A Brief Bridge History ---> BETA
Contract bridge evolved from Whist. If
we trace back all card games based on 52 card deck the great ancestor
is Cribbage - once permitted as the only card game allowed in an
English pub! In the 4 handed version of the game opposite players are
partners! The 2-handed version is still the best card game there is for
two players! The version presented here involves more skill, a faster game but retains the entire spirit of the game.
Since these early days
Bidding systems have proliferated and evolved in nearly a century of
the game. The most well known or heard of systems are in order of popularity:Anybody looking to learn bridge would be well advised to start
American Standard bidding system SAYC (not 2 over 1) - and certainly
not ACOL which requires greater skill and experience to achieve a good
level of bidding and experienced players will run rings around you.
Once experienced by all means progress to ACOL or even to Beta!..
Also Betaacol is definetly not for beginners! You are welcome to
try Beta once you are a confident bridge player!
Any bidding system can be supplemented
with numerous 'add-on' conventions. Some of which have been universally adopted as standard. For example:
- American Standard - known as SAYC -
and used throughout the world - based on 5 card majors (variants: Jais Lebel or SEF, '2over1')
- ACOL, a british standard -
based on 4
card majors wit a huge plethora of variants, including Beta in its
early development - all these bidding variations suggested to me that
ACOL was seriously somehow lacking.
One unhelpful fact is the EBU's defence of ACOL - discouraging growth
of other systems in the UK - still today beginners are directed to
ACOL. This is unfortunate - it is not the ideal system for beginners as
it requires considerable experience to succeed. The upshot is that
beginners were easily held down - so frustrating for them. SAYC is
surely a better starting point. I believe competition heps to improve
players and systems. This explains the UK's limited success on the
- Precision, an example of
characterised by a 'Strong Club' opening bid, it was started by MrWei
many tried it but most have since discarded it. However it remains
prominent in India where it is highly developed..
- Oddities: Polish Club, Fantoni, Ladder, Beta (not our Beta!), Roman, Canape, Neapolitain - all with interesting ideas.
Note: We have also embraced
cue-bidding and TURBO. 4NT has many meanings in Beta that depend on
context of the preceeding bidding - e.g. after a 2C opening it asks the
number of Kings held; In cue-bidding sequences 4NT is TURBO - showing an even number of Key Cards; in sequences following disclosure of a 5-5 partner for the precise LTC!
also use Cue-bidding & TURBO; Rubinsohl 4-way (superior to
extensive use of transfers to manipulate who plays a contract (in this
respect we appreciate Fantoni) a novel
approach to Take-out double sequences; special handling of 5+-5+
2-suited hands; an Italian based Q&A style for strong hands opened
with 2C. Other Conventions: Trustcott(modified), Baron, Swiss,
Inverted minors; TRAP (against strong club systems); Puppet. Also:
suit forcing', 'No need of the 'reverse concept' - instead working with
level awareness'....and others! Our 4NT bid has several meanings which
is uniquely determined by context. And we also have a love of bids that
show 2 suits! Also a unique
approach to responding to a T-O double and an organised approach to
bidding in the protective position. We use a 3-way Multi 2D & a
Multi 1NT O'call!
Our system, beta is
not at all ACOL,although it was in its early days 'evolutionary fork'
of ACOL. Beta now barely shows its ACOL roots. It actually makes use of
SAYC, some italian bidding ideas, some old and new conventions, a
comprehensive management of very strong hands, a system wide capability
of showing two-suits at a time, a comprehensive management for when
opponents are first to enter the bidding. Its a system that's only
intended for an advanced partnerships looking for a highly integrated
and well defined modern system. It s not designed to takeover a portion
of it - however I know of some pairs that have utilised our ACOL like
2C opening and style of continuations.
Beta follows a
number of pervasive concepts that pervade its entire structure -
these aid an experienced player to pick Beta up with surprisingly ease.
This consistency was not evident in its early development as it was
then still somewhat constrained by ACOL. An interesting difference with
ACOL is seen in the frequency of 1NT openings! - While in ACOL an ever
increasing probability of use is observed, while in Beta a decline in
its frequency is observed!