We first met C. C. Wei about five years ago and found him a delightful fellow with a not uncommon hang-up: he had a bridge system that he was convinced would beat the world. C.C. was gently persistent about trying to get expert help with this project, but virtually every expert has met a dozen or more system inventors eager to have their brainchild tried out against the world champions. Wei is such a nice chap, however, that nobody wanted to brush him off; we just introduced him around and urged him to try his persuasive powers on other possible collaborators.
Certain events in Rio de Janeiro this past May might possibly have changed the picture. The Nationalist Chinese team—with C.C. as nonplaying captain and four of its members playing his Precision System—defeated the Brazilian, French and American teams and won its way to the finals against Italy.
China defeated both France and the U.S. with a team of three pairs that had never played as a unit before including a pair that had never played as partners before, Dr. C. S. Shen of Purdue University and Frank Huang of North Plainfield, N.J. Both the Americans and the French are generally considered technically superior as cardplayers, and that would seem to focus the spotlight on C.C.'s system, which, like Italy's three methods, includes an artificial opening bid of one club. Wei is taking some time off from his businesses of building tankers here in the U.S. and of transporting oil from Iran for the purpose of writing a book about his system. Here it is in action in one of the hands from the finals.
Before discussing what actually took place on this deal, let's consider what did not happen. Suppose you held the East hand against an opening bid of one club. Wouldn't you consider over-calling with one diamond? Or suppose you held the West hand and, after North opened with one club, East passed and South bid one heart. Wouldn't you be inclined to try a takeout double, asking partner to bid spades or diamonds? With either a French or an American pair holding the North-South hands, that is what the bidding would have been, and the chances are that East-West would have reached what they expected to be a good sacrifice contract of five diamonds. The fact is that five diamonds, with the king of diamonds favorably located, is a laydown, and once East-West have reached that contract the very best North-South can do is go on to five hearts, down one. But when the Chinese held the North-South hands, East-West were afforded no such easy road to their best result.
China's North was provided with a highly specialized bid—a kind of blowout patch on what would otherwise be a weak spot in the Precision System. He could not open one club, the artificial bid to show a strong hand; he could not bid one diamond with no diamonds at all; he could not bid one heart or one spade because opening a four-card major suit is taboo. One no trump would show a weakish, balanced opening bid, and two clubs would announce a long, strong club suit. Thus two diamonds is the first available bid not already hitched to some other precise meaning, and the Wei method uses it to show a three-suiter with, specifically, shortage in diamonds.
Knowing that North was short in diamonds enabled South to jump to four hearts as a two-way bid. Not only could he expect to have a good chance to make his contract, but at the same time he was preempting against the opponents' known fit in diamonds. When everyone passed, declarer found he could not possibly lose more than two clubs and a spade trick, and the Chinese scored 420 for their game.