M J Bridge
The expert approach
Most tournament partnerships will vary their methods quite considerably from those shown on the previous page.
There are two underlying (and interrelated) reasons for this:-
if played strictly by the book these bids are fairly easy to defend against
and, for lack of a better term, ‘local conditions’ -
Easy to defend against
If you adhere too closely to a prescriptive set of requirements when making any one of these openings then well-
With this thought in mind many tournament partnerships now use these bids in a much looser manner, stretching their requirements for any one of point count, suit length, suit quality, hand-
Partner will of course be in the dark, but at least he won’t rely totally on some non-
The extent to which you might stretch the requirements is something which you should agree as a partnership. You might also wish to integrate your methods in this respect with the thoughts relating to ‘local conditions’ below.
Local conditions (i.e vulnerability and position)
The thoughts which follow draw considerably on Barry Rigal’s writing in ‘Precision in the Nineties’, but they represent a considerable simplification of his ideas -
Note that, although I shall lay down a number of guidelines, the expert is more likely to make decisions based on experience, judgement, and ‘feel’, rather than on a strict adherence to a set of rules. It is important, though, that the partnership should have an agreement on style because this will have a tremendous effect on responder’s subsequent actions.
The ‘pure’ (traditional) requirements for a natural weak-
These requirements can be stretched, either as a general partnership policy or in certain specific circumstances as agreed, and these circumstances are primarily to do with position at the table and vulnerability.
The aim, of course, is to cause the maximum disruption to your opponents whilst minimising the chances of disrupting your own side and avoiding the dangers of paying the price for indiscretion should your opponents find a well-
You are as likely to inconvenience your partner as your opponents.
With this in mind your preemptive overcalls will tend to approximate to a ‘pure’ definition such as that given above. The non-
It would not be wrong to pass with a borderline weak two hand in this position, particularly if vulnerable.
In particular, a weak opening bid of 2♥ in second seat vulnerable, with its limited obstructive potential (see ‘which suits and how many?’), should promise a sound defensive lead, unless you have no joy in life other than to spread minor mayhem amongst everyone including your partner.
The odds are now in your favour with two opponents to annoy and only one partner who will probably get annoyed anyway.
You may stretch the requirements a little, but you should stick close to the ‘pure’ ideal when vulnerable.
When not vulnerable, though, and particularly when your opponents are vulnerable, there is much to be said for taking a much laxer approach to life.
An excellent idea, taken from Barry Rigal, is to treat each deviation from the ‘pure’ ideal as a flaw.
Possible flaws are therefore:-
In this position you should treat one flaw as acceptable. With two flaws you should tend towards not making the bid.
In general in this seat you should be prepared to relax the suit quality guideline, and requirements regarding the overall shape of the hand, but you will tend not to misrepresent the length of your suit (unless you have a partnership agreement to this effect), and you will try to avoid making such a bid when holding four cards in the other major.
This time you have considerable leeway.
With just one flaw you should make the bid.
If not vulnerable, and particularly if your opponents are vulnerable, then you might well take further liberties.
The existence of two flaws would be far from exceptional in these circumstances.
In particular, this liberty will frequently extend to the length of the suit which you promise when not vulnerable in third seat.
Specifically in this position you should be prepared to open a good (say three honours) five-
The corollary is that in this same situation you will tend to open a decent six-
This is an approach which you will not meet much in club play, but as long as partner is fully aware of this style, it will pay off in the long run.
You will also not flinch from making such a bid on a slightly wider point-
Post intermediate and above
K Q 8 7 4 2
9 5 4
You have seven high-
Open 2♠ in first or second seat at any vulnerability.
It won’t be everyone’s choice, but I would open 3♠ in third seat at favourable vulnerability, provided that my partner is on the same wavelength.
K 9 8 7 4 2
9 5 4 3
You have five high-
Pass in second seat.
Consider opening in first seat when not vulnerable, but I would tend not to.
Open in third seat every time.
K Q J 8 5
T 9 4 3
You have ten points on a raw count and a quality five-
I pass in first or second seats.
In third seat opposite my regular partner I definitely open 2♥ when not vulnerable, and I might even do the same when vulnerable.
With no opponents to disrupt, the considerations in fourth seat are quite different.
This page last revised 17th Mar 2018
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