Friday, September 24, 2010

Anders Wirgren's Review of Modified Italian Canape System

I have absolutely no idea what he said, as it is in Swedish.  But, maybe someone can translate it for me?  (If the translation is something like, "It sucks," feel free to NOT translate this.  LOL)

I de flesta system bjuder man sin längsta färg först, både som öppnare och svarare. De framgångsrika italienarna började på 1950-talet använda system som byggde på den franska canapé-principen, då man i stället öppnade med sin näst längsta färg och nästa gång visade den längsta.

De italienska systemen slog aldrig igenom på bred front, eftersom de var ganska krångliga, ibland rentav ologiskt uppbyggda. Det är det Ken Rexford hoppas rätta till med hjälp av en förenklad version av ett system uppbyggt på stark klöver och canapé-öppningar i ruter, hjärter och spader.

Författaren börjar med att beskriva hur ett canapé-system fungerar. Det lyckas han bra med. Men när han går över till att beskriva specifika sekvenser i sitt eget favoritsystem, saknar jag ett kritiskt öga. Det är lätt att göra exempel, som visar hur utmärkt systemet
är, men om en beskrivning ska göra anspråk på objektivitet måste de knepiga situationerna också tas med. Det saknar jag.

Trots denna reservation, är det en bok som den systemintresserade säkert kan ha glädje av.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Muppet Extended

Muppet Stayman is simple Puppet stayman but with Opener's 3NT and 3H bids reversed (3NT shows five hearts; 3H denies a 4+ majors).  This allows Responder, over 3H, to bid 3S to show 5S/4H, an otherwise unbiddable shape below 3NT when playing Puppet.

So, suppose you have 5S/4H and partner bids 3D.  You have both majors, but they are imbalanced.  so, bid 3H to show spades.  If partner also has spades, he can make sues, which could be nice for slam purposes.  If he does not, you can next bid 4H to complete the picture.

Now, suppose that you have 5-5 in the majors.  Muppet still works.  If partner has a 4-card major, nothing can go wrong.  If he has a 5-card major, wow.  A lot, you hear 3H.  So, bid 3S to show 5S/4H.  If Opener declines (3NT), you can bid 4H to complete this picture, as well.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Funny Things!

I was reading Bob Mackinnon's blog ( and saw the deal from the 2010 Canadian Senior Teams Championship where 7C was reached.  It made me think of the recent change Eichenbaum and I just made.

Opener: AQ-Axxx-Axx-AQxx
Responder: xx-KQ-KQJ10-K10xxx

The auction Michael Yuen and Maurice De La Salle had was:

2NT-3S(minor slam try)
4H(RKCB clubs)-4NT(one)

Ours could be quicker:

2NT-3S(transfer to clubs, maybe both minors; could show precisely 2245 this way if lighter)
3NT(super-accept, meaning playable in 3NT opposite xx-xx-xxx-Jxxxxx)-7C

Of course, Responder is allowed to ask questions...

OK, I Gave In!

One of the more "questionable" ideas that I had in Cuebidding at Bridge was this auction example:

2D-P-3S = stiff spade, diamond support

I still like it, but Eichenbaum has convinced me of a perhaps better treatment, one that we now use.

I have always played that a jump here is a splinter for Opener's SECOND suit.  hence:

2D-P-3H = stiff heart, support for diamonds

The theory was that I can support spades with a 2S call and THEN splinter.

So, the logical idea is that 3S IMMEDIATELY handles all splinters with spade support!

2D-P-3S = stiff somewhere (not clubs, obviously) with SPADE support

Now, after the suggestion, it seems obvious.

The beauty of this is that the "spade splinter" stiff exists:

2D-P-4C = diamond support, SPADE shortness!

That's easier to remember.

You may of course then say, well what about the Picture Jump in clubs?  Well, because you erased all of the splinters from the 2S call, voila!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Interesting Suit/Lead Situation

Eichenbaum and I have added a new twist to "Suit/Lead."

I open a minor; partner responds a major; my RHO doubles.

Now, for the trivia buffs, this was a situation where Eichenbaum and I years ago (while drunk) came up with an insane set of agreements, eventually published (for God knows what reason) in Bridge World magazine.  Today's version is much better, I think.

The idea is that calls at an above 1NT, up through Responder's suit, are Suit/Lead.  An example might explain this.


Opener can redouble as a support redouble.

If Opener has four hearts, he has several options.  First, he might transfer to hearts, by bidding 2D.  This shows a hand that leans "extras plus lead."  In other words, Opener has a hand with a non-minimum and the Ace or King in hearts.  A solid, lead-catering, maximum heart raise.  This call will help when partner ends up leading against whatever my LHO might intend on bidding, will help when partner is considering game in a jammed auction, when partner considers inviting game in a non-jammed auction, and when partner considers doubling.

If Opener has four hearts but not this, meaning poor trumps (no ace or king) and a weak hand, he bids 2H directly.  "Fast Arrival." 

If Opener has a desire for a diamond lead, or a reverse, he bids 2C, one-under diamonds.  Responder will assume bad hearts and a desire for a diamond lead -- if Opener has a reverse he will make noise later.  so, with something like xx-Qxxx-AKJ-Kxxxx, 2C stands out.

With real clubs, Opener just bids 1NT, a relay to clubs.

If Opener has a hand that doesn't quite qualify for any of the above, he makes the closest call, defaulting to 2H when in doubt.

What if Opener's minor was diamonds?  Same basic approach, but Opener's 1NT call (relay to clubs) might just be a minor two-suiter.  He cannot make that call as a pure lead-director unless he is willing to solo-compete to 3H if the opponents intervene.

If Responder's major was spades, one additional "transfer" pops in, a "transfer" to hearts, which adds more definition to the calls.

We are fairly inclined to believe that this will be a winner in the long run.  There is some risk to disclosure, of course, but this really seems good to us. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Partscore Before Slam?

You know the advice, "Game Before Slam," but what about "Partscore Before Slam?"  When we're talking GERBER as the alternative, well...

Partner Eichenbaum and I decided upon a switch this weekend.  2NT-P-4C had been "Gerber."  2NT-P-3S had been some sort of minor slam try.  In thinking this through, we NEVER bid Gerber here.  Usually a transfer, a 3S call, or at least Puppet happens.  So, is there a better use?

Sure -- partscores before slam!

We have now switched to 4C as a transfer to diamonds.  with a poor hand and long diamonds (e.g., xxx-Q-xxx-Jxxxxx), Responder can bid 4C and then pass 4D from Opener.  With slam values, 4H next is RKCB, 4NT quantitative, and 4S or 5C simple cues from unbalanced invites.

3S, then, is a response promising clubs.  Opener bids 3NT with AKx or better, but 4C otherwise.  This also could be weak (will pass 4C or convert 3NT to 4C).  4D is RKCB.

With the minor two-suiters, Responder wtill bids 3S and then bids 4M to show the stiff from minor two-suiters.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Finally got the final WBF Convention Card done, for Philadelphia.  I am considering hiring thugs to take my partner on a long drive if he tries changing anything again.

FYI, it is uploaded here:
It should be available at Ecatsbridge when others are uploaded, as well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

cuebidding for the defense

An old friend of mine and I several years ago had an auction that was a thing of beauty.  It may have been insane.  But, the fine line between insanity and genius is not for people like me to define.  The auction was one where partner and I made "cuebids" not for the purpose of slam or game exploration, but for the defense.

The situation was one where we are white, the opponents red.  We can take a sacrifice at six of a minor, which beats their red heart game, as we are down only three.  The opponents can make five hearts unless we get off to the best defense.

So, the real-world results were varied, but the most common scores were 5minor our way, doubled for -300; 5H their way making 650 with normal defense; or 6minor our way, doubled for -500.  Ideally, -300 looks great.

So, the auction.  My RHO opened 1H, and I, with both minors, bid 2NT unusual.  LHO raised to 3H, and my partner bid 4D.  Opener bid 4H, to me.

I wanted to know which minor to lead.  Maybe a club lead was best, but I had K-empty and did not want to spoil that card unnecessarily.  Maybe a diamond was best, but I also had Q-empty there.  Something like void-KJ-Q109xxx-K109xx.  What to do?

Well, 5D seemed too lazy.  I could try 4NT, which in theory should allow partner to pick the minor for lead, as 4D already set trumps, I figured.  But, assuming a lead to partner, won by him, I wanted a spade back as an option to consider.  So, my caqll was 4S, a cue for the defense.

LHO passed, which helped the plan along.  Had partner no interest, he could bid 4NT.  With a desire for a club lead, 5C.  With confirmation of diamonds for the lead, 5D.  In practice, his void in clubs screamed club lead.

The opponents would now be screwed.  If they bid 5H, I would lead a club to partner's void, ruffed.  He would lead back a spade, setting up a trick in spades.  When he gets in with the trump Ace, the spade is the setting trick.

That was the only defensive line to beat 5H.  The opponents, knowing that we had exchanged this info, would be forced to pick between a bad double and a worse 5H.  Sure, we might panic and bid 6D anyway, not knowing that the defense would work, but we would be better set.

In practice, partner had no idea what I was doing and just bid 5D.  Typical.  Though, it is hard to blame anyone for not living in my world constantly, and he usually kept up with my insanity/genius.

That said, don't forget opportunities to cue for the defense.  My partner, Ken Eichenbaum, recently trotted out a 5C call in competition for a club lead-director, which put a screeching halt to the opponents' thoughts of bidding 5S.  A club lead to his stiff Ace would have primed us for a juicy defense, a defense I would not otherwise have found.