VARIOUS SMALL–CARD SYSTEMS

In this chapter we shall describe various small–card systems. They fall into three categories:

2) Classifiable systems

3) The "Combine" system

Traditional or popular systems are in general unclassifiable. They are:

Classical       CLA

MUD               MUD

Reverse         Rev

Blue Team     BT

Journalist      Jou

As some of these systems are incomplete, ie it is not clear which card should be played from certain holdings, the author has had to reconstruct them, at the same time making a few small corrections relating to source S. Classifiable systems are, on the whole, completely new, having no correspondence with traditional methods. The Combine system has been singled out as it is yet little known, as well as being unclassifiable.

The Classical system Cla

This is oriented towards swift information (at the first trick) as to suit quality:

 H = bad suit (small cards only) L = good suit (including an honour) H = High small card  L = Low small card

Or, to put it in more scientific terms, source F transmits a normal quality signal. Source O confirms the information transferred by F as it also transmits a normal quality signal:

 A = bad quality D = good quality A = Ascending Order D = Dscending Order

The exceptions to the above rules are when you hold honour to five or six.

If it were not for them, the Classical system could be classified as quality QQL.

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

The "fourth highest" convention

The symmetry of the Classical system is broken when the holding is honour to five or six. Then the following rule applies: From a good suit, ie at least four cards in length and including an honour, lead the fourth highest card from the top.

The advantages of this method are:

1) It gives partner some idea of suit length, as:

– playing a higher card to the second trick indicates Hxx or Hxxx

– playing a lower card to the second trick indicates Hxxxxx or Hxxxx

2) Partner knows that you possess three cards higher than the one led.

So in this position:

 Q653 when West leads the 8, East can confidently play as long as he knows that West has at least four cards in the suit. AJ98 K102 74

The MUD system  MUD

The classical system has the drawback that it is often impossible to distinguish between two and three small cards, even after two tricks.

To circumvent this, the MUD system was invented, where with three small cards the middle one is led, followed by the highest one. Schematically:

 x x x

The name is a mnemonic, standing for:     M = Middle    U = Up      D = Down

As a result it is possible to distinguish between "xx" and "xxx", also between "xxx" and "xxxx" (but generally only after the second trick). When it comes to distinguishing between "xxxx" and "xxxxx", and between "xxxxx" and "xxxxxx", there is no information available, so it seems sensible to play xxxx.

The reverse System Rev

The reverse System Rev differs almost totally from the classical style, introducing new and original ideas:

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

One of its characteristics is that the highest card is never led, which means that if all the cards higher than the one led can be seen, you can be sure that the lead is a singleton! This is not as useful as it appears, as the situation only arises very infrequently.

A more significant feature of not leading the highest card is that partner knows you have precisely one card higher than the one led (except when the lead was fourth highest). A big drawback of The Reverse System is its inability to distinguish between xxx and Hxx, even after two tricks.

The "third and fifth highest" convention

Fourth–highest leads in the Classical and MUD systems:

 H x x = == H x x x = == H x x x x = == H x x x x x

meant that while you could distinguish between honour to four and honour to five, it was often impossible to tell whether partner had Hxx or Hxxx, and Hxxxx or Hxxxxx.

An effective remedy appeared in the form of third and fifth highest leads:

 H x x = == H x x x = == H x x x x = == H x x x x x

In this way it was possible to tell one holding from another, at the same time retaining the classical rule "L = good suit". It also meant that instead of there being three cards higher than the one led in partner's hand (with 4th highest leads), the lead of the third highest marked partner with only two cards higher than the one led, which makes decision of the type "go in with an honour or duck" significantly easier.

The Blue Team System BT

This is a modification of the MUD system based on replacing "fourth–highest" with "third and fifty":

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

Reminder:

1) We assumed that small cards are in descending order (from left to right),

ie in the natural order you place them in the hand.

2) The field of the small card leading to the first trick is colored in light green

– and the small card leading to the second trick is in dark green.

The Blue Team System shows a for–reaching logic and symmetry:

Source F – transmits signal Quality

Source O – transmits signal Length

Source S – is equivalent to Lowest small card

The only irregularity is

 H x x x x x

If this were replaced by

 H x x x x x

then the BT system would be identical

to the classifiable system QL (quality–length). The conclusion we can draw from this is that the Blue Team System is the last rung on the ladder of evolution of  the Classical System.

The Journalist System Jou

Against no–trump contract this is almost identical to the QQ (quality system). But against suit contracts the leads are:

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

This, as you can see, is the application of third and fifth leads to suits of both good and bad quality. From a practical point of view it is similar to system LowestLQ.

N.B. In the source text no mention was made of the card played to the second trick (assumed to be Lowest. The author has assumed that, however possible, source S transmits signal Q.

classifable

Classifable Systems

Now we can elaborate on the various classifiable systems, ie those which can be described using the structural definition. They consist of two groups:

1) Systems where  SF = SO   or

 QQL group QQ LLQ group LL MML group MM QQM LLM MMQ

2) Systems where  SF ≠ SO   or

 QLQ group QL QMQ group QM QLM QML

 LQL group LQ LML group LM LQM LMQ

 MQL group MQ MLM group ML MQM MLQ

As you can see from the above, only the normal version of any signal has been used; the fact that every reverse signal is exactly equivalent to its normal version justifies this.

QQ = Quality

QQL

QQM

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

LL = Length

LLQ

LLM

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

MM = Mixed

MMQ

MML

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

QL = Quality–Lenght

QLM

QLQ

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

QM = Quality–Mixed

QML

QMQ

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

LQ = Length–Quality

LQM

LQL

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

LM = Length–Mixed

LMQ

LML

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

MQ = Mixed–Quality

MQL

MQM

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

ML = Mixed–Length

MLQ

MLM

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

The Combine System C

 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

 H x x H x x x H x x x x H x x x x x

Even though Combine is unclassifiable, it does have a certain regularity:

Source F:   low = attacking lead (from an honour or doubleton)

high = passive lead (from xxx, etc.)

Leads from 3+ small cards: as in QQL (slightly different from xxxxxx)

Leads from an honour: as in QL (slightly different from Hxxxxx)

An exact description of Combine can be found in Part Three.