Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Flags: Not Just for Slams

A "flag bid," again, is a call that "flags" a specific suit and sends another message. A classic example might be a 1NT opening and a 3S response, if 3S shows 5-5 in the majors and GF. Opener could decline a major (3NT), or pick a major (4H or 4S). However, a more sophisticated approach would allow Opener to "flag" a major (4C for hearts, 4D for spades) as a super-acceptance.

But, flags are not necessarily only for slams. Consider other situations.

How about a flag as a lead-director?

The opponents open 1C to your right and respond 1H to your left, partner intervening with a 1NT call, Sandwich, showing spades and diamonds. Simple is to bid 2S or 2D, picking your preference. However, consider this. What if you want to support one suit but would prefer the other suit for lead? Maybe xxxx-Kx? One could easily imagine that you "transfer" into a suit to show one thing and bid it directly for another. 2C might say, for instance, that you prefer diamonds but want a spade lead, and 2D says that you prefer diamonds and want a diamond lead. 2H shows spade preference for play but diamond preference for lead; 2S preference for spades on both accounts.

How about to distinguish preemptive or preference from game-invitational?

Partner overcalls 1NT by bidding 2H, majors. You could pass or correct. However, maybe you want to jam the auction (3H or 3S). Maybe you actually want to invite game. 2NT might work as the invite call, but how about flags? Or, what about if 2NT shows the majors and a strong hand? You could simply guess the level, or use flags to invite.

Now, I'm not going to suggest a whole new system, where 1C and 1D openings are flags for the majors, but there are a lot of uses for this approach beyond the simple slam try.


Anonymous said...

Nice. Some other similar ideas:
After (1D)-Dbl-(1H), play 2H = spades, INV+, 2S = preemptive
After (1H)-2NT-(Dbl), play RDbl = antiliead-directing preference (i.e. Kx / xxx in the minors either way round)
After (1m)-Pass-(1NT), play 2C/D = strong overcall in H/S

Kenneth Rexford, Esq. said...

A friend of mine has suggested that I write another book and that I call that book "Salute the Flags." Kind of funny title, but it reflects how frequently flags can come up and be useful.

A humorous note, however. My wife decided (correctly) that we were completely insane one day. We had a discussion about how, in a particular auction, to inform partner as to which minor we preferred. After some thought, we decided that 4♣ should "flag" clubs and that 4D should "flag" diamonds. She said we were idiots. We both agreed. :-)