Read This First: What Should we Play?

By Larry CohenEddie Kantar

Courtesy of

I am a staunch advocate of ‘less is more’. My observation is that at every level of the game, players are using too many conventions. Too often I see players (from beginner to world champion) misusing or forgetting their methods. Everyone would benefit if they would just KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

If I had to choose just four conventions, this would be my list:


1. Negative Doubles
2. Blackwood
3. Stayman
4. Jacoby transfers

If you forced me to choose four more, this would be the next group:


5. 4th Suit GF
6. Methods vs. Opponents’ Notrump (I prefer ‘DONT’ )
7. Weak jumps in competition
8. 2NT asking for a feature after our Weak 2-bids

If you insisted I fill my convention card with twelve conventions, these would be the next four:

C) Unusual notrump / Michaels bids, New Minor CheckbackJacoby 2NTSupport Doubles

And, since people just love to learn/play/teach conventions, these would be my D-list — choices 13-16:

D) LebensohlDruryInverted MinorsSplinter Bids

Honestly, I think it would be counterproductive for 99% of players to go any further than this. The memory strain is not worth it. Someone once said, ‘The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Conventions.’