Monday, August 16, 2010

Polishish Canape Issues: Determining if Opener has a weak NT or a Strong Hand

When I first toyed with adopting a polish-like structure with canape about 3 months ago, I was really concerned that we would have difficulty distinguishing between the 12-14 balanced hands and the big hands in competition. That actually hasn't been a problem. With the 12-14, opener can just pass his rho is the one interfering or can raise partner's 1M response to 2M. With a big hand, opener should do something - anything - to show one of the big hands: cuebid for a strong takeout, jump raise or jump-shift to show support and a big hand, bid NT if balanced w/ a stopper, or bid a new suit. The only real difference from standard bidding is that a cuebid would not show support as a jump to 3M and all jump-shifts (fit-jumps) would be gf with support. I think we also decided that opener should be able to make a support double with a weak NT, so 1C-P-1H-2C-X = 3 card support, just as if it was a standard auction.

If lho of the 1C opener interferes, that's actually a little easier to deal with. Responder just bids as if partner opened a standard "could be as short as 2" 1C. Negative doubles are all on, negative free bids are on (for majors only), but 2C and 2D are both natural 1 round forces. Opener rarely has the big hand when lho and partner both bid, but there are still plenty of ways he can show a big hand - jumping and cuebidding, normally all below game and in a game-forcing situation.

If lho preempts, we even more bid as if we opened a weak NT. Lebensohl applies and opener bids over a signoff only if 17+ and obviously doesn't accept the relay to 3C is he has a big hand. But natural bidding takes over and we have yet to have any real problems that are worse than standard. I must say, in probably 25 sessions of playing this face to face, lebensohl after a 1C opening never came up.

Polish club is substantially superior to a strong club, in my opinion, because opponents don't so much go out of their way to make nuisance bids because they have to bid more constructively because it is still reasonably likely to be their hand. I probably should learn the Polish standard system WJ05, something I might be able to play with someone without weeks of discussion and practice.

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