Thursday, March 1, 2007

5-card majors or 5-card majors?

A never dying system debate is the fundamental one about the length required to open in 1 of a major. The world at large has voted for 5. Now the italians (Lanzarotti-Buratti & Fantoni-Nunes) have taken that a step further by not allowing 5332 (or even 5422) with a minimum hand when opening 1H/S.

This seems to me like a way to go, especially since computer analysis of large samples of hands played at BBO and OKBridge shows that 5332's (with long M) are best opened with a 1NT (in a 15-17-range). Does this apply for weaker hands outside the NT-range?

I believe so and therefore in my current strong club system (the structure increasingly popular in Sweden):
1C 16+
1D balanced/(4441)/4-M & 5+m
1M 5+
1NT 14-16

... we open 1D with all 11-13 and 5M332. This isn't a original idea, but we go as far as stating that it is obligatory in 1st/2nd position. This hand can't be shown systematically after 1H/S.

What's the verdict so far? With only a couple of hundred boards played it works well. A board from the Danish first division (imps) a couple of weeks ago against the Danish Open Team mainstays Dorthe & Peter Schaltz:


1D - pass - 1S - -1NT;
2S - D - pass - 3D;
pass - pass - 3S - 3NT;
pass - pass - D all pass

Spade lead into the tenace but still +800 with no game on our way. But, in practice, a lot of auctions went 1S-4S and no club lead for +620. Still +5 imps. More to come on this theme.

Last, an anecdote from Rosenblum 1994 in Albequrque. The three best placed junior pairs (de Knijff-Börgesson from Sweden) on the butler from the Junior European Champioships earlier that year were sponsored by the WBF to compete in the teams. As part of the package Bobby Wolff gathered the youngsters in his suite for a social outing and some fatherly bridge advice. "Boys! If you ever to want achieve anything in bridge - play 4-card majors!"

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