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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

They shouldn’t be allowed to play that!

A pair at the recent Autumn Congress was playing a system whereby 1C showed H, 1D showed S, 1H was a balanced hand and 1S was a strong and forcing opening. The pair concerned had well completed convention cards, were as co-operative as they could be about disclosing and had a suggested defence to help their opponents. There was some discussion over the weekend about whether this sort of system ought to be allowed or not. In a club it is up to the members to decide. The club can play at Level 3 which would not allow this or at Level 4 and prohibit such systems if they want but I guess they are very rare anyway at most clubs.

Virtually all EBU tournaments, however, are played at Level 4 so this system and others that include transfer openings at the one level can be played. I know that the Tournament Committee have discussed this recently and the next Laws & Ethics Meeting will feature an item on the agenda concerning such systems.
One view expressed is that players should, with very few exceptions, be allowed to play what they want in a tournament setting but others feel that these systems ought to be more tightly restricted than they are. Is it, for example, reasonable to have to consider a defence for a two board round? Should these types of system perhaps be restricted to longer rounds, say 16 boards and not permitted in two or three board pairs rounds or short Swiss matches? Are players put off entering the NICKO or going to Brighton for fear of meeting such a system or don’t they care.

I asked a number of top players what their view was about these types of system being played in the Autumn Congress and about 80% would favour being more restrictive than current practice in short rounds. Any views on this topic would be welcome in advance of the next L&E meeting coming up early in the New Year.

In an earlier blog the web address of the International Bridge Laws Forum was given. Recently it has moved to the BBO site and the address is now http://forums.bridgebase.com/


  1. Regular readers of the Orange book will notice a high degree of correlation between the Grove is in the Heart (GITH) system and the more unusual methods detailed for level 4 in section 11 of the Orange book.

    Having played against this system a few times, more theory is now appearing on the best way to defend against GITH.

    Two methods I have seen are frequent uses of the penalty double after a 1H opening and the GITH defence to GITH, where for example a X of 1H (showing 9-15 balanced) also shows 9-15 balanced.

    Perhaps the easist way to address the problem would be to consider making tournaments with 2 board rounds level 3?

  2. Before you get mobbed by all the Deee-Lite fans we have in the EBU, I should correct your spelling Andrew. It's Groove Is In The Heart.

  3. If I knew what the benefit of playing the Dee-lite system is, 1S being the strongest opening bid, then perhaps I could pass further comment.

    If it is to be destructive to the oppo then that seems to me to be against the spirit of the game, which, for all I know, is permissable.

    As for this to be allowed in a two board round pairs event, then this is a no brainer. Aren`t HUM`s barred in pairs events?

  4. As one of the offending partners mentioned, i think i'll just pop my opinion in here.

    Even though we supplied a suggested defence (which we allowed our opponents to use during the bidding) and were as clear as possible in explaining any of the bids in question, i can understand the possible need to prohibit such systems in short board rounds.

    However i feel that the lack of understanding as to how to defend against these methods come from people not being allowed to play such methods/or be frowned upon if they do. If more people played unusual, but legal, systems then as Andrew says more theory on how to defend these bids would become apparent.

    What is harder for someone to defend against. A 1C opener showing hearts, or a 2C opener showing any 4+ card suit (not clubs) and 4-7 points, which is also legal. I'm not sure if thats the right description, but i've played against something along those lines at brighton.

    I have no problems going back to my normal system, but if you keep restricting what systemic gadgets you can play, you are going to get people losing interest - especially to new junior players who like to try things like that out.

  5. @Brian

    The EBU has no concept of a HUM (or BSC), there are just methods that are permitted at Level 4. This gives the EBU a lot more flexibility than, for example, the WBF.

  6. The main benefit - and what could be more important? - of the Groove Is In The Heart system is that it's fun! Some players like playing unusual systems, exploring new ideas and facing different types of decisions - they get enjoyment from this. Some players have played Acol for 40 years and are perfectly happy with this. Neither group is 'wrong' and the EBU should be big enough for both groups of players, so long as nobody is harmed.

    Is anybody harmed here? Sure, the system is unusual and it does require a little preparation before the round begins (although the pair involved provided a written defence to save players this trouble). But unfamiliarity is as far as it goes. None of the bids are toxic or destructive - they're just different.

  7. There is no doubt that unfamiliar methods are advantageous against most opponents however unsound the methods may be. But that does mean that the opponents should be protected from having to think when they play the game, although this does seem to be the model of the ACBL.

    Transfer openings that guarantee a higher suit, like those here, are not the work of the devil. These methods are giving you more space and are easy to defend against without discussion.

    Similarly the 1♥ opener is effectively a wide-range weak 1NT opener, again more space to devise the defence.

    More problematic are transfer openings that show a lower suit, for example the Garvey/Cooke 1♠ opener that shows 9-15 points with 5+ hearts. Here they have robbed you of either the spade overcall or takeout double and it takes more thought, and experience, to decide on the better option.

    But even so, I expect that most tournament players should be able to cope. If these methods prove successful, then more will play them and defensive ideas will consolidate to the most effective.

    So I believe it would be a retrograde step to change the permitted Level 4 methods. Bids that guarantee suits of known length, whether natural or a transfer, should be permitted in all events.

  8. Groove is in the heart is basically a variant of Reese's Little Major System, which was licensed by the EBU in the 1960s. I think that 50 years is an adequate timescale for players to get used to such methods.

  9. My view is 'what can we do to get more people entering tournaments' as numbers are perhaps overall not what they used to be. I do believe that for tournamnets (which are also 'social'), the complicated systems are perceived as 'aggressive' (rightly or wrongly) and it does put people off entering. Look at BBO - there is a well-attended 'club' within BBO which demands that players play ACOL only - I would suggest that it exists so that people know that the complex systems are played elsewhere. Surely this is what the Premier League/Gold Cup (as examples) are for, top class players who are prepared to learn complex systems in order to assist them to win. Further top-class players are not 'put-off' by complex systems (we all know the more complex a design, the more there is to go wrong :) !). The expert game (with its systems) is for expert players at 'expert level', and MOST of the tournaments are for everyone, some of whom are just starting out with trepidation into tournament bridge.

  10. I play in most EBU congresses and am an average+ standard congress player I guess. I played against this system at the autumn congress and something similar at Brighton in the teams - didn't have time in either case to explore detail to know if it was the same one! It completely spoilt my enjoyment of the hands, because there wasn't time to focus on what was going on. I'd certainly prefer not to play against such unusual systems in 2,3 7 or 8 board sessions. More and more such systems will appear and life is too short to find defences to them all!

  11. surely this is better than playing 6 rounds of bridge against benji, weak nt before being treat to reverse benji weak nt in the last round

  12. I play in many EBU congresses and am a reasonable standard congress player. I have not played against this system. I feel I have missed out. It has rather spoilt my enjoyment of the events, because I've not yet seen these methods. I'd prefer not to play against the same tawdry systems all the time. Hopefully in time, more and more such systems will appear and life will become richer and more interesting.

  13. I have quite a bit to say about this so will spread it over 3 posts. A few months ago, I was due to play a duplicate in Oxford with Michael Clark and suggested he bring along a silly system that would be fun to play. He appeared an hour or so later having made one up. And it was silly... and it was fun to play! That is pretty much the system that has been described above that Steve Raine and I were playing this weekend. Why play it? Having tried it - it is fun! After the slightly dubious opening bids, most bids are fairly natural and feature wild and wacky features such as Stayman and Transfers! I would suggest that although it is unusual, it could hardly be described as destructive. The most obstructive thing is that you open quite light (which is the same for many strong club systems) In fact you actually supply more information to the opponents than a normal opening bid! Take the 1S opening. Most tournament players are familiar with a strong club that contains nearly all 16+ hands and you wouldn't get any complaints about someone playing Blue Club, say.

    In our system, 1S shows 16+ balanced or 16+ with one minor or 16+ with both minors (54) and a singleton in one of the majors. So in fact - you get more information about the hand than you would be defending a strong club. The only difference... it's just three bids higher. The 1H opening also is not nearly as daunting as some people might think. 9-15 balanced.... it's almost as if you opened 1N and everyone knows how to defend against that! Not only that, you get three extra bids.. double, 1S and 1N. Is it really so different from a pair playing Precision where they open all their balanced hands with less than 15 points 1D? Or a method where the 1D opener can show either minor? I don't think so, really. In fact - the 1H bid in this case is even more tightly defined than the Precision equivalent as it won't include a natural opening bid with diamonds.

  14. The 1C/1D openings seem to cause the most concern. They show an unbalanced hand with the linked major (i.e. 1 club shows at least 4 hearts and 1 diamond shows at least 4 spades) and at least 9 HCP. I must confess, I'm surprised that people could be so concerned about a transfer! People seem to have methods to deal with opponents having transfers in response to a prepared club or in response to a 1N opener. What's the difference? When you think about it though, you actually are in a much better position than you might be following a regular 1H or 1S opening playing Acol, say. What you know then is that they have an opening hand with at least 4 hearts, which might be balanced (if outside the NT range). In this case, you know the opening bid is unbalanced. More usefully, you even have additional bids to describe your hand better! You can now double the 1 minor opening, or cuebid the implied suit, or even bid the suit in between. It is very useful to overcall a 1S opening with 1H, surely? anyway there are a whole raft of possibilities. Surely that's easy to defend against, even if it's unfamiliar?

    For that reason, we thought it sensible to provide a written defence to take along to the congress at the weekend. It's not that we thought people wouldn't be able to defend against it - it really isn't tricky. We were just aware that for 2/3 board rounds, people don't necessarily have time to sort things out and it doesn't seem fair to expect them to. The hardest part about the 2/3 board rounds though, was explaining to every pair what our methods were! I'm glad that Steve had more patience than I did. I guess, that I'd be disappointed if this fun system was barred from most events. It has been enjoyable experimenting with the method and seeing what happens.

  15. Innovation in bridge (within the Laws and Regulations) is fun, isn't it? What has surprised me is that it seems to work and not because people don't know what to do against it. It just seems to get you to the right spot a lot of the time. Otherwise we wouldn't bother. I could write about this at length - but think I'll just leave this thought. How is this any more complex than a Polish Club, say? In that case - 1C shows either a balanced 12-14, or natural with clubs or a strong hand 16+. The reason it is complex to defend against is mainly because of the number of possible hand-types it can contain. When you compare that to our system, you see that by contrast - our opening bids are quite tightly defined. Surely it's the ambiguity that you get from Multi-way openings that is more complex and hard to defend against than a simple transfer? I don't really see how you can de-regulate something relatively simple while keeping opening methods that are signficantly more complex and ambiguous. Still, I'm glad that I suggested to Steve over a pint in Brighton (about the length of time it takes to learn to play the system) that we play it. I've certainly enjoyed it and will be disappointed if I no longer could in EBU events. I hope that when people get greater exposure to more unorthodox methods, they will realise that there is nothing to be concerned about and it will enrich their bridge as it has mine to play them.

  16. Which methods will be considered when this matter comes before the L&E committee?

    To my mind if the 1C opener showing hearts is restricted (despite the fact that it shows both a guaranteed strain and a point range), then the L&E committe will have to restrict the multi as well (as althought it guarantees a maximum point range and an anchor suit, that suit is unknown).

    Surely by definition the multi is a more difficult opening bid to defend against than this 1C opening?

  17. I have to agree with Chris that this is not a difficult system to defend against, even without prior discussion (unlike, for example, some of the less familiar gadgets allowed at the two-level). What the system does have, of course, is unfamiliarity, which automatically makes some people feel they are on the back foot even if it doesn’t pose any particular problems. I don’t think there is any easy solution to this – some people are bound to feel disappointed and perhaps be less keen to play in competitions, whether such methods are allowed or disallowed. However, I do think it is reasonable to expect players in national competitions to feel able to deal with some element of unfamiliarity where this does not require significant pre-preparation (unless, of course, they are playing in a ‘no fear’ event).

    Ideally, perhaps, rather more people would find it fun to play such systems and then others would get used to playing against them. Once they became less unfamiliar and people found they didn’t pose any exceptional difficulties in playing against them then a less-mainstream system would no longer strike fear into the hearts of certain players coming up against them.

  18. Actually, it's the combination of unfamiliar bids that seems to cause a problem - if you play the "Ruritanian 2D" I can agree a defence, whereas if you play non-generic opening 1C,1D,1H,1S,1NT bids I have to agree five defences, (in a two-board round!?).

    I enjoy playing against innovative methods, but you have a few hours (pints) head start on the implications.

    As a rule of thumb, I think, Cavendish style, you should be able to explain it to an average player in ten seconds or so; if we haven't understood it by then, it's too complicated.

    Richard J

  19. As has been said before, this particular system is not hard to defend against. Part of the difficulty people encounter, I believe, is that they do not see a defense as applicable to all such systems (here, the same defensive structure over 1C and 1H applies; the same defense to 1S as you'd play over a Precision 1C; and so on). Frances Hinden's excellent series of articles on how to defend against such things will help, but players who do not encounter such systems will read the articles once and then forget them, or will simply skim over them. I believe that yes, there are events (No Fear games, possibly some side events at a congress) in which the Level 2 regulations are more appropriate, but Level 4 is suitable for the vast majority of tournament play.

  20. In my opinion this mini-issue is a side effect of a much bigger problem within the game. As previous posters have mentioned, the concepts behind the system in question are not unduly complex and are in fact analogous to many other very common treatments that players simply do not bat an eyelid about. If one were to compare the technical knowledge of, say, the average tournament chess player with that of the average tournament bridge player, the bridge player would come out significantly worse. This is mainly rooted within the culture of the game, where bridge tournaments have a highly social aspect to them - as ably demonstrated by most of the new holiday style events on the calendar. The vast majority of players simply do not work on the technical aspects of their games and are simply happy to trundle along in the same mould as they have done for years and years. Were the average knowledge level higher, something like the aforementioned 'Groove' simply wouldn't even register.

    I have read some of the comments suggesting these systems shouldn't be played in events with 2 or 3 board rounds. But events such as the Two-Stars and Easter Guardian are expected to attract extremely high standard field who should be more than capable of dealing with something slightly out of the unusual. There are also many other events on the calendar for those who do not wish to challenge themselves.

    There is then also the further issue that has already been raised - that of innovation. While I agree that there are limits, the L&E does need to balance this with allowing room for people to come up with new concepts with technical merit - not simply reduce the game to that of the lowest common denominator - and also to keep the game attractive to the younger fresher blood. The game needs to be kept fresh and challenging for those who wish to push themselves.

  21. Bridge is a game that requires us to think on our feet; this looks like a fun system to play against.

  22. I will admit here to being one of the other pairs lightening the atmosphere at brighton with an unusual system (and one which is probably harder to defend against than Groove). It even includes what would elsewhere be called brown sticker conventions (our 2 level openings). On advice from the EBU we weren't providing written defences, but on reflection I think doing so is probably better (and we now have them in the system file if people want them in future). Perhaps the Laws and Ethics committee would consider keeping the restrictions as they are, but asking people to provide written defences to anything which is not allowed at level 3?

    While we have (deliberately, as Chris and others have said; it's fun!) tried to delve into the murkiest corners of the orange book actually if you stick to a few basic principles it's not that hard to defend against. That's why we asked English Bridge to provide some articles about defending against artificial systems, which Francis Hinden has done very well. Fundamentally, however, I don't think it's any harder to defend any of the bids individually than it is to defend a polish club, one of the other artifical 1NTs I've seen in play or a weak-only multi.

  23. (post was split due to length, second half:)

    We play this system regularly in the local clubs and people have gotten used to it, I'm sure there would be few real complaints if Chris and Steve turned up playing Groove. Ultimately, I think it's people being afraid of what they aren't used to, which is not something we should cater for in national tournaments. I think attention would be better off turned to the people playing things like polish club who turn up with a WBF convention card rather than an EBU one and aren't very clear at disclosure (I've seen it a lot) rather than people like us who are much more strict on our full disclosure with properly completed cards and even prepared defences.

    One other things which occurs to me; lately it seems that the B flights at the various congresses are being neglected. Everyone is entering the As (see the last Easter congress, when in the swiss teams there weren't enough entrants to run the B flight). Possibly the EBU could consider restricting the conventions allowed in the B flight, then we could see whether people are worried enough about it that they enter the B flight so as not to encounter these unusual systems or whether everyone still enters the A flight and it is just a vocal minority complaining.

  24. It was the first congress I have entered for many years, and I played against Chris and Steve. I'm afraid it impaired by enjoyment of the event. Quite frankly, in a 2-board format, there just wasn't time to understood their method and properly decide on a defence to the many unusual things they were playing. And a message to, Matthew, who patronisingly talks about "people being afraid" of such methods. No, I'm certainly not afraid of any system. But I do need a bit of time to get my mind round it.

  25. I think Martin and Pat have voiced quite correct concerns : We want more people to play in Competitions not less due to their perceptions (Right or Wrong) that the Youth is just extracting the Urine and have little or no thought for others who wish to enjoy the game

  26. I sympathise with Roger above, but wonder if he would have this same problem the next time he faces the system? Now that the element of surprise has been removed and he's had the chance to read a lot of comments saying why it's fairly harmless and giving suggested defences, I would expect he'll be a lot more comfortable.

    And isn't this how we all felt the first time we encountered a Precision Club or a Multi-2D?

  27. It's not fair to allow unusual artificial methods in short rounds, opponents do not have time to find out what is going on and prepare their defence.

    On the other hand we should be more liberal in Swiss matches, 6+ boards. If the average pair can understand a convention/system and formulate their defence in five minutes at the start of the match, it should be licensed provided it has bridge merit. I'm not sure where this would leave Groove.

  28. Tom,

    Where do you draw the line at 'unusual' though? Obviously you think 'Groove' is unusual, and presumably also Pascal (my system). What about other little major systems? GNATS? How about a polish club (how many people see that normally?) Weak-only multi 2D? Multi 2C? What about polish club? I bet most UK players never see one of them. Strong club? Canape openings? Transfer preempts? How about the level 3 variant of Pascal. I'm sure people are equally unhappy playing against that, and yet it's legal at level 3 even.

  29. Roger,

    sorry, I didn't mean to sound patronising, maybe 'afraid' was the wrong word. Given they were providing a defence (which was certainly a reasonable one, even if not the one I'd have chosen), does that not solve the problem of agreeing defences?

  30. Paul, what about the bids which don't guarantee a certain suit but are allowed at level 4? (obviously the multi, which is allowed at level 3, but I play a system where 2x is either (x+1) or the remaining two suits)

  31. I agree with Tom Townsend that there is a strong case for being more restrictive in very short (2/3 board) rounds. Time is wasted at the beginning when the system is explained and no doubt there will be some discussion between the opposing pair. Even though a written defence is provided (is this allowed in EBU events?) the other pair will be unfamiliar with it. Normally in major events when a written defence is required it has to be precirculated. Additionally the suggested written defence may be contrary to a partnership's normal style. I have no problem with such systems in longer swiss style matches.

  32. @Matthew

    I feel that bids such as yours, that is those defined as Brown Sticker Conventions by the EBL and WBF, should be restricted in short (2-3 boards) round events.

    Of course the Multi 2♦ is a good example of how familiarity with the convention has meant that everyone is happy to play against it. It really should be a BSC too, but has an exemption because of its popularity.

  33. The L&E have a difficult balancing act to perform in balancing the wants of the innovative players against the need to protect the innocent. In my experience beginners don't usually have a problem with 'interesting' bids because everything is new and shiny and difficult anyway. In fact it is sometimes easier for them as they often get a full (and accurate!) description of what the bid means. The objectors are often players of long-standing who have been playing the same system for a number of years and turn up to events unprepared.

    The L&E have done an excellent job in moving away from licensing individual conventions and systems in favour of general principles. As players we have to accept that this has compromised the flexibility to consider individual conventions/systems on their merits; but this price is worth paying (although I'm still not entirely happy that my Grumpy 2C bid was turned down!).

    One problem is that the L&E is made up of very experienced players and that they may be over-protective in their desire to be fair. Perhaps we need an experienced teacher to run these bids past some of their more advanced students to get their opinion.

  34. Where would I draw the line Matthew asks?

    I think for short rounds opening actions should be natural or part of well-known systems. So anything with artificial one-bids like Groove no, except strong club and Polish club. Artificial twos and higher only by individual license, which Multi 2D should receive only because it is well known in England. Nothing that a moderately experienced pair should need to discuss before starting the round, that's the principle.

    In Swiss matches I think I would allow Groove, at least in National (green-pointed) events. Five minutes discussion before playing a Groove pair is plenty to agree a playable defence.

  35. Much as I wish all my opponents would play a system where I can make a 1H overcall of their "1S" opening it took nearly six seconds to remind partner of our generic defense to artificial systems before we were on firm ground on some key sequences so I cannot but feel helpless in the face of this abomination. Groove is evil.

  36. Tom mentions 'Bridge Merit'. Surely playing a system out is the best way to discover if this is the case. What tends to happen with anything of this nature, is that those concepts that do work get retained, and those which are absurd get discarded, thus rapidly refining to something which must have some merit.

    I suspect what people might find is that anyone who turns up with an experimental method will be eminently more prepared than most of the rank and file.

    Would a chess player be banned from making a move because his opponent wasn't prepared for it?

  37. By "having bridge merit" I think I really meant "non-frivolous". The EBU would lose most of its membership overnight if it banned conventions simply for being inferior. I formed a view between my first and second posts above that Groove does have bridge merit. Can't see myself taking it up anytime soon though.

  38. I agree with those who feel that this is a simple question of familiarity; remember that every system or convention was once unfamiliar to any given player.

    I don't see how a case can be made for restricting a system that, at the one(!) level, has artificial openings with a known anchor suit, a 1NT opener with two levels of bidding granted to the opponents, and a strong bid.

    I think that perhaps what put people off was Chris and Steve's suggested defenses; it made my head hurt to look at them, and I believe that they were trying too hard. I think that this may have been a big factor in creating the perception that some people on this blog have that the system is difficult to defend against.

    Try a few words in large type on a yellow laminated card, covering just the first round of bidding. I believe that this will make a big difference.

  39. I really can't see the problem with this system, at least from the point of view of defending against it.

    Over 1C or 1D, just pretend they bid 1H or 1S and bid accordingly. If you really want to spend a few more seconds, you could decide what to do with the 2 extra bids you get, but that isn't really necessary.

    Over 1H, pretend they bid 1NT. Again, they give you two extra bids. Over 1S overcall as you would any strong artificial opener.

    It would take my pard and me about 20 seconds to decide a defence. wtp? I would have thought that any half-way serious partnership would have discussed a basic defence against anything which isn't natural.

    Personally, if it were my system I'd swap the 1H and 1S bids and use 1S as a negative to 1H. Then you have Little Major, a system that's been around since the 1960's.

    I believe that there's too much restriction on systems. I believe (through hearsay) that both the US and the UK have fairly severe restrictions on allowable systems and both have declining member numbers. Here in Australia, we have increasing member numbers and I suggest that this is partly because we are allowed to invent what we want to play (within a tight framework of system classifications). A lot of innovative systems develop and some flourish and some fall by the wayside. Not all innovation is good, but many players, especially young players, like to experiment. Let them do that and keep them. Stop them and lose them.

  40. There have been a couple of comparisons with chess but there is a fundamental difference. If I move a piece on a chess board then it is visible and transparent, trying to decipher the reason I am making the move is what requires thought. When bridge players play an artificial opening bid at whatever level then the bid does not mean what it says and in addition to attempting to bid our own hands we have to keep in mind the decoding of the opposition bidding. This is part of the fun of bridge for the experienced tournament player. The point here is does the EBU want to turn more of its membership into "tournament players"? and if the answer is yes then to what extent should the regulations cater for those who inevitably will not be fully prepared to play against every conceivable system thrown up by Level 4 agreements in the Orange book? I think there is some feeling that short board rounds (2 up to ?) should be more restrictive than Level 4, and I can see no reason why that should not be Level 3.

  41. We played twice against this pair in the teams, won one, lost one, so this is not a "results merchant" protest.

    But in 2 or 3 board matches or even 8 how can a pair of opponents read their system or
    the 4 page defense they suggest to it.

    Ordinary players going to an event to enjoy it should not be put off by a pair playing such an unusual system. This should be saved for long matches as per the Spring 4s.

    The number attending congresses is already and continually going down, please don't give players even more reasons not to come.

  42. Having read the 40 posts up to now, there seems to be a confusion between 'unfamiliar' and 'unusual'. For instance, I could choose to play the Vienna Club or some equally obscure system from the 1930s and (possibly) get some good results from it because of opponents' unfamiliarity with it.

    This particular system is unfamiliar, because it's new and there's no documentation published. Polish Club is unfamiliar (in EBU-land, presumably not in Poland), but there's books available to read if you're so inclined. In neither case is that an argument for restricting them.

    The system as described seems straightforward enough - each one-level bid has a single meaning, and tournament players are familiar both with transfers and artificial strong bids. If I were a legislator, I would be more concerned about the wide range of the 1H opening than I would about the fact that the system uses a non-NT bid for a balanced hand type.

    Forcing Pass systems are both unfamiliar and unusual. They have a fundamental impact on the structure of bidding, both offensively and defensively. However, as I understand it (and I'd be interested in confirmation of this), Australia has a more liberal attitude to unusual systems and there even the little old ladies have their defence to FP systems organised.

  43. fen boy, sheffield30 October 2009 at 10:56

    Let these new systems prevail - only good things can come from new ideas if they are allowed to flourish. I thought that the earlier comparison with chess was 'right on the button' - if bridge is to flourish it will have to be throught 'better players, more open minded players, showing the way'. Ron Clinger advocates that you should have each bid mean as many things as you can. I play 1C as one of five things, a natural club, a natural diamond in a balanced or semi-balanced hand, a balanced or semi-balanced hand or any 4441 (up to 16HCP). When I asked the L & E to allow also a 5431 be opened 1C I was given the knock-back - I still cannot appreciated why any 4441 is OK but a 4531 or 4351 is so different. Finally, don't get me on the disclosure bit or light openers in the second position of a partnership - all far more abusive to an opposition than what is being spoken about in these blogs.

    fen boy sheffield

  44. There will always be people who do not like playing against new methods. I have been accused of cheating when I was young because I was playing - would you believe it - weak twos!

    This game needs innovation. Anything that is not totally normal, whether it is a transfer opening or a pre-empt on six cards, a psyche or a strong diamond opening, will always get a minority view "We do not want to play against that: why should we?"

    But the best way to move forward is to allow such things to be played. If a pair plays against three hundred pairs a year, and of those forty play some strange methods, and three play very strange methods, they will not be unfairly treated. Few strange things will happen. But that is the sort of level that occurs, so why are people upset?

    The trouble is that people are uspset by the thought, not the actuality. When a pair comes to the table and plays transfer openings it is nothing to do with whether one turns up, and whether they can handle it. The people who get upset are ones who just assume it is unfair, not because of any experience. They objected to weak twos, they objected to five-card majors, they objected to Blue Club, they objected to transfer resposnes to 1NT, they objected to Precision Club. If you go back far enough they objected to Blackwood and Acol!

    It is important that some fancy methods are permitted in ordinary tournaments so as to allow their development, and so that people learn to compete agaisnt them. I hope that the EBU does not take a backward step here in its tournaments.

    The views in this comment are personal based on my experience as a player and are nothing to do with any position I may have in the EBU.

  45. @SlimJim

    you ask "does the EBU want to turn more of its membership into "tournament players"?", but we are talking about the regulations at tournaments. The question is whether tournament players should be able to cope with systems which they don't regularly encounter outside of tournaments or, alternatively, should tournaments cater for people who don't want to defend against systems they don't regularly play against at the expense of players who want to try something new.

    Phrased like that I think the answer is clearly in favour of not being overly restrictive.

  46. To Bill,

    Our system fit on a regular convention card, just like everyone else's. It had a summary of one bids on the front, which if we were asked to explain them we could do in one sentence.

    "1c shows hearts, 1d shows spades, 1h is 9-15 balanced and 1S is basically a strong club"

    Our suggested defense fit onto a piece of A5 paper, which explained each opening bid and an easy way (possibly not the best theoretical way) of defending against it.

    We felt that the people who didn't like the system raised their eyebrows when we said "our 1 level openings are artificial in that they don't promise the suit bid" which is how we introduced our system each round. They didn't object to the system itself, but of the prospect of playing against something unusual.

    Its not hard to defend, and it would be easier the more exposure tournament players had to it.

  47. "The number attending congresses is already and continually going down, please don't give players even more reasons not to come."

    I completely agree; don't put off the innovative players just because a few old fuddy-duddies can't cope with change. This game needs to change in order to survive.

  48. The game will survive, despite new gadgets like bidding boxes and bridgemates, and new conventions.

    This debate is about EBU Green Point events and one of the possible reasons for their decline, which I think is being opposed by a new system without notice.

    I don't pretend to enjoy playing against precision let alone Groove, but like the majority of congress players can choose either to try defending against it or not to play.

    to be fair to all parties, I'd suggest that for a 'limited time', 'new' systems should not be allowed in 'short' matches - items in quotes to be defined. During the limited time, mechanisms need to be put in place to publicise them and recommended defences to them - to remove the element of surprise.

    In matches where new systems are permitted, I'd like to see a facility where players can study designated new systems. Publicity should say more than Level 4.

    Although I'm on the EBU Tournament committee, which has briefly discussed the problem but not solutions, I must state that these are my own thoughts.

  49. I personally believe that bidding 1C to show hearts secures 3 big advantages. 1. It does use use any bidding space creating 2 extra bidding spots for partner. 2. It certainly can be disruptive in that the opponents might well hold clubs but are forced to pass (doubling would be for take out ). 3. Responder with a weak hand can attempt to sign off in one heart, but his partner is still in a position to keep the auction alive. In he opened one heart, partner might well bid 1NT which could result in the bidding having to go to the 2 level or passing 1NT out for a more risky contract.
    If more and more conventions go down this road of bidding suits to move others, then the complexity of the game is going to put off newcomers for good. If people like to bluff, deceive and confuse opponents they should take up poker. Bridge requires everyone at the table toknow what is going on the bidding without having to ask a million questions and reading convention cards the size of A4 manuals

  50. Michael, thanks for alerting me to the presence of this thread. Groove does sound fun, and I look forward to meeting it or even playing it.

    I have a personal interest in this. With a couple of partners I play Chilli, one of whose main characteristics is an extreme implementation of majors first: we bid hearts before spades before minors in all circumstances - openings, overcalls, responses, advances and rebids.

    While relatively simple and not particularly artificial, Chilli is unusual and may put less experienced opponents in a two-board match on the back foot a bit. The flurry of alert cards caused by our early bids and the subsequent damp squib explanations ("It's natural but ...") also waste time and sometimes elicit sighs and looks of disapproval and even "I can't understand why you do that".

    But that is more than made up for by the encouraging comments such as "It's so refreshing to play against something other than Benjy with a weak no-trump all the time."

    Not surprisingly I fully support the previous comments in favour of freely allowing new systems to be tried and tested at tournament level, otherwise young, strong and improving players will boycott them, to the great detriment of the game. (All though not a member of any of these categories, I might boycott them too, but that's not quite so important.)

    I also agree that many tournament players do not work hard enough at their game. Every regular tournament partnership should have a generic default defence against any type of bid. It doesn't have to be optimum, but if RHO opens 1H showing a balanced hand with 9 to 15 points, the partnership should know immediately what all their possible calls mean without needing to confer or read Steve's bit of A5.

    Surely that is the least than can be expected if green points are to have any meaning at all?

  51. Addis wrote:

    "I'd suggest that for a 'limited time', 'new' systems should not be allowed in 'short' matches - items in quotes to be defined. During the limited time, mechanisms need to be put in place to publicise them and recommended defences to them - to remove the element of surprise.

    In matches where new systems are permitted, I'd like to see a facility where players can study designated new systems. Publicity should say more than Level 4."

    I quite like this suggestion, actually. It would mean that people could try new systems; while also pleasing those who don't want to play against new systems (or want a month's warning). Unfortunately, your last sentence doesn't quite fit as I see it - many of the systems being objected to, such as Groove and my own system (Pascal) are level 4 legal. If level 4 is going to be retained, and remain this permissive (yes please!), the only way to implement your suggestion would be to make level 3 the default. In my opinion that would be counterproductive, as it would stifle innovation.

  52. But I dont really think we are talking about stifling inovation; more that such systems should be rrstricted to LONG matches of at least 8 boards, I know the lads concerned and have no axe to grind except that 'rank and file' players should not be put off playing in EBU competitions because of complexity

  53. There isn't really a concept of "systems" in the OB regulations, and it wouldn't be easy to manage such a concept anyway. Groove is primarily just transfers and personally I find it hard to sympathise with people who turn up for a tournament with no defense to transfers - they are common as muck and even though I seldom use them much myself I think it would be silly for me to expect others to eschew them for that reason.

  54. Oh, and another thought. "Anonymous" said:

    "I personally believe that bidding 1C to show hearts [...] can be disruptive in that the opponents might well hold clubs but are forced to pass (doubling would be for take out )."

    This isn't really the case; if holding clubs, you can overcall 2C if doubling 1C is takeout of hearts. That's just what you've have done if they'd opened 1H. Alternatively, you can play 1H by you as takeout, meaning that double can be "strong hand" or "penalty interest" or "clubs" as you choose. The fact they've opened below the suit held means you have more room, not less, to describe your hand.

  55. There are two distinct questions here:
    1. Should some of the more complex methods allowed at level 4 be disallowed where rounds are sufficiently short? and
    2. Is "Groove" such a system?

    To me the answer to 2 is obviously no, for reasons extremely well expressed by previous posters. The answer to 1 is less clear cut. Personally, I think you should expect to come up against more unusual methods at level 4 (especially top events like the Autumn Congress), and be prepared for it. If you don't like this, stick to level 3 events! If you don't think there are enough level 3 events then campaign for more of them.

  56. fen boy, sheffield

    We really must stop using the word 'system' in this debate. As one of the earlier contributors wrote, 'the OB has replace all syestems'. All we have no is permitted bids. If the 'bids' used by these players is authorised in the OB there is no 'power' as I see it that can stop the bids. Play on.

    fen boy

  57. If people wish to develop systems to explore their optimum design then good luck to them. Personally I feel that whilst a natural system works reasonably well, most of the time, by combining bids we can create greater flexibility and convey more information to partner.

    Consider the 1NT response - to most people that means :6-9 points, no 4 card or longer higher suit and no support for partner.

    Commonly called a limit bid, it is in fact a DEAD END BID! The auction pretty well stops there or at the next bid.

    If you release the bid as being more generic then you enable all the subsequent bidding sequences - vastly increasing the hand types that can be described.

    e.g. 1S : 2S can now be defined as a pre-emptive raise based on ruffing values in a suit BUT

    1S : 1N: 2C (relay) : 2S can now be a limit raise with reasonable defense (or whatever)

    By removing this limit on 1NT you virtually DOUBLE the bids available to you.

    And what do you lose? How often does a 1NT response lead to a game? How often do you get 1S:1N: 2S resulting in playing on a 5-1 fit?

    THe example given is just a simple one showing how thinking about your system could result in much better bidding ability. Players should NOT don a system as a straightjacket - it is there to help you, not bind you.

  58. I do think things have gone a bit far. The changes made in 2005-6 were a massive loosening of the regulations, not the gradual change that we were accustomed to. Using level 4 in most competitions would have been a big step up on its own, but this was compounded by a number of things being added to level 4 at the same time. Notice that the things that have been complained about (these transfer systems, and also the random 2C pre-empt) are all things that were introduced in the current OB - that is, they weren't previously allowed in level 4 events, even though level 4 was then only used in the more "expert" competitions.

    Personally I think the idea of having a single level for most tournament play was OK, but really deserved a level specifically designed for that purpose. Neither level 3 (outdated) nor level 4 (too much of a step up) feel right. Particularly for 2-level openings, I think either the WBF Brown Sticker or ACBL Super-Chart regulations are ideal (as well as being admirably simple).

  59. Also, this balanced 1H opening seems more difficult to cope with than people are giving it credit for. At least with the transfer openings, once you've made your first call you're back on firm ground. Whereas this thing gives you problems later in the auction which you're unlikely to have time to discuss. e.g.

    1. After (1H) Dbl (p), opps might be in a good spot. This is completely different to over a natural 1NT bid where you can happily pass on any random 6-count (for example). To deal with this properly you need to have discussed which hands you're doubling on, and what the doubler can expect if partner pulls.

    2. After (1H) 1S (p), how do you bid a good hand? If the opening had been a nebulous 1C or 1D, my partnership agreements are that 2m would be a cue-bid, but does that apply when the suit is hearts? Or maybe we could respond exactly as if we'd opened 1S, but that only works if we've remembered to discuss it.

    It's not difficult to find agreements to solve this sort of problem, but if you've never thought about it before sitting down at the table it's going to be really hard to ensure you're on the same wavelength.

  60. geoffrey wolfarth2 November 2009 at 14:18

    I have read this debate with great interest and have a suggestion. EVERY (new) SYSTEM should have a fully completed convention card as to its basic characteristics published on the EBU WEBSITE with in the case of unusual systems as judged by the L&E Committee a suggested defence. Once published on the website after 3 months then the system can be used in any national (green point)event. Also I would have a rule that prohibits psyching any conventional bid in pairs events.
    Even though not technically gifted I would certainly volunteer my services to asssist with the administration/set-up of such a scheme.

  61. With regard to Geoffrey's comments the L&E have made a previous decision that any changes will only be brought in once per year and that date is August 1st. The reason for this is players oft stated dislike of frequent changes especially in mid season. Secondly the comment seems to be suggesting a new level of play i.e. green point only events where you can play methods. This, of course, includes some simultaneous pairs events these days. It would add an extra and unwelcome layer of complexity. Thirdly we don't licence systems as such and haven't done for some years but rather licence agreements.

  62. I would like to make two rather factual points. The first is that the parts of "new" systems that seem to be causing the problems aren't really new at all - transfer openings at the 1-level have been around since the 50s. They just aren't played very much.

    The second is that these methods are much easier to defend against than other things which I haven't seen any objections to. Not just Polish club, but the fully 'prepared' 1C opening, which can be anything from 7 clubs, to a 4441 with a singleton club, or a 5332 with a 5-card major... it's just that is seen so often that no-one really minds it any more. Never mind the Benji 2C opening that might be a balanced 21-count or might be 8 solid hearts and a couple of jacks.

    And no-one has mentioned transfer responses to a 1C opening, which are all the rage nowadays -particularly in competition. For some reason, transfers in response to an opening bid are somehow much less controversial than transfer openings.

    The issue really seems not to be about how hard it is to play against these systems, but rather how it is hard to play against anything unfamiliar. Speaking personally, I would hate the idea of stopping the unfamiliar.

  63. How about an appendix to the Orange book with an L&E approved defence to each level 4 convention/opening bid etc.

    This could be required by the people submitting the convention for L&E approval of done by the L&E themselves.

    Then even when playing with a pick-up partner against an unusual agreement, a partnership could agree to play "standard orange book defence" in one second to the unusual things?

  64. Chris Cooper said...
    The 1C/1D openings seem to cause the most concern.
    Not sure why. I would play:
    1NT natural, X = takeout of promised suit.
    Over 1C: 1D=S+minor, 1H=both minors
    Over 1D: 1H=H+minor, 1S=both minors
    Other bids natural
    Happy to bid the 2-suiters on 4-card suits at this level. Bring it on!

  65. Andrew Murphy's suggestion that the OB include an "approved defence" is a nice idea, but it would lead the the OB being approximately the size of a bridge table. Consider the 2C opening, for example. This can be (among other things) *any* combination of meanings (strong, intermediate and weak) that does not promise 4 clubs and does not include 2-suiters with longer clubs. I could, therefore, play it as:
    "5+ Hearts, 4+ another, weak; or 19-20 balanced; or 24+ balanced; or a non-forcing intermediate-to-strong spade hand; or 6+ diamonds weak". Admittedly a suitable defence might be "bid something because they'll get confused", but the sheer range of available openings prohibits a case-by-case defence. Better to defend on general principles, I think.

    The idea of providing a suggested defence is one I can agree with; while the EBU advises against it, we bring some suggested defences with us bbut don't draw attention to them unless oppo ask (and then we say "There may be a better way, but this is one option").

  66. Why not have an area of the EBU web site where bidding ideas can be discussed? Digests of particularly interesting threads could be reproduced in English Bridge.

  67. A lot of these solutions being proposed are grossly out of proportion with the actual problem. How many boards of Groove were played at the Autumn Congress? On how many of these boards was there even a possibility that something unusual would happen? You're talking fractions of one percent. Do you really want to devote so much time and energy to protecting people from playing something slightly unusual for two boards once per year? There must be more important things on the agenda.

  68. Due to slow play you arrive at a table late. You declare your Weak Benji system. Opponents state we play a "Corrupt Club" system but we will alert. Have we got 5 mins to examine the system? Have we got another 10 mins to come up with a partial defence? NO and NO. We are handicapped before a bid is made.
    Such systems create bad feelings and cause club players to stop playing at clubs. I'm not adverse to new systems. There is a role here for the EBU to scrutinise new systems. If acceptable the system should be published for say 12 months and then be given a tempory permit. Another cause of conflict at clubs and tournaments are PHYCHES. Most experienced partnerships have telepathy and know when partner is phyching. For the good of bridge I would like to see phyches outlawed. Alot of bridge players are competative and love the challange of taking on better players but would like the game to be played on a level playing field.

  69. Jules,

    Answer to a) Yes and b) I am grateful that the EBU (L&E, Jeremy) has taken time to consult its members about their diverse views. There has been criticism for alleged non-consultation previously. 'Damned if you do, damned if you don't' springs to mind here. Reading emails is a simple, quick and effective way of 'sounding out' current thoughts. So, from me, thanks for the opportunity of allowing me to be asked !

  70. RE Anonymous:

    Systems like Groove can be played in clubs at the discretion of the club. If you're playing against something that you need 15 minutes total to work out how to defend against then raise it with the committee at your club or don't turn up late at the table. I agree that systems like Groove should be played in 7/8 board (or longer) Swiss or high level pairs fields and not some random duplicate. With regard to psyches being outlawed, that's just ridiculous and removes an acceptable weapon from your arsenal. if you feel that the opps are psyching and it's being fielded, call the TD and get it recorded. Let the L&E committee ban them.

  71. Re anon's reply 06/11 to [my] anon blog dated 05/11.

    I am very dissapointed at the comments. When I get to a table that is still in play I think it would be rude to sit on west's lap. Jeremy Dhondy is to be congratulated for starting this forum. Alot of bridge players feel isolated from the EBU and Tournement Players. The EBU in is danger of loosing alot of these very important members. Let all bridge players, whatever level, make their views known on whether PSYCHES or obscure systems are acceptable. I have read John Holland's and the Late John Armstrong's WBF convention Card dated 05/11/07 which under the heading of Phyches says; Never in partnership experience. jf

  72. I think Grove should be allowed if properly alerted. I understand that can be a challange for opponents, but bridge is all about challenging other players and having fun. I am personaly very dissapointed with some very strict rules about 2C opening that has to have 8 playing tricks or 22+Hp if balanced. I agree with 22+HP if balanced but why can not 2C be used to show 5 loser or better hand despite points ex.
    I got one evening S AK9875432 H 74 D 92 C - Everybody bid straight 4S making 12 tricks. I opened 2C, Partner showed 3 controls and as only pair we end up in slam. Than I was told off that my opening is illegal.
    We alerted 2C as showing 5 loser or better hand or 22+HP if balanced

  73. I wonder why chess organisations don't have the sense to prohibit rare openings in lightning chess events.

  74. I played at the Autumn Congress and encountered "The Groove". As an experienced played I had no problem playing against it. However my wife, who has only played competitively for the last few years, felt intimidated by it. Her reaction was that she wasn't sure she would wish to play again if systems like that are permitted. Herein lies the problem....the less experienced players are put off no matter how much the more experienced players try to placate them !

  75. The use of a complex system does cut both ways, and requires a lot of effort and skill to build something new that copes with whatever competitive auction oppo choose to throw at you. Do we penalise people who put in hours and hours of practice and learning to improve their declarer play? Certainly claiming on a squeeze at trick two generates ill-feeling at the bridge table, and it is ill-feeling and impressions that we are dealing with here, as it is the suprise / being put on tilt that is offending people (i think).

    I suppose this boils down to, (a) Is a congress like brighton an event for the nation's bridge players, where all should expect to be accomodated, or a National Competition, where you can expect to compete agains the best in the nation, systems and all, (b) is there scope in the bridge calendar for both sorts of competitions and (c) is it part of being a good bridge player to be able to defend such a system / invent such a system.

  76. Some years ago Flint and Reese devised a highly artificial method called Little Major, which was used to counter a very complex method called Monaco Relay. This was banned for everyday use for main reason that it forced opponents to change their system in order to counter it. Roman club for example uses a 2C opening to show a three suiter with 11-16 points--open to psychic abuse third in at green when it can be opned on balanced garbage--but the point is that overcalls need to be pretty good in terms of suit quality and double cannot be takeout as you have no idea which is the shortage and everything will break badly. This bid, and there are many others such as the multi, require well thought out defences. This is fine for serious partnerships, but not so for those that play mainly for fun now and then, as they will feel uncomfortable and often cheated. I once played a gold cup match involving a forcing pass method and we were allowed to consult notes for a defensive method--this was anything but satisfactory. Maybe HUM users should be forced to carry a workable defence to their oddities which opps can consult--but I can also see serious players need to be allowed to develop. Maybe as before a few designated tournaments would be a good thing, after all the late Al Sobel who was an American tournament director once ensured that there was a section devoted to all those players with questionnable ethics so they could cheat each other, so perhaps there could be sections where HUMS could be used.

  77. @David:

    Interestingly, however, none of the systems in question here contain HUMs (by WBF standards). The EBU permits precisely two bids which are HUMs, the Stevenson Spade (showing either minor) and a nebuluous minor in a system without a strong minor. We're also not talkin about 'people who play now and again for fun', this is in the A flight of national level competitions.

  78. In my experience, a big difference between the average American tournament player and the average British player has been their approach to major (national) tournaments. The British player enjoys mixing with the top players and largely dismisses the flighted alternative. The average American, with a greater focus on masterpoints and the easier game, rushes to the smaller flighted events seeking to beat their peers.

    It has been said that bridge is one of the few games where you can play the 'Tiger Woods' of the world. I hope this will always be the case, but I should not expect Tiger to be restricted to a single club when I play him.

    The Two Stars is one of the few top pairs event in the English calendar. This is not an event where pairs should expect to be protected - if you want to play in the big game, then you have to be able to cope with it.

    Perhaps it has come to the point where the British player who does not feel that they can cope with these methods should be looking at the flighted game, and the EBU may need to do more to promote these.

    Finally, Groove is not the 'feared' system on which decisions should be made. It is easy to defend. A more complex system, like Garvey/Cooke's Submarine Club which has unfamiliar 1- and 2-level openers, requires far more discussion prior to a round. But it is interesting to note that no-one seems to have complained when they won Brighton, perhaps because they were leading all the way and only played the top pairs who see nothing wrong in these methods.

    In summary, if you can't stand the heat, keep out of the kitchen.

  79. Paul your summary has me worried that you think 'lesser' players have no right playing in such as the EBU Autumn Congress. I always thought this and every other congress was for the EBU membership not a few elite.

    On this occasion the 'Groove' was being played NOT in the FINALS against the top players , but in the Swiss Pairs against other pairs.

  80. That's not quite true, shintaro. The system in question was being played in the Two Stars Final, not the Swiss Pairs.

  81. Yes I played against "The Groove" in the finals and I must say that the young pair who played it are a delight to play against, unlike some other pairs we have come across ! As a relative newcomer to the game I did appreciate playing against the "top" players and it was certainly an eye-opener to realise that they make mistakes just like the rest of us....just less overall of course ! Certainly, though, I wouldn't want to just play in flighted events and so I am making sure my system can cope with unusual opening bids etc....

  82. @shintaro

    I have always been of the opinion that the best way to improve your game is to play against better players.

    I encourage all 'lesser' players to 'play up' and take on the more experienced players at the Autumn Congress and other events - they are very welcome.

    But I would not wish to dumb down the main competition in order to accommodate them. And this means that they should expect to play pairs who have spent (more) time developing their systems and agreements in the qualifying rounds.

    Given this, I don't really see the issue in meeting them again in the Swiss Pairs.

    If you are just trying to win masterpoints, or are out for a leisurely and social weekend of bridge, then perhaps one of the most prestigious pairs competitions is not the best choice.

  83. My mistake I should have put in the Multiple Teams

  84. Much is made of the disruptive nature of these opening bids and that, somehow, they is not ethical. Then such players who hold this opinion open 3S on a hand too weak to open 1S. This is majorly disruptive - and deliberately so - and I'm struggling to see the ethical argument that allows pre-empts but not disruptive 1 openers. Surely the point of the game is to do the best you can for your partnership, the obverse of which coin is making life as difficult as you can for the opposition. How often do Acol players sit idly by while their opponents bid to a comfortable lay down game contract - if that's not boring then please let me know what is. Personally I would allow anything as long as it's properly documented. Interested readers may want to know more about our system - SEHAWK - Standby Every Hand a White Knuckle Ride. Definitely not OB compliant but a lot more fun than 'spectator' Acol. And before we're accused of being young you should know that the total age of the only partnership that uses SEHAWK is around 125.

  85. I am rather surprised that this system is called Groove in the Heart. I first knew of it (or a close cousin) when it was devised by a two guys at Sydney University 45 years ago. It was called Dinkum Diamond and was a spoof system in retaliation to the Little Major. My wife told me about and I must say that it had its limitations. However, a little tweaking here and there and it was eminently playable. Every one level opening was artificial: 1C was spades, 1H was a balanced of ANY range (weak or strong, 1S was a stirring bid showing any 13 cards but the cream of the crop was 1D - the big hand! Two openings were called Boomerang. These were known to rebound on the users as they showed two suited hands (weak or strong). Yes, it was highly artificial but great fun to play. There were aspects which would be frowned upon as there may have been no anchor suit and so a number of clubs and the EBU barred its use. However, without such innovation and the opportunity to air such systems, development will be stunted. The EBU seems to bend over backwards to 'protect' the average player. However, such players should recognise the cards with which they are dealt and bid accordingly and in the main will not be inconvenienced.

    There have been a number of dubious treatments to be seen in tournaments over the years and I have been pulled up by National directors for not reporting their use. But why should I? If their use is flawed or impractical due to the lack of frequency, why should I not let my opponents put a noose around their neck?

    It has been said that these systems should be restricted from events where there are short rounds (up to 4 boards) because of the need to prepare a defence and I agree with that. But any reasonable tournament partnership should have a defence ready for unusual actions such as these. It is the 'average' player who might be swayed. If more of these systems were allowed in (say) an experimental section of a congress or National event, then players will become better prepared to cope with them. One thing is for certain, to come up against a pair that had a disaster because they were having fun with such a system and hear them laugh about it, must be good for their image and the game.

  86. Yep, the two systems do sound very similar. Except, of course, that every single bid is different.


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