|"Keep your bidding simple … never feel compelled to use convention,
where it cannot help you, merely because you happen to be playing it. …
You will lose many fewer points during the year if you stop trying to be
'scientific' all the time."
— S. J. Simon, Why You Lose at Bridge, 1946.
|One NoTrump Forcing - Why?
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I am not opposed to conventions, in fact, in my most regular partnership
we have nearly 100 pages of system notes including a vast number of conventional
agreements. With one of my other favorite partners, we play approximately
twelve conventions … Stayman, Jacoby, limit raises, etc.
I enjoy the scientific approach, but also appreciate what I think S. J.
Simon was trying to say. The essence of bridge is judgement and taking
tricks. Many times, new players try to "play hockey before they learn
Read what others say you need to know, but adopt conventions only when
they make sense to both of you. Dabble with new ideas, but do not add them
permanently until you have fully mastered the ones you currently play.
I consider some agreements to be nearly "Standard American" because
they are in such widespread use. For my students, I break down conventions
into three levels ranging from the ones I think all duplicate players should
learn up through the ones they should aspire someday to master.
Be aware the following list is incomplete. Some conventions may be omitted
because I didn't think of them, and others because I don't think much of
them. In addition, my opinion of what should be on Level 2 could be someone
else's idea of Level 3. But guess what … this is my column!
||Stayman, Jacoby Transfers, Limit Raises, Weak Two Bids, Negative Doubles,
Unusual 2NT, Weak Jump Overcalls, Michaels Cue Bid, Blackwood, Gerber,
||Minor Suit Transfers/Stayman, Texas Transfers, Preemptive Raises, Jacoby
2NT, Splinter Raises, Reverse Drury, New Minor Forcing, Responsive Doubles,
Maximal Doubles, A conventional defense to 1NT openings (HELLO is my preference),
Jordan 2NT, Key Card Blackwood, DEPO.
||Lebensohl, Smolen, 1NT Forcing (or semi-forcing), Any system over Reverses,
Inverted Minors, McCabe Adjunct over Weak Two Bids, 4th Suit Forcing, Unusual/Unusual,
Support Doubles, Puppet Stayman (3C) over 1NT.
Beyond Level 3 are numerous expert treatments and agreements (Exclusion
Blackwood, BART, Upside Down Count and Attitude, etc.) but if you and your
partner can get through the lists above, you are certainly well on your
way to potential confusion. Despite these recommendations, I totally agree
with the 75 year old advice quoted below:
|"For those players ambitious to improve I should proffer the following
advice: study card valuation, develop your imagination, rely on your common
sense, and adopt as few conventions as possible." Lelia Hattersley,
Contract Developments, 1928.
© 2005 JERRY HELMS BRIDGE SEMINARS © 2009