This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2-4 Drury

Jim Hudson (see the first post of this two part posting on Drury) was correct - distinguishing between 3 and 4 card raises is more important on the constructive hands, since on those the opponents are more likely to compete and you want to know when and when not to bid again.

However if you play a method like P-1M;-2M showing 4 of the M and constructive values, you might as well have Bergen'ed (using Bergen as a verb - btw Bergen has just finished 15+ hour days to complete his new book "Slam Bidding Made Easier" - we look forward to that) - that is jump bidding to 3C or 3D artificially to show 4 trumps and constructive values. The reason for this is after it goes P-1M;-2M showing 4 trumps and constructive values, the opponents will compete on almost all hands where it will be right to do so - you will only be left alone in 2M when it is wrong - the opponents can do this since if you have just an 8 card fit, you only have about half the points - thus the opponents know they have, in this case, half the points too and likely a fit. If you have more points, you will have a 9+ card fit, and this guarantees a fit for the opponents if they compete.

In saying that you will have only half the points if you have an 8 card fit, this is based on the types of hands that can open 1M with just 4 in M. If you open with just 4 in M, but more than a minimum values, you face sequences with no good rebid, such as P-1M;-1NT (semi-forcing, up to maximum passed hand)-?. Here if you have extras, you have to bid again, but all second suit rebids imply that M was 5+ to start with (assuming you are not playing a full canape style with freely bid 4 card majors). Btw, you can't play P-1M;-1NT as just 6-10, since this will pull flat 11-12s beyond the safety limit of 1NT opposite those sub-minimum openers (10-11) - the best protection for lightweight 1M openers is not Drury, but the P-1M;-1NT-Pass sequence which stays low enough when no M fit found and not enough points for game.

This brings us to what hands you want to open a light 1M in 3rd and 4th - if you play against a lot of relatively poor opponents, you will want to open lots, especially in 3rd. However in this discussion we will assume we are working out methods to be used against top level opponents. Let's look at some of the downsides of opening light against good opponents:

- During the bidding, they can better judge what cards are working

- They can position their NT contracts to best advantage

- For 3rd seating openings, the fourth hand can afford to preempt on a wide range of hands (they are opposite a passed hand too, so risk of missing game lower). If you open awful playing value hands in 3rd seats, this puts responder in a guess situation - responder wants to bid if you have a normal opener but needs to pass if you have a manure pile.

- They can double you if you bid too much

- When they play the contract, they can place cards better.

Notice those downsides don't apply to poor opponents - for example they don't know to change up their preempts when their partner is a passed hand.

With these downsides in mind, against good opponents, we (me and others who have looked at this), recommend for 3rd and 4th 1M openings:

- At least 10 points (with less, preempt or pass)
- Decent suit, lead directional values, if less than 12.
- If just 4 in M, at least two of the top four, and a hand comfortable passing after P-1M;-1NT-?
- In 4th seat, for a 1H opening, 4+ spades if 10 points, 3+ spades if 11 points.
- With 12 or less and 6+ in M, open 2M or higher.

Speaking of those less than 10 hands, don't forget the POOP rules - with poop POOP = Pass Or Over Preempt - by "over preempt", that means to preempt aggressively.

The Drury ranges given next will assume one opens almost all 12+ balanced hands. If you open almost all 11+ balanced, or if you pass most 12 balanced, then make corresponding adjustments to the point ranges.

When you open 1M with a 4 card M, and partner has a 3 card raise, often you want to play in notrump, not the major. However if you have just 10 to a bad 12 and 4 in M, the combined strength for the partnership will not be sufficient for 2NT, and if you use Drury you are already above 1NT. Thus on game invite hands (10-11) there is no reason to distinguish initially between 3 and 4 card raises if using a Drury raise.

We can then use a structure like this for the 10-11s raises:

1NT: Semi-forcing, includes flat game invites with 3 in M

2D: Drury, 10-11 High Card Points, 3 in M with shape or 4 in M but not very shapely

2NT: 4+ in M, very shapely, 8/9-11

If opener passes 1NT, missing a 5-3 fit (if opener has 5 in M and a balanced or semi-balanced minimum or sub-minimum) will usually be fine, since 1NT will be a good, if not best, spot most of the time.

The 2D Drury bid is quite specific - opener will often be able to place the contract, or when necessary make a try. It is suggested to play P-1M;-2D-2NT as showing a good 12 to 13, exactly 4 in M, balanced or semi-balanced, non-forcing but responder to correct back to M with 4 card trump support.

Now we would like to separate the 3 and 4 constructive raises, so our side knows when to compete, but, as discussed at the start, if we do it clearly this will just spur the opponents to compete. Thus will need to wrap the 4 card raise into a bid with some other hand types to better hide it. As noted in the first post, Hamman-Compton are trying something like this, perhaps influenced by coach Kokish, but their approach will make things clear to the opponents on rebids by responder.

The convention recommended here will be 2-4 Drury. It is a 2C bid that shows either:

- Exactly 4 in M, not super shapely, 7-9 High Card Points, OR

- Exactly 2 in M, 9-11 High Card Points (9 with a quality suit), and either 5 or longer in a new red suit (Ds or, if a 1S opener, Hs), or 6 or longer in a black suit (Cs, or if a 1H opener, Ss).

Over 2-4 Drury, opener bids:

2D: Minimum or sub-minimum with 4 in M and/or 3+ diamonds. Responder passes with Ds (or bids 3D with 6 and a maximum), 2M with 4 trumps, or bids a new suit to show that suit and 2 in M.

2M: To play if responder does not have a good six or longer minor and 2 in M (bid 3m then), or 5-5 minors (bid 2NT), or, if 1H opener, 6+Ss (bid 2S then)

2H: When 1S opener, 2H shows 4+ Hs, forcing to 2S

2NT: Asking, responder shows longest suit if 2 in M, or bids 3M if 7 to a bad 8, 4 trumps, and 3NT if good 8 to 9 and 4 trumps. Replies can be transfers if you want the ability for opener to play the hand in most cases.

New suit: Forcing, expecting responder to jump to 4M with 4 trumps

3NT: To play if responder has 2 in M, to play in 4M if responder has 4

4M: To play regardless of hand type

This convention will often hide the degree of fit in M to the opponents. For example, after P-1M;-2C-2M, opponents are in risk if they enter the bidding and find responder with the 2 in M hand type. Yet if it begins like this, and the opponents compete, responder, with 4 in M, will know when to compete to 3M.

To complete the Drury structure:

1NT: Semi-forcing, includes flat game invites with 3 in M

2C: 2-4 Drury, 2 or 4 in M, if 4 in M 7-9 and not a 4-3-3-3, if 2 in M 9-11 and a side suit

2D: Game Invite Fit Drury, 10-11 High Card Points, 3 in M with shape or 4 in M but not very shapely

2H: For a 1S opener, 2H shows 6+Hs (often weak suit since no weak two), singleton/void in Ss, 7-10

2M: 5/6-9, 3 in M or a 4-3-3-3 with 4 in M

2NT: 4+ in M, very shapely, 8/9-11

3C/D: 6+ suit, 9-11, singleton/void in M

3M: 4-6, 4+ in M

Drury has evolved from an asking bid (do you have a good opening or not), to telling bids (I have a fit for you). However the ACBL convention charts remain locked on the telling approach:

TWO CLUBS OR TWO DIAMONDS response to third or fourth-seat major-suit openings asking the quality of the opening bid.

If playing in ACBLland, when describing any form of Drury, I recommend you tell them what the bid shows, and then add "and asks opener to describe quality of the opening bid." Even with 2-4 Drury, that is what opener's rebids do, in effect.

I want to acknowledge Denis Lesage's work on raises with 2+ in M, reflected in his 2002 Bridge World article "Raising on Two" (January 02 BW). There can be a lot of system design fun in "encrypting" raises.


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