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Playing 4 Card Majors

#1 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-May-22, 14:39

I am playing 2/1 with one partner, and learning Precision with another. In my neverending search for distractions which serve to prevent me from actually getting good at any bidding system, a third partner and I are planning to experiment with 4 card majors, and light or very light opening bids. Unlike myself, my partner is a relatively normal person who doesn't have the time or inclination for learning any complicated bidding methods ;D

Note: this is purely for fun, with no masterpoints attached, so we are quite willing to experiment and take our lumps.

We are therefore looking for a simple approach, and would appreciate suggestions. We currently play bare bones Standard American, and are looking to keep the bidding framework as close to that as possible. From the bit of online research I've done, I have come up with the following issues on which I can use some help:
1) Opening range. I know a lot of ACOLers play Rule of 19. We are strongly considering Rule of 18, either just for the majors or for minors and majors. Is this too aggressive in a natural system where a) the 1 level opening bids can be up to 21 hcp, and ;) we won't play transfer positives, relays, or any other method which might sort out hands better than 2/1 forcing for 1 round, and 1NT weak and not forcing?
2) I looked at "The Science", courtesy of The_Hog's reference in another thread, and was attracted by the opeing structure - minors Rule of 20, majors Rule of 18, with 4 card majors opened with longer minors in hands with less than 14 hcp. What do you think of this (particularly the minor canapes)? They use transfer responses which we won't be using. I don't know if using basic response methods will make the canapes too difficult to handle.
3) "The Science" uses a 14-16(17) NT. If we use Rule of 18, I am inclined to use it too, so that 1H-1S-1NT, for example, would almost always show a balanced 10-13 hcp. What do you think of this approach? Are we better off with a 12-14 NT? I am worried that with 12-14 and Rule of 18 openings, the opener's 1NT response will either be too limited, or a split range which might be difficult to handle.
4) A couple of responses to a previous post of mine on LOBs indicated that invitational and weak response hcp criteria should be left unchanged from the 6-10 and 10+ used with Rule of 20 openings(i.e. we would use 6+ for 1/1 responses, 6-12 for 1 Suit-1NT, and 10+ for 2/1 responses). Do you agree, and would you agree when using Rule of 18? I am particularly concerned with 2/1 responses. My gut tells me that leaving them at 10+ is a good idea, or we throw too many responses into 1NT. We will, of course, get too high some of the time, and "invitational" becomes a relatively big and sloppy range. What is you experience on this?
5) ACOLers seem to agree on opening 55 hands with the higher suit, as in SA. There seems to be a difference of opinion on suits with 2 or 3 4 card suits. Bidding them up the line seems to be popular, and reasonable, though it will lead to rebid problems occasionally. Your suggestions on a relatively simple rule for this?
6) Under what circumstances (if any) would you open a 4 card suit when you have another 5 card suit, apart from possibly taking "The Science" approach above?
7) How do you feel about responding 1M-2M with 3 card support, and if you would do it, what criteria would you use?
8) When rebidding your major, how strict are you on suit quality/length? Would you insist on a suit which has some play opposite 3 small?
9) Should 1S/2H show 5 cards?
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#2 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2003-May-22, 14:59

Hi Paul

Here is the rebid structure that I use after 1M - 2M playing MOSCITO.
My guess is that you could use this without many changes, though you might encounter some troubles.

This structure is designed arround the philosophy that opener will not want to explore for game holding a 4 card major. This works well with the rest of the MOSCITO opening structure, but I'm not sure whether it will work in the context of a less disciplined opening structure.

After 1H - 2S
[2S shows either precisely 3 spades and ~ 7 - 11 HCP OR
a balanced hand with 4 spades and ~ 3-5 HCP]

2N = Game try, 6+ Spades, unknown side suit singleton/void
3C = Natural long suit game try, 5+ Spades and 4+ Clubs OR
Maximum hand with 6322/7222 shape
3D = Natural long suit game try, 5+ Spades and 4+ Diamonds
3H = Natural long suit game try, 5+ Spades and 4 Hearts
3S = Preemptive re-raise

After 1D - 2H
[2H shows either precisely 3 hearts and ~ 7 - 11 HCP OR
a balanced hand with 4 hearts and ~ 3-5 HCP]

2S = Game try, 6+ Hearts, unkown side suit singleton/voif
2NT = Long suit game try, 5+ Hearts and 4 Spades OR
Maximum hand with 6322/7222 shape
3C = Natural long suit game try, 5+ Hearts and 4+ Clubs
3D = natural long suit game try, 5+ Hearts and 4+ Diamonds
3H = Preemptive re-raise
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#3 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2003-May-22, 16:43

They use transfer responses which we won't be using.

No they don't Peter. The only artificial(ish) 2/1 is 2C which COULD be a 3 card M suit raise with 8-11. Mostly its a natural 2/1 gf.
As I said in my post this style is not easy to play and requires a lot of work and discussion with pd to handle the canape responses and get them right.

For example
Kxxx
x
Qxx
AJxxx

xx
QJx
Kxxx
Kxxx

In the above example, the bidding in The Science would go 1S 1NT all pass. Nth cannot bid 2C with a min hand. A bid of 2C shows 5S and 4C. Min canapes are forced to pass. The pay-off for not playing in the optimum contract is the ability to open very aggressively and in a M rather than a minor.

If you have only been playing for a short time and want to muck around with 4CM, I'd actually suggest Acol. I think a "The Science" based style is too hard unless you have been playing a while. Another possibility might be Peter Buchen's "Honeymoon Moscito" - essentially natural openings in the Ms, strong C, and no relays but natural responses.
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#4 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-May-22, 19:02

To Richard (from Peter)

"Here is the rebid structure that I use after 1M - 2M playing MOSCITO.
My guess is that you could use this without many changes, though you might encounter some troubles.

This structure is designed arround the philosophy that opener will not want to explore for game holding a 4 card major. This works well with the rest of the MOSCITO opening structure, but I'm not sure whether it will work in the context of a less disciplined opening structure."

Thanks - but this is far too structured for this particular partner.

However - if I understand your MOSCITO notes correctly, you raise 4 card majors regularly on 3 card support. How well do you find 4-3 fits play at the 2 level?

To The_Hog:

"If you have only been playing for a short time and want to muck around with 4CM, I'd actually suggest Acol. I think a "The Science" based style is too hard unless you have been playing a while. Another possibility might be Peter Buchen's "Honeymoon Moscito" - essentially natural openings in the Ms, strong C, and no relays but natural responses."

1) Thanks for the input on "The Science" - I'm intrigued, but I suspected it might be a serious undertaking.
2) With this partner, strong club is out of the question.
3) My questions came mostly from what I was able to pick up on ACOL. I was looking for opinions on various issues, since it seems that there are many flavors of it.

Let me boil down my main subject of inquiry on it to one question - in your opinion how well will the Rule of 18 work with a natural system with 4 card majors (ACOL), playing the simplest response methods. You can probably tell that I would really like to play it, but I don't want to be too silly.

Also, do you know of a website which presents a coherent, simple version of ACOL, including responses past the opener's first response. The only fairly comprehensive one I have found is

http://www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk/bridge/Aco...l/acol.sys.html

which presents a more advanced version than my partner will tolerate (don't get me wrong - he's a decent player - he just doesn't want to invest much time learning bidding).
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#5 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2003-May-22, 19:17

Let me boil down my main subject of inquiry on it to one question - in your opinion how well will the Rule of 18 work with a natural system with 4 card majors (ACOL), playing the simplest response methods. You can probably tell that I would really like to play it, but I don't want to be too silly.

Will be no problem at all. In my youth - many years ago, (sigh), quite a few of us played a version of Acol called "Animal Acol". This was based on light openings and light responses.

Re an Acol system on the web - George Jesner has a fairly comprehensive and not too complicated version.
http://www.bridgeguy...AcolJesner.html

Cheers
Ron
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#6 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-May-22, 20:21

Ron - thanks for the link. It's the best I've seen for my purposes. Three questions from it:
1) He recommends 12-14 NT. He says 1 of a suit, then rebid lowest NT shows 15-16. His suit ranges show 10-21. Where does this leave the 10-11 hcp balanced hands for rebids? On 1D-1H-?, would you rebid NT? Or don't you open 10-11 balanced hands?
2) He says to raise to two of a major holding 3 card support (sounds good to me). If you open a 4441 with 18 hcp 1 spade, and partner raises to 2 spades, what do you do?
3) He doesn't address 2/1 responses. Are they 10+ hcp, forcing one round?
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#7 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2003-May-22, 21:10

1) He recommends 12-14 NT. He says 1 of a suit, then rebid lowest NT shows 15-16. His suit ranges show 10-21. Where does this leave the 10-11 hcp balanced hands for rebids? On 1D-1H-?, would you rebid NT? Or don't you open 10-11 balanced hands?
2) He says to raise to two of a major holding 3 card support (sounds good to me). If you open a 4441 with 18 hcp 1 spade, and partner raises to 2 spades, what do you do?
3) He doesn't address 2/1 responses. Are they 10+ hcp, forcing one round?

Ok re 1
You can change the 1NT range to 11-14 without too much trouble. Remember there are some 11 point hands that shouldn't be opened, and there are some 14 pt hands that should be treated as 15pts. Forget about balanced 10s; you would need to change the whole structure. (We don't even open bal 10s playing Moscito) - unbalanced yes!
Just one point on this re invites. If pd opens 1NT we believe it is not good policy to invite on flat 11 counts. Far too often you will get 1 level too high. (Just as we do not invite over a 15-17 count with an 8 count).
If deciding whether to open a 10 count or not, look at your suit and hand quality. Imho AKxxx Kxxx xxx x is an opener at any form of the game at any vulnerability.

2) 3 card raises are common in all systems using 4 card Ms, even in standard in a sequence such as 1C 1H - I'd bid 2H with Axxx Kxx xx AQxx
With your given hand of 4441, (I would actually open 1H, suit below the s/t), in the sequence you describe, I would bid 3D. If pd now bids 3S you can be confident this is based on 4 card support.

I have pulled following from a post made by Bo Yin Yang on rgb quite a number of years ago. He posted the following players who opened aggressively on 4 card Ms, some with frequent canape and some without, and raised frequently on 3 card support. It is an instructive list.

Eugenio Chiaradia ~ 1951 <- Neapolitan Club, canape
Benito Garozzo ~ 1963 <- Blue Team Club, canape
Ira Rubin ~ 1964 <- strong 1NT, Eastern Sci like system, no canape
Howard Schenken ~ 1964 <- Strong 1NT, big 1C with old-fashioned bidding
P Heitner / J Lowenthal ~ 1968 <- big 1C, suit opener unbalanced, canape.
Anders Morath ~ 1974 <- Carrot Club, wide-ranged 1N with some canape.
Magnus Lindkvist ~ 1980 <- Scanian, opening 2 points ligher than Rubin.
Eric Crowhurst ~ 1987 <- Modern Brit-Acol, weak NT, no canape
Paul Marston ~ 1985 <- traditional MOSCITO, no natural 1NT opener, canape.
Andrew Robson et al ~ 1988 <- "The Science": strong 1NT, canape minimums
Paul Marston ~ 1995 <- modern MOSCITO, suit openers unbalanced,
canape.


I3) In trad. Acol, 2/1s are not necessarily 10pts+. I would bid 2D over 1S on xx Kxx KQxxxx xx if playing trad Acol. Today most pairs DO play that 2/1s promise another bid, so 1H 2C 2H is forcing; in the old days it was not and just showed a min opener. Anyway "Yes", whatever style you play, 2/1s are definitely 100% forcing for at least 1 round.
"The King of Hearts a broadsword bears, the Queen of Hearts a rose." W. H. Auden.
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#8 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 04:35

Ron - two more questions (at least for now ;) - and Richard please jump in too if you like):

1) You open 1H on Kx-AQxxx-Kxx-xx, and partner responds 1S. Do you rebid 1NT or 2H?
2) What do you use for general criteria for a rebiddable suit, understanding that sometimes you have no good rebid?
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#9 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 07:00

Quote

Ron - two more questions (at least for now ;) - and Richard please jump in too if you like):

1) You open 1H on Kx-AQxxx-Kxx-xx, and partner responds 1S. Do you rebid 1NT or 2H?
2) What do you use for general criteria for a rebiddable suit, understanding that sometimes you have no good rebid?


Playing Acol, I would probably chose to rebid 2D
I realize that this is not likely to be a popular choice.
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#10 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 11:50

< Ron - thanks for the link. It's the best I've seen for my purposes.>

Just before they went on an extended vacation in Europe, I had an e-mail chat with Raymond of Bridgeguys, he said & I quote:

"In the last several days we have been reviewing our efforts to provide information about the Acol System, with which we are not that well versed."

The Warwick site is "more" correct, ;). However, the Bridgeguys site is excellent.
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#11 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 12:11

Quote

Ron - thanks for the link. It's the best I've seen for my purposes. Three questions from it:
1) He recommends 12-14 NT. He says 1 of a suit, then rebid lowest NT shows 15-16. His suit ranges show 10-21. Where does this leave the 10-11 hcp balanced hands for rebids? On 1D-1H-?, would you rebid NT? Or don't you open 10-11 balanced hands?
2) He says to raise to two of a major holding 3 card support (sounds good to me). If you open a 4441 with 18 hcp 1 spade, and partner raises to 2 spades, what do you do?
3) He doesn't address 2/1 responses. Are they 10+ hcp, forcing one round?


1) Balanced 10-11s are not usually opened; if you have distribution? You ain't balanced.
2) You don't open 1S on any 4-4-4-1 hand; the suit below the singleton, unless Clubs when open 1H.
3) 2/1 responses depend on the opening: consider 1H-p-2C? Responder has denied 4+ Spades, a NT response (2NT is, usually 11-12 balanced) and a 2H response but keeps the bidding open! However, 1D-p-2C especially if playing Inverted Minors? Much less forcing...
Partner is showing distribution & values. So, yes; normally, a one-round force but doesn't guarantee 10+hcp.

There are more inferences to be drawn from an Acol sequence than the equivalent playing 5-card majors, ;D.
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#12 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 12:27

Quote

Ron - two more questions (at least for now :) - and Richard please jump in too if you like):

1) You open 1H on Kx-AQxxx-Kxx-xx, and partner responds 1S. Do you rebid 1NT or 2H?
2) What do you use for general criteria for a rebiddable suit, understanding that sometimes you have no good rebid?


1) It's a marginal opening; partly because it only has 12 cards, ;). Add a 6th Heart & 1H everytime; add a Spade & 1H; add a Diamond & 1H; add a Club... tricky, I would be tempted to open 1NT at least 50% of the time!
2) Any 6-card suit is rebiddable; any 5-card suit is rebiddable if neccessary, bear in mind that not all 4-card suits are "biddable".

I would also draw your attention to http://bridgeguys.co.../Crowhurst.html

Some Acol players find it useful, :)
"I know that there is only one power worth having. That is the power, not to take, but to accept; not to have, but to give."
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#13 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 12:28

"Partner is showing distribution & values. So, yes; a one-round force but doesn't guarantee 10+hcp."

Could you give me an example or two of hands which are almost good enough to respond 2C to 1H, but not quite? I'm comfortable using "judgement" (i.e. winging it ;)), but I would like to have some idea of what I'm doing.
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#14 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 12:44

It's easier to give a minimum...

1H-p-2C on

xx-x-Kxxx-Axxxx

Pass 2D/H; bid 2NT over 2S... generally suffer your punishment; good enough to give partner the opportunity of a rebid, before opps mention Spades!
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#15 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 12:57

"It's easier to give a minimum...

1H-p-2C on

xx-x-Kxxx-Axxxx

Pass 2D/H; bid 2NT over 2S... generally suffer your punishment; good enough to give partner the opportunity of a rebid, before opps mention Spades!"

Am I right that the minimum varies with the amount of trouble you are likely to cause your opponents, and that a 2/1 response can be at least partly preemptive? Your rebid, or maybe pass, (hopefully) clarifies your strength. If the auction went (opps silent) 1H-2C-2D, and you had 13+ hcp, would you tend to jump?

If so, I like it, but it is sure a change from SAYC and 2/1!
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#16 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 13:10

The bidding can go... 1H-2C-2D-any bid you like, although I would have to think about 1H-2C-2D-4S!!! All 2C says is "I am unbalanced ;), but have another bid P"
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#17 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 15:40

Playing 4-card majors the first decision is your NT range as this defines much of the rest of the system style. There are very few good British players who now use 4-card majors with a weak NT, most now use either strong (15-17) or intermediate (14-16) with the occasional mini (10-12). In fact, the tournament scene has seen a major shift to 5-card majors but Acol (4cM, 12-14NT) still dominates the clubs.

The problem with the 12-14 1NT is that 2/1 responses then can be light so as not to miss game when the opener has a 15-16 balanced hand, e.g., you cannot respond 1NT to an opening bid with a balanced 9 count as partner will pass it.

This then means the the 2/1 responder does NOT guarantee another bid, so 1H-2C-2H is non-forcing (although most play that 1H-2C-2D is forcing).

In terms of opening balanced hands outside the NT range, styles vary! Most open 4-card majors before minors, clubs before diamonds and hearts before spades.

If you want to play Rule of 18, then I suggest a 14-16 1NT opening so that opener's 1NT rebid can show the 11-13 balanced hand, or play a mini NT and have a wide range 1NT rebid followed by a 2C relay.

Cheers

Paul
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#18 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 17:57

"If you want to play Rule of 18, then I suggest a 14-16 1NT opening so that opener's 1NT rebid can show the 11-13 balanced hand, or play a mini NT and have a wide range 1NT rebid followed by a 2C relay."

1) How well does 10-12 NT play vulnerable?
2) Would you elaborate on the 2C relay?

Thanks
Peter
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#19 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2003-May-23, 18:00

With Kxx-AQxxx-Kxx-xx, I would open 1NT even despite the 5 card M. It solves the rebid problems you mention, Peter. That actually answers you 2nd question as well. AQ to 5 is rebidabble - just barely!

I notice that in another forum you have asked if opening 1NT with a 5 card M won't cause more problems than it solves. I would strongly dispute this point and state that a balanced hand is a balanced hand and should be treated as such. You will get a lot who dispute this notion vehemently. All I can say is that from my experience in playing this style and from that of others who play this style that the rebid problems you avoid and the fact that pd knows you are balanced is a huge winner. Also don't let anyone tell you that this is "not Acol". That is a nonsense comment.

Re 2/1 bids
xx-x-Kxxx-Axxxx is NOT a 2C response in Acol, and never was; it is at least a Q shy. The requirements for 2/1s have gradually crept up over the years, but looking at old records of hands that I have, even a Konstam or a Harrison Grey would not bid 2C on the given hand. It is a 1NT bid as it is in most systems. This makes sense as to bid 2C on this is theoretically very unsound. Many practitioners of modern Acol actually play that 2/1s are forcing to 2NT. Indeed the practitioners of Baronised Acol did that many years ago as well.

Incidentally a friend of mine played the 1NT rebid as 12-17 a la Crowhurst's Precision bidding in Acol and found it unworkable. (This book has nothing to do with the Precision system, incidentally).
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#20 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2003-May-24, 01:16

Quote

"If you want to play Rule of 18, then I suggest a 14-16 1NT opening so that opener's 1NT rebid can show the 11-13 balanced hand, or play a mini NT and have a wide range 1NT rebid followed by a 2C relay."

1) How well does 10-12 NT play vulnerable?
2) Would you elaborate on the 2C relay?

Thanks
Peter


10-12 NT is exciting at all vulnerabilities and you do need to have an escape mechanism if doubled.

The simplest 2C relay asks partner to describe his hand and range, so

1H-1S
1NT-2C
2D=12-14, not 5 hearts, not 3 spades
2H=12-14, 5 hearts
2S=12-14, 3 spades
2NT=15-16, not 5 hearts, not 3 spades
3C=15-16, club values (rare)
3D=15-16, diamond values (rare)
3H=15-16, 5th heart
3S=15-16, 3rd spade

2C is normally bid on invitational or better hands. You need to agree which sequence invites the 12-14NT and which the 15-16NT, and what jump bids over the 1NT means..

paul
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