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.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Canapé and Molson against Notrump

Yesterday, I bought Ken Rexford's new book, Modified Italian Canapé System, at the web site I think Master Point Press (Linda & Ray Lee, and others, see Linda's blog at has a real winner with their ebooks approach: I was able to buy the book for just over $8 and get it delivered immediately - great prices, free "shipping", instant use - I love it. I'll review the book at a later date, but I'll note that Rexford's new book is not a dry system notes book, but one with a strong narrative discussion - for example here's just a small part of his comprehensive look at two-bid concerns:
The result of intermediate two-bids is two-fold and complimentary. On the one hand, we more often buy the contract when the opponents miss a superior partscore, or even game. On the other hand, frustrated opponents often compete in a leap-of-faith overcall that yields severe penalties when Responder doubles. Preemption is, in essence, a unilateral decision of one partner to engage in anticipatory fast-arrival. The theory is that consumption of space before opposition exchange of information creates an often irresolvable problem for the opponents.
The book covers much of the current thinking in the system design area, and I strongly recommend it based on my initial reading so far.

Since the last post I've been contemplating Canapé because of a question I received from Ken Scott about the Molson convention against notrump. I recalled the first time the convention ran over me. We were playing in a regional pairs, in the days where regional pairs events were large. We were having a great game, aside from two showstopping problems.

The first problem was we were using a 14-16 notrump opening, and on three boards we opened 1NT with 14, partner invited, and we ended in 2NT with only seven tricks: down 1, where most of the rest of the field would be in 1NT for a plus score. Those three results had our ship listing badly, but the torpedo that sunk us was the Molson convention.

Markland Molson and Boris Baran arrived at our table, and on the first of the two boards we had a decent result. On the second board, we opened our 14-16 1NT, this time with a whole 15 points, and Molson overcalled 2D, showing 3+Ds, and a five card or longer major. This got them to 2H, and a beautiful +110 for them. Molson had overcalled 2D with a 3-5-3-2, on a hand where most would not have the methods or desire to get into the bidding over the field's 15-17 notrump opening.

The next day I asked about the rest of the convention, which was:

2m: 3+ in the minor together with an unknown five card or longer major (usually just five)
2M: 4 in the major, with a longer unknown minor
Double: Single suiter in any suit but diamonds, or both majors

The reason that Double is not a single suiter in diamonds, is to allow for: 1NT-X-P-2C(waiting);-P-2D to show both majors. With a single suiter in diamond one must overcall 3D or play an approach such as 2NT overcall showing diamonds, either both minors or single suited diamonds.

Essentially the Molson convention employs Canapé overcalls over notrump openings. It's not a common approach, and on David Stevenson's detailed look at Defences to 1NT, Canapé is only mentioned as Canapé Transfers here: (eighth defence given on that page).

For the next couple of years I tracked the convention by comparing our actual table results when the opponents opened 1NT, with how it might have turned out had we been using the Molson convention. My subjective results were that the 2m overcalls were great, the 2M overcalls were less frequent and randomly had great or poor results depending on whether it hit a fit or swam ashore on misfit island. The double took some unwinding, and the opening side could consume bidding space to make that impossible. Recent convention cards with Baran (Bo on BridgeBase) don't use the convention, but that might be the choice of his partners.



  • At 10:30 AM, Blogger MickyB said…

    How about -

    X = 5+cards in a major; either 5M4m [5M3m if you prefer!] or a minimum

    2C = majors

    2D = 6+cards in a major, extras

    2M = 4M5+m

  • At 10:40 AM, Blogger MickyB said…

    Or perhaps a slight improvement, as it makes a double of 2D more risky -

    2D = 6S extras or 4H5m
    2H = 6H extras

  • At 12:40 PM, Blogger Bruce said…


    Your idea might be okay on its own, but it doesn't seem that related to the defense that Glen is describing. The double, 2C, and 2D parts of your scheme allow responder to double with general values. The Molson scheme doesn't permit this.


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