Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Fantunes: why the system works

Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes are the most recent addition to the Italian Open Team. After winning a World Pairs Championship, the European Teams Championship and the Olympiad no one doubts that they are one of the strongest pairs in the World. As such they now also have a nickname as pair (like Meckwell for Meckstroth & Rodwell): Fantunes

Unlike most other top pairs who play sort of time-tested methods (Natural, prepared, strong, or Polish Club) they use a completely different and before almost unknown method. Let me explain it:

Their 1-level opening bids are all very solid (14+ HCP or compensating distribution) with all balanced hands included in 1♣ (as such it can be bid on as few as two). These bids are all forcing!

1NT is weak: 12-14 HCP and can be bid on anything remotely balanced (Shapes like 5242 or 2245 are all in there).

Their 2-level bids are intermediate: 10 - 13 HCP and show at least a 5-card suit, although 2 of a minor might be bid on a 4441-distribution. Notice that they do NOT play Weak Two bids. This all sounds overly solid, especially for someone younger like me, but in fact if you look at it it's very agressive.

These 2-bids come up a lot and although they are not so well-defined they put pressure on the opponents too, and when all else fails you can always try a light 3NT, and playing the cards as well as they do you will have a tough job beating it.

Then the 1-bids: These are forcing but natural, which might bring them too high if responder is extremely weak but normally it has great advantages over the field:

* Strong NT hands when playing a weak NT are no longer much of a problem as partner is already counting on some values when you open 1♣.
* Responder can be agressive when opponents compete compared to the field.
* GF auctions can be set up by responder with most 10-counts, so you can start finding the best game or slam early.
* Awkward hands that are normally close to opening a strong 2♣ need not fear their opening is passed out. Also, they can be described more accurately than what the rest of the field might manage.

Fantoni - Nunes will be in action in the next Bermuda Bowl. If you have a chance to watch them on Vugraph, do so. I have a feeling they Italy will finally win this time.

It sounds like an interesting idea, but I'm baffled by how they land on their feet after the negative responses to 1x (especially to the major suits) and also by their 2-level bids -- especially given their success at matchpoints where you'd think missing the right partscore (especially bypassing 1N) would be fatal. I guess the opponents have just happened to have as much trouble. Any thoughts on these issues? (A good source of notes on their followups would help, of course -- do you know any?)


PS To post here I had to set up a Blogger identity... this was mildly irritating and may suppress comments if you desire them. It seems you can allow anonymous comments (dunno if that's bad for other reasons) and then hope people will sign their posts.
When I first saw it I also thought exactly the same thing: How can that work? Having tried it I can say: it works!

It seems that after the negative response they are only potentially worse off than 2/1 players when responder has would have passed a standard opening, and in this situation opps usually come in. Otherwise they use Gazilli to sort things out.

The 2-level bids are sometimes very blunt tools but on average the opps have even more trouble with them. I don't know their MP strategy after opening 2x, at IMPs it's: when in doubt, don't pass and if all else fails try 3NT.

To your PS: I didn't realize this, fixed now. Thanks for letting me know.
For your information: there is a special on Fantunes in the magazine of the Dutch bridge federation, dec. 2006. Only 3 pages, which is of course way too little to cope with the entire system, but as it is Fantoni who gives the explanation on the system, it might still be of value.

Please tell me how to setup the configuration of your bolg. Mine is here: jredard.blogspot.com

either send me an email to jredard@manquehue.net or just reply.

Thanks in advance
I do play Fantunes at BBO with my nickname "spassky" and i played the system with two chilean stars. I have also thaught the system to some chilean and argentinean people.

The system works very well.

I have made a hole book on this available in spanish, you might do the translation if you want. Just contact me at BBO or send me an email.
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