Lukasz Slawinski

Text may be re?printed if the source is quoted



The Ad?van?tages of Bid?ding Free?dom

of Weak Open?ing Sys?tems
in Dupli?cate Bridge


Is the game of bridge just a mat?ter of play?ing the cards well and choos?ing the best avail?able bid within the con?fines of some stan?dard sys?tem ?

No !  Cer?tainly NOT.

Bridge is also a con?test amongst bid?ding sys?tems, de?pending on the in?genu?ity of your con?ven?tions, which hope?fully in the long run will prove supe?rior to those of your op?po?nents:

an inte?gral part of bridge is com?pe?ti?tion
in the de?vel?op?ment of bid?ding sys?tems.

Inventing and testing bid?ding sys?tems is not just one as?pect of the game. It is also an in?credi?bly stimu?lating in?tellec?tual pas?time ! You can de?velop your own theo?ries and im?me?di?ately test them at the bridge ta?ble !

That is why play?ers all over the world in?vent their own con?ven?tions.

That is why nearly all se?ri?ous bridge play?ers be?gin their ca?reers by in?vent?ing their own bid?ding sys?tems.

That is how the au?thor of this book?let be?gan many years ago, and in spite of a lack of ma?jor suc?cesses he has not be?come dis?il?lu?sioned with bridge – pre?cisely be?cause he was able to test his theo?ries.

There is there?fore no doubt that:

the op?por?tu?nity for in?vent?ing and test?ing
bidding sys?tems and con?ven?tions
is one of the main at?trac?tions of bridge.


Imagine the fol?low?ing situa?tion: – a youngish player has in?vented a bid?ding sys?tem and has de?cided to try it out.

Where is he to do this?

Not in a teams of 4 match, be?cause if his sys?tem lets him down, his team?mates will be some?what an?noyed – and rightly so.

That leaves a pairs tour?na?ment, where his only re?spon?sibil?ity is to his part?ner, and a poor per?form?ance will not elimi?nate him from fur?ther events.

From this it fol?lows that:

there should be no re?stric?tions
on bid?ding sys?tems and con?ven?tions
at tour?na?ments and con?gresses

At this point, some peo?ple might say that all these "in?ven?tions" are practi?cally use?less, and that one should stick to the old, tried and trusted bid?ding meth?ods.

Suppose, then, that all new con?ven?tions have been banned and eve?ry?one uses identi?cal (or nearly identi?cal) sys?tem.

What hap?pens ?

1. Bore?dom sets in,
2. At?ten?dance at tour?na?ments de?creases,
3. Bid?ding the?ory stag?nates !

Let us not for?get that new ideas are born from ex?peri?ments!

Don't dis?par?age the play?ers who use sys?tems which at first sight ap?pear to?tally sense?less. With?out them we would still be bid?ding the way we did 50 years ago !

So we see that:

free?dom to use any bid?ding sys?tem
is vital to the de?vel?op?ment of bid?ding the?ory

The possi?bil?ity of de?vel?oping and test?ing bid?ding systems is a char?ac?teristic of the game of bridge, dis?tin?guish?ing it from all other in?tel?lec?tual sports!

Why, then, should we di?min?ish the charm of the game by im?pos?ing on play?ers laws which make bid?ding less in?ter?est?ing ?

bidding free?dom is ad?van?ta?geous for bridge




As recently as 10 years ago, al?most eve?ry?one used the same ba?sic bid?ding meth?ods; only a hand?ful of play?ers used Weak Open?ing Sys?tems.

There were many tradi?tional sys?tems, of course, but in relative terms these dif?fered only slightly, and this is still true to?day.

However, Weak Open?ing Sys?tems are some?thing com?pletely dif?fer?ent: they de?stroy the foun?da?tions on which the tradi?tional sys?tems are built and erect new ones in their place.

Are Weak Open?ing Sys?tems good or bad for bridge?

Let us ex?am?ine the mat?ter.

The main char?ac?ter?is?tic of Weak Open?ing Sys?tems are:

1) A high fre?quency of open?ing bids (80% of hands)
2) Open?ing the bid?ding with weak hands
3) Un?usual meth?ods of de?scrib?ing dis?tri?bu?tion.

These char?ac?ter?istics make bridge a much more in?ter?est?ing game so that:


You enter the bid?ding on nearly every hand – even with a yarbor?ough.


And this is merely be?cause you have opened the bid?ding (it is well known that de?fen?sive bid?ding is dif?fi?cult, even for ex?perts).


The un?usual and origi?nal na?ture of Weak Open?ing Sys?tems makes them an in?ter?est?ing in?tellec?tual pas?time, pro?viding you with fresh?ness and nov?elty.

Hence, it is obvi?ous that:

Weak Open?ing Sys?tems make bridge a more in?ter?est?ing game


The attrac?tion of Weak Opening Sys?tems has re?sulted in a con?stant growth in their popu?lar?ity, to such an ex?tent that in Po?land at pre?sent they are seri?ously chal?leng?ing or?thodox systems.

Weak Open?ing Sys?tems are rarely men?tioned in the bridge press, no ex?perts use them at the highest lev?els of the game, and yet in War?saw alone there are over 200 play?ers who use them!

And the ma?jority of those be?came in?ter?ested in bridge only after they had dis?cov?ered Weak Open?ing Sys?tems !

From this we can draw the con?clu?sion that:

Weak Open?ing Sys?tems help to re?cruit
new play?ers for du?pli?cate bridge

Should you doubt the added inter?est of Weak Open?ing Sys?tems, re?mem?ber the last time you found your?self in this situa?tion:

It's one of those days when you seem to pick up the same 5 or 6 point count on every hand; you continu?ally pass with ever–in?creasing de?spon?dency. Not only you are bored to tears, but worse, you have no con?trol over your re?sults, and are re?duced to hope that op?po?nents have a bid?ding acci?dent or pull the wrong card out.


It's differ?ent with Weak Opening Sys?tems !

More than ever, the re?sult of a tour?na?ment be?comes in?de?pend?ent of how good your hands are.

This is be?cause:

1) You open the bid?ding very fre?quently (al?ways if you get a chance)

2) The meaning of opening bids is of?ten un?usual, though easy to com?pre?hend.

In effect, the oppo?nents are re?duced to de?fen?sive bid?ding, which is diffi?cult even for ex?perts.


Thus, Weak Opening Sys?tems de?prive sea?soned play?ers of the ad?van?tage they would nor?mally en?joy due to their ex?peri?ence.

They have to play as well as they can, with great care. They can?not sit back and re?lax, count?ing on beat?ing their in?ex?pe?ri?enced oppo?nents with?out too much ef?fort.


dupli?cate bridge be?comes even more of a test of skill

Weak Open?ing Sys?tems are a new stage in the evolu?tion of bridge the?ory – new axi?oms, new meth?ods, a new style of bidding.

15 years ago (writ?ten in 1978) they were germi?nat?ing; now they are over?run?ning Po?land, and ger?mi?nat?ing abroad; and in 15 years time they will conquer the world! Not be?cause they are bet?ter than tradi?tional sys?tems, but above all be?cause, thanks to them, bridge be?comes a more in?ter?esting game.

You don't get bored when you hold poor cards!
You're al?ways in the bid?ding!
You can com?pete ef?fec?tively with top play?ers!

Weak Open?ing Sys?tems are good for du?pli?cate bridge



In the past, bridge ad?minis?tra?tors have of?ten tried to ban various new sys?tems.

Who knows what Cul?bert?son would have done, had the or?gani?za?tion of the game been the same as it is now?

Perhaps he would have been banned from open?ing 1 of a suit weaker than AKDxxx ?

The law mak?ers pro?duce nu?mer?ous ar?gu?ments, such as:

– un?usual sys?tems come as a sur?prise to op?po?nents
– it is diffi?cult to agree an ad hoc de?fense to them
– it is harder to de?tect cheats
                                 ...and so on.

All this pales into insig?nifi?cance when com?pared to the pos?sibili?ties; be?side  the argu?ments for being able to use any bid?ding sys?tem.

So I re?peat:

any re?stric?tion on bid?ding sys?tems
is harm?ful to du?pli?cate bridge


Let us not de?prive play?ers of one of the main at?trac?tions of bridge; the rea?son it is at the fore?front of in?tellec?tual games – the chance to in?vent and test one's own con?ven?tions and sys?tems.


PostScript 1

If you had in?tended to in?tro?duce (or main?tain) re?stric?tions on bid?ding sys?tems, please re?read the fore?going text and con?sider whether you are not play?ing into the hands of people who are smugly satis?fied with the status quo and are too lazy to use their brains.

Remember also that these re?stric?tions pro?duce a chain re?ac?tion – if you intro?duce them oth?ers will too, cit?ing you as a precedent.


PostScript 2

If in spite of this you de?cide to in?tro?duce a re?stric?tion on bid?ding sys?tems in your tour?na?ment, do not be ashamed to pub?lish this fact plainly in your bro?chure.

Do not sub?ject players who in many cases, have trav?elled a long way to play in your tour?na?ment to the in?dig?nity of find?ing out about these re?stric?tions only when they pull the cards out the first board.


Translated into Eng?lish by Ro?man Smol?ski   

First pub?lished (in Pol?ish) De?cem?ber 1978
Second pub?lished (in Eng?lish) May 1980
Reprinted in “The Bridge World” Au?gust 1980




Pikier writ?ings