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Mythbusters: defenses to opening 1NT

There has been some excellent discussion on Barry Rigal's "What can you afford to give up?" thread.

The consensus is that you must be able to overcall to show at least a single suited major or both majors (some want partner to be able to ask for better major).

Some want a penalty double, others don't.

There is significant support for being able to show other 2-suited hands.

None of this is surprising and ties in quite well with the popularity of Capp/ML and Astro derivatives.

The basic approach seems to be "I want to make a constructive overcall with an element of safety; so what hands do I want my methods to cover?".

Unfortunately I think this basic approach is completely wrong! To see why lets first look at what we are trying to achieve. Simplistically it comes down to this "I'm bidding in the hope that I can get a better score than I would from defending 1NT". Let's take this as our mission statement.

Now let us assume that we have been given free reign to construct hands that give us the best chance of achieving this mission. Where do we start?

We are going to need one hand to be fairly strong in order for us to risk bidding in the first place and ideally we want the strongest hand sitting over the 1NT bidder; the strategic location of high cards being much more important than shape.

The weaker hand will be sitting under the 1NT bidder and we now need to consider communication issues because we want a significant number of leads to come through the 1NT bidder up to our strong hand. Since our best way to get to this weaker hand is likely to be via the trump suit this implies that we want the weaker hand to be shapely and, moreover, that the longest suit in the weaker hand should be trumps. We also need trump support in the stronger hand and cards in our partner's short suit; so the over-caller in direct seat should optimally have a relatively flat hand.

So how do our popular defenses stack up? Very badly. Apart from the ability to show 4-4 in the majors they seek to show shapely hands which is the exact opposite of what we want.  There may be a case for saying that a 6 card major carries such offensive power that it overcomes these difficulties; however I think there is an equally strong case for defending with such hands if you can establish the suit whilst still holding an outside entry or two.  

I think its interesting that my Grantsino defence, which addresses some of these issues, is currently rated "completely barmy" by 70% of the BW cognoscenti.

It would also seem obvious that we need different defenses in the direct seat than the protective seat; the current popular defenses seem more appropriate for the protective seat rather than the direct one.






Myth: busted!
fairly interesting
I don't believe it!
The overload alarm on my BS monitor has just gone off
something else

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