Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hiding the major (again)

Anders Wirgren-Johan Bennet (Cavendish winners -91, Bermuda Bowl bronze -95) have been opening 1C with 5M332 routinely a number of years now (11-13/17-19 bal/semibal or clubs). They have a choice of opening bids with this pattern, but 1C is the predominant choice with minimum hands (only 1M if suit is 'rebiddable').

Not opening with the major gives you 2 ways to win. For me, the primary benefit is that you can use this to your advantage as responder knowing that opener has better playing strength/shape when the auction gets contested (i.e should you make a negative X or how high should you raise with support?).

The secondary way to win is that it's frequently better to initially just show hand-type (bal/unbal) before suit(s) and this way your choice of developing the auction means that you'll get a bigger edge if the opener becomes declarer as less is revealed to help defenders.

By having a choice of opening bids, you give yourself the freedom to exercise your judgement but you take away the, in my view, primary edge.

Anyways, Anders sent me this deal from an outing in Denmark, showing us edge no 2 in all its beauty...



Anders was South and opened 1C, Johan transfered to 1NT and then raised to game. West led the J of diamonds.

Low from dummy and RHO won the king and shifted to the queen of H (!). Anders won and attacked clubs to the queen and king. East continued his attack on hearts and the low heart return was ducked to dummy, with West discarding. An easy +430 when the majority of the field were 2 down in 4H.

Will this way of treating 5M332 catch on to a wider audience?


Jan said...

ok Ulf,
this hand supports your idea, but I would feel very uneasy to not open with that five cards major.
The auction could return to you with the opponents in 2S and now? That's why I believe in 4-cards majors, although i admit 5-cards majors has its advantages, especially with limited hands.
I had a talk on this subject last tuesday evening at the club with a colourful (and good) player.
He goes to extremes by hiding his hand (for instance he opened with 1NT with AKQxxx in spades that evening) and he routinely bids 1C-1H, 1NT even with 4 cards in spades. He said "Jan", "I don't want to give any advantage to the opponents for the lead". True, but occasionally you end up in the wrong contract..

ulven said...

It's important to play a system that's you're comfortable with.

Apart from that, I believe opening a 4-card M on a minimum balanced hand is technically inferior.

As far as hiding 5-card M's, Anders W was VERY sceptical (he told me) when Johan suggested it but agreed to try it. He now is a devotee. You'll definitively will end up in the wrong contract from time to time. But, I'm now convinced that it's the way to go. It generates better results overall.

As for now, just keep an open eye for these hands and try to see what would have (might have) happened by not opening with the M. Be your own judge. That's how to learn.

Franz76 said...

Hi, my name is Franz, Jan's Teammate in Italy. Let me, first of all, make my congrats for your blog. In Italy it is very difficult to talk about technical dummy plays and bids with our top players.
Just few words now on "hidding the major".
I think that at medium/high level advantages are more than contra.
You hide your cards, opponents defensive signals may go wrong etc. etc. In pairs MP tournaments it can be a letal weapon.
Against top teams i don't'll have to prove it in a US Major, a European Championship, a Rosenblum.


ulven said...

Thanks Franz, nice that youo take time to comment.

It's sometimes even more important to hide it against top players because they count the hands all the time. Bad players don't pay attention to the bidding as all.

As for proving it at World Champion level, give me some time... ;-)