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What system do you recommend a novice should learn?

Poll: System for a novice to learn (45 member(s) have cast votes)

What system should a novice learn?

  1. Goren (3 votes [6.67%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

  2. SAYC (13 votes [28.89%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 28.89%

  3. Standard American (not the Yellow Card) (5 votes [11.11%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 11.11%

  4. Acol (6 votes [13.33%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.33%

  5. 2/1 (9 votes [20.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 20.00%

  6. Precision (7 votes [15.56%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 15.56%

  7. Something else (2 votes [4.44%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 4.44%

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#1 User is offline   plum_tree 

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Posted 2013-June-27, 23:15

I was given SAYC to learn as a novice but have been repeatedly told it is bad and should switch to something else. So what system would you recommend a novice to learn and why? If you vote "Something else" tell me what it is and I will add it to the poll.
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#2 User is offline   shnk 

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Posted 2013-June-27, 23:32

I teach 2/1 to all beginners. SAYC is more complicated and far less effective IMO. More important is to work with a partner who plays the same system.
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#3 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 00:04

What system you should learn depends on multiple factors, mainly
- your location in the world
- who you are going to be playing regularly with, and is this going to be at live bridge clubs, or online, or both. It's best to attempt to find some regular partners to learn along with. Live, bridge class teachers and/or directors (particularly of '99er or '299 er games, if ACBL) can fix you up with people of your level. Online, there is the beginner-intermediate lounge on BBO (bilbridge.com) you might consider joining. I think BIL now also runs a free club under "public clubs", so you can get games but without fee I don't think you get access to their teaching materials and lessons.

If you are American, you need to be learning SA, and probably have to learn 2/1 in the long run. Just starting 2/1 to begin with is OK if you have partners to play 2/1 with, unfortunately this can be hard as the "everyone should just start learning 2/1" approach is still in its infancy. OTOH if you are say British, you probably want to be learning Acol instead. For other countries, the standard system varies.

Online, American based systems tend to dominate, so BBO at the int- level you probably do have to learn SAYC, though you should target progressing to 2/1.

My advice in the other threads wasn't "don't learn SAYC"; I meant "don't attempt to learn SAYC with the SAYC booklet as your sole teaching material". Learn SA from other sources, bridge books targeted at beginners, from authors like Kantar & Root among others. When you start to learn conventions, go ahead and first learn those conventions which are part of SAYC, so that you can play with pickup partners online. So things like major suit transfers, negative doubles, Michaels cue bids, Jacoby 2nt, how to bid after weak twos and strong artificial 2c, fairly universal stuff. Otherwise stick with the most common conventions, like the "one-star" conventions in the Modern Bridge Conventions book.

But don't use the impossibly brief SAYC pamphlet as your teacher, trying to fill in the blanks yourself as you appear to be doing now! That's nearly impossible, hence all the threads you have started recently. Go find some good actual beginning bidding books, after you read them you will be in much better shape to figure out how things are supposed to work.
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#4 User is offline   eagles123 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 00:04

I am probably bias but I think as a novice ACOL is near perfect as virtually everything is natural.
"definitely that's what I like to play when I'm playing standard - I want to be able to bid diamonds because bidding good suits is important in bridge" - Meckstroth's opinion on weak 2 diamond
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#5 User is offline   CSGibson 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 01:46

If you live in America, learn standard American as the base system. You need to know standard American even if you play 2/1, because in competition it reverts to standard American, and you should definitely play a system which you can play with lots of partners without much discussion when starting out - not only will playing with lots of people have the potential for accelerating your learning curve, but also if you are playing a standard American system, it is easy to ask questions of people who are better than you, since they also generally know the system.

If you are in Poland, learn Polish club. In England, learn Acol. In France, learn SEF. Etc.
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#6 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 01:54

I agree with eagles in thinking that (English) Acol is an excellent teaching system. My understanding is that it is even used this way in some locations where 5 card majors and/or a forcing club are the standard methods. Good alternatives are 5 card major (+strong NT) Acol (yes, this does exist); SEF/Forum D (for Europeans); and Standard American (but ideally not SAYC). A beginner should clearly not learn Precision as their first system and I am not convinced about 2/1 as a first system either (although that is often suggested on BBF).

At the end of the day, it probably matters more that you understand the logic behind why a bidding system is built a certain way than which system it actually is, providing the system is essentially natural. As an example, the first two bidding systems I learned were Culbertson (no Milton Work count!) and 5 card major Acol with a 16-18 NT. Both of these are incredibly bad systems by modern standards but were nonetheless good building blocks since they were simple enough to follow their logic and extend the ideas for grasping better methods later on.
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#7 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 02:04

I voted Acol because I think that contested auctions will be less confusing if the students learn a system in which most contested auctions follow the same logic as uncontested ones.

But by far the most important factor is which system potential partners play. It would be crazy to teach British Acol outside of the UK/Ireland/Oz/NZ area. In NA maybe one could consider "SA with Acol logic", i.e. openings as in SAYC but the forcing character of most bids as in Acol, and certainly one could do that in Scandinavia and Benelux where such an approach is common among club players already. It probably depends how ambitious the students are. If you are sure they are going to play 2/1 within 12 months anyway you might as well start with that.

Personally I found (admittedly based on a small sample size) that beginners learned strong club systems faster than standard systems so maybe I should have voted Precision. But I am not sure if it is such a good idea as the learning curves becomes steeper later when they have to learn to cope with interference over the 1 opening. And again, it really isn't a good idea to teach Precision in a country where everyone plays some SA/Acol like system. I only taught it when the students self or their previous teacher insisted on it.
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#8 User is offline   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 03:48

View Postplum_tree, on 2013-June-27, 23:15, said:

I was given SAYC to learn as a novice but have been repeatedly told it is bad and should switch to something else. So what system would you recommend a novice to learn and why? If you vote "Something else" tell me what it is and I will add it to the poll.

SAYC is fine. The question is the source you are looking at. The booklet is not a teaching utiliy.

In short, if you started with SAYC, you can continue, just look for another source, a source intended to teach SAYC.

As far as I understood: Audrey Grants book are quite well written.
http://www.amazon.co...72412612&sr=1-3

I learned using books written by Ron Klinger.

On a sidenote: I would not start with 2/1, unless you have a fixed partner, and which learns at same time as you.
If you happen to play SAYC style, you will have an easier time finding partners, although as a beginning player you
should not switch partners too often.

With kind regards
Marlowe
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
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#9 User is offline   plum_tree 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 04:25

Which unions have an official system on their website sanctioned by them? I want to start with that (not all the variations that are available on the net). Then I can join one on the online clubs who all play the same system. Everyone will know what the bids mean without the need to alert. I think I saw an Acol club somewhere. I am sure I will be able to find it again.

Can you provide me with the link to any official system sanctioned by your union?
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#10 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 05:18

Here is one for EBU Acol. The equivalent for Forum D (DBV) is here.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#11 User is offline   plum_tree 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 06:36

Thanks for this Zel. I believe that EVERY HOME UNION should have something like this on their website. A quick browse through the Acol file and it seems fairly comprehensive. This file was updated in December 2006. It has two versions of Acol on it, 1) Standard English Acol Foundation Level , and 2), Standard English Modern Acol. Possibly most important of all it has this ryder on the last page -
Acknowledgments:
Standard English Acol was developed by Sandra Landy with the help of the Bridge for All drafting team – Mike Pomfrey, Jean Patefield and Simon Ainger. Bridge for All is the nationally approved method of learning the game formally recognised by the Open College Network.

If any forum posters serve on a home union, I strongly suggest that you follow the example set by the English Bridge Union! Well done to them!

Just one quick question on this from me:
Is the "Foundation Level" version meant for beginners? I still need to start studying this.
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#12 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 07:07

Yes, Foundation Level is for beginners and the Modern Acol file is for intermediates. They were originally 2 separate files but the EBU decided to merge them together. There are also completed convention cards on the website.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#13 User is offline   plum_tree 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 07:36

Save me try trouble of looking for the CCs by providing the link. :)
Thanks again.

Do the Australians, New Zealanders and the Canadians have an official system sanctioned by the home union? Does anyone have a link to it?
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#14 User is offline   sfi 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 07:46

View Postplum_tree, on 2013-June-28, 07:36, said:

Save me try trouble of looking for the CCs by providing the link. :)
Thanks again.

Do the Australians, New Zealanders and the Canadians have an official system sanctioned by the home union? Does anyone have a link to it?


Australians don't. The most common system bases are either Acol or Standard American in roughly equal measure. 2/1 and various strong club systems are each maybe played by about 10% of tournaments players.

My understanding is that Acol is the most common system in New Zealand, but I doubt they would have an "official" system.

Canadians play in the ACBL.
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#15 User is offline   wank 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 07:47

i think you have the wrong idea about the EBU thing. noone in england would know what was in/not in which version and i suspect most people have never heard of them. we don't have a culture of playing with random people at events, so we don't use standardised methods. this is just a teaching aid.

however, acol is the most natural system (no opening 3 card suits, etc) and as such, it's perfect for beginners.
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#16 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 09:44

View PostCSGibson, on 2013-June-28, 01:46, said:

If you live in America, learn standard American as the base system. You need to know standard American even if you play 2/1, because in competition it reverts to standard American, and you should definitely play a system which you can play with lots of partners without much discussion when starting out

If you learn a system based on the idea that a 2/1 response is FG, you learn how to bid in competition. The fact that the competitive bidding you learn in 2/1 would be same if you were playing SA is not really relevant.

That said, it's still true that it's easier to find pickup partners who play SA than those who play 2/1, at beginner level. Nonetheless, SA as a system is dying out, at least in duplicate. I doubt that's true of rubber bridge, though.
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#17 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 10:23

I would have thought that - provided you have a partner you are learning the same thing with - two over one would be the best way to start, whichever part of the world you play in. It seems simpler to me than others I know, more logical and defined by consistency - "rules" if you like. Even if others around you play something different, it is not that different that you cannot understand what they will be doing, and many things will be common. When the time comes, you would find enough common ground to be able to play with a 5 card major player of Acol, SA, SEF or whatever.
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#18 User is offline   CSGibson 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 10:43

View Postblackshoe, on 2013-June-28, 09:44, said:

If you learn a system based on the idea that a 2/1 response is FG, you learn how to bid in competition. The fact that the competitive bidding you learn in 2/1 would be same if you were playing SA is not really relevant.

That said, it's still true that it's easier to find pickup partners who play SA than those who play 2/1, at beginner level. Nonetheless, SA as a system is dying out, at least in duplicate. I doubt that's true of rubber bridge, though.



I have no idea what you are trying to say. Here is what I am saying: In the auction 1S (2D) 2H, 2H is not forcing to game for 2/1 players playing a standard 2/1. Opener needs to know whether 2S/3H is passable, and whether 3C creates a game force opposite the invitation. Those are concepts rooted in standard american bidding - I abandoned standard american before learning those things, and it is the area of bidding I struggle the most in as a result.

It is extremely simple to convert to 2/1 after starting standard american, I see no problem learning the more basic first and then applying concepts later.
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#19 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 11:20

View PostCSGibson, on 2013-June-28, 10:43, said:

I have no idea what you are trying to say. Here is what I am saying: In the auction 1S (2D) 2H, 2H is not forcing to game for 2/1 players playing a standard 2/1. Opener needs to know whether 2S/3H is passable, and whether 3C creates a game force opposite the invitation.


I think he's saying that learning SA is not a prerequisite to learning 2/1, as your initial post suggests. Bidding in competition is complicated, learning uncontested SA sequences doesn't really help so much in this sort of case because it's still not identical. In modern SA, 1s-2h-2s is 1rf, 1s-2h-2nt is probably best played as 1rf and extras. But in competition, most good players are playing that 2H *does not* guarantee a rebid, so usually rebidding 1st suit or 2nt is NF by opener. To force opener has to bid new suit or cue or jump. So learning SA first doesn't really give you a huge leg up in learning how to bid in competition, because it's *not* really simply "revert to SA uncontested in comp". Addition of neg double and cue bid options change many sequences, and 2/1 free bid auctions are not identical either.

The assertion is that learning "2/1 uncontested + contested auctions" isn't any more difficult than learning "SA uncontested + contested auctions", and might be easier. And that learning SA uncontested auctions doesn't really cover contested auctions.

I agree with Larry Cohen that in U.S. we should just start teaching 2/1 to everyone. It's relatively easy to teach someone that they can 2/1 if they have enough for game, and with less than that bid 1nt if you don't have something suitable for direct major raise. And that after 2/1 you can't stop below 3nt. It's more complicated to teach 2/1 leaves them in a twilight zone where some continuations are GF while others aren't. The only thing tricky is teaching the 1ntf response, opener's requirement to bid minor fragments to respect the force, and responder's corresponding duty to take more false preferences since the minor rebids are suspect. The argument is that this is probably easier to deal with than all the variety of varied rules of which rebids are forcing or not after a non-GF 2/1.
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#20 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2013-June-28, 12:28

It depends on what is meant by "novice". If a person has never played and has no understanding of the game at all, I would teach them basic Goren style. With Goren, it is easier to understand later how and why bidding evolved, and it helps you understand the trade-offs that improved bidding requires.

It is also simple and easier to learn.

For many ACBL members it seems to be difficult for them to remember how clueless we are at first. I know when I first walked into the San Roque Bridge Club in Santa Barbara and played with the director that I had never heard of a "negative double" and had no idea that some people did not open a major suit unless they held 5 card length.
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