M J Bridge
Hands which are 5-
The problem is to create both forcing and non-
The most common solution at an advanced level is to adopt the ‘Smolen’ convention.
This convention has been around for a long time.
It concentrates on locating the best denomination and creating game-
Quite simply you will start with a Stayman enquiry, and if a fit is not immediately forthcoming you will rebid three of your four-
A Q 8 6
K Q 8 7 3
Partner opened 1NT.
You have 4-
Using improvers’ methods you would transfer into hearts then bid spades (natural and forcing). Playing Smolen start with a Stayman 2♣ enquiry intending to follow a 2♦ response with 3♠ (game-
Partner opened 1NT.
You are 5-
Bid 2♣, intending to follow a 2♦ response with 2♠ promising five spades and another unspecified four-
A Q T 8 6
K Q 8 3
Intermediate and above
The problem in adopting Smolen is that you have used the ‘improvers’ methods’ sequences for showing unbalanced hands with invitational values and a five-
These will have to be replaced and this will most probably entail allocating two spare artificial sequences.
A typical choice would be:-
1NT, 2♦, 2♥, 2♠ promises five hearts and another four-
1NT, 2♣, 2x, 2♠ promises five spades and another four-
This method works well, but it is not intuitive and it adds to the memory load.
It also removes one of the garbage Stayman sequences which was available in ‘improvers’ methods’.
That is easily replaced, but it adds yet one more element of complication.
Smolen is a form of transfer sequence.
When transfer bids were originally introduced in America the sole purpose was to place the declarer play on a weak take-
The concept of placing the stronger hand as declarer is of course important, particularly when considering the weak take-
It is also important in the land of the strong no trump even up to game-
The justification for transfer methods in such an environment must rest on other arguments, and those arguments will revolve around the additional bidding sequences which can be created to show different hand-
Smolen creates such routes in a perfectly adequate manner, although some of them are non-
I have little choice but to commend the convention to you, as it is widely used at a high level.
But, if playing a weak no trump, don’t be afraid to consider alternative methods which put the emphasis on the variety of routes rather than on placing the stronger hand as declarer.
One such little known possibility is ‘Quest transfers’.
An alternative modification would also appear to have all the advantages of Smolen whilst creating additional bidding space.
|Overcaller's rebid and beyond|
|Responder's rebid and beyond|
|The continuing auction|