A number of players have asked us about our major suit game tries. The most frequent question is whether we prefer short or long suit game tries and if there is a way to have both.


Coopers: Short suit game tries can be very effective when you have the right hand for them. We do prefer them after Drury because when partner has a limited hand we would like his values to be in the suits we care about. In other words, when partner has no wastage in our short suit we may still have a game with a hand that would not normally bid it. For example, if you hold this 13 point hand - S AQxxx H x D KQxx C Qxx - game is very likely to make opposite S Kxx H xxxx D Ax C KJxx but not if the clubs and hearts are reversed -  S Kxx H KJxx D Ax C xxxx.

But long suit game tries can also be very effective so we like to have both game tries available. The late Peter Nagy of Canada devised a simple way to do this. In the auction  1M-2M, the first step that is one above our suit (2NT over spades and 2S over hearts) asks partner what long suit game try they would accept and other suits are short suit game tries. When our suit is hearts, 2NT is the short suit try in spades since 2S asks what long suit try responder would accept.

Over opener’s unspecified long suit try, when responder would accept in some but not all suits he bids the first suit in which he has a holding of Qxx or better. After 1H-2H-2S his bid of 2NT says that responder accepts in spades. If responder bids a suit below the one you want to hear about over the first step, the unspecified long suit try, you bid the suit you are interested in. Otherwise you now know if he accepts or rejects your long suit game try. For a discussion of when to accept a long suit game try see this month’s Basic Bidding column. To accept a short suit try you should have length with no honors other than perhaps the ace; so three or four small is the best holding to have. You also should have high cards or shortness in the other two suits.

Responder should bid three of the major to turn down all game tries and can jump to four to accept them all. 3NT can be played as an offer or as “non-serious,” which is to say that responder’s hand is suitable if what opener really had in mind was slam rather than game. If 3NT is an offer then responder’s jumps to the four level are slammish cuebids, not splinters.


These Nagy game tries are laid out in a nice table at the Bridge Guys web site - http://www.bridgeguys.com/Conventions/NagyGameTries.html


One thing you and your partner need to decide on is whether 1M-2M-3M is a bar bid or a balanced game try. We like it to be a bar bid in hearts but a game try in spades.


Eric Kokish created a version of the Nagy convention where he reversed these bids so that the first step asks which short suit partner would accept and new suits are long or help suit game tries. This works just as well and has the advantage that the opponents cannot double the short suit to suggest a save. Another advantage is less memory strain. When you are used to playing long suit tries you might forget this new convention the first few times it comes up. This is less likely to be a disaster when most of the bids have the same meaning as before.


The Cooper version of the Kokish-Nagy convention is more complex. We play that our long suit tries are all transfers so that we can play in the help suit when that is a better spot. For example, our auction could go 1S-2S-3D-3H all pass. In this auction opener made a transfer try in hearts and responder liked hearts better than spades but did not want to be in game; if he wanted to be in game in hearts he would bid 4H instead of 3H. Like Kokish, we play the first step asks partner to bid the first suit in which he would accept a short suit game try.


So are you sorry you asked us this question now? Or are you ready to give one of these methods a try?


Please send your questions to D17editors@contractbridgeforum.com



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