[BLML] 1NT, 1NT, wherefore art thou 1NT?

Roger Pewick axman22 at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 3 00:58:14 CEST 2009

From: "Roger Pewick" <axman22 at hotmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2009 10:03
To: "blml" <blml at rtflb.org>
Subject: [BLML] 1NT, 1NT, wherefore art thou  1NT?

> I ask that you place yourselves in the position of someone who has never
> heard of bridge, read a column, seen it played, or anything.  In other
> words, have no preconceived notions, yet be aware of your knowledge.
> At that I want to point out that the ranking of suits is C, D, H, S.  And 
> if
> one thinks about it, they might have been ranked in any order except that
> the alphabetic  mnemonic holds a particular value and thus is a suitable
> determining factor.
> However, there is the question as to what is the correct place for the
> denomination of NT.  And of particular interest is the why?  Which is to 
> say
> that suits being a class and non-suits being a class just what is the 
> logic
> for fitting properly the two dissimilar groups together?
> A different way of putting it is to answer, why, or why shouldn't 1C out
> rank 1N, or 1D, or 1H..?  after all, suits are tangible while no-suit is a
> concept. And who says 1C ought to be out ranked by 1no-suit?
> This query is based upon the premise that there are compelling reasons 
> that
> it should be a particular way, other than it's always been that way.  It
> logically follows that given an appropriate ranking order, then an
> appropriate scoring value can be assigned.
> As an example it is possible that 1C outranking 1NT can push players to
> resort to OBM to resolve their dilemmas and thus be a reason that it ought
> not be so.  However, at this moment this is my preconceived notion and not
> yet thought through as being valid or invalid.  And for that matter, a 
> large
> number of players resort to OBM where 1N outranks 1S, which leaves us 
> where?
> Thanks.
> And to thine own self be true.
> roger pewick

When I put forth my query I proposed as valid the hypothesis that the 
hierarchy of denominations should be ascertained first and then assign 
reward values, ostensibly the greater the difficulty the greater the reward 
[This being the most appropriate premise for a game].  Such befits nature's 
way and has the characteristic of natural justice.

I thank those who took the time offer their comments.  A veritable 
cornucopia of history evolved and some useful views- all quite valuable.  In 
summary, over the years and throughout the globe a wide variety of suit 
symbols have been used with various orders of ranking.   It has been pointed 
out that historically the highest rank has [where applicable] been afforded 
to NT.  It has been suggested that NT is the particular denomination that is 
most difficult to achieve tricks [this view is a bit fuzzy as there are 
numerous angles of observation- such as the marginal difficulty or ease of 
successfully landing in a particular denomination].

Putting together all the data  seems to suggest that there is no uniform 
direction.  What seems clearest is the suggestion that the nature of suits 
is reasonably close to the preconceived notion that they ought to be ranked 

I'll take a few moments and share some of my conclusions.

The failure of finding a fundamental order in the ranking of denominations 
suggests that there is inadequate force behind the hypothesis that the 
denominations ought to first be ranked and then assigned rewards.

Which suggests the converse hypothesis that once the system of rewards is 
fixed then the denominations can functionally be ordered.

The strongest factor in the viability of deciding a final contract resides 
in the auction principle- the contract only advances, as distinct from 
recedes.  In other words, the more auction steps available to investigate a 
contract the more likely a viable contract is found; or, in a different 
light, the fewer the available steps, the more difficult it is to arrive in 
a given denomination.

If it is considered that the characteristic of trumps includes the 
possibility of expanding the number of tricks available via NT play due to 
[say] ruffing in the short hand or preventing the opponents' run of a suit 
then there is reasonable basis to order the difficulty of NT higher than 
suits  contracts.  And amongst the suits, the difficulty in arriving in a 
particular suit decreases with the increasing rank.

And it seems clear that the most highly rewarded denomination must 
necessarily provide the fewest number of available auction steps, and so 

Thank you all.

roger pewick 

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