Friday, September 14, 2007

Transfers after 1-level intervention

It's been a while since I posted, but I've been quite busy. Don't worry, I keep coming back! ;-)

This is about a method I play when opponents intervene at the 1-level. Beginners learn that, for example, 1-(1)-1 shows 5+s, while Double would show exactly 4 s. This is useful in some cases, but too limited in other situations. What do you bid with 8-9HCP without and without a stopper? Is the distinction between 4 and 5 card Major really that important? Doesn't opener ever raise 1x-1M-2M with only a 3 card support in an uncontested auction? So why shouldn't he do it now?

Obviously you know what I'm getting at by now. Reserve only 1 bid to show the Major, while the free bid can now be used to show some values without a good bid.

One problem remains: should you bid natural, or in transfer? I think transfers are by far superior than natural bids because they leave space (just in case your opponents shut up) to investigate the best fit. Opener can accept the transfer with only a 3 card support, responder will know what to do.

Here's a scheme I like:
1 - (1) - ?

Dbl = 4+
1 = 4+
1 = some values, no biddable suit, no stopper
1NT = standard, with stopper

1 - (1) - ?

Dbl = 4+
1 = some values, no biddable suit, no stopper
1NT = standard, with stopper
2 = natural, F1

1 - (1) - ?

Dbl = 4+
1 = some values, no biddable suit, no stopper
1NT = standard, with stopper
2 = natural, F1

You see I use the 1 bid as trash bin. It's a consequence of the transfers, and in fact has some pre-emptive effect. Also, it's no problem for us, we don't need the 1M bids since we seem to have no Major fit anyway. The 1 bid can be described as some sort of takeout Double without a biddable suit, usually without a fit as well. The hand is very well described!

After 1X-(1) I use normal takeout Doubles. Transfers are no use, and usually there's no big problem anyway.

You might wonder what to do when opponents Double. Well, I prefer a very similar approach, but now we use an entrire level of transfers:
1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = 5+
1 = 4+
1 = 4+
1 = transfer to 1NT
1NT = good raise
2 = poor raise

1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = 4+
1 = 4+
1 = transfer to 1NT
1NT = 5+
2 = good raise
2 = poor raise

1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = 4+
1 = transfer to 1NT
1NT = 5+
2 = 5+
2 = good raise
2 = poor raise

1 - (Dbl) - ?

RDbl = transfer to 1NT
1NT = 5+
2 = 5+
2 = 5+
2 = good raise
2 = poor raise

In all of the above cases, other bids are fit jumps, and 2NT shows at least an invitational hand with 4+ card support.

The biggest advantage of all the transfers is that you now have different kinds of support, which can be very valuable in competitive auctions! Another advantage is that the strong hand can declare most of the time, and the player that doubled has to lead away from strength. This increases your chances for success.
The biggest disadvantage is that you can't ReDouble for penalties. Obviously you can pass and hope you get the opportunity to penalize your opponents later on (which can really happen), but if you look at the frequency of penalizing your opponents opposite the frequency of handling a competitive auction, the latter is most important.