[BLML] When you agree to play a convention, what is your agreement?

Eric Landau ehaa at starpower.net
Mon Sep 13 20:37:49 CEST 2010

On Sep 11, 2010, at 8:31 PM, Robert Frick wrote:

> I do not know how a pair could be playing together for the first  
> time and
> have an implicit partnership understanding.

It's easy.  They might know that they had the same bridge teacher, or  
read the same book.  Or they might even...

> But here on Long Island, 3C shows either a 5-card heart suit
> or a 4-card spade suit and interest in a major suit fit. Most  
> people think
> of the responses as part of the convention.

...both be from Long Island.

> But you are saying that their agreement is more than just "new minor
> forcing". That's useful.

Of course it is.  How can an agreement to play "new minor forcing on  
this auction", absent any further (perhaps implicit) agreement as to  
what that means, necessarily mean anything more than "a bid in the  
new minor is forcing on this auction"?  They may, admittedly, have  
agreed to play "New Minor Forcing" [convention] rather than "new  
minor forcing" [agreement not to pass it out], but conventional  
agreements should always be described rather than merely named.  It  
really doesn't matter that Long Islanders have chosen to call their  
convention, with its fixed set of responses and rebids, "New Minor  
Forcing" rather than "The Long Island 3C Bid" or "Jones".

> Actually, they agreed on new minor forcing, which then implies a  
> host of
> follow up bids.  Players really do think of them as part of the  
> convention
> -- no one would teach the first bid of new minor forcing and then  
> tell  
> their students to just bid naturally after that.

How does "new minor forcing over a 2NT rebid" imply a host of follow- 
up bids any more than does, say, "new major forcing after an opening  
weak 2-bid"?  Everyone teaches only "the first bid" of "new major  
forcing after an opening weak 2-bid" and assumes their students will  
just bid naturally after that.

It takes a serious case of conventions-on-the-brain not to get it  
that it is perfectly normal (and legal) to imagine that "new" (def:  
not bid previously) "...minor" (def: clubs or diamonds),  
"...forcing" (def: not to be passed) means exactly what its words do,  
no more and no less.

Our local version of Long Island's NMF is 1M-P-2NT as a forcing  
raise.  For some reason, if you say, "Let's play 2NT as our forcing  
raise over one of a major," around here and your first-time partner  
says "OK", pretty much everyone will assume that you have agreed that  
opener will rebid short suits, Jacoby-style, rather than rebidding  
naturally, even though neither short suits nor Mr. Jacoby were ever  
mentioned.  This has never made sense to me.

Eric Landau
1107 Dale Drive
Silver Spring MD 20910
ehaa at starpower.net

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