Notes worthy

It is a given that bidding is the most important aspect of bridge, and as you gain experience you will learn that a well-practiced partnership has a significant advantage over those with a go-as-you-please approach.

It is tremendously satisfying to earn a top at matchpoints or win a team match because you and partner knew just what to do with a difficult pair of hands. There is danger, of course, in adding agreements and increasing the sophistication of your methods. It's not uncommon for "forgets" to crop up at the table --- or for the partnership to disagree on an interpretation of a new agreement.

The solution, of course, is for you and partner to make your bidding mistakes during practice sessions rather than at the table. That's one reason deal generators have gained popularity in recent times. Until now, however, software that allows for tailoring to a partnership's particular bidding system has not been available.

Enter the HCS System Notebook, software developed by two bridge players who live in the Ann Arbor MI area.

The HCS System Notebook is a marvelous tool for gaining bidding experience or for honing partnership agreements --- and it's not just for experts. For example, new players could use the System Notebook to get used to transfers or negative doubles.

Think how much smoother things would go if you and partner had already bid 100 or more hands involving transfers before you actually played transfers at your club.

Do you and your favorite partner live in different cities? Using the System Notebook, you could generate sets of practice hands, mail or email them to partner and practice bidding over the phone or the Internet.

Users can input an endless variety of sequences and then generate hands (opener's and partner's) based on all the bids. For example, take this sequence (the opponents are passing):
1S 2NT (1)
3D (2) 3H (3)
3S (4) 3NT (3)
4C (5)
(1) Game forcing spade raise.
(2) Singleton or void somewhere.
(3) Asks.
(4) Void somewhere.
(5) Club void.

Using the HCS software, it is trivial to enter and store this sequence, then generate literally hundreds of hands with these characteristics -- West has a 1S opener with a void in clubs, East has a game-forcing spade raise.

After once entering and saving the sequence, you are just a couple of mouse clicks away from generating and printing sample hands for bidding practice.

The program can handle the most complex agreements with ease. You say you have different agreements depending on vulnerability or position? The System Notebook can take care of you. Interference by the opponents? Just key it into the auction.

Every possible call (doubles and redoubles included) in your entire system can be stored in the System Notebook, ready to be accessed for generation of hands.

Lest you think the System Notebook is only system-specific, you can also use it to generate random East-West hands for general bidding practice when you don't have anything particular in mind.

The program comes with an exhaustive, on-line tutorial, one of many user-friendly characteristics.

Technical support is available by telephone or email. You can also print out your entire system or any part of it for study.

You and your partner can achieve better results and have fewer bidding disagreements if you're willing to work at it. The best available tool to facilitate this task is the HCS System Notebook.

Brent Manley
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