Problems on Conventions By ALAN TRUSCOTT

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Some of the most difficult problems for the bridge historian concern allocation of credit for conventions or improved treatments. We know…

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On 9 April, 2017 At 13:39

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The New York TimesProblems on Conventions By ALAN TRUSCOTT

West led the club king.

Some of the most difficult problems for the bridge historian concern allocation of credit for conventions or improved treatments. We know that Easley Blackwood and the late Theodore Lightner devised the ideas with which their names are associated. But B. J. Becker and Ken Lebensold did not, and there has been argument about Stayman.

Matters of style are more difficult still. In the 1930’s, for example, the bridge public accepted Culbertson’s criteria for biddable suits: Q-J-x-x was the minimum, except perhaps for an opening in a minor. This was firmly rejected by S. Garton Churchill in a 1936 book that had almost as many significant ideas as it had purchasers. He and his co-author, the late Dr. Albert Ferguson, declared that any suit was biddable if the circumstances were appropriate. A decade later this line of thought was dev eloped independently by the players of the Baron System in England. T hey went further by insisting that a weak four-card suit must be bid in many situations and that failure to do so would deny such a h olding. This thinking entered the mainstream of theory; as a result , most experts and teachers today hold that a response of one no -trump to one diamond denies a four-card major of any description.

Earliest Deal Recalled

The earliest deal in the literature of the game to illustrate this theme is shown in the diagram, and appeared in the Churchill-Ferguson book. It was played almost half a century ago in the Brooklyn Bridge Studio, with Churchill North and Travers LeGros as South.

Most modern South players would choose the one-spade response to one heart, but most Norths would raise spades immediately in some fashion. They would bid spades, or cue-bid three clubs, or jump to four clubs as a splinter.

In the Churchill style, which he still espouses, a change of suit is forcing, so he bid two diamonds and probed further before settling in four spades. South was not happy, but he dutifully kept the bidding alive.

In spite of the weakness of the combined trump suit, four spades was the only makable game. Careful play was necessary, however, after the opening lead of the club king.

South ruffed in dummy and played hearts, ruffing the third round with the eight in his hand. West refused to overruff, and a trump was led. East won with the ace and persevered with clubs. South again ruffed in dum my and led a trump, retaining control. West could score his remaining trump winner when he pleased, but the defense could take only three tricks. If South had taken the club ace at any earlier point he would have failed in his game.

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