Explaining the ABF System Card to New Players

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  philgue 3 years, 4 months ago.

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    Clubs in South Australia don’t generally require their players to have system cards in the clubs regular games. However, all players taking part in State and National events are required to, as well as most congresses. I think this is a very sensible approach.
    This means that less experienced players don’t have to worry about such issues until they are ready to compete at higher levels, allowing them to concentrate on the more important aspects of improving their bridge.
    As these less experienced players explore expanding their bridge, they then start to inquire about system cards and the like, rather than it being forced on them.

    Of course, if a club insists on all players/partnerships, at all levels, having a system card, then (apart from urging a club to change this rather dictatorial approach to novices etc) the best approach is for the club (teacher) to have a standard club system that can be down-loaded from the club for use as a standard system card, allowing the less experienced players to have a system card that they can follow and use. This will then allow them to modify bids as they learn them and play them (such as transfers etc).


    I think it’s best for teachers to explain to newer players that actually filling out a system card will help their partnership be “on the same page”, and iron out misunderstandings rather than to frighten them and say it’s for the opponents’ benefit, and they MUST do it.
    New players require only a simple system card, rather than having one overloaded with conventions they do not fully understand. Some pairs love to do this, and it’s like gamesmanship. You find out what people know at the table anyway!

    Re the Law, and how closely you have to follow the agreements written on your system card…everyone is allowed to upgrade hands if they find reasons, apart from high card points, to “like” the hand, e.g. opening 1NT with a 14 HCP hand containing a good five card suit (majors included), or opening 2NT with a 19 count and a five card suit. Or similarly, they might downgrade hands with say, no shape, or queens and jacks instead of aces and kings, or honours in short suits instead of long ones. This has nothing to do with bridge rules or laws – it’s bridge judgement.

    Critical thinking plays a big part in the game of bridge, and players are free to use judgement to override any of the standard bidding guidelines. They are also allowed to use tactical bids at different times in the auction and different positions at the table.
    And, finally, as Peter Busch has so succinctly put it, even partners value hands differently, so what to one person is an opening bid, may not be in his partner’s eyes. That’s one reason we have so much discussion and disagreement about what constitutes a weak two bid, or a game forcing opening!


    Kathleen M Bennett

    How do teachers explain the ABF System card to newer players: its purpose, breadth, requirements and limitations?
    To what degree are players required to adhere to the precise details on their card (Law 40C1a allows a player to deviate without penalty as long as this variation is disclosed to the opponents).

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