APR_10_EB_p36-37 Debate:EB_Layout 3 11/03/2010 18:54 Page 36
THE DEBATE Benji Acol is
a good system
Two top players debate a hot bridge topic. Tell us whose argument
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frozen out. East, realising that his side has the level of 3NT. Balanced hands of this
a ten-card fit, bumps up the bidding to the strength do not often occur but when they
IN order to recommend Benji Acol, two level of the fit. do, they frequently need the space for dis-
fundamental questions must be asked: Both 4™ and 4´ easily make. Of course, cussion towards the best slam.
i) What is Benji Acol? either auction may follow a different path:
ii) For whom am I recommending it? for example, in Auction 2 North may over- HHHHH
My answers will follow at the end. call 2´ with 3™, but still North-South will
Acol started with a basis of Strong Twos not be allowed to buy the contract in 4™. So, let’s answer the questions at the start.
and Weak Threes. However, it became fairly To answer i):
obvious that Weak Two bids are highly HHHHH
effective. As with all pre-emptive bids, they a) I am recommending Benji Acol where
deprive opponents of space for scientific Weak Twos became popular. Some part- Weak Twos are sensibly defined as a
bidding, but it is also very true that in nerships play three Weak Twos, but they good six-card suit and not much out-
competitive auctions the side that stakes then have the problem of fitting all their side, and where the partnership puts
its patch early has the advantage. strong hands into two bids: 2® and 2NT. some reasonable work into discussing
Others play their Weak Twos as part of a how to deal with the strong hands. I
Multi 2t , and play all other two-level am not advocating a style of random
Game All. Dealer West. openings except 2® as weak two-suiters. Weak Twos, particularly in first or
´ J This needs a lot of work, particularly in second seat.
™ K9632 defining strong hands. Benji Acol is an b) I am not advocating the nonsense of
t A9853 excellent compromise. You use opening an opening 2NT bid as showing 19-20
® KJ 2™ and 2´ bids as Weak Twos. That still points. It always mystifies me why
´ K Q 10 7 6 5 ´ A842 leaves 2®, 2t and 2NT available for the anybody would choose to open a
™ 4 N ™ 875 strong hands. You don’t have a weak 2t balanced 19 points at the two level.
t K6 S t QJ42 bid available, but since that takes up less This is not an integral part of Benji.
® 9432 ® A 10 space, it is the least effective of the three c) I am not advocating the regrettably
´ 93 commonly played Weak Two openings. common habit of opening a Benji 2®
™ A Q J 10 with pre-emptive hands, for example:
t 10 7 HHHHH ´ K 7 2 ™ 7 t A K J 8 7 5 4 2 ® 7 5.
® Q8765 Good bridge dictates opening this
Benji is often regarded as sacrificing the with a high-level diamond pre-empt.
definition of strong hands for the pre- Even if you can find a way to describe
Auction 1 emptive gain of the Weak Twos. However, this as eight playing tricks, it is not a
West North East South reducing five strong opening bids (2® hand of power and quality that can
Pass 1™ Pass 3™ through to 2NT) to three (2®, 2t, 2NT) be represented as an Acol-two bid.
Pass 4™ All Pass actually increases your definition for Those who play Benji Acol need to
balanced hands. You now have three ways recognise that not only is opening
Auction 2 of starting a strong balanced hand (2NT, this hand 2® bad bridge, it is not a
West North East South 2® and 2t) instead of two (2NT and 2®). permitted method (see the EBU
2´ Pass 4´ All Pass I suggest you use 2NT as 20-22, 2® Orange and Tangerine books).
followed by a 2NT rebid as 23-24 and 2t
This hand is fairly mundane, but look at followed by a 2NT rebid as 25-26. In Acol To answer ii): I am recommending Benji
the difference between the two auctions. you would have to open a balanced 25-26, Acol for improving partnerships who want
In Auction 1 West is not playing Weak with 2® and rebid 3NT over 2t, an ugly, to put opponents under pressure but don’t
Twos, and East-West end up frozen out of space-consuming bid that makes it impos- have the time available to discuss more
the auction. In Auction 2 it is North that is sible to use Stayman and transfers below complex systems. r
36 English Bridge April 2010 www.ebu.co.uk