Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fourth Seat Openings

It looks like I have finally convinced my 2/1 partner to venture into the world of Fourth Seat Intermediates!!!

The fourth-seat weak two is such a bizarre bid, IMO.  I have seen "treatments" that raise the weak two to a minimal opening, or even a "tweener" opening, always with length in the major.  It seems to make a lot more sense to solve a real problem or two.

For Philadelphia, it looks like we will be incorporating a fourth-seat 2H and 2S opening showing five of the indicated major, 4-5 of either minor, and intermediate strength (about 14-15 plus or minus).  We considered the same shape but weaker (11-12 plus or minus), as well.  Either way, this takes some stress off of other auctions.

Our response structure is to have 2NT as an asking bid with values (with garbage, 3C is pass-or-correct).  After 2NT, Opener bids the minor with any minimum or any 5-4 (minimum shape).  These calls in 3/4 of the occurrences allow a next-up "game last train" to see if partner has the maximum 5-4, and Opener in that instance can show the shortness with the max 5-4.  The exception is the heart-diamond hand, in which case Opener can treat the max 5-4 as a max 5-5 if appropriate.

With maximum 5-5 hands, Opener shows the minor and the shortness, flagging the minor with shortness in the other minor (3H for clubs, 3S for diamonds) or jumping in the minor (4C/4D) with shortness in the other major.  3NT is allowed, with a "gambling" hand -- stuff in the short suits, maximal, player.

Unfortunately, the ACBL does not allow THAT treatment in your average game, so this is limited for us to Philadelphia (or some other appropriate event).  But, for the everyday game, this is allowed if the second suit is known, perhaps always clubs.  That would help with a Gazilli-like treatment.

Why the ACBL bars such a natural bid, simply a treatment, is a mystery.  Perhaps it just sounds too European?  We North Americans just cannot apparently handle any European exotic bids, you see.  How canape snuck in is a good question, though.  We do eat a lot, and someone at Headquarters might have been confused.

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