18 October 2010

System Hijinks Review

Well I spent yesterday playing a small pairs tournament with my father exercising the system I'd designed for pairs tournaments. It was a lot of fun as playing a new system always is and we got several things wrong for which I can vouch you don't need to play a new system. It was good fun being able to open hands like this:

SA Q x x x x
HA x x
CK x x

at the two level and watch the opponents enter the minefield. If they chose the wrong hand partner needs little more than KJx of trumps to apply the chopper.

We certainly achieved our goal of upsetting their easy auctions to normal contracts and on 3 occasions they got it completely wrong and landed in a heap. It was also amazing to see how many bids you could get in over the super light openings, this sort of auction came up all the time:

SQ T x x
HJ x
DA J x x
Cx x x
SK x
HA x x x x
Dx x x x
Cx x

The west hand opens a diamond, east responds a heart (mainly to keep up the pretence of values but also because it's pairs and hearts might score better) west rebids a spade and east corrects back to 2D (not even admitting a fit!). The two opponents sit there with balanced 13 counts constrained by their rules on takeout doubles defend well and take 7 tricks against 2D for -100 and don't get quite the reward they were expecting.

I can't emphasize the fun aspect enough, if you're playing a system you don't enjoy or which doesn't allow you to bid the way you want then mix it up. Play something silly for a while. We play the game for fun right? Well that and brag talk about hands over a beer at the end.

What went wrong, well... I was given the relay notes we were playing over the strong club a week ago and so I ruined most of our strong club auctions. From a design perspective 12 - 15 is a lot wider in reality than it appears on paper and accurate bidding after our 2 level openings wasn't always possible. Finally from a luck perspective if you spend your days picking up 0-7 or 16+ then strong club systems aren't for you and that contributed to our 52% showing in the first set.

What went right was our second set where we opened 1D/H/S on every second board, pushed our opponents into unmakeable contracts and didn't mess up our own competitive bidding. 68% was enough to overcome our first round mediocrity and we won by a percent or so overall.

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