Adopting a New Convention — Some Thoughts

You have just learnt about a new (to you) bidding convention. You really like it and are going to convince your favorite partner to play it with you.

But should you?

Here are some things to consider.

Loss of Natural/Usual Meaning

As soon as you assign a special meaning to a bid, you lose the natural meaning of that bid. You must ask yourself if you can afford to lose the natural meaning. Is the special meaning you assign the bid worth giving up whatever you currently use the bid for?

Frequency of Occurrence

Does the opportunity to use the convention occur often enough that it is worth memorizing the meaning? What about the frequency and usefulness of your current agreement?


How complex is the convention to use? Will both you and your partner be able to remember it? Will you be able to remember it in 3 months time when it has only come up once? Is it not only complex, but hard to think of an easy way to remember the meanings of bids?

More Things to Think About

Do you always play (or almost always play) with the same partner? Or do you regularly play with several different partners?

If you play with the same partner, how often do you play? If you generally only play about once a week, you may want to consider keeping your bidding system fairly simple.

If you play with several partners, will they all play the new convention? If they don’t, will you get mixed up over who plays it and who doesn’t?

Generally, the more complex your bidding system, the more time you and your partner need to spend discussing it — I mean spending an hour or more at a time discussing bidding sequences and meanings and what happens when the opponents interfere and… Also, the more frequently you will need to play to get used to the complexities of your bidding system.

Will you keep “System Notes” — a set of notes that you keep up to date as you make new agreements and adopt new conventions?

Are you prepared to have a few “disasters” the first two or three times the new convention comes up?


If you have more than two or three “disasters”, seriously consider abandoning using the new convention. Among other things, it is unfair to the opponents, both the opponents at the table and your real opponents — those others who will be holding you and your partner’s hands on other rounds.

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