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LC Standard -- Introduction
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Bridge Winners is proud to present a new series by Larry Cohen, the acclaimed player, teacher, and author of the bookTo Bid or Not to Bid: The LAW of Total Tricks. The series, the first articles of which were already published in his personal newsletter, will explain in detail his new 2/1 system, LC Standard. The full cardis available and printable through our convention card editorvia theSuggested Starting Points tab.

In this series, I am taking the reader through what I believe to be a simple, yet effective bidding system. It will enable any partnership to "fill out a convention card" in less than 15 minutes--and be ready to play.

There are many options when filling out a convention card/system. I've taken what I've learned from 35 years playing and 20 years teaching to present what I believe to be the best choices. My overall philosophy is surely KISS (Keep it Simple, Sweetheart). If you enjoy lots of conventions and complexity, you are in the wrong place. To quote (I've modified it a bit), the late Richard Freeman, "it is better to play an 80% system with 99% efficiency than to play a 99% system with 80% efficiency."

I strongly believe that the memory portion of bridge needs to be "low-end." At every level, I find players tend to play too much--not too little. They clog their brains with system memory (and often mis-memory) and have no brain power left to play or defend. Furthermore, most conventions don't come up enough to be practical, useful, or memorize-able.

Still, we need more than just Stayman and Blackwood.

I do have other conventions on my card. But mostly, it is the basics which are stressed. Basic bidding theory, preemptive theory, competitive bidding strategy, and some ideas on the partscore/game/slam decision. These concepts are infinitely more useful than cramming your card with the latest fancy convention just to keep up with the Joneses.

I hope many of you will adopt this system. I know you'll enjoy the beauty of bridge much more if you can be at peace with the system/memory issue and just play cards!

In the coming weeks (a long series of articles), we will go through the ACBL convention card section by section and fill it out. By the time we are done, I hope I will have created a friendly, simple, accurate and easy system (LC Standard) for all to play. In the meantime, let's get started withNAMES & GENERAL APPROACH.

General Approach

We start with the easiest section of all. If you don't know yourNAMES, you are in some trouble. Actually, many players know their names, but fail to write them on the convention card (is it beneath them)? Please enter both your full name and your partner's full name on your convention card. Your opponents might want this information, and they are entitled to know. I've been putting my full name (and my partner's) on my convention card since my first duplicate at age 14. What could be easier?

GENERAL APPROACHcan be something such as:

Strong-Club System (orPrecision)

or, more likely,

Standard American or just "Standard"

or,

In this case, I egotistically propose "LC Standard"

It is the system that this series will be based upon. It is really "Standard American with2/1 GFand a handful of modern treatments and conventions." If you are not familiar or comfortable with2/1 GF, I suggest your priority should be to learn it. It is what all the top players use, and I believe it will be the new "standard" for everyone. Don't get left in the dust. "Two over one" is a better and easier system than what you may have learned many years ago. Please don't be a fuddy duddy who thinks: "I'm too old to change." For my complete series on2/1 GF, clickhere.

Next to "Two Over One:", we check the box "Game Forcing" as shown above. I am not a believer in "Except when Suit Rebid." Let's keep it simple and agree that a 2/1 response (by an Unpassed Hand, of course) is 100% game forcing. In competition (if the opponents double or overcall), a 2/1 response is notGF.

Next to "VERY LIGHT:", I propose not checking any of the boxes. Sure, in 3rd seat, and at favorable vulnerability, I advocate being aggressive. However, I would consider that to be "normal winning bridge"--not something that would invoke the words "very light."

TheFORCING OPENINGis2. It shows a strong hand, but not a Game Forcing hand. If balanced, it will be 22+ (since a 2NT opening tops out at 21). If it is unbalanced, there is no exact number of HCP required. We will revisit the2Opening (and responses) when we get to that section of the card. For now, our only obligation is to mark it as our "Forcing Opening."

Summary of this first section:

In less than 20 seconds, you can write your full names, the system name, check the2/1 GFbox and the2FORCING OPENING.

We'll need considerably more brain power next week as we move into the 1NT section.

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