What's natural for balanced?
If you were teaching someone modern (five card majors) natural methods, what do you tell them to open this hand with?
How do you explain opening the worst suit playing natural methods? Do you explain it as the process of elimination?
- You don't have a five card major
- You're not strong enough for 1NT
- You don't have four diamonds
- Voila! You have a "natural" one club opening.
However the better way of explaining it is:
- We have balanced hands, and unbalanced hands
- We bid balanced hands following a "notrump ladder" depending on our point count.
It would help the process if we grouped our balanced hands of certain ranges into one bid, instead of distributing them across all four one level suit bids. Thus for teaching purposes it would be easier to have:
12-14: Open 1C and rebid 1NT or support partner
15-17: Open 1NT
18-19: Open 1C and rebid 2NT or support partner
20-21: Open 2NT
22-24: Open 2C and rebid 2NT or support partner
25-27: Open 2C and rebid 3NT or support partner
Unbalanced hands: open longest suit, highest ranking if equal length of longest (but 4-4-1-4 opens 1C and all other 4-4-4-1s open 1D), unless game force values, then open 2C and rebid longest suit.
Key is to distinguish the approaches for balanced hands and for unbalanced hands. The remaining issue is then how to handle the openings that combine both balanced and unbalanced sets of hands, and that's a decisive factor in any system design that we'll look at next.