It’s All in your Head I by GS Jade Barrett

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Many players are sure bad things are happening when the opponents are playing methods that they are unfamiliar with.

By GS Jade Barrett
On 24 July, 2013 At 13:23

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Many players are sure bad things are happening when the opponents are playing methods that they are unfamiliar with. This discomfort is often revealed through the aggressive behavior that they exhibit towards the pair playing the unusual method. An unusual method is just that.

Bridge is a game that has enormous room for creativity; there is no pure method. That the bulk of people play a particular method does not make the common method the right one, just popular.

Milton Work invented a high card point system that was designed purely for determining whether or not a notrump game was available. A few decades later Charles Goren dusted it off and it became the Goren High Card Point and it was provided to a vast multitude of unsuspecting players who made it the popular tool that it remains today. There are many devices that have been tweaked over the years eventually evolving into systems or conventions that barely resemble the original. Through all of this there were other mad scientists experimenting with new bidding, new carding and new ways of evaluating hands.

One of these mad men was Easley Blackwood who was once disciplined for having a device that allowed his partner to know the number of aces he had. Out of this we have Blackwood and its natural extension Roman Key Card (not to mention its sibling 1430). He was often asked why he just didn’t show his hand to his partner.

George Rapee grew tired of Sam Stayman’s propensity of missing their eight card major fits, so he created an uproar by inventing the 2C asking bid (when asked by his opponents what 2C promised Sam was known to respond “a hand that doesn’t want to play 1N”. That certainly caused an argument or two).

Al Roth was so convinced that his partners were so likely to misbid and/or misplay their hands that he invented Sputnik so that he would have a much better chance of placing and/or declaring the hand. After loud and public denigration this device quickly became the popular Negative Double despite the expert’s refusal to readily accept it as superior theory.

Transfers, Forcing Notrump, Jordan, Flannery, Support Doubles, Astro, DONT, Hamilton and countless other devices, both artificial and natural in nature disturbed the status quo somewhere in their development, and along the way they were generally put down as crazy or poor theory having very little merit beyond being new and different. Now look at them.

Next time you are playing against something you do not recognize, keep a positive thought; even inquire about its use. The device you are seeing for the first time might be changing the face of the game in the future.

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