Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big Bad Strong Club

After years of playing natural methods, I'm trying out some strong club systems in the upcoming men's pairs, snot, nznats and gnot.

One thing that strikes me is how much simpler a big club system is, once you absorb the mechanics. We dont have the issues of two partners taking three bids each and neither knowing the high-card strength of their partner.

For example, this is a hand that tony and I bid (playing natural) in the Coffs Harbour.

.... 1C
1H 1S
1N P

No one did anything terrible but we were miles away from bidding a vulnerable game. Two bids each and we could have had 11 opposite 6 points.

Strong club systems do come with their own share of problems, especially when the opponents interfere over 1C. One concept that I love is playing the strong club with a strong no-trump and a strong two no-trump. This is the style favoured by Meckstroth-Rodwell. It helps sort out core issues of game-versus-partscore in 1C- interference auctions a lot better than other stuff around.

The systems I am trying out are

MiniMeck - based on Meckwell structure with an Ozzie flavour.
Strong Club - no relay but using Fischer ask and Lasker Asker
5 card majors
1NT 14 to 16
2C 6+C
2D 3 suited short diamond
2NT 19 to bad 21.

Orgasm - …Overbidding Really Great Awesome Sartaj & Michael (Ware)…aka..Overbidding Retarded Games And Slams Making ..
Strong Club
1D = 4+H, could be canape
1H = 4+S, could be canape
1S = weak NT(inc. 5M)
1N 14 to 16
2C both minors
2D diamond suit
2NT 19 to bad 21
3C club suit.

Will try to post hands featuring our adventures and misadventures in strong club land here !

Also, a couple of days ago I taped an interview with Bobby Richman. When it shows up on this blog soon, I bet you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed conducting it !


  1. At first glance, I don't see a game in the hand.

  2. I'd suggest covering the north south cards and looking again.

  3. My 29 word precis of your post is:

    "Use big club if you like to show strength first and worry about suits later. Use Natural if you like to show suits first and worry about strength later."

    Neither philosophy can claim to be a winner.

    But I do believe that people become much better bridge players if they have at least SERIOUSLY TRIED both approaches.

  4. I play strong Club since years and find it much easier to play than natural system. 1 level overcalls on 1C opening are no nuisance, on the contrary make communication easier. 2 level ovarcalls are disturbing but are also dangerous for overcaller. Try the " 2 Suited Club " bidding system and you'll see.
    Gianantonio Castiglioni

  5. Agree with Bill. Having played any variety of systems is worthwhile. Not only will you make more informed decisions when building future systems, but you'll understand better the secondary inferences of styles in use by opponents. There's many good reasons the top Americans would like you all to play 2/1.

  6. Am also attracted by the idea of using 1C strong with a strong notrump, but never tried it. Theo and Al swear by it.

  7. Strong Club offers a better way to handle 4-4-4-1 hands. Open a Club (mine is 18+), Responder bids 5 card Major or 1D (Waiting bids). Opener re-bids 1NT showing 4-4-4-1 hand. Responder now bids 4+ card transfers. If the transfer is a Singleton, Opener bids next suit leaving Responder to place the contract. My system is full S/A or 2/1, no weak twos (2 level bids are for all 2 suited hands 10-18), which Kings do you have asking etc. Ivan Bendl

  8. I think West Underbid! Holding KQX in a suit bid by partner is worth an awful lot. At the minimum it adds nearly 3 tricks to partner's AXXX. Hearts aren't going to be led after the bidding and there are a couple of useful intermediaries in diamonds. I would have bid 2NT and partner will raise on the good club suit.

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