Agus on Neapolitan Club (interview to Agustin Madala – Second Part)

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(Second Part) As our blog is devoted to Neapolitan Club, we took the opportunity to discuss  with Agustin Madala some aspects of the famous Chiaradia’s system which allowed  the mythical Blue Team to dominate all international competitions. As promised, Agustin, I have some questions most related to bridge. I would like to talk with you on some treatments of the Neapolitan Club. Willingly!

 In Neapolitan Club, the game forcing from the responder (North) comes in by three ways, all natural:

– by simple jump. Example: 1-2 (or 3♣)

– by reverse or jump sequence: 1-1; 1NT-2♠ (or 3♣)

– by 2NT and 3NT responses, that cover the balanced hands in the range 16-18 lacking in four card support in the opener’s suit.

What do you think about?

 I’m a person that likes very much the natural bidding, and these jumps or natural reverses sure can describe at once the hand, but they even take spaces away. For one that has now started to play bridge, it is simpler to play natural, but when the bidding improves, it opens new horizons up, as, besides, it has happened to me: I’m in Italy since five years and I don’t play longer any of the convention that I played before. I’m not against any natural system, nor against the strong club. I think that for learning, however, it need to play natural and after to incorporate conventions, as using strong club or following with the natural.


The settlement of strong hands allows the responder to bid naturally two suits, that is, being it non forcing.

Example: 1-1; 1NT-2♣.

In this sequence, non forcing, North has showed two real suits in the range 8-11 HCP: having less, he couldn’t bid twice; having more, he should have reversed.

Before to call upon you to speak, a note need. Many think that such sequences are forcing because a natural feature. In fact it is so much used that if it is played passable, the alert is required; but it’s a convention inserted by Alvin Roth in 1953.

What do you think about?

 About what to alert and what do not, I can say that we alert all we can but those calls that are obviously natural. I suppose that nowhere this sequence is bidden today as natural. On the new suit: somebody plays it as transfer, others play it as relay for a third card major, and there are who play it as generic game forcing. Anyway, it has to be alerted. 

When the responder has a strong hand with support in the opening suit, in the Neapolitan Club is used the convention “Neapolitan 4♣-4”, that is the response is 2♣ or 2 followed by a jump to

4♣ or 4. Examples:

a) 1-2; 2-4

b) 1♠-2♣; 2-4

c) 1♠-2♣; 2♠-4

d) 1♠-2; 2-3

 In a), the responder ha the control in both suits, but diamonds are better. In b), the diamond control is lacking. In c), are both controls, but clubs are better. In d), it’s available the support by direct jump, then the convention doesn’t apply.

Here need another note. The Official Encyclopedia attributes this convention to the Blue Team Club of Forquet-Garozzo. It’s a mistake. The convention is of Eugenio Chiaradia, who developed it from an own preceding idea, the “Neapolitan 4”, and who anyway published it before the Blue Team Club.

 What do you think of this convention?

 It looks to me of little advantage. I think it’s doubtless better the simple support game forcing then to start depicting the hand, also by cue-bids at lowest level. Almost all have conventions for showing the inviting support, then the simple support after the response 2 over 1 becomes game forcing.  At this point the jumps to 4 can become splinter or other, with support or one suiter: it’s only matter of agreements. I think that the splinters make enormously easier the auction.


But the Neapolitan Club doesn’t employ splinters, i.e. the double jump response for showing support in the opening suit and control in the named one. The double jump responses are instead preemptive. Example:

1-3♠. North could have: ♠KQ10xxxx xx xx ♣xx

1-4. North could have: ♠x xx Qxxxxxxxx ♣x

 What about?

 As I have now said, I prefer the splinters. However I like the sequence 1-3♠ for the long suit and nothing else. Toward the minors I’m a little “racist” (laughing, ed. note): every time I can, I exclude the natural meaning of the minors auction.


Eventually there is the Lawrence’s perfect hand for the take-out double.  Michael Lawrence in The complete book on takeout double (1994, Magnus Book, p.5) says that the “perfect hand” for the takeout double is a 4441, and that with such shape eleven HCP are enough for enter any opening at level one. South has opened 1; as West, Lawrence doubles with: ♠A1094 6 K982 ♣K1094: ten HCP by heads and with “body”. Having: ♠6 A1094 K982 ♣K1094, and being vulnerable, would you double an opening of 1♠? How do you behave?

 I double the former and I pass the latter. On the first hand, I must say that I don’t care very much the vulnerability. If the cards deserves to enter the auction, I do. When vulnerable, there is the same risk in to call and do not: I say, you can pay 800 or to find the unbiddable game that is worth 600. But my choice bases on other. I see the first hand as one that can compete until 3♠ over 3, and if I want get this I must do it at once. In the second one, instead, the spades are higher ranked, then if the opponents get 3♠ I’m out, but if they stop at level two I can still double. In both hands there’s a lot of work for the game, so I prefer to speak only in the first one. Surely we always should make the same thing, that i sto double in both situations, but…but I’m not made so! (laughing, editor’s note).


Laura Camponeschi (consultancy by Paolo Enrico Garrisi)

November 29, 2010


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