Friday, October 24, 2008

Transfers Over Transfers

We've put a lot of work into our responding structure over a 1NT opening. One recent innovation we've put on the card is "Transfers Over Transfers", gleaned in no small part from this 2005 post by Justin Lall.

The best description of why transfers over notrumps work so well was by (I believe) Jeff Rubens - he said that basically responder gets to bid twice while opener bids zero times! Transfers are incredibly useful in many different areas of bidding. Hopefully I'll live long enough to write about all of them!

The way we play this is just a bit different from Justin's original layout.

Let's start with hearts:

1NT - 2D [transfer] - 2H :

  • 2S = transfer to clubs (showing 4+), game force
  • 2NT = invitational hand with 5 hearts
  • 3C = transfer to diamonds (showing 4+), game force
  • 3D = "transfer to hearts" - 6+ hearts, generally balanced, slam interest
  • 3H = invitational hand with 6+ hearts
  • 3S, 4C, 4D = splinters, slam interest
  • 3NT = game-forcing hand with 5 hearts
  • 4H = very mild slam try with 6+ hearts

Note that we can't transfer to spades. A good hand with five hearts and four spades will go through Smolen. A bad hand with that shape bids 2C then 2H weak. An invitational hand with that shape can either bid 2D then 2N (not showing the fourth spade) or 2C then 2NT (not showing the fifth heart). Sorry, can't do everything!

Over the auction 1N - 2D - 2H - 3C [showing diamonds], opener bids:
  • 3D [I prefer diamonds to hearts, but 3NT may still be the right spot]
  • 3H [I prefer hearts to diamonds and have a maximum]
  • 3S [I loooove diamonds and have the spade ace]
  • 3NT [I don't really like either of your suits but I'm loaded in the blacks]
  • 4C [I love diamonds and I have the club ace but not the spade ace]
  • 4D [I'm really, really interested in a diamond slam. I'm not denying either black ace. We still have plenty of room to find out our controls]
  • 4H [I prefer hearts to diamonds but I have a minimum]
There's a similar response structure over 1NT - 2D - 2H - 2S [showing clubs], except there's now a 2NT rebid available to opener. 2NT now shows a minimum, and 3NT shows a maximum [no fast arrival bids in notrump! Jumping to 3NT shows extras].

Over the auction 1NT - 2D - 2H - 3D [6+ hearts, slam interest], opener will cuebid his cheapest ace -- even if it's the ace of hearts! [Opener should also cuebid the king of hearts.]

Our structure over 1NT - 2H - 2S is a bit different, because we use the sequence 1NT - 2C - 2D or 2H - 2S to show an invitational hand with long spades. So when the auction goes 1NT - 2H [transfer] - 2S, the rebids are like this:

  • 2NT = transfer to clubs (showing 4+), game-forcing
  • 3C = transfer to diamonds (showing 4+), game-forcing
  • 3D = transfer to hearts (showing 5+), slam try
  • 3H = "transfer to spades", 6+ spades, poor trumps, slam try
  • 3S = 6+ spades, good trumps, slam try
  • 3NT = game-forcing with 5 spades
  • 4C, 4D, 4H = splinters
  • 4S = very mild slam try with 6+ spades
The transfer to hearts is 5+, because with 5-4s we go through Smolen. It's a slam try, because with 5-5s without slam interest, we start with 2C - over 2D we bid 4C showing that hand.

The only difference between the spade structure and the heart structure is that opener can "cuebid" 3S over the 3H bid with good spades.

What do you think of this response set? Any suggestions for improvements?

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