Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Modified Smolski over Notrump

There's an ever-growing controversy over the best system to play over the opponents' 1NT opening. It seems like the most popular systems these days are DONT and Hamilton (Cappeletti), but I don't really like either of those. I think that there is a real competitive advantage to immediately overcalling two of a major without going through an intermediate step (double in DONT, 2C in Hamilton).

My other criterion for a notrump system is that all two suiters (with the possible exception of both minors) should be able to be shown at the two-level.

So I picked up a convention put together by the true gentleman of Bermudian bridge, Roman Smolski. Roman started with Brozel as a base. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Brozel structure is:

Double = Unspecified single suit
2C = Clubs and Hearts
2D = Diamonds and Hearts
2H = Hearts and Spades
2S = Spades and a Minor
2NT = Clubs and Diamonds

He modified it with the "immediate majors" principle like this:

Double = Two-suiter including Spades
2C = Clubs and Hearts
2D = Diamonds and Hearts
2H = Hearts
2S = Spades
2NT = Clubs and Diamonds
3C = Clubs
3D = Diamonds

When your partner makes a Smolski double over 1NT (showing spades and another suit),
you can bid 2H or 2S as an offer to play, or you can bid 2C or 2D as a "pass or correct" action. Partner will pass if you've bid his second suit, or bid his second suit if possible at the two level. If pard has spades and clubs, over your 2D he'll revert to 2S to show the blacks. Of course, if you have a good hand, you can always pass the double! The final response is 2NT, "cuebidding the opponents' suit", showing a game-try or better in some suit (a game-try or better with a balanced hand would just pass the double). Over responder's 2NT, overcaller bids his second suit at the three-level without game interest, or at the four-level with game interest.

I played Smolski with some success for a few years, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Then I picked up a hand like QJT97652 J4 86 3. Over righty's 1NT I wanted to bid a preemptive 3S, but was afraid partner would think I had a big hand. Then, with a different partner, I held something like AKJT765 AQ8 K2 7. I wanted to bid a strong 3S, but was afraid pard would think I was preempting! So I decided we could pack a little more artificiality into Smolski without much problem. So here's the final (for now) product of Modified Smolski over Notrump:

Double = Two-suiter including Spades, or a strong Spade one-suiter
2C = Clubs and Hearts
2D = Diamonds and Hearts
2H = Hearts
2S = Spades
2NT = Clubs and Diamonds or a strong Heart one-suiter
3C = Clubs
3D = Diamonds
3H = Preemptive with Hearts
3S = Preemptive with Spades

Anyone with an improvement on this method? Feel free to comment, or email me at McKenzie@DoubleSqueeze.com.

4 comments:

Kevin said...

sounds good, but misses HELLO's feat of most often putting the 1NT bidder on lead when (s)he's defending.

I guess you can't have everything.

Memphis MOJO said...

I just discovered your blog, nice job.

Kevin makes a good point. Here's a write-up of HELLO that gives some detail (without boring you to tears, I hope):

http://web2.acbl.org/nabcbulletins/2007spring/db9.pdf

McKenzie said...

Hey, glad you found us. Thanks for the compliment. I do understand the power of putting the notrumper on lead, but I think it's more important to be able to bid your long suits immediately. Playing Hamilton, so many times it'd go (1N) 2C! (2H transfer) P (2S) to me and I wouldn't know whether to bid hearts or not.

Bri said...

I was more concerned about the fact that this is a midchart convention. Makes me sad. The way it is written on its own (sans modification) is general chart. C'est la vie.