Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Yet Another Bridge System for the Lee’s

Since Ray and I are going to be playing together and so are Colin and I, we did agree recently that we needed to all play the same system.  It was just too much work to develop two bidding systems and too much memory for me.  So for now Colin and I are going to put away the notes on forcing club and move to a more or less standard system since Ray refuses to play 2/1.  Since in the last while I have played to some extent all three foundation systems it is interesting to compare them. 

With many partners I play 2/1 with strong notrump and perhaps 10-12 notrump in first and second not vulnerable with 5 card majors

With Colin I was playing 2/1 with forcing club, 10-12 notrump as above and otherwise 14-16 notrump with 5 card majors

Our threesome system is Standard with 12-14 notrump throughout with 5 card spade suits and 4 card heart suits when opening

Each system has some strengths and some weakness.  It is actually helpful to make a 2/1 with an invitational hand since forcing notrump has such a wide range.  A lot of the problems that exist in standard still exist in 2/1.  The main problem area are the one over one’s.  Sequences like 1C-1H-2C need special consideration.  How can you support clubs and force at the same time and still not get past 3NT.  There are a lot of other pretty challenging components here like the dreaded 1C-1D-1H-2S fourth suit forcing.  You get the picture.  One area that is even more challenging in 2/1 is  bidding after a forcing notrump especially this one:  1S-1NT-2D.  There are many problems here.  Opener can have up to about 19 HCP so responder really needs to try to keep the auction opening.  There is no easy way to handle an invitational hand as well as a weak one and so on.  The 2/1 by responder playing standard helps to minimize some of these problems.  The best part of 2/1 should be the auctions that start with a 2/1 game forcing response providing a lot of space to find the best place to play the hand and also to probe for slam.  Nevertheless so far the systems I have played never really live up to that promise.  For example, it is often not clear if opener or responder have extra values.  I think some of Ken Wexford’s ideas in his book Cue BIdding At Bridge are very good for 2/1 players in particular but I haven’t yet played them with anyone and I would like to see how much that helps.

The forcing club system brought out craziness in our opponents who thought it was a matter of pride to bid over 1C.  I have no idea why this is true since it is clearly easier to go for a penalty when you know your partner has 16plus points even if you have a moderate hand with some trump.  There are many other reasons why this type of action makes no sense.  Anyway, this did help our cause and lead to a lot of action for us and numbers.  Forcing club was actually best when we had weaker opening hands since the limited hand  helped responder to determine how high he wanted to go and how high to compete.  The parts I liked best about forcing club surprised me.  I expected to like the ability to start with 1C with strong two or three suiters – really challenging hands in any other system and I did.  But the opening 2C (showing 6+ clubs) and 2D (showing diamond shortness) worked exceptionally well.  I am convinced that a forcing club system is the best and I still want to play it.

The craziest thing we are doing now to make Colin happy) is playing Ekren.  This is a bid of 2H showing (gulp) 4-4 in the majors and a weak hand (3-9).  It can be as much as 5-5 so as you see it has a wide range.  It is intended to be more destructive than constructive – I just hope we usually point the missile at the right target.   Ray and I spent about an hour bidding Ekren hands and we decided that we have some ways to survive when partner has a good hand but they really aren’t the best way to bid these hands.  Without opponents we can’t really tell if the weapon works so we shall have to see,

So our system discussions have changed for now and we have been talking about how to respond to one of a major, in particular 1H which can be 4 cards in length.  If you are playing 4 card majors do you want to have a special bid to show a constructive raise with four since we don’t really raise with 3 initially anyway.  In the end we agreed to play 1M-3M as preemptive and use 3D to show a limit raise but not to play a jump to show a four card constructive raise.  We will see how that works.  I wonder if we shouldn’t play 4 card spades again, we used too.  We dropped it when we realized that most of those hands were 15-17 balanced and might as well be opened 1C with a 1NT rebid.

Colin has suggested with play undoubles and I am looking forward to trying that.  The idea is that in forcing pass situations you reverse the meaning of pass and double.  I am not yet sure I understand all the implications and I am sure I will have something to say about the effectiveness as I use this approach.

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