Monday, June 1, 2015

Playing without conventions

I was back in Oklahoma on work, and decided to see old friends by catching a bridge game there.  I emailed one of my regular partners from way-back-when and asked him to come play with me. My partner had gone from a year where he won the ACBL's masterpoints competition for his point level to a year where he let his membership lapse.

He was not playing much bridge anymore, he told me, but he came out any way.  He did have a condition, however. "No conventions," he told me.  I've played three different systems with him -- 2/1, traditional Precision with a 12-14 NT, and a Woolsey-like system with 10-12 NT, and everything these systems imply -- mini-Roman, negative free bids, transfer Lebensohl, etc. -- most of it at his urging. And now, he didn't want to play conventions!

The lack of system didn't hurt us much. This was not the strongest game in town, and we finished with a 65% game without doing anything too spectacular. But as easily as the matchpoints came, they also went rather easily.  Take this hand;

S Deals
E-W Vul

I was South, and naturally, I opened the hand 1C.  Two aces, and a nice club rebid.  West passed and North bid 1S.  Now East doubled!  I bid 2C anyway, and partner bid 3NT ending the auction.

Now to the play. They led two hearts, and so after cashing 6 clubs (on which East threw away hearts and West threw away diamonds), partner was faced with a choice. He could take a diamond finesse or lead towards the spade king.  He decided to believe East's supposed negative double and took the spade play.  Ooops.

East-West too had decided to play with no conventions. Not even negative doubles!