Jerry's Tip(s)
"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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Conventions?

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 to skate."
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!
 
Level 1: Stayman, Jacoby Transfers, Limit Raises, Weak Two Bids, Negative Doubles, Unusual 2NT, Weak Jump Overcalls, Michaels Cue Bid, Blackwood, Gerber, DOPI.
Level 2: 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.
Level 3: 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