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Flannery Roland Wald's favourite convention

#1 User is offline   32519 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 07:58

Flannery is played by many top internationals, most noticeably from the USA. Here are some I know about:
1. Hamman / Zia
2. Levin / Weinstein
3. Martel / Stansby
4. Katz / Nickel
5. Welland / Bramley
6. Boyd / Robinson
7. Others at some or other stage = Wolff / Morse / Soloway / Weischell

Yet Flannery remains the subject of much dispute. Some players swear by it. Others say along with Gerber it rates as the worst convention ever created.

Can anybody help me with the following -
1. What is THE ARGUMENT in favour of Flannery?
2. What is THE ARGUMENT against Flannery?
3. Is Anti-Flannery someone's attitude towards Flannery in general or is it some convoluted convention to counter Flannery players? If the latter, how does the convention work?
4. For 2/1 players what is the best way to show a 4522 hand pattern once the auction has gone: 1 (pass) 1NT (pass)?
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#2 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 08:55

View Post32519, on 2011-December-10, 07:58, said:


Can anybody help me with the following -
1. What is THE ARGUMENT in favour of Flannery?
2. What is THE ARGUMENT against Flannery?
3. Is Anti-Flannery someone's attitude towards Flannery in general or is it some convoluted convention to counter Flannery players? If the latter, how does the convention work?
4. For 2/1 players what is the best way to show a 4522 hand pattern once the auction has gone: 1 (pass) 1NT (pass)?



1. If one must open 5 card majors, a 4-5-x-x hand with 12-15 hand has reverse shapes but not reverse values.
If you play flannery, you reverse bid in said auction with all requirements.
It limits your hand, so most of the time partner just places the contract.

2. I have heard that it helps the defense-- they lead trumps. Being no expert i cannot elaborate, someone will , but I have not suffered any flannery losses, but that is probably because of the company I keep.

3. Inverse flannery is used in 4 card major systems. With 4-5-x-x shape and 12-15 hcp, you open 1 spade and the rebid 2 heart showing more hearts then spades. Inverse flannery sloves the bidding problem of having 5 spades and 4 hearts.
(Nothing sisnister--the conspiracy thread resides in the water cooler already)

4. the best way is to bid flannery, i suppose.

View PostFree, on 2011-May-10, 03:57, said:

Babalu just wanted a shoulder to cry on, is that too much to ask for?
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#3 User is offline   gordontd 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 09:04

View Post32519, on 2011-December-10, 07:58, said:

1. What is THE ARGUMENT in favour of Flannery?
2. What is THE ARGUMENT against Flannery?
3. Is Anti-Flannery someone's attitude towards Flannery in general or is it some convoluted convention to counter Flannery players? If the latter, how does the convention work?
4. For 2/1 players what is the best way to show a 4522 hand pattern once the auction has gone: 1 (pass) 1NT (pass)?

1 - It avoids the rebid problem of 4522 hands after 1-1NT, and it allows you to play 1-1 as showing five.
2 - It's a waste of a bid to deal with a minor problem.
3 - I haven't heard of it.
4 - Agree to play that a 2 rebid only promises two. Or rebid a good five-card heart suit.
Gordon Rainsford
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#4 User is offline   daveharty 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 09:23

3. I've never heard of "Anti-Flannery" either. "Reverse Flannery", at least in my neck of the woods, refers to the treatment wherein jumps to 2H/2S after a 1m opening show, respectively, 5+ spades/4+ hearts and constructive values, and 5+ spades/4+ hearts and invitational values (I think this is also called "Meckwell" in some areas and maybe goes by other names). This is useful because it allows the auction 1m-1S-1NT-2H to be game-forcing, an awkward auction in standard bidding.
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#5 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 09:34

If you play standard methods over a 1H opening, Flannery solves a few problems. If you play 1H:1S, 1NT as artificial, many of these problems go away. Your auctions will improve sufficiently that you'll want to respond 1S on a weak hand with four cards.
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#6 User is online   awm 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 09:35

Advantages:

(1) The 2 opening puts more pressure on the opponents than opening 1. It takes up space, and opponents won' t know how good our fits are after 2-P-2M which makes balancing risky.
(2) The 2 opening can help us in finding the right contract. For example, if 2 is our best spot on a 4-3 fit we will never find it after 1-1NT. If we have 4-4 spades and 5-3 hearts we will often play in hearts after 1 but spades after flannery.
(3) Playing flannery means you never have to rebid 2-card suits (and much less often three-card suits) after 1-1NT forcing. This makes it safe for partner to pass 1-1NT-2m with a four-card fit and weak hand, or to raise on five.
(4) Playing flannery lets you bid 1-1NT holding four spades. This sometimes gives the opponents less information on defense, and makes it easier to bid certain hand types (like 4-6m).
(5) Playing flannery means 1-1 promises five, which is a massive help when opener has three-card support for spades and extras, since he can now safely raise to the three-level. It also helps when opener has 3-6 and a minimum.

Arguments against:

(1) Playing flannery means you cannot use the 2 opening for something else (such as a weak two, or multi, or showing some other hand that's difficult for your system). The flannery hand is not that frequent relative to some of the weak meanings so you lose on frequency grounds here also.
(2) The 2 opening can make it difficult to handle certain hand types for responder. For example, if responder has a long minor suit he may not be able to show it. Responder also cannot "invite in notrump" and must play a possibly seven-card fit instead (since 2-2NT is forcing).
(3) There are alternative methods that get you some (or most) of the advantages of flannery without sacrificing the 2 opening. For example, Kaplan Interchange (switching the meanings of 1-1 and 1-1NT) gets you most of the advantages of flannery in 1 auctions for very little cost. Playing a semi-forcing or non-forcing notrump would help a lot. Playing something like Gazilli 2 rebid helps with the strong 3-card support hands.

Reverse Flannery:

This is a method normally used in response to minor-suit openings, where a jump to 2 shows 5(+) and 4(+) with a less than invitational hand. The advantage of this is that it helps you find your major suit fits on some sequences. The typical problem is when opener rebids in a minor and a possible 4-4 or 5-3 heart fit gets buried (for example 1-1-2 on a 1444 or 0454 shape, or 1-1-2 on a 1462 or even 1453). You also find some 5-2 spade fits which may be an improvement in some situations, and you put some pressure on the opponents in case they have a fit in one of the minors. Some also play 1m-2 as "invitational reverse flannery"; the main advantage is that these methods free up some other calls in other auctions which now become game forcing by the negative inference of not having bid reverse flannery. Reverse flannery is popular among expert 2/1 partnerships.

Bidding after 1-1NT in 2/1 without Flannery:

If 1NT is 100% forcing then 2 is the textbook bid. Obviously this is not without problems.
Adam W. Meyerson
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#7 User is offline   bluecalm 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 09:39

Quote

1. What is THE ARGUMENT in favour of Flannery?


Mainly that 1H - 1S is now 5 cards which allows you to find spades if opener is 6-3 in majors (in standard you sometimes play in silly 6-1 heart fit having 5-3 or 6-3 spades on the side) as well as hide 4 spades making it more difficult to lead. Also now 1H - p - 2H might be bid with 4/5S-3H comfortably which make it possible to double them if they are used to coming in too lightly in this sequence.

Quote

2. What is THE ARGUMENT against Flannery?


Mainly that you could use 2D for other things which might be more profitable than Flannery.

Quote

For 2/1 players what is the best way to show a 4522 hand pattern once the auction has gone: 1♥ (pass) 1NT (pass)?


2C. You should also bid 2C with 3-5-(2-3). 2-5-3-3. 2D is probably better with 4-5-3-1.
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#8 User is online   aguahombre 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 09:59

Yes, those pairs use Flannery, or have used Flannery. However, it might not be the Flannery version you have read about or we recognize. Some use it with more distributions than just the traditional 4-5M's. Some use 2 as the Flannery opening.

For them, the disadvantages have been overcome by adjustments elsewhere to fill what otherwise would be a hole created by its use.

Not all pairs who use Flannery have the luxury of 1H-1S showing five (the Flannery Inference treatment), because the 1H opener might hold 4-6 in the Majors and the 4-4 spade fit would be lost.

Question #4 is interestingly worded by the OP. Without Flannery, and when the auction has gone 1H-1N, opener has no need to "show" 4 four in the spade suit, because there will be no spade fit. However, opener does need to do something if 1N was forcing; 2C is most common.

Anyway, we choose not to use Flannery because we don't believe its value is worth shuffling other parts of our system around to accomodate it. Those who use it feel differently, or haven't thought about the ripple effects on their system. The top stars mentioned in the OP certainly have given it due thought.
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#9 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 10:01

I prefer using 2 as a weak 2, I play Flannery with a partner who likes it. I am not passionate about either usage.

When I started duplicate thirty years ago there were lots of articles on the general theme that a weak 2 barely interferes with anything. I thought then that this view was wrong and I still do. On the auction 2-X-3 the opponents may have a fair sized problem. Second hand cannot be expected to wait for the perfect 4=4=1=4 hand to double, and fourth hand may well have four cards in one major but not the other. So he does what when?
So, for me, the main argument against Flannery is that I like a weak 2.

The main argument in favor is harder for me to come up with since although I will play F I prefer the weak 2. But I guess it is the obvious one that otherwise 4=5=2=2 minimum value hands are uncomfortable after 1-1NT(forcing). I seldom miss Flannery when I am not playing it, I rebid 2 (what else?) with the problem hand and hope for the best. I suppose another, not so savory, argument in its favor is that opponents may misinterpret an auction. For example 1-1NT(forcing)-2-2NT-3NT. Declarer may well have four spades in his hand. Of course this is also possible with non-Flannery players but it's a matter of frequency. Flannery players skip over their four card spade holdings somewhere between often and always. The wise defender will consult the opponents cc before leading against this auction.
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#10 User is online   aguahombre 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 10:14

BTW, those of us who will rebid 2C with 4=5=2=2 should be alerting the 2C rebid; and, spare me some excuse for not doing so, if you find one.
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#11 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 17:43

View Postaguahombre, on 2011-December-10, 10:14, said:

BTW, those of us who will rebid 2C with 4=5=2=2 should be alerting the 2C rebid; and, spare me some excuse for not doing so, if you find one.


I agree, although when playing in a game where most are using a forcing NT I confess I usually don't bother and have never had anyone object. But yes, you are right. No question about it.
Ken
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#12 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 17:50

hard pressed to think anyone let alone almost everyone alerts:

1h=1nt
2c!( could be 2)
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#13 User is online   aguahombre 

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Posted 2011-December-10, 18:46

View Postmike777, on 2011-December-10, 17:50, said:

hard pressed to think anyone let alone almost everyone alerts:

1h=1nt
2c!( could be 2)

Hard pressed to get past the very top of the Alert Procedures, where expected lengths for suit bids, rebids and responses is shown as 3+ minor or 4+ major. Whether in your circles this doesn't get adhered to is mildly interesting.
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#14 User is offline   32519 

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Posted 2011-December-11, 01:09

The responses to this topic are very informative. It would appear that Flannery has grown some additional arms and legs since its inception. Almost without fail every new convention undergoes modifications by other players who identify a potential use for it, though not in its current or original format. I am undecided whether the amount of modifications a convention undergoes is a good sign or a bad sign. If the basic idea is sound and accepted by the bridge playing community in general, that is a good sign. An example which comes to mind is Stayman. The basic idea was accepted and played by all. From the basic idea extensions for its use were created e.g. Garbage Stayman, Acol players have a game invitational Stayman and a game forcing Stayman (2♦ instead of 2♣ being game forcing), Precision players use Transfer Stayman, etc. On the other end of the scale we have Blackwood which became RKCB (either 0314 or 1430) before evolving into 6-card RKCB.

There are literally dozens of alternate uses for a 2♦ opening bid. What anyone uses it for is a matter of personal choice. If someone’s choice differs from your own it is probably unfair to criticize them.

Thank you for explaining Reverse Flannery to me. I had it incorrect as Anti-Flannery believing it to be a bias against the Flannery convention.

Any additional information which can be added is always appreciated. The myriad possibilities that the game of bridge offers truly fascinates me. I hope to continue improving as a player.

Thanks again.
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#15 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2011-December-11, 04:52

I play Flannery and I love it. One of the best reasons to play it has not been mentioned.

Playing it almost always means that responder will play the hand and the hand that's been revealed during the auction is on the table. This can be a bear to defend against since the defense is totally in the dark.
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#16 User is offline   Free 

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Posted 2011-December-11, 05:15

Like Gerber, Flannery is a convention that gets abused by local club players thinking they play something good "because top players also play it".

The main point of playing Flannery is to be in a better position in auctions where we don't open Flannery. This is something many players don't realize. A Flannery 2/2 opening on it's own may be an overall winner or loser (don't know, but probably a slight loser*), but the advantages lay elsewhere. For example, it avoids problems with a 4=5=2=2 distribution when the auction goes 1-1NT.

The abuse also comes from players that don't change their meaning of 1-1. If you play this as 4+, you practically don't gain much. If you play it as 5+ (exceptionally 4 are allowed), and 1-1NT may have up to 4, you'll find your 5-3 fits much easier/faster, while you won't lose a 4-4 fit after 1-1NT because opener can reverse. Moreover, opps may have a difficult decision when they have to lead into responder, because they're not sure he doesn't have 4s.

All things considered, if you leave the 1-1 auction unchanged, Flannery is a loser imo. With the change I don't think you win or lose much. And of course, it also depends how profitable your 2/ openings would be if you didn't play Flannery. ;)

(*) 4=5=2=2 will probably win, 4=5=(3-1) may be worse off if responder is less than GF. In that case, the auction in a standard system may go 1-1NT-2m which might play better than 2 or 2. But as I said, I don't know for sure!
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#17 User is online   TWO4BRIDGE 

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Posted 2011-December-11, 10:29

Another problem with NOT playing Flannery , besides the 1NT!(forcing) response, is the 2C!/2D! GF response after a 1H open:
1H - 2C!/2D!
??
If Opener now rebids 2S, Responder won't immediately know if Opener has "extras" or a "Flannery type" hand .

Whereas, with Flannery on your card, 2S would show a true Reverse ("extras" as well as shape ) .
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#18 User is offline   ArtK78 

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Posted 2011-December-11, 12:37

View PostTWO4BRIDGE, on 2011-December-11, 10:29, said:

Another problem with NOT playing Flannery , besides the 1NT!(forcing) response, is the 2C!/2D! GF response after a 1H open:
1H - 2C!/2D!
??
If Opener now rebids 2S, Responder won't immediately know if Opener has "extras" or a "Flannery type" hand .

Whereas, with Flannery on your card, 2S would show a true Reverse ("extras" as well as shape ) .

With all due respect, that is silly.

After a 2 of a minor forcing to game response, opener should be able to bid 2 if he is 4-5-x-y on a minimum hand. It should not promise a true reverse. Nor is there a need to show a true reverse. With a true reverse, you are in the slam zone already, and there should not be any need to show the extra values on your first rebid. But the need to show your distribution on a minimum hand is paramount.
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#19 User is offline   EricK 

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Posted 2011-December-11, 15:12

View PostArtK78, on 2011-December-11, 12:37, said:

With all due respect, that is silly.

After a 2 of a minor forcing to game response, opener should be able to bid 2 if he is 4-5-x-y on a minimum hand. It should not promise a true reverse. Nor is there a need to show a true reverse. With a true reverse, you are in the slam zone already, and there should not be any need to show the extra values on your first rebid. But the need to show your distribution on a minimum hand is paramount.

Why? Why can't opener rebid 2 with minimum then support responder's 2 rebid (if he has one) to show that shape and minimum? How exactly do you differentiate opener's strengths if you rebid 2 on both weak and strong hands?
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#20 User is online   aguahombre 

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Posted 2011-December-11, 15:25

View PostEricK, on 2011-December-11, 15:12, said:

Why? Why can't opener rebid 2 with minimum then support responder's 2 rebid (if he has one) to show that shape and minimum? How exactly do you differentiate opener's strengths if you rebid 2 on both weak and strong hands?

As stated, 2/1 auctions do not need to establish whether opener has extra values on his first rebid, unless there is a specialized jump to perfectly show both size and shape. We have plenty of time in the auction, after a fit is uncovered, to move from game mode to slam mode.
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