Theory of Information
We must always bear
in mind that our bridge bidding is a highly restricted language (just
35 + 3 elements and a restrictive grammar too) and therefore perfection
is simply not possible!
At the same time then; the greater should be our concern to get the most out of its limited possibilities. Would you not agree?
When one considers that the possible number of deals is:
53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000. On the other hand
the total number of possible bidding sequences is also very large, but a large percentage are unusable.
There is a mathematical theory of the information applicable to any
system, and do not doubt the power of this theory, whether
applied to discrete systems like in bridge, human languages, electron
states of a Hydrogen atom or in non-discrete physical systems such as
fluiddynamics, general relativity, electrodynamics etc.
This theory is known as 'Fisher Information'. If one stops to realise
that this theory can be used to derive many of the most important
mathematical representations of the physical world, such as,
fluiddynamics (Stokes), General relativity (Einstein) and even Quantum
Mechanics etc - it is indeed a mathematical and little known unification
It can most definetely be applied to bridge bidding - a discrete system - too!
What it tells us is that the maximum information that can be passed at
any bid depends on the proper use of all available bids and crucially
the more economical a bid is the broader the information it contains
must be. And put more quantitatively the amount of information must
decline, quite rapidly according to theory, with with each possible
available bid and a recognition that the information in each possible
bid will decrease, that is 'become more specific', as more bidding space
is consumed. This will not come as a surprise, I'm sure, but what maybe
a big surprise is that there is a more rapid decay in the amount of
information with each successive bid should convey than you may expect.
I know of no bidding system that comes even close to this. This is not
surprising as it would inevitably cause intense artificiality and given
that most of our bidding systems have naturalness at their heart the
outcome is clear.
So, the theory would expect that economical bids like PASS, double or
next bid should be very general and the more of precious bidding space
that is consumed the less information, that is more specific, will be inferred.
This is a clear endorsement of 'doubler' bids, bids that make further
bids pass far different information from that would be passed directly - including further 'doubler' bids!
It would also suggest that in opening bids such as 'PASS' should have the
highest frequency (it most certainly does! >40%).
Let's take a look at ACOL:
1 should be the most
frequent bid - this is far from true in ACOL.
Indeed frequency seems to increase from 1 through to a lordly 1NT!
Well in 'beta ACOL' we do address this failure in ACOL: increasing the
frequency of 1 & 1 at the expense of 4 card openings in 1H, 1S and particularly
1NT. This is a powerful endorsement of beta ACOL over ACOL.
If the principles of information are taken to the limit in a bidding
system even beta ACOL would be shown up!
A futuristic system following the Tof I would open 1 most frequently -
may become as wide as for example: 'any balanced hand in a range of 11-15 points,
followed by a 1 response with a very wide spectrum too. Well I'm not
about to go about constructing such a futuristic system right now,
although admittedly I have given it some thought!
I guess, also I still believe in a balance between 'naturalness' &
'artificiality', the former more human and easier on the memory while
the latter requiring considerable mental effort and dare I say
prone to disaster when misunderstandings occur!
Finally how do the most common systems of today measure up to this theory? Conclusion none is better than any other!
What of beta ACOL as compared to ACOL, well I claim a definite improvement! Consider these:
The above is not an exhaustive list! and Its also arguable that the EBU's straightjackets have and still will resist innovation in over-protection of ACOL.
our choice of opening the lower of two 4 card suits brings higher
frequency to 1 & 1 openings, due to our methods which largely
eliminate the issue of 'preparedness' that also blights ACOL.
- Secondly, our restrictions on 1NT reduce the frequency of this bid in favour of , & openings
our showing of 2 suits: in responding to T-O Doubles and
in protective bidding: carry more information
our somewhat increased frequency of usage in both 2 & 2
openings; the former handling 'near' game going hands
& the latter a 3-way 'multi' including not just weak 2 twos -
these in turn reducing top-end loading on 2/
openings (now non-forcing and strict 5-4
or better distribution with a 4-5LTC). Instead of ACOL's more frequent
wide-ranging weak twos (beta's 2D caters for weak Major 2's just as
effectively) and a 2NT more precise opening 21-22HCP instead of ACOL's
20-22 wider range- small but significant! With 2D opening catering for a balanced 19-20HCP
- Fifthly, following our 2 opening, a prolific use of a question/response forcing style as an
economic ongoing structural schema for precision bidding in hands where one hand is much stronger than the other
in defensive bidding: our more general approach to a T-O Double, based
only on strength, not too much emphasis on Major suits & also
very much increased frequency of use and showcasting a powerful
Forcing 1NT response to a take-out Double. Also our 1NT overcall,
promoted to a far more useful role - all these
innovative use of these bids are made to carry more information in an
economical manner. They have long deserved a more prominent role.
I strongly advocate that beginers in bridge learn a 5 card major system
SAYC which will be a much quicker, easier and more effective entry to