Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Style – Mix and Match?

I understand that a partnership may adopt a certain style of bidding.  For example, you may agree that you play light preempts and as Marty Bergen says; “Vulnerability is for children.”  You might decide that you will follow the Roth Stone philosophy and have very good hands to open with a plan to reopen whenever there is an possibility partner might have hidden values.  Playing with David Bryce following this style I once opened a three count in third chair.  David kept forcing until we got to slam which he made.  He told me he wanted to bid a grand but he was afraid I would lose it.  You can imagine what he passed.  Irene Hodgson used to refuse to double the opponents in partscore – no matter what.  I found this out accidentally when she pulled my penalty double ( a contract going 3 down) to go for a number.   I am not sure this is exactly a matter of partnership style but you did have to know about it.

But even within some of these concept each individual player has their own style.  Having played with a reasonable number of partners I have noted over time their specific choices.  It takes a while to really get a feel for partner’s bids and that is one of the reasons that longer term partnerships have an advantage.  Of course you should disclose important information to your opponents.  Mark Horton and Ray were talking about this subject today and Mark recounted what Michael Rosenberg did when asked about their style after Zia preempted.  he pointed to something on the convention card.  When Zia preempted his style was: “depends on Mah Mood”.

If you read my previous blog and blogs you will notice that I am generally fairly aggressive when our side has a fit, when I have a hand with shape, when I have aces and not quacks.  I prefer to get in the auction early rather than waiting for the bidding to subside.   And yes Jeff Smith, I still overcall at the 2 level on decent 5 card suits.

Francine made a point yesterday.  We agreed that in the sandwich position 1NT was natural.  So if the opponents bid say one club – one heart our 1NT bid was 15-17 balanced with stoppers.  Did you wince?  Francine’s point was that people bid on air these days and the often don’t have much in the suits they bid.  (I admit that I might not venture into these waters with a balanced 15 count vulnerable unless it was very good).

As I watch world class partnerships play online I have noticed that long-term older partnerships do tend to bid fairly similarly although there are still differences.  But younger players of this caliber seem to be more likely to have different styles.  it seems fine to me as long as partner learns what to expect.  It would after all be impossible to try to do the same thing as partner on a hand.  You would be sitting there thinking about all the wrong things instead of all the right things.

How much do you think the partner’s have to have similar styles?  How much can they differ?  How do you disclose all of this to the opposition?


Jeff LehmanApril 9th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Interesting issue to raise, Linda. My experience in newer partnerships is that problems are more likely to arise not from items that are covered on the convention card but from either style issues (you made a high reverse after 2/1 with no extra values?) or from details of conventions (when you passed and could have made a support double, I didn’t think you could have two of my major?).

To some extent, differing styles can be accommodated, I think, but some basic agreements need to be made. Key is to address the style and details issues to supplement the convention card completion.

The issue of disclosure is an interesting one. In a recent submission to BridgeWinners website, Joe Grue tells us that he often responds in notrump over his partner’s nebulous (Precision) 1D opening with much less than expected values. Since this is an agreed, or at least experienced, partnership agreement, shouldn’t the notrump response be alerted? I think alerting or announcing is the best policy if the item is not covered directly by the convention card completion, and perhaps even if it is covered.

Jeff LehmanApril 9th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Oops. The comment about support doubles should have read “three of my major” …

Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 9th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

HBJ : I think my preferred partner and I have complementary styles in that we each have different strengths and weaknesses. The one thing we do have in common is mutual trust and respect for each other’s ability, and a willingness to acknowledge our own limitations and mistakes.

Everyone tends to have differences in their bidding approach, the risks they are prepared to take, which lines of play and defensive leads might work out best……because no two minds can ever think alike.

So long as we both stick to the system, then any deviations will be both random and a complete surprise to all. Does one have to disclose differences in style ? I think not……only what is on the system card that warrants alerts or in response to specific questions..

Linda LeeApril 11th, 2011 at 8:31 am

I agree that you need to have agreements well beyond the convention card.

Disclosure is another issue. Maybe another blog. Ray and I have talked about that for years. There are many partnership inferences that come from agreements and style that affect everything starting with the opening bid. A simple example some people open 1C with 5-5 and some open 1S. If you play the former when you open a spade you don’t have equal length clubs. Should you disclose that? While we play 12-14 notrump we don’t tend to open 1NT vulnerable with a bid 12. Do we disclose that when we open 1NT and what about when we pass.

Leave a comment

Your comment