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Breaking the transfer


If you have followed my improvers’ method to the letter then you will always complete the transfer at the two-level as instructed, and you will find yourself in the company of many experienced players who do exactly the same.


Also, you must never forget that partner is in charge - there is no way in which you can opt out of his choice of suit.  (He might do so with a subsequent bid, but that is another matter).  Any bid by you other than a completion of the transfer at the two-level agrees partner’s suit, promises four-card support (but see vulnerability below), and forces the bidding to at least three of that suit.


And, before I complicate the matter, let me be clear that completing the transfer at the two-level will be by far your most common action.


Bidding to the level of the fit


However, when you have four-card support for partner’s implied suit you have a known nine-card fit, and we find ourselves once again in the realm of ‘bidding to the level of the fit’.

In this situation it will usually be correct to bid to the three-level, and if by any chance your combined holding is weak it will usually be correct to get there quickly before the opponents discover a possible fit which might yield a making contract their way.


The possible exceptions will be:-


when you are weak and ‘vulnerable against not’;


when your holding is particularly defensive - e.g. 4-3-3-3 shape with the points substantially in the short suits.


My inclination is to bid up anyway - only very rarely will you be punished with a double, but it is a matter of partnership style to be discussed and agreed.


There is a further obscure possibility when you are not vulnerable against vulnerable which is discussed briefly at the foot of this page, but in general an agreement to bid to the level of the fit will serve you well.


Method 1 - The jump break


The simplest option is to break the transfer with a jump in partner’s implied major whenever you hold four cards in that suit.


The jump break as described above is recommended as an early first extension of the basic transfer method.

Intermediate and above


This method will identify the lack of ruffing value in the shorter trump suit, and once in a while will pave the way to a making contract of 3NT when there are four top losers.  Whether or not you want to remember the extra twist is up to you and your partner.


Repeat transfers


Anyone brought up in the world of the strong no trump will be horrified that the 2NT sequences above leave the declarer play in the hands of the responder.  The opening hand will therefore be there on the table for all to see, and the opening lead will be coming through it rather than up to it.


This consideration is not nearly so important when playing a weak no trump, but it is not totally without merit.

The problem is easily circumvented by giving responder a repeat transfer bid of 3 (to hearts) or 3 (to spades) at his next turn.

This repeat transfer can be combined with either method 3a or 3b above.

Again, whether or not the memory work involved is worth it is up to you and your partner.

A Q 8 4

K T 7

K J T 6

7 5

Those two tens make this into an excellent thirteen count.

Show your four-card support in a maximum hand with 2NT.

Partner will choose between 3 and 4.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?








K J T 4

K 9 7 3

T 8

K Q 6

Four-card heart support, in a minimum hand.

Bid 3.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?









Method 4 - bid 2NT with a weak doubleton


This is an alternative use for the 2NT rebid.

The lowest suit will then be used for the good raise.

The 2NT rebid promises four-card support in a maximum opener containing a weak doubleton (anything up to Qx for the sake of argument).

It is to be found in Barry Rigal’s writing.  The primary purpose is to keep you out of a 3NT contract with matching weak suits in the two hands.

I quite like the idea of this one, although the occasions on which I shall look for a no trump contract having located a 5-4 major suit fit will be rare, almost to the point of non-existence.

I suspect that I am missing something here, and Barry Rigal has a considerably higher bridge pedigree than me, so take this one on board if you wish, but system 3b with or without re-transfers will suit my level perfectly adequately.


New suit transfer breaks


In addition to any one of the methods outlined above you have the option of breaking the transfer with a bid in any new suit which has not already been assigned some other meaning.


I shall offer you a number of options - note that my preference is for the last of these.


Control showing


Quite popular in club play is to break the transfer by bidding a control in a side-suit.

Experience has shown that this approach tends to help the opponents as much as partner.  The method is not as fashionable as it once was.


Alternative uses


In the February 2018 edition of English Bridge Neil Rosen mentions the following three possibilities:-


weak doubleton in the suit bid;

strong doubleton(Ax or Kx) in the suit bid;

good second suit.


My comments above relating to showing doubletons still apply.


My choice is the ‘good suit’ which can be played alongside any of the methods above.

Agree what constitutes a good suit, but typically it will be something like four cards including three honours.


If the bidding space permits then you can still combine these bids with a re-transfer.


More about vulnerability


I hinted above at the option of being a little more conservative in style when vulnerable against not.

It is not difficult to superimpose on any of the methods above that you will simply complete the transfer at the two-level in this situation if that is your agreed choice.


But another related consideration occurs when not vulnerable against vulnerable.


I have never come across this wrinkle, but there is an argument for bidding to one more than the level of the fit when not vulnerable against vulnerable.  Be certain that you have agreed this with your partner, but if you make this choice then in this position you can make any of the bids which you have agreed above when holding just three-card support.

A Q 8 4

K T 7

K J T 6

7 5

Show your four-card support in a maximum hand (not 4-3-3-3) with 3.

Partner will repeat transfer with 3, and you will complete this transfer to 3.

Partner will then either pass or raise to 4.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?








Method 3 - break with a minimum


My preference, and the choice of many experts, is that you should make this jump break only with a minimum (twelve or a poor thirteen), thereby putting on the maximum preemptive pressure as quickly as possible.  The example above suits this approach well.


If this is your choice then you will also agree that a simple completion of the transfer denies four-card support (except perhaps at adverse vulnerability), and you will then have to show four-card support and a maximum in some other way.


There are several methods from which to choose.


3a - bid 2NT on any maximum hand with a four-card fit


The simplest agreement, and perfectly effective although not particularly common is that with any four-card support and a better than minimum hand you will bid 2NT.

Partner is then in an excellent position to choose between three and four of the major.


With this agreement, when holding four-card support for partner’s implied suit:-


with a minimum hand make a jump break with an immediate leap to three of the agreed suit,

with a maximum hand bid 2NT.


This method based on the 2NT and jump transfer breaks is recommended as one which is simple in concept, and which will serve you well to a high level.


3b - 2NT on a flat hand and lowest suit on anything else


In this extension of the method above 2NT shows good four-card support in a 4-3-3-3 shape, and the lowest suit above partner’s shows any other good raise.

K Q T

K 9 7 4

T 8 3

K Q 6

Four-card support in a good hand with 4-3-3-3 shape.

Bid 2NT.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?








K Q 3

K 9 7 4

T 8

K Q T 6

Four-card support in a good hand and not 4-3-3-3.

Bid 2.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?








Method 2 - break with a maximum


Surprisingly popular, is to make such a break only when holding a maximum (fourteen or a good thirteen).


Certainly this method solves responder’s problems when holding the invitational hand.

But with a minimum hand opener can only complete the transfer at the two-level and the wherewithal to take the bidding quickly to the three-level when a minimum opener is facing a weak response has been lost.


The weaker you are the more important it is to get there quickly before your opponents have started searching for their contract.


The method of jumping only with a maximum is not recommended.

K Q 8 4

K T 7

K T 7 6

J 5

Your basic agreement will be to jump to 3 with your four-card support -

it promises no more than a nine-card fit.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?








Not particularly recommended


The jump break is excellent in its preemptive effect, and is considerably better than nothing, but it does little to help partner:-


he might have a big hand - the sooner you start telling him more about your hand, the better;

there may be a borderline game holding between you - knowledge of each other’s strengths or weaknesses might make it well worth a try;

partner might have a really feeble take-out hand, but a quick jump to the three-level could make life very difficult for your opponents.


Other ways of breaking


A number of options follow.


On the whole they get more complicated and more effective as you go through them.  You may wish to add the complications bit by bit as you extend your system.

Responder’s first bid

Responder’s rebid

Context  -  You opened 1NT - LHO passed - intermediate and beyond - partner made a red suit transfer bid - RHO passed.

This page last updated 23rd Oct 2019

Intermediate and above

K Q 4

K T 8 7

K T 7 6

J 5

Your usual action will be to complete the transfer with 2.

If not vulnerable against vulnerable you might make a jump transfer break to 3,

but only if you have a specific partnership agreement to that effect.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?