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Breaking the transfer


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


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.


However, when you have four-card support for partner’s implied suit it will usually be correct to break the transfer (that is - do anything other than complete the transfer at the two-level).


In this situation:-


partner could 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.


Remember, 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.


Bidding to the level of the fit


Suppose that you have four cards in partner’s implied suit.

Partner has promised at least a five-card suit, and you therefore have a nine-card fit.


The principle of ‘bidding to the level of the fit’ tells us that with this nine-card fit it will usually be correct to force the bidding to the three-level even if partner holds just a five-card suit and no points.

It is also good practice to reach that level quickly, before the opponents locate a fit of their own.


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 2a or 2b 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 except at adverse vulnerability.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?









Method 3 - 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 suit 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.

For me 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, and these few occasions will be well catered for by system 2b above.  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 for me either system 2a or 2b 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


if not vulnerable against vulnerable

I have never come across this wrinkle in the present context from any other source, 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 with 2NT.

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 2 - 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.


2a - 2NT on any maximum hand with a fit


The simplest agreement, and perfectly effective, 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:-


at adverse vulnerability   - always complete the transfer at the two-level;

at any other vulnerability - 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.


2b - 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.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?








Responder’s first bid

Responder’s rebid

Post-beginner and above

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

Not recommended


A very reasonable option is that at this vulnerability you should never break the transfer.  Partner can be counted on to make a further effort if holding invitational values.


A further consideration relating to vulnerability is included at the bottom of this page.


The jump break is excellent in its preemptive effect, and is considerably better than nothing, but it does little to help partner when he holds invitational values and wishes to know whether your opening bid is maximum or minimum.


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.

This page last updated 29th Sep 2018

Vulnerability


A possible exception to this generalisation is:-


if vulnerable against not

(or if you hold a particularly defensive hand) you might agree to compete to one less than the level of the fit (particularly at duplicate pairs scoring), in which case a simple completion of the transfer at the two-level would be appropriate.

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.

If vulnerable against not you might agree just to complete the transfer with 2.

You

LHO

Pard

RHO

1NT

-

2

-

?








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

-

?