suit (suit does not need to be of good quality)
2NT = 20-21 pts, balanced
3 suit = Preemptive

The 1C bid includes three types of hands: (1) 13+ pts, 5+ clubs, (2) 13+ pts, 4-4-1-4 shape, and (3) 15-19/22+ points, balanced

To open 1 of a suit, follow the Rule of 22 (length of two longest suits + HCP = 22 or more). After these, responder just needs 11+ pts, balanced or 10+ pts, unbalanced to game-force.

To open 2 of a suit, follow the Rule of 18 (length of two longest suits + HCP = 18 or more). With a 2-suited hand, bid the higher ranking.

No artificial "I have a strong hand" bid! Opening at the 2-level with hands that in most systems would pass! Looks like fun, no?

Honestly, I think most great bidding happens deep into the auction, but even if you're not someone who has a lot of time to devote to 4 or 5 or more levels of bidding and what they mean, this system would make a mean Matchpoint system if you ask me. I would love to try it sometime with Meaghin, but first we must get that last bit of gold at Tunica this next week.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Language of Bidding

I wanted to post something that the non-bidding-obsessed could read and understand, so I thought I might just talk about the philosophy and language of bidding in the standard american way.

The driving philosophy behind the Standard American bidding system (and most other bidding systems) is to show your shape first, then your points. You see, there are just too many different hands that can be made with 13 cards and not enough possible bids to show them all. So we tell our partner clues about our hand and hopefully come to the right level and strain of bidding using these clues and their negative inferences. So let's start with the opening bids.

For any balanced hand (4333, 4432, or 5332) we want to bid notrumps, but the range of points from minimum opening (12 points) to game points (25) is a huge range! If we were to split up that range into two bids, then 1NT would mean 12-18 and 2NT would mean 19-24. This makes it difficult for partner to know if the partnership has the requisite 25 points to bid 3NT. So we break it up into smaller ranges. Thus:
12-14 Bid longer minor, then bid cheapest NT (usually 1NT)
15-17 Open 1NT
18-19 Bid longer minor, then jump in NT (usually 2NT)
20-21 Open 2NT
22-24 Open 2C (strong hand alert!), then bid 2NT

With this ladder, you can see that you never get too high in the bidding and you limit your range to a two or three point range, making partner's job easier to pass or bid on to 3NT (or even bid higher into slam territory!)

Balanced hands are great because partner knows that if he or she has a 6-card suit, you automatically have a fit, because you can have at most one doubleton, and with a 5-card suit, it's a fair bet you have fit there, too.

If you don't fall in the balanced category, then your first priority is to show partner your longest suit. If you have 12-21 points, and one of your suits are longer than the others, bid it at the 1-level! Ok, simple enough, but what about if you have a two or three suits with the same number of cards? If they have 5 or more in each, bid the higher-ranking of the two (the ranks from high to low are Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs). If they are 4 card suits, bid the lower-ranking of the three (You can't have only two 4-card suits as your longest suits without being balanced.)

Here's a breakdown:
1C = 3+ clubs
1D = 3+ diamonds (usually 4+ but a 12-14/18-19 point 4-4-3-2 hand needs to be opened 1D)
1H = 5+ hearts
1S = 5+ spades
1NT = 15-17 HCP, balanced
2NT = 20-21 HCP, balanced

These bids will take care of all 12-21 point hands and show partner a major clue to the shape of your hand. All 22+ point hands are grouped into the opening 2C bid (which doesn't mean clubs, it just means monster hand.)

On your 2nd bid, you get to narrow your point range and tell partner more about your shape.
For instance, if you bid 1H, then on your second bid 2C, you are showing 5 or more hearts, and 4 or more clubs (that's 9 out of 13 of your cards!) Another example, you open 1D, then bid 2D, you are showing 6 or more diamonds (you neglected to show a second suit nor did you bid NT so the negative inferences suggest you are not balanced or 5-4) with a minimum range (12-16 points.) There are some "problem" shapes, though. It's tough to show a 4441 hand as opener, because you open with 1C or 1D, then your 2nd bid is usually a higher ranking suit at the 1-level, which partner might interpret as 5-4 (you usually bid the longer suit first.) Hey, no system is perfect and this is only a minor issue.

Let me introduce you to the single-most important idea in bidding: the Captaincy Principle. The Captaincy Principle works like this: if you know more than your partner does, you are the captain of the bidding. You decide how high and in what suit (or notrumps) you want to play. Example, partner opens 1NT. He has limited his hand to 15-17 points, and showed a balanced hand. You know a whole lot about his hand and he knows nothing about yours; thus, you are in control of the bidding. You may bid the appropriate level of NT or you can bid something else to ask partner to tell you more about his hand. That's where the Stayman convention, and Transfer Bids come in handy. Another example: you open 1H, partner bids 1S (6 or more points, 4 or more spades), then you bid 2H (showing 12-15 points, 6+ hearts). Partner knows more about your hand than you know about his, so he is the captain. Once you limit your range, the other person becomes the captain. Most conventional bids are made by the captain to inquire about specific characteristics of the other's hand. Until someone limits themselves, though, the bidding is a dialogue, a back-and-forth discussion about shape, looking for a fit in some suit.

As responder, you have point ranges, too. If you respond with a 1-level bid, you are showing at least 6 points, but you aren't limited. If you respond with 1NT, however, you limit yourself to 6-9 points, and your partner, the opener, is in charge. Since finding a major-suit fit is so important in Standard American, here's a breakdown of responses to 1H:
1S = 6+ points, 4+ spades
1NT = 6-9 points (no 4+ spades, no 3+ hearts)
2H = 6-9 points, 3+ hearts
2C/2D = 10+ points, 5+ cards in bid suit
2NT = 10-12 points, balanced (no 3+ hearts or 4+ spades)
3H = 10-12 points, 3+ hearts

Remember, you only need 25 points to bid game in NT or the major, so anything higher than 12 points as responder, you KNOW you're going to game and so it's relatively safe to bid higher. Notice I've broken the bids into what you can do with 6-9 points (minimum range to respond) and 10-12 points (invitational range.) This is basic, and there are lots of conventions that other bridge players will insist you learn in addition to these bids, but they aren't necessary. Also, notice that you only bid NT when you don't have a fit for partner's major nor when it's unlikely you have fit in the other major. After 1S, the responses are:
1NT = 6-9 points, no 3+ spades
2S = 6-9 points, 3+ spades
2C/2D/2H = 10+ points, 5+ cards in bid suit
2NT = 10-12 points, balanced (no 3+ spades)
3S = 10-12 points, 3+ spades

The major difference here is that you can't show the other major unless you have 10 or more points. The reason for that is you don't want to get too high in the bidding looking for a fit. What if partner opened a 12-point hand with 5 spades, 2 hearts, 3 diamonds, and 3 clubs and you have 6 points with 1 spade, 5 hearts, 4 diamonds, and 3 clubs? You might end up contracting for 8 or 9 tricks with no fit and only 18 points (the opponents have more points than you!) As I said before, no system is perfect and this is only a minor issue.

The only opening bids I neglected to discuss were the preemptive bids (weak hands with good trick-taking potential). I think I'll have to discuss those in another post. I hope that this post is helpful to those of you starting out and trying to figure why in the world you bid the way you do.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Defense to Strong 1C

I am starting to lose track of what I have written about, but I met a woman in Tupelo, MS who was very interested in defenses to the strong 1C opening which Meg and I employ. She uses a system called "Preference," but I haven't come across any notes on the system. I did, however, some research on different defenses to strong artificial 1C and 2C openings, and there are a plethora of them.

The one that most bridge players agree has the most success is called Suction. Here's how they work: any suit bid over 1C shows either a 1-suited hand in the suit directly above the bid suit OR a 2-suited hand in two touching suits that don't include the bid suit or the one above it. For example, (1C) 1D would show either a 1-suited hand in hearts or a 2-suited hand in spades & clubs. Responder would bid the next suit and let partner correct to the 2-suited hand if necessary. That takes care of most types of hands you would want to overcall except the non-touching 2-suited hands; for these, you would bid 1NT and correct if necessary after partner bids the compulsory 2C. One last bid, the double. Most use the double to show a real hand like 15+ pts. After this, bidding proceeds naturally. You could also use this idea for overcalling a standard strong 2C opening.

I have never played this defense due to the fact that no one we play against on a normal basis plays Precision. I found another defense you might like to try. I can't remember the name of it, but it employs the Suction bids at a higher level and allows the bidding for other shapes.

Dbl = clubs
1D/1H = Transfer to hearts/spades
1S = 4 spades & longer minor
1NT = 4 hearts & longer minor
2C = suction. 6+ diamonds OR 5-5 in majors
2D = suction. 6+ hearts OR 5-5 in spades/clubs
2H = suction. 6+ spades OR 5-5 in minors
2S = 5-5 in spades/diamonds
2NT = 5-5 in hearts/minor

This takes away the opening point hand double, but I find that since 1C is forcing, a pass can show this as long as you bid the second time around. Also it gives you the ability to get in there with what seems like one of the most likely shapes you see, the 5-4 hand with 4 in a major (canape bids). See if you like it. If you're from Oxford, I highly recommend you employ this system against us, as I have no idea what to do after you get in there with these bids.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sardine Run-out Bids

I just looked back over this blog, and I realized that I promised a couple of times to post something about a run-out system when your opponents double a weak 1NT (or micro 1NT in our case.) So here it is, the Sardine runouts (named after a BBO user Sardine)

After 1NT (X)

2C = 2-suited, clubs & hearts
2D = 2-suited, diamonds & hearts
2H = 2-suited, hearts & spades
2S = 2-suited, spades & clubs
XX = 1-suited hand (forces opener to bid 2C. After this, responder bids his or her suit)
Pass = FORCING! This forces opener to XX, which responder can pass or bid out a weaker hand
XX = automatic
2C = 2-suited, clubs & diamonds
2D = 2-suited, diamonds & spades
2H = 0-4-(54) shape
2S = 4-0-(54) shape

To force to game, we divide potential responders' hands into three categories: 1-suited, 2-suited, and 3-suited.

After 1NT (X)

2NT = 2-suited hand (forces opener to bid 3C)
3C = automatic
3D = diamonds & hearts
3H = hearts & spades
3S = spades & minor
3NT = clubs & a red suit
XX = 1-suited hand (forces opener to bid 2C)
2C = automatic
2NT = Game-forcing (forces opener to bid 3C)
3C = automatic
3D/3H/3S = shows the 5+ card suit
3NT = shows 5+ clubs
Pass = 3-suited hand (forces opener to bid XX)
XX = automatic
2NT = Game-forcing (forces opener to bid 3C)
3C = automatic
3D/3H/3S = singleton in a 4441 shape
3NT = 4441 shape with singleton club

In a running situation, 2-suited can sometime mean 4-4 as finding a Moysian fit is better than playing 1NT X sometimes. A 1-suited hand can be a good 4-card suit as well. For the game-forcing hands, 2-suited means 5-5, and 1-suited means 5+ cards.

If the balancing seat doubles, the opener has a chance to talk about his concealed 5-card minor. If he doesn't have one, then he passes and lets partner run.

After 1NT - P (X) P - ?

2C = clubs and diamonds
2D = diamonds and hearts
2H = hearts and spades
2S = spades and clubs
XX = Forces opener to bid 2C
2C = automatic
Pass/2D = 1-suited in that minor
2H = hearts and clubs
2S = spades and diamonds

These bids are a lot to learn, but once you do, you will never be afraid of the opponents doubling your weak 1NT again! In fact, I look forward to playing 1NT XX sometimes and making it for a big score. Now, on the other hand, you will occasionally be looking at a 4333 hand with no points and no bid to get out of 1NT X. Those are the times you just gotta bid your 4-card suit (using XX) and hope they decide to bid.

Sorry that it took so long to post this. I hope you enjoy, and happy bidding!

A GOOD Short Club System

Nowadays, it seems everyone is perfectly content to say, "could be short" when his or her partner opens 1C. I asked someone about the reason they played it, and she told me it was so that opening 1D promises 4 or more. "Sounds fascinating! What else?" I asked. Then when I received a confused look and a shrug, I realized that this system of opening a short club wasn't fully utilized. Plus Meg and I were looking for a system that isn't so different from the field for Matchpoint play (we'll keep playing Precision at big tournaments and team events.)

When I thought about what opening a short club meant, I realized that it could have 3 meanings: 1. any 5+ club hand, 2. balanced hands that don't fit 1NT (or 2NT) opening range, and 3. 4441 shape hands with a singleton diamond. This allows the 1D opening to promise 4 or more diamonds, which makes for an easier time raising in competition. But everyone plays this, and I wanted to give it an advantage over all those partnerships who don't talk about what a short club means. So here's the fun: a weak 1NT (12-14) AND a special set of responses to 1C.

I realized early on in my experience with natural 5-card major systems like SAYC and 2/1 that the sequence 1C - 1D showing a natural diamond response was not a helpful dialogue nor was it obstructing the bidding for the opponents at all, so I made the 1D response artificial meaning responder has at least one 4-card major. This opens the 1H and 1S response to mean 5+ cards in that major! This certainly is something these other bidding systems lack, a way to show a 5-card major by responder in the first bid. Naturally, the opening rebids needed to tell partner how much support he has for that major. After careful consideration, I finally came up with a Short Club system that isn't too hard to learn and would help out a great deal of bidding problem hands.

MG Short Club

Opening Bids
1C = 2+ clubs (includes 15-19 HCP, balanced hands, 5+ club hands, and 4441 hands with a singleton diamond)
1D = 4+ diamonds (unbalanced!)
1H = 5+ hearts
1S = 5+ spades
1NT = 12-14 HCP, balanced
2C = Strong (4 or fewer losers)
2D = Flannery (specifically 11-15 pts, 5 hearts & 4 spades)
2H/2S = Weak
2NT = 20-21 HCP, balanced

Responses to 1C
1D = at least one 4-card major ALERT
1H = 5+ hearts
1S = 5+ spades
1NT = 6-9 pts, no 4+ card major
2C/2D = 10+ pts, 5+ card bid suit (no 4+ card major)
2H = 5-9 pts, 5-5 in the majors ALERT
2S = 10-12 pts, 5-5 in the majors ALERT
2NT = 10-12 pts, balanced (no 4+ card major)
3C/3D = weak, 6+ good bid suit

Bidding after 1C - 1D
1H = 4 hearts
1S = 4 spades (no 4 hearts)
1NT = 15-17, balanced (no 4cM)
2NT = 18-19, balanced (no 4cM)
2C/3C = min/max, 6+ clubs (with 5-4 in C-D, we open 1D)

After 1C - 1D - 1H
1S = 4 spades (no 4 hearts)
1NT = 4 hearts, ALERT
2H/3H/4H = To play (weak point range with 4/5/6 hearts)

After 1C - 1D - 1S
1NT = 6-9, 4 hearts (no 4 spades)
2H = 4 spades, ALERT
2S/3S/4S = To play (weak with 4/5/6 spades)
2C/2D = 10+ pts, 5+ card suit (with 4 hearts)
2NT = 10-12 pts, balanced (with 4 hearts)

A little further...
After 1C - 1D - 1H - 1S
1NT = 15-17 balanced
2NT = 18-19 balanced
2C = minimum, 5+ clubs & 4 hearts
3C = maximum, 6+ good clubs & 4 hearts
2S = 15-17, balanced with 4-4 in the majors ALERT
3H = 18-19, balanced with 4-4 in the majors ALERT
2D = minimum, 4-4-1-4 or 4-4-0-5 shape
3D = maximum, 4-4-1-4 or 4-4-0-5 shape

After 1C - 1D - 1H - 1NT
2C = minimum, 5+ clubs & 4 hearts (not 4-4-0-5)
2D = minimum, 4-4-1-4 or 4-4-0-5 shape
2H = 15-17, balanced
2NT = 18-19, balanced
2S = maximum, 4-4-0-5 shape
3C = maximum, 5+ clubs
3D = maximum, 4-4-1-4 shape

After 1C - 1D - 1S - 2H
2S = minimum, 5+ clubs & 4 spades
2NT = 15-17, balanced
3C = 18-19, balanced
3D/3H = maximum, 5+ clubs & 4 spades, short in bid suit
3S = maximum, 4-2-2-5 shape

Now, after 1C - 1H/1S, we want to differentiate (when we can) between 3- and 4-card support for partner's major. I tried to keep it as intuitive as possible.

Bidding after 1C - 1H
1S = 4 spades (doesn't promise 3 hearts)
1NT = 15-17, balanced (with only 2 hearts)
2NT = 18-19, balanced (with only 2 hearts)
2C/3C = min/max, 5+ clubs (0-2 hearts)
2D/3D = min/max, 4 hearts ALERT
2H = minimum, 3 hearts
3H = maximum, balanced with 3 hearts
2S = maximum, 4-3-1-5 or 4-3-0-6 shape

Bidding after 1C - 1S
1NT = 15-17, balanced (with only 2 spades)
2NT = 18-19, balanced (with only 2 spades)
2C/3C = min/max, 5+ clubs (0-2 spades)
2D/3D = min/max, 4 spades ALERT
2S = minimum, 3 spades
3S = maximum, balanced with 3 spades
2H/3H = min/max, 3-4-1-5 or 3-4-0-6 shape

Of course this is the way I would like to play this system after 1C. The bids for the other openings are pretty much standard fare (enter your own system of responses and conventions.) For us, we play a non-forcing 1NT response to opening 1 of a major, weak jump-shift over 1D, control responses to the strong 2C opening, and the Sardine runout bids over 1NT doubled (see earlier post.) Also notice that we play Flannery, and I think that this is a must-have convention for those who play a standard wide-range opening system like this. The only thing I haven't written about is the control responses to 2C. Here they are:

Responses to 2C
2D = 0-5 pts, 0-1 control
2H = 6+ pts, 0-1 control
2S = 2 controls
2NT = 3 kings
3C = 1 ace + 1 king
3D = 4 controls

By control, I mean an ace is worth 2 controls and a king is worth 1. If you count them all up, you get a total of 12 controls. In general, I think that means with 10 controls you might have a slam (missing only 1 ace or 2 kings), and finding a slam after opening 2C is one of the real weaknesses of the standard system in my opinion, such as it is.

On a personal note, I know that my obsession with bidding systems and theory drives my regular partner crazy, but she has always been a good sport in learning them. I do believe that a great bidding system is no substitute for sound play and defense, and this is something I need to work on. Meg, you will always be my #1 partner in bridge and in life.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New defense to 1NT

This is called HELLO by Jerry Helms and Bill Lohman, and Meg and I are trying it out as of this week. It has a lot of characteristics in a defense that I look for: the ability to double 1NT for penalty, natural 2S overcall, etc. It goes a little something like this.

Dbl = penalty
2C = either a 1-suited hand with diamonds OR a 2-suited hand in a major and a minor suit
2D = a 1-suited hand in hearts (like a transfer)
2H = a 2-suited hand in the majors
2S = a 1-suited hand in spades
2NT = a 1-suited hand in clubs (again a transfer)
3C = a 2-suited hand in the minors
3D = a strong 2-suited hand in the majors (good to be able to differentiate)

Now these bids are good as a direct overcaller to 1NT opening (either a weak or strong 1NT), and as responder you can either bid the suit that works for you or bid 2NT to invite game. One quick note: there's only one response to 2C and that is 2D (this allows partner to pass with the diamond hand or bid the major to show the major/minor 2-suiter).

In the passout seat, the bids change a little.
Dbl = either a 1-suited hand in clubs OR 2-suited in the red suits (4 hearts & 5+ diamonds)
2 suit = same as above
2NT = (non-passed hand) strong 1-suited in clubs
    (passed hand) 2-suited in the minors

After the double by the passout seat, partner has to bid 2C so that he can pass with the club hand. This part of the defense isn't necessary, though.

One more use of this system is after a 1NT overcall of 1 suit by your side. For example,
1H (1NT) dbl = penalty
 2C = 1-suited in diamonds OR 2-suited in spades/minor
 2D = support in hearts
 2H = 2-suited in hearts & spades
 2S = 1-suited in spades
 2NT = 1-suited in clubs
 3C = 2-suited in the minors

We don't play this yet, but it might be worth looking into. Enjoy HELLO all my readers!