Canape in Bridge is an important concept to understand. Not because many people is using it, but because it is the exact opposite of what most people use – but they forget, or pretend to forget… some times.
Canapé is small dishes serve before the big meal in a party or function. That’s the idea: small before big, So, in that context, some people in Bridge love to start with small one first before showing the bigger one.
For example, holding ♠AJT43 ♥Q2 ♦QJ43 ♣A8, people that use canapé system will bid the ♦ first before ♠
Weird? Not really. Unusual perhaps. But doing such bidding have some advantages. For example , they will find 4-4 fit sooner than everybody, opponent can mistakenly overcall to their longer suit, etc
But, overall, the standard system that employ the fundamental principle “longer first” is more superior. That’s why nowadays, we almost do not see a canape system in action on the field.
Saying that, I still can overhear people that NOT using canapé system mistakenly applying it to the standard system. See below example.
Holding ♠A3 ♥KQT65 ♦ – ♣AT9865, what will you open? 1♥ or 1♣?
Let’s make it more dramatic. You hold: ♠A3 ♥AKQT9 ♦ – ♣765432, what will you open? 1♥ or 1♣?
Answer for both holding above: ABSOLUTELY 1♣! — Well, unless you play canapé system, of course.
The reason is, your partner will never ever know that your Club is longer than Spade if you open with Spade. Never. And it could be crucial in a decision. See 3 scenarios below.
Scenario 1: Your partner have only doubleton support for both your Spade and Club. Hence, your partner will settle for Spade, a 5-2 fit while your partnership actually have a 6-2 fit.
Scenario 2: You bid your Spade and have not got a chance to show the Club and opponent already bid too high for you to bid the longer suit (considering vulnerability, etc) – and turn out partner have 4 cards support in Club which is good for competitive or sacrifice. But you never knew it.
Scenario 3: You bid your Spade and have not got a chance to show the Club and partner already show fit in Spade – likely you will have no idea you have such a better 2nd fit.
OK, so next time , you know the correct bid…