THE DIAMOND MAJOR
3rd Edition - 2000
by Peter John Oakley, President, The International On-Line Bridge Club
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Copyright Peter Oakley 2000
Christchurch, New Zealand
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Another new system?
Who needs it?!
Well, on the premise that there is nothing new under the sun, perhaps much of the Diamond Major philosophy is no more than a melding or collection of known and accepted approaches and ideas in bridge - a shot for the best of all worlds, so to speak.
One of the Diamond Majorís recurring themes is to make maximum use of the legal bids the game allows by assigning to many of them more than one meaning.
As bidding is a language, here is an extended vocabulary. Not only that - bearing in mind that opponents are listening to the broadcast, any exchange of information which helps them more than the Diamond Major pair is deliberately minimised.
Modern bidding theorists emphasise the importance of defining major suit length. It is fashionable to open 5-card majors - even much-respected Acol is often adapted to "Acol with 5-card majors". Some Precision system players jump-bid with six and double-jump with seven of a major in a weak hand opposite the forcing 1 Club opener.
The Diamond Major uses many bids to show five, six and more of a major, but it also shows precisely the most common holding of all, four of a major.
To many an opponentís subsequent discomfort, it also conceals a 4-card major when awareness of it is of little value to partner!
Specifically, a 1 Club opening bid denies four of either major (but not five or more); a 1 Diamond opening bid proclaims possession of one or two 4-card majors (but no 5-card or longer major).
After 1 Club, there is little point in advertising a 4-card major in response and much to be said for neither confirming nor denying it to opponents.
After 1 Diamond, when responder has less than four cards in either major and there is therefore no 4-4 fit, which major(s) opener holds remains his secret.
Transfers after a NT opening are relatively common. Diamond Major extends this principle to most pre-emptive bids and the gambling 3 No Trumps where the lead up to the hand which would normally be dummy is more likely to produce an extra trick than in the case of a standard No Trump game or part-score contract.
Two Suited Hands
The exceptional distributional strength of a two-suited hand has been widely discovered and conventions to show this type of holding have been utilised with traditional systems.
The Diamond Majorís use of the first eleven available bids reveals to partner all 5/5 hands of this type, whether their high-card holding (and defensive potential) is strong or weak, and exactly which two suits are held. Higher opening bids can show 7/5 or better two-suited hands.
The revelation often awaits openerís rebid, as many opening bids have more than one meaning. Partner must bide his/her time; opponents can do likewise or enter the auction at their peril.
Diamond Major bidders have an invaluable negative-inference advantage: with so many precise distributions biddable, those can be ruled out of consideration whenever the available opening sequence is not put to use.
Another plus is the extra concentration which can be applied to playing contracts which have been bid without mental strain.
Imagine defending against the Diamond Major!
Opponentís intervention over 1 Club and 1 Diamond is complicated by the 11-19 (Milton Work) points range, the infinite distributional possibilities and the non-suit bid in each case - although this may still be the very suit held.
A simple (but naive) stance is to treat 1 Club and 1 Diamond as though they are Precision openers. Plainly they are not, with their wider points range and unique definition of major suits.
Defenders dare not wait too long, but if they show their hands quickly it is often to the Diamond Major pairís advantage.
Action over a 2 No-Trumps opening bid is fraught with danger, but because it is as likely to be weak as strong, something ought to be done.
Competing over a 3-level opener which may be strong risks suffering a painful penalty double.
Who needs it?
So who needs the Diamond Major?
Just about everyone interested in the game of bridge, in its development, strategies and almost infinite possibilities for communication.
And just about everyone who would like to feel more at ease during the bidding: that art of exchanging meaningful information between partners. And if the Diamond Major tools happen to crank up their match-point and imp scores, who will begrudge the time and effort they have expended to investigate and experiment with them?
STOP PRESS: Latest Addition July 2011
Diamond Major PUPPET
Opening 1NT 15-17 points/no singleton Responder must be good 8 points Minimum
to employ 2C enquiry
2 Major is 5-card suit
2D shows at least one 4-cd major
(as Puppet Stayman) 2 Major guarantees 4 other major (2H MAY have both majors) OPENER bids 2NT or 3NT with “wrong” major/Game or Part-score with major fit and appropriate opening points.
2/3NT denies a 4-cd major, shows appropriate points
2/3NT is 4333 & appropriate points
3C shows 6-cd minor 6322
3D shows 5-cd minor 5332 3H? which minor
The final contract will now be 3NT, unless responder uses Minor-suit RKCB with opener’s minor suit as trumps. Responder’s Cue in new suit would be slam-interest; Opener should next Cue first or second-round control in a new suit.
3H is 44minors with 3 hearts
3S is 44 minors with 3 spades Bidding 4 of either Minor initiates Minor suit RKCB with the minor suit as trump
- 4 Major or 3NT is final contract
(Note: When responder holds the matching
5-cd major the contract has been transferred
into the opening hand.)
RESPONDER’S ACTION AFTER FIRST OPPONENT OVERCALLS 1NT
(Lebensohl applies – this is not for sissies - nor for dummies)
2C overcall - Double = D/Major 2C enquiry (OPENER can pass all doubles for penalties)
2D overcall - Double = transfer to hearts OR use Lebensohl 2NT
2H overcall - Double = transfer to spades OR use Lebensohl 2NT
2S overcall - Double = D/Major 2C enquiry - non-use of Lebensohl denies 4 hearts so normal responses show appropriate distribution and high-card points.
OPENER’s 2/3NT rebid must have a full spade control – half a hold bid 3S.
RESPONDER must be prepared for a 3NT or 4H final contract, since OPENER will show 5 hearts in hand by rebidding 3H
OPENER’S ACTION AFTER RESONDER’S 2C BID HAS BEEN OVERCALLED
With 2D - Double shows a 4-cd major/all other rebids still operational (Responder may pass the double holding diamonds)
With 2H - Double (responder may pass) shows 4 spades/other rebids still operational
With 2S - Double (responder may pass) shows 4 hearts/other rebids still operational, but 2/3NT must have a control in the overcalled suit. With half a hold bid 3S.
Opener’s PASS asks Responder to double the overcall, which will be left in for penalties.
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