Precision Bidding Tutorial


Newbies to Bridge usually learn by first playing a simplified version such as Spades. In that game they find out about concepts such as tricks, trump, ruffing, and lead strategy. When they graduate to Bridge, especially Duplicate Bridge, with its complicated scoring and bidding rules, they begin to see the need for bidding systems. At first they play fairly straight forward "natural" bids but quickly see that advanced players use special bidding methods called "conventions" -- when I bid this after you bid that, what it really means is this. Many conventions are named after the author who is credited with inventing them. Packaged together these conventions are known as bidding systems with names of their own. The popularity of such systems vary by country, region, and within individual bridge clubs.

These systems are themselves packaged together into frameworks (although these frameworks are generally also referred to as "systems") in an attempt to optimize a partnership's success in as many situations as possible. It is important for a beginner to realize that the value of each these frameworks is hotly debated by advanced players with advocates and detractors for all of them. In addition, even among advocates of most such frameworks, there is tremendous variation of opinion on specific implementation of details for various possible deals that a pair of partners might encounter.

In the USA, probably the most popular such framework is referred as American standard bidding, which I'll abbreviate as ASB. It developed as an abstraction from "natural" bidding, but because natural bidding has so many pitfalls, ASB has become anything but natural. If fact, as any beginner will testify, it is extremely convoluted and has become more so over the years as patch upon patch has been invented to overcome its pitfalls. In years past it was also called the Goren system after an early Bridge author, but in his later years, Goren himself abandoned his recommendation of this framework. He advocated a replacement that he called the Precision System with his first book on the subject written in the 1970's.

Since Goren's introduction, Precision has enjoyed varying degrees of popularity and today is practiced in the USA mainly by a minority of upper tournament level players with a dizzying array of variations, although it is apparently much more popular outside of the USA. Partly because of these variations it has garnered a reputation for being a very complex system. Some of my motivation for writing this tutorial is to convince other Bridge players that this is not so. In fact, I believe at its basic level it is more natural and less convoluted than ASB and will achieve significantly better success. However, as of this writing I will have to admit that I have had little success in convincing other players of this so far.

Currently this tutorial is what I would call an intermediate level of Precision written for fairly advanced Bridge players. I intend to expand this to include an introductory Precision for intermediate players, and eventually an advanced Precision for tournament level players, although I do not consider myself to be of that caliber mainly for my own weakness at defensive play of the hand.