In the comments section of this question, it was noted that the late Barry Crane would open "an 11 high card point hand containing a king. With good distributional hands open lighter." The downside to this, as a commenter noted, was that "he built an entire system around the concept of early entry and early exit, and deliberately sacrificed slam accuracy as the trade off."

I would be wary about "sacrificing slam accuracy as the trade off" in rubber bridge or even IMPS, because of the potential for large losses of points. But at matchpoints, I am less concerned about lost slam scores and more concerned about winning 10 point "knife fights" (sacrificing 100 points to save a 110 part score).

Would such considerations lead me to choose bidding systems that make these, or similar, trade-offs at duplicate but not at other forms of bridge?

1 Answer 1


I would open about a point lighter in matchpoints than in any other form of bridge. The danger of doing this is that you sacrifice slam accuracy by bidding "playable" but "shaded" values.

That is, at matchpoints, I would open with any 12 high card hand in third or fourth position. Those that don't tend to get bottoms, at least in our club. I would open any 11 point hand with a decent five card suit and no "stranded" (devalued) honors in short suits like Jx or Qx.

The reason is that in matchpoints, the difference between shutting out an opposing part score of say, 110 by losing 100 (down two, non-vul, not doubled, or down one, EITHER doubled or vulnerable but not both) makes all the difference in the world at matchpoints. That is, the difference in scores between -100 and -110 is usually greater than the difference between -110 and -1100. In no other form of scoring it is so true that "a miss is as good as a mile."

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