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Opening Balanced 11 Counts: Helps or Hurts?

Opening Balanced 11 Counts: Helps or Hurts?

Personally I love opening Kamikaze Notrump (1nt=10-12 hcp). I also like opening a minor suit with 11 high card points. But I'm not sure that this isn't jubilation ruling over discretion.

At one point my main partner and I designed our system so we could open all 11 point hands and plenty of 10's. That felt good too but the results were not there in club games. It seems our light openings only helped keep our opponents out of trouble. Now that was against sleepy little old men and wily little old ladies. Perhaps it's quite different in world-class competition or even regional contests.

I'm not talking about 11 counts with an honourless singleton... I like those better than most 12 and 13 point hands unless of course it is a 4441 Roman shape.

What I'm concerned with is how much advantage can be gained by opening light balanced hands with 10 or 11 points.

Many of the mainstream systems seem to suffer undue strain when they try to incorporate light openers. The potential point range is just too wide. Declined invitations go down too often and over exuberant partners bid too many unmakeable games, especially if they're given to stretching.

By contrast in Precision and other big club systems the opening point count ranges are narrow and usually well defined. Here opening 11 pointers and even 9's and 10's seem to be the order of the day, to get the first blow in. Opening first keeps the opponents from using their comfortable systems - - overcalling methods are never as good as opening designs... and further there is less space within which to manoeuvre.

But again I am wondering whether these light openings just keep our opponents out of trouble. I'm not talking about preempts that rob our opponents of significant bidding space (unless of course you consider one Notrump preemptive and it is, at least a little). Perhaps light openers can tempt aggressive partnerships into a foolish bid, but sound minded seasoned veterans can show useful restraint and better timing, knowing that balancing sequences will be available if appropriate. . More importantly, when we open light many opponents just don't compete vigourously and a real part score battle does not ensue; staying out of the auction means they're not going down in a three-level contract. So, no part score swings.

So I am polling the collective wisdom of our Bridge Winners members. Does Precision's nebulous 1 do well opening with 10 or 11 high? If we had a choice of a weak Notrump what is the most effective opening range? 10-12, 11-13, 12-14 hcp? Disregard the potential penalty for a big number – – most weak Notrumpers will tell you the occasional big number in a penalty is both rare and worth it compared to the difficulty caused opponents in having to start their bidding at the two level. The question is at what minimum point count (within the legal limits of the game or location) are opening one bids most effective: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, or 13 hcp? That's the question but the wisdom is found in what brings the most effective long-term results. And the accompanying question is "what are the real costs of opening so light"?

The other query I have it is whether having a four point Notrump range is helpful or compromising. For example, if our range was 11-14 do you put yourself in jeopardy by inviting with 11 point hands, and is it worth it to throw more of your junky flat hands into the Notrump dumpster? The four point range brings extra invitational ambiguity and risk in both competitive and noncompetitive auctions. In other words does getting rid of the low valued flat hands by throwing them into the opening one Notrump junk collector, does it make opening one of a suit openings more impressive, precise and competitive? The question applies against any four-point range such as say 16-19 hcp. In this case, the one Notrump rebid has a higher chance of making the contract than a jump rebid of two Notrump with 18 or 19 when catching partner with a 5 or 6 count. Do you go to game on that 6? Usually it's a wild guess with little outside information to go on. One expert told me that 19 facing 6 has less than a 50% chance of a making game because of transportation difficulties. 11 facing 14 hcp has far superior odds and many think 12 facing 12 is a good game because of optimal transportation facilitiation.


If your system design can handle it, what is the most effective opening WEAK Notrump range?

11-15 (widest allowed)

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