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Playing Canapé, the hand ♠KQ73 ♥5 ♦AQJ94 ♣J54 is opened 1♠. If partner does not raise the spades, the diamond suit is introduced in the next bidding round. With the spade and diamond suits reversed (♠AQJ94 ♥5 ♦KQ73 ♣J54) the prescribed opening is 1♦ followed by a spade bid in the next round. The consequence of this approach is that on more balanced hands such as hands with a 4-4-3-2 distribution, only one four card suit can be introduced. With the hand ♠KQ73 ♥95 ♦AQJ4 ♣J54 a Canapé bidder will open 1♠ and following a 2♣ response rebid notrump. Hands with a 5-3-3-2 distribution are either opened in the five card suit followed by a notrump rebid (or a rebid in the same suit if the suit is solid), or in certain cases opened Canapé on a strong three card suit.
Canapé forms the basis of various European systems, such as the Roman club and Blue club systems, and in the Modified Italian Canape System. The advantage of the Canapé treatment is that with a four card major first a major suit fit is investigated, and if such a fit is not present the partnership can play in the longest suit of the opener. Also, Canapé bidders often get to bid a short major which has a marked preemptive value, also because takeout doubles are less effective in cases where the opponents have not opened their longest suit.
Invention of the concept is attributed to early French master Pierre Albarran.
Pierre Jaïs and Roger Trézel of France used a canapé system and became one of the strongest pairs in the world during the 1950s and 1960s, which "demonstrated the effectiveness of canapé". They achieved a triple crown of major world championships from 1956 to 1962, two at teams-of-four representing France and the inaugural World Open Pairs Championship.
- Pierre Jaïs. 1975. "Extend Your Distributional Signals". BOLS Bridge Tips. With biographical preface. Reprint. Bridge Ace (bridgeace.com). Retrieved 2014-06-08.
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