Now and then players ask me what I think are the best or most important conventions to play. The answers to these questions can get extraordinarily detailed but I’ve put together some rough guidelines here. I assume a two-over-one game force structure (if you play standard American I strongly suggest you switch now, as two over one is both more effective and easier to play) with a strong (15 to 17 or so) notrump range. (I love strong club systems but since most tournament players in North America play two over one, I’m giving advice only for that structure.)

I’ve included three levels of complexity, each on its own page. Even if you’re an advanced player I suggest you start by looking at the basic one and then move “up”, as I include a lot of information even on the discussion of the more basic cards.

  • Basic Two over One: What I consider pretty much the bare essentials for making the system work. The result is perfectly playable but once you’re comfortable with it you will probably want to start adding stuff from the intermediate card.
  • Intermediate Two over One: A nice setup that’s perfectly good for both casual and serious play. You may want to add things (and with experienced players I do) but don’t feel the need until you’re very comfortable. Conventions don’t win bridge games, card play and judgment do.
  • Advanced Two over One: A fairly complicated card with a few common-but-advanced treatments and a few of my pets, as it were. When the special stuff on here comes up it’s great, but a lot of them matter only rarely, so their overall value, while positive, is low. On the other hand this card has a couple things that I wish I could put on the intermediate card because I think they’re very useful, but I relegated them to the advanced card because they’re unusual.

Each of the individual card pages includes an image of a completed convention card, but I strongly suggest you make out your own with your partner.