Comic minors – come back rabbit, come back!
-for the better minor(itie)s –
’How fair and how pleasent art thou, O love, for delights!’
Lets suppose you are playing 5card major, strong no-trump. There are currently two schools about how to handle weak balanced hands. One of them is called ’better minor’. It means that we open the LONGER minor, otherwise 1 Club with 3-3, and 1 Diamond with 4-4. It is a bit strange that this doesn’t mean we open stronger (better) one, but it seems we just create a rule and give it a (strange) name.
Another school is called ’prepared 1C’. It’s very similar to ’better minor’ but instead we open 4=4=3=2 with 1C and not 1D. It helps a bit, but causes two kind of problems. First of all you can’t raise the Club suit to the 3 level, because it could have been a doubleton only. Second is aggressiveness: you put an (original) 1D opening into the 1C basket, so your bid’s pre-emptive effect will be lower.
However, I strongly believe the main problem with both these styles is the same. Let’s suppose you open 1-of-minor and rebid 1 or 2 N. Most of the times you will play a NT partial/game. When the length of 2 of your suits is known, the rest is easily countable, thanks to this ’better minor/prepared Club’ rule.
We all know that the battle between defence and offence is like the famous game foxes and rabbits. At the start of the play the declarer (the Rabbit) has the advantage, and as the play progresses the defenders (Foxes) position continually improves. If they can count declarers MAJORS this means they know the MINORS as well. Let’s see a few examples:
- 8 minor cards. 5-3 with opening minor and 4-4 ONLY if it started with 1D
- 7 minor cards. 4-3 or 5-2 with longer opening minor. (Although sometimes the 2452 drops down to 1C)
- 6 minor cards. 4-2 or 3-3 if opening bid was 1C.
I think a brand new concept could help declarer a lot. I discovered it en route to a big Central European tourney, Montegrotto. Italy. Let’s suppose you have 3-3, 4-4 or 4-3 in minors in balanced hands and currently you have quite strict rules about what to open.
I suggest the following rule: with 3+-3+ minors randomly choose 1 of them.
You can use your clock or even better if you don’t have one: the colour closer to your right hand.
It doesn’t cause any problem for you because partner can raise your suit to the 2 level with 4 cards, or the 3 level with 5. We tried it in Montegrotto and it was huge success. Defence became more difficult. And bridge (unlike the bigger game, called life) is a zero-sum game: what is good for us is necessarily bad for them.
What are the possible drawbacks? Most players use game forcing checkback after raise/NT rebid. But all good checkback mechanisms mean that common hand types are lower, so you should have enough room to investigate.
I’ll write about it in the next article.