Stuart King

Some Thoughts on Bidding 1

Having recently started a new partnership I’ve been spending an unduly large amount of time thinking about bidding methods the last month or so. When Mungo and I first played together before christmas we didn’t really agree to much, only that eventually we’d like to sit down and discuss what we think we should play and that in the meantime we’ll play a relatively simple system (emphasis on relatively).

So we’ve sat down several times now and discussed each of our styles and our own thoughts on what constitutes a good bidding system. Mungo is very keen to play some sort of strong club system as that is what he played with his old partner. I don’t particularly mind what I play and am happy to oblige, however I have never played a serious strong club system, or to put it more acurately I have never played a strong club system seriously, mostly because I’ve been unable to find a willing partner!

I am trying to approach constructing a bidding system from a blank slate, without some preconceived ideas influencing my thoughts (alot easier said than done!). With that in mind the first thing to ask is what I want from my system, what are important things to consider when building a system?

I’ve been thinking about this this in a slightly different way, I think people obsess over the bidding and ignore the actual hands they are bidding! This tends to lead to very restrictive systems where your bids are almost chosen for you. I’ve tried to reverse this and ask how do the hands want to be bid?

The first hand types I thought about are big two suiters, opening these a strong 1 feels really wrong to me. Don’t get me wrong this could work really well if the opponents leave you alone but so does pretty much anything! These hands want to show their suits and they also have the property that a fit in either of the two suits massively improves the hands playing strength, so if we raise agressively then we can get away with just bidding our suits as if we have no fit then we won’t be missing anything.

This fits in well with a second hand type, weak unbalanced opening hands. How do these hands want to be bid? Well what can we expect from the auction? I expect that the opponents are likely to bid so I want to take up a fair amount of space to make it dangerous for our opponents to come in.





Take a hand like the above. Opening 1 will almost always lead to the opponents bidding hearts, say something like

West North East South
1 1 1 2

Whatever happens next the opponents are in a reasonable competitive position, they know they have a fit and can take competitive decisions accordingly. Open the hand 1 and North might not be able to bid 2 and even if North can, they can only find out about a fit at the 3 level, and if partner will raise to 2 on Hxx and little else this will put South in a horrible position

West North East South
1 pass 2 ?

When E-W can hold nothing more than a good 4-3 fit and N-S could still potentially have enough for game it makes Souths life pretty difficult. As is well known, the spade suit is all powerful in competitive auctions so why not use that principle when our hand indicates the auction will be competitive? I think these sorts of hands want to be opened the highest ranking suit they would welcome a raise on Hxx and out in. So something like





might still want to be opened 1 as we really do not want a raise on Hxx opposite. Precisely where the line is between opening 1 and 1 isn’t clear but it’s good to have options holding something like





Yes this does put quite alot of strain on 1 but it’s just something I’ve been wondering about. Is this kind of flexibility possible? is the strian to much? Do we lose more than we gain concealing the diamonds if partner doesn’t have a fit? Perhaps we might also unexpectedly gain by putting the opponents off when partner has very few spades? what other possible problems are there?


DavidFebruary 9th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I might suggest that you strongly look at the system that Sabine Aukin and her partner play, sounds like it is something up your alley. It is based on a strong club, with canape principles and a complex sequences so they can open a major on hands like that.

Stuart KingFebruary 9th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Thanks for the tip, I’ll give it a look.

Larry LowellFebruary 9th, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Yes, “I Love This Game” by Sabine Auken will give you only a flavor of her system which we have tweaked and love. Search out her Convention Card on ecats:

Canape, opening good 4-card majors before a minor is fun to play and gives the opponents some tough decisions to make.

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