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Canapé is the invention of Pierre Albarran, a French auction and contract bridge player, theorist, and author. His book on the topic is long out-of-print and hard to find. A French pair, Pierre Jaïs and Roger Trézel, used a canapé system to become one of the strongest pairs in the world during the 1950s and 1960s. 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. Canapé is also the basis of the Roman Club and Blue Team Club systems, which were used by the Italian Blue Team to win many world championships in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the early Blue Team players used a "natural" canapé style. A "Modified Italian Canapé System" is still in use today.
An advantage of the canapé method is that four-card major suits are introduced on the first round of the auction even when a longer suit is held. Thus, eight-card or longer major suit fits are found right away and some otherwise difficult to bid hands are handled easily. If no major suit exists, the partnership can play in the opener's longest suit. Opening four-card majors frequently has a preemptive value because takeout doubles are less effective in cases where the opponents have not opened their longest suit. When four-card majors were popular in the United States, even the most adamant proponents of "natural" bidding opened four-card majors ahead of five-card minors on hands that presented rebid problems.
The following examples apply to some canapé systems but not all:
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.
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