Seven Notrump

In which some people who play bridge blog about it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Do the writers of bridge books get better hands than I do?

I just casually re-skimmed an intro bridge book, prior to lending it to a new player, and I was reminded of how my group's little system has diverged from the standard American we were taught.

One significant shift is in the way we handle powerful hands (also fondly known as rockcrushers, bunker-busters, and other compound nouns that suggest their unstoppable strength).

Classically we're taught to open 2C with a strong hand of 22+ points; 2NT with 21-22; and 3NT with 24-26 points. With fewer than 22 points, open at the one level.

Now, in all my years of playing bridge, I think I've held a 22-point hand once or twice, and never anything stronger. I'm sure it's a fine thing to be able to deal with these beauties when they come up, but if they are so rare, I don't quite see the sense in having so many calls dedicated to magical hands that occur so rarely, when those could be applied to more common situations.

As a result, our little group currently bids:

1NT: 15-17 points and a balanced hand
2NT: 18-20 points and a balanced hand
2C: 20+ points -- can be shaded toward 18 points if you have an especially nice suit, or two nice suits

It seems to work quite well. The potential downsides, I guess, are that it becomes a little more difficult to find the perfect contract when you hold a real atom-smasher, but I have not been blessed with that particular problem much.

What do you think? Are we missing out by adjusting our system this way?

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