Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Strong Forcing Opening

I have been working quite a bit on an idea I had a while back for improving the handling of strong, forcing openings in a natural system. While doing so, I have noticed that a lot of questions posted on BBF and a lot of trouble hands from international competition involve this same theme.

The trouble with strong, forcing openings is similar for natural systems and for strong club systems, although in the strong club context interference is necessary to create this problem and sometimes mitigates this problem somewhat by the intervening bid having definition. The problem is strain.

Sure, if Opener has a five-card major and Responder has a fit, strain is less problematic. However, I would imagine that everyone has gripes about their strong auctions and matters of strain. Even when strain can ultimately be resolved, which is not always the case, the space needed to resolve strain robs us of space necessary or prudent to then turn to the second question of level.

I mean, 2/1 GF auctions are easy. Auctions where one partner is blessed with a huge hand are a mess. This seems terrible, but the problem of strain remains always present and always meddlesome.

There have been numerous attempts to patch-solve strain matters within the context of a strong 2♣ opening, like the idea from Giorgio Belladonna to have jumps to 3♥ and 3♠ as major-diamond canape bids. I think Belladonna was onto something in using canape as a tool for handling strong hands. However, I don't think he went far enough.

There have also been those who realize that 2♣ cannot effectively handle everything, incorporating something like Multi to grab off some hand patterns. Or, the French methods of 2♦ for major hands. I think that this is the right general course, having two strong, forcing openings, and incorporating an element of canape bidding into the approach.

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