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The Unknown Convention You Will Want to Play

This is an article about a convention called “Clinite” which quite a few people play, but few know its name or origination. It was named by me after my mentor who invented it many years ago, though he never gave it an official name. I’ve continued to play it with all my partners and I simply call it Clinite. First, a little background on the man who invented the convention.

I met Richard Clinite in 1970 while in college. In the spring of 1970, I went down to the Iowa Memorial Union at The University of Iowa to try out for the bowling team. I wandered into the Gold Feather Room and saw people playing a card game my parents played. (The Gold Feather Room played host to a long line of major bridge players over the years, including Ron Anderson, Jim Nash, Al Stout, and the past CEO of the ABCL, Jay Baum.) Long story short, that’s where I met Rich. He took me under his wing and began teaching me all he knew about the game. I was an avid student. He taught me end plays, squeezes, leads, signaling, strategy, and so much more. Rich also designed a standard bidding system suited for IMP’s and we won a fair amount of team games over the years. However, that wasn’t his intention. He designed the system for “coin” and we played all comers until the comers stopped coming. I still play the system, but, as conventions have been designed and changed over the years, only its main concepts still exist. I like the system so well that I continue to play the standard system Rich and I developed with my present regular partner.

Rich stopped being a regular duplicate player in the late 70’s. He still plays in a club game once a year with me, but other than that he rarely gets out to play. However, we get together to talk bridge and go over hands a couple of times per week. I still gain valuable insight from his analysis.Before he stopped playing, Rich noticed that there was a “wasted bid” in the standard system. That bid was responding 2NT to partner’s 1NT in order to make a game try. With 2S being a transfer to 3C, Rich asked himself, “Why not reverse the two?” Here are some of the reasons for doing so.

1) Nothing is lost.

2) No longer is there any need for a quantitative 4NT, since opener responds 2NT to 2S with a minimum. Why play 4NT when you can stop in three.

3) With a maximum, responder’s 2S over 1NT opens up the three-level to show a variety of hands. After a 2S response, for example, with any maximum, 3H/3S by opener can show a five-card major so the 5/3 major-suit-fit isn’t lost. 3C/3D can show a variety of hands based on partnership agreement. And, there’s the four level, which is lost if responder bids 4NT quantitative.

4) If opener responds 2NT with a minimum, responder can still investigate slam, make game tries, and more with a variety of three- and four-level bids, again based on partnership agreement.

Rich wrote up the convention and it was published in Bridge World Magazine many years ago. We began using Clinite, the 2S size-asking bid, to eliminate the quantitative 4NT, but Rich always recognized the potential for much more than that and I’ve gone on to develop an entire series of bids after partner’s response of 2NT. You can use suit-showing responses, relays, or anything else you would like to include. It’s entirely up to you and your partnership. But, even if you use Clinite in its simplest form, it is certainly more valuable than the limiting game-invitational bid of 2NT along with the high level quantitative 4NT.

For those of you who don’t use Clinite, I suggest you give it some consideration. For those who do, please mark it down, respectfully, on your card as “Clinte” in the space provided on your card under “NOTRUMP OPENING BIDS.” You’ll have to still write a description, but you’d have to do that anyway.

P.S. While Rich and I were never major “pairs” players, we did manage to finish third in the open pairs at the Nationals in Las Vegas in 1973. We were third in a huge field of approximately 500 tables. Rich had driven straight through from Iowa through a snow storm in order to arrive an hour before game time. He had not been to sleep in more than 24 hours!

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