Friday, July 17, 2009

BAM makes for strange bids

Playing BAM in a close match with a pickup partner, you hold 92 K94 K873 KQT9 and hear it go P on your left, 1D by partner, P on your right. You have not really discussed what minor suit raises were, other than BWS.

At the time I thought that the 2 main bids available were 2N and 3D, showing a limit raise. I briefly thought about 1H, but thought at the time it was too dangerous. Since this was BAM, I went for what would score the best if it worked and bid 2N, which went all pass. I got a Spade lead, pard had a pure square hand, and I lost 5 Spade tricks and the Heart A for down 1, what I thought was not going to be a good score at the time, since we can easily make 3D on the hand.

At the other table, my hand must have had the same bidding problems, but decided to make the 1H bid. This now went 2H by his pard, 2N by him, and 3H by his pard, which he passed. The problem for me was 3H easily made 4, since it was a perfect Mosian (Pard had great spot cards in Hearts QJTx), the hand with the short Hearts ruffed the danger suit, Spades, so the trump length could not really be attacked. This got them a score of +170, something that was almost impossible to push on this board unless they got in trouble or I bid the same 1H bid.

I thought at the time that this was a little unlucky, but because of the way it worked out, have thought about it a lot since. I don’t play BAM enough to know everything about it, just that you push beyond anything else for the ultimate edge in score, minors are bad in MP’s, they do not really exist at BAM. So I started to consider what bad things can happen if you bid 1H at the table. First, if pard bids 1S, you are perfectly placed to bid 1 or 2NT. Next, if pard raises Hearts, you can bid Diamonds or NT as the person at this table did, and if pard insists on Hearts, is it that bad? If partner bids 1 or 2NT, you can decide what to do, but will either raise or pass, again no real problem, and if partner bids either minor, you are well placed now for support. As I went through it, strange as it seems, there was very little down side to the bid. And it is really hard to argue with that +170, and even harder to match or beat it.

So the main conclusion that I can come to is to consider stepping out of line to play in a major or NT any time I am playing BAM. About the only time you would want to play in a minor is when there is a slam involved and the minor is the only place it can make. Or at least do not put your partner in a position where they can not maneavour the contract into a major if it is available.

Of course the next thing that brings up is that BAM is the perfect place to play 4 card Majors. This problem never surfaces then since opener will open 1H and thereafter NT and the minors never enter the picture as possible landing spots. Play a Weak NT system with 4 card majors and include the notion that 1 of a Major – x – 1NT (or 2NT if cheapest) shows a strong NT same as over a minor, and all these problems vanish. And it can be one of the most aggressive systems to bid with going, since it is almost impossible to shut you out of a major when you have one, and you get the pre-emptive value of a weak NT in there.

Try it, you might like it :)

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