Conventions: Transfer Extensions by Justin Lall
On 25 April, 2013 At 18:43
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Transfers are a funny thing, almost everybody plays them yet few know why. A widely believed theory is that the main advantage ofJacoby transfers is right siding the contract. While it is true that this is advantageous, it is not that great a gain. The best part about transfers is the ability to transfer and then bid again. Jeff Rubens wrote on the Useful Space Principle in 1981 giving a sound theoretical argument for transfers in a variety of auctions including advancing to partners overcall.
Consider playing no system at all over a 1N opener. The only way to force in hearts is to jump to 3. Playing this way, if you have a two-suiter you can never show it below the 3N level, and if you have an invitational hand you can never show that. With transfers, you can show almost every hand type because you can transfer and then define your hand better with a second bid at a low level. Even two-way stayman can have problems with the timing of some auctions if you hold a two-suiter. For instance: 1N-2-2-3. Now if you have say, hearts and clubs, you are never able to show the clubs.
One problem I have found in transfer sequences is bidding after the second suit is shown. If the auction starts 1N-2-2-3 and opener does not have 3 hearts he may have some problems. He may not want to go past 3N to show a club fit, especially atmatchpoints. He might try a punt with 3 as a cooperative noise, or may just bid 3N discouraging partner. These leaves ambiguity about all bids that are not a raise of a major. They could be a 5 card suit, a NT probe with weakness in the other suit, or an advanced cue for clubs. The auctions lack the necessary clarity responder needs to be able to make an intelligent decision about strain and level. This is why I have come up with transfer extensions.
With transfer extensions, the second bid after a Jacoby transfer is another transfer. So:
2-2=invitational with 5 hearts (like a 2N rebid)
2-2N=4+ clubs GF
2-3=6+ hearts invite
2-3=5-5 majors invite
You may be wondering what the gain of the second round transfers is. It solves the ambiguity of the auctions because opener can now support the minor below 3N. He never has to worry about going past 3N to raise partner. Over 2N or 3 he can bid 3 of partners minor with 4 card or longer support, or 3 of partners major with 3 card support there. This means if opener bids one of the other suits it denies support for both of responder’s suits and would usually indicate a 5 card or longer suit. The only time it could be a 4 card suit is if opener was specifically 4-4 in the unbid suits with weakness in the 4th suit. If opener completes the second “transfer” responder has room to pattern out economically. The auctions will time out much better if a minor suit fit is found. All you give up to play transfer extensions after a transfer to hearts is transferring and then bidding 2 spades. This is usually played as 5 hearts and 4+ spades with invitational values. Usually with that shape and 8 points you can afford to force to game, and with less than that you can bid garbage stayman. It is not perfect, but the invite is of limited use and the gains definitely outweigh the loss.
For spades things are a little bit trickier. You must free up this auction:
In transfer extensions, this auction would show any hand with 5 or more spades and invitational values. I actually consider this a gain, as you are able to stop in 2 on a lot of hands where the field will get to 2N or 3. Note, in this auction a raise to 3 would be a choice of games. Re-invites have no use at all. With 5 spades and 4 hearts and a weak hand you just have to transfer to spades and pass. The structure after a spade transfer would be:
2-2N=4+ clubs GF
2-3=5-5 majors GF
2-3=6+ spades 1 suited slam try.
2-3=6+ spades invite.
Note that here 3 spades has the normal meaning and 3 hearts is a 1 suited slam try. This way you don’t have to go through Jacoby then jump to game to show the hand and gain room to explore for slam.
If you are willing to give up being able to bid stayman with 5 spades, 4 hearts, and a weak hand and having the ability to show 5 hearts and 4 spades then you can play transfer extensions. To summarize, you gain the following:
- The ability to locate minor suit fits below 3N after a transfer sequence.
- The ability to stop in 2 spades with an invitational spade after a 1N opener
- Clarity of all bids after responder shows his second suit.
- The ability to show a 1 suited slam try in spades and still have room to explore below the game level.
- More economical auctions after the second suit is shown.
I think the gains clearly outweigh the losses, but I’ll let the readers decide. Update: It has been called to my attention that this convention had already been thought of/used by other people, notably DannyKleinman and possibly many others. It was negligent to imply that I was the first to invent this convention without checking to see if that was true. Though I thought of it independently, I was definitely not the first one to have thought of it.
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