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I started playing Bridge (casually) about 30 years ago and although I recall that I was taught ACOL I don't recall the details but I do recall that it was a strong NT.  After a 15 year gap I came back to Bridge about 10 years back and was kindly taken under the wings of a very skilled and long standing player.  She told me that ACOL 4 card majors / weak NT was the 'modern' i.e. best system and "those other people" (Neanderthals) playing Cuthbertson, Goren, and Standard American did so because they were too lazy to move on.  I now play Benji Acol with a different partner who has played Benzi Acol but with 5CM and a St NT with another partner who is a good player and too young to be a Neanderthal (but of course may have been taught by a Neanderthal.  I am now wondering whether we should switch to 5CM and St NT but I can't see the benefits of one over the other?  I just did a search on google to try and find out how things evolved but it was a bit of a mine field.


  • edited 1:01AM

    I think that Julian Pottage deals with the question of which system to use quite well in the current issue (145) of the Mr Bridge Magazine (see page 13).

    The best advice is to stick with systems that you are familiar with. You can lose a lot of ground by not fully understanding the full ramifications and subtle inferences of the system.


  • edited 1:01AM
    Thanks Tram.  I read the article and although I can agree that changing from one system to another won't "suddenly make you a batter player"  that doesn't answer the question of which system produces consistently better results.  I also didn't understand his rationale on the doubles; I understood what he was saying but to make that work you'd need a to be very clear on the complexities of that agreement with your partner.
  • edited 1:01AM

    If you ask "which system produces consistently better results?" you will get different answers depending who you ask. We each have our favourites and think our system is best. If there was such a system then everyone would play it. But there are several widely played systems. Standard American is the most widely played system globally - but many top player use other systems.

    A better question would be "Which system will produce better results consistently for me?". I strongly advocate that this should be a system that you and your partner are familiar with. Improving your understanding of your current system will produce better results in a quicker time.

    Agreeing with partner which doubles are take-out and which are penalties is a good place to start. Make the rule simple initially, you can then allow for more exceptions over time. A simple rule might be "All doubles of a suit up to 2S are for take-out. Doubles of NT are for penalties."

  • edited 1:01AM
    Whether a double is penalty or takeout depends on the previous auction, the vulnerability, and several other factors. The whole topic is is fairly straightforward, but not nearly as simple as "up to 2S for take-out and doubles of NT are for penalties." If you would like an EXCELLENT (and free) lesson on the topic AND ON MANY MANY more topics, just go to where Richard Pavlicek, who won about 10 North American Championships and, more importantly, has great teaching materials honed over MANY years. His material is system independent, but is for a WIDE variety of players in that some is for only advanced players, some only for intermediate players, and some for beginners. No matter what, if you go to that link, then under COMPETITIVE BIDDING you will see PENALTY DOUBLES as a sub topic with a full lesson and many exercises. ENJOY
  • edited 1:01AM
    Thanks Terrence that's a useful link
  • edited 1:01AM
    I agree that this an area that can be complex and that my rule was too simple. But even my simple rule will improve results if you have been used to doubling for penalties.
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