• eBulletins

Anyone for a Strong Club?

Posted by Rakesh Kumar on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 21:41

It's time to start the religious wars again ...

I've been "watching" the ANC Teams Round Robin via the web and musing over some of the tricky hands. It's a truism that standard bidding methods often struggle with hands that have lots of playing strength but only moderate high card strength (say 17-21 points). Although lots of folks point out weaknesses of Strong Club systems, e.g. susceptibility to interference and memory strain, they cope with such hands effectively by establishing a forcing auction at a low level, allowing more exchange of information.

Here's Board 6 from Round 1 (E dealer, EW vul) which illustrates the problem of bidding a hand of this type:

Only one pair played in 6H in the Open, while their teammates outbid the opponents, saving in 7CX at the other table. The other 6 pairs played in game. In the Women's, 2 reached the heart slam and one played in the doomed 6S. Elsewhere it was even less encouraging: in the Seniors', no one reached slam in hearts, although 3 reached the failing slam in spades. Nor did anyone in the Youth bid to 6H, but one pair did bid to 6S, with the usual outcome. I'm not suggesting that there's an automatic sequence to slam for a Strong Club system, but the prospects of reaching slam - and hopefully the right slam - are better.

Then there was Board 10 from Round 5 (E dealer, both vul):

Only 3 or 4 pairs reached 6S in the Open, Women's and Seniors' events, and only one pair in the Youth. Looking at both hands, of course you would want to be there, but things are likely to get difficult after something space-consuming like 1S-2D-3S.

It's not just slam bidding. Try Board 7 from Round 4 (S dealer, both vul):

How could one not want to be in game with the West hand opposite any semblance of a response? Yet in both the Open and the Women's, 2 of the 8 pairs played in 1S. In the Seniors', 3 played spade part-scores, while in the Youth, there were again 3 (of 6) in 1S. A Strong Club system can discover the 5-7 hcp opposite and ought to get to game every time.

Yes, I know, you don't agree with me. Like I said, system wars have been going on since forever and it's a bit like religion ...