Friday, March 02, 2007 12:48 AM
Hand Evaluation - Useful Space Principle
Years ago , Jeff Reubens of the Bridge World wrote a series of articles on what he called the useful space principle. What he meant was , design your system so you do not waste bidding room. Use all the useful bidding space that you can. The most obvious example of the useful space principle is forcing 1♣ systems. Keeping the bidding low allows all the space in the world to convey information.
He contended that Blackwood used up too much useful space so Kickback & minor suit KCB was born. With the conserved bidding space , specific kings , queen ask & suit asks followed. He felt a Q bid to an overcall used up too much space so new suits to an overcall became a one round force. This allowed the Q bid to be defined as specifically a limit raise or better in partner’s suit. Transfers ( Reubensohl) were used in competition after a strong NT as transfers conserved useful bidding space.
Expert players have taken his ideas further. The 3♣ multi purpose strong jump shift preserves useful bidding space. This is the “artificial club” part of a natural system . The bid prevents the horrible auction of
4♠ to show a strong hand. Also the horrible leap to your own major at the game level , as a strong hand. Bidding becomes a crap shoot at the 5 level. 1♥-P-1NT-P 4♥ Look at all the useful bidding space wasted if this jump showed a strong hand. Slam exploration starts at the 5 level . Allow fast arrival to show distribution or picture bids instead.
Goren methods contradict “fast arrival” & the Useful Space Principle. Jumping to game to show strong hands ( HCPs ) is silly bidding as you are pre-empting your own partner. The 4 level or even the 5 level is a silly place to start exploring for slam or even a better contract. When you play a strong NT in the 15-17 HCP range even with a 5 card major , the invitational 2NT range is idle. The raise to 2NT can now take the place of the Goren 3NT bid ( jump to game after a 1NT response ) . This allows room at the 3 level to investigate alternative contracts. A leap to 3NT can be a “picture bid” defined by the partnership.
Experts have now switched to 2NT after a minor as 11+ to 15 as invitational or a game force. Again , this is the useful space principle in action. Leaping to 3NT with a game forcing hand pre-empts partner. Exploration for slam & better contracts must start at the 4 level & going by 3NT is dangerous. Better to describe your distributional hand below 3NT. More care is needed when partner responds 1NT ( pretty healthy) so do not pull 1NT when you are weak. Partner may have 10+ for the 1NT bid & when you bid again invitational sequences follow.
I feel 2NT when it is bid in competition as natural should be a one round force. Who plays a contract of 2NT in competition anyway ? 1♦-2♣-2NT-P is a one round force & may be unlimited. Why leap to 3NT with a good hand ? Pre-empting partner to the 4 level & losing useful space leads to bad results. 2NT can still be invitational hands so opener rebidding her suit is an escape hatch.
This is in effect the “new suit” 2NT ( godfather ) by responder also being used in competition. Why not ? This means a leap to 3NT in competition can mean very soft values & no slam interest. 2NT as a place to play a hand only makes sense in matchpoints when +120 beats 3 of a minor +110. If you can make 2NT on the nose , surely 3 of a minor does just as well or better in IMPS. Bidding 2NT as a new suit by responder has all the advantages of opener patterning out & natural bidding to get to your best spot. 2NT as a new suit, preserves bidding space & is still another example of the useful space principle.