Sunday, October 31, 2010

Montreal Relay

For some reason that I still don't really understand, the ideal of the "Montreal Relay" seems to have fallen out of favor with most experts.  I learned to play Montreal Relay some 30 years ago, and I taught it to my wife.  It just seems so much easier than all the nonsense of today's world.

For those who don't know this, it is sort of like a Puppet 1C opening, in a sense.  Partner responds 1H or 1S with a 5-card suit, or 1D to deny a 5-card major.  As 1NT would show 8-11, 1D is bid with a 4-card major (or both), just long diamonds (and not right for 1C-P-1D as 8-11 or so), or balanced with a range other than 8-11.

The pundits seem to suggest that this approach somehow is prone to problems with interference or something, but my experience is otherwise.  First, when I play Montreal Relay, I don't ever need Support Doubles for these situations.  Second, I never need to check back to see if partner really has 4-card support.  Third, checkbacks generally are not needed at all.  I mean, auctions are extremely easy.  Imagine playing bridge where the most common opening (1C) comes up a ton, and yet I never seem to have any occasion where I need checkback, xyz, support doubles, structured game tries with pattern asks, or any of the things that usually take up 20 pages of notes.  No "Kranyak Jump Reverses" to show 3-card support and a great minor.  You just raise with 3 and have a fit established.  EASY.

These sequences are SO friggin' easy that most of us use a short club, and most of my partners only open 1D when unbalanced.  This actually creates another interesting twist -- you end up on occasion opening 1C and then rebidding 2D to show just a balanced hand with long diamonds.  This happens in competition and almost never seems to cause a problem (one instance being because I made a foolish bid). 

The amazing thing is that this structure works better, IMO, than anything I play with "better players."  I sit down with people having 5000+ ACBL Masterpoints, and we play xyz and support doubles and 2NT game tries with unwinds and all that jazz.  Pages and pages of discussions and notes.  Odd situations that arise. 

Then, I sit down to play Montral with my wife, who has 150 masterpoints.  Never a problem with strain or level.  Easy.

Any thoughts?


Larry said...

And along comes The Richmond Relay (ACBL Bulletin, July & August 2009, pgs. 31 & 30) where 1D promises 5-cards, otherwise it looks the same. I am anxious to try either of these with a new partner.

Meanwhile, Dwayne and I continue with our Copious Canape Club (C3).

With my wife (8 MPs) I play Simple Precision-like. 1M response to 1 club = 6+ hcp and 4+ cards. :<))

Kenneth Rexford, Esq. said...

An alternative view:

Anonymous said...

Hi - have played MR with wifie for a year or so, precisely for the practical reason you mention. If you have more extensive notes to share I welcome that ( Interested in you 4th suit forcing and OM sequences after 1cl-1d-1M. Thanks!

Gil Lafreniere said...

Was introduced MR some 40 years ago and will play nothing else. At first would not adjust my minor-suit openings to take into account finding a five-card major as soon as possible. Now have gone hog the other way: 3=3=6=1 is a one club opening.
On most hands:
A one club opening promises a three-card major.
A one diamond opening promises a four-card major.
Since a minor suit opening can be made with a singleton there is little point in single or double raises to show support. Have found a better use for those bids.
If you care to see my convention card
let me know.

Turbine Guy said...

I am using MR with two partners in non-sanctioned (seniors club) games. It works well for these less committed players. Relatively simple, and allows good game fits. Also at these venues opponents are not willing to learn reasonable interferences, so we play the Systems stay ON when interfered with!