Colin Lee — The Lee Club

How much better is your system?

How much does your bidding system really make a difference?

I was talking with various people in the Toronto Regional last weekend and the comments ranged from “it’s the biggest difference” to “not at all”.  I have to admit I’m probably in the middle heading towards “not at all”.

Now, I’m not a naturalist.  I don’t believe that Rubber Bridge style of bidding with basically zero system is the right way to go.  But how much of a difference do different conventions make in the long run?  We had a great hand for NAMYATS on the weekend:

West East
xx AKx
xx AQxxx
x Qxxxx
West North East South
4D* P 5D* P
6S P P P

4D showed a NAMYATS spades hand and 5D showed slam interest with Diamonds and Hearts controlled.  The plus side of this auction – we got to a slam that was a little better than 50% which is fairly hard to reach on other methods.  The down side – East had to guess as to whether to try to bid for a slam with one bid at the 5 level with a void in partner’s suit.  The auction was hardly scientific.  I’m sure there are better methods than NAMYATS in a forcing club system.  Here’s the thing – for the majority of partnerships remembering sequences and discussions and complex scientific auctions takes a lot of brainpower – especially after playing bridge for 6 days straight.

I recall watching the Spingold recently where the auction went:

West North East South
1S P 4H* P

After tons of bridge it was a tough question for West as to whether their agreement was 4H was a splinter in support of spades or a weak 4H bid.  Matches get decided on auctions like these; tired mistakes.

In my humble opinion, it’s more important to have strong agreements that you can remember than having the best, most scientific system.  The more you play the same system, the more it becomes second nature, the less you worry about the simple sequences and auctions and the more you can concentrate on play, defense and bidding judgement.

1 Comment

bobby wolffApril 15th, 2009 at 11:23 am

A wonderful article, although possibly not long enough.

The last paragraph, at least to me, sums it up accurately. In these days of changing partners it becomes disadvantageous, although possibly even playing basically the same methods, to remember all the different nuances and tendencies from one partner to another.

We would probably agree that some systems, methods and treatments are better for certain type hands but subject to other disadvantages for others. It is all a lifetime learning experience, before one usually finally settles for what is simple and, above all, what can be remembered.

Also, never forget, that unfamiliarity with certain type sequences sometimes leads to dreaded hesitation disruption which, in general, makes our game, although usually unintentionally, less than it should be, since partner will likely read one’s potential problem.

Thank you, Colin for bringing up this perplexing subject.

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