M J Bridge
This convention has been around for a long time.
At one time it was probably the most common method at a high level for dealing with game-
The defining feature of Smolen is that a Stayman 2♣ bid followed by a jump to three of a major if a fit is not immediately forthcoming is game-
A Q 8 6
K Q 8 7 3
Partner opened 1NT.
You have 4-
Playing Smolen start with a Stayman 2♣ enquiry.
If partner responds 2♦ you will rebid 3♠ -
Intermediate and above
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
This page last revised 14th Nov 2019
It is strongly recommended that you should extend your two-
This will add flexibility to your treatment of such hands, and will also free up the sequence 1NT, 2♣, 2x, 2♠ for some other use (invitational 5-
You will need to agree a way of showing invitational hands which are 5-
A common solution is to take on board two otherwise redundant sequences.
1NT, 2♣, 2x, 2♠ invitational with five spades and another four-
1NT, 2♦, 2♥, 2♠ invitational with five hearts and another four-
In a weak hand you will be able to do no better than transfer into the major and then pass.
The invitational hands are catered for by the same sequences as for invitational 5-
With the game-
An early addition to the method should be two-
To go along with this you will have to play non-
Note that if you were previously playing simple four-
Also recommended is that you should add Texas transfers or South African Texas transfers to your repertoire.
This will allow even greater definition between the various hand-
For a way of distinguishing between the various sequences to four of a major see single-
See the page 5-
Five minor and four major
See the page single-
Isn’t that enough?
If you choose just to adopt the suggestions above and add in some simple interpretation for immediate responses at the three-
But if your choice is to add greater precision as you show various hand-
How complicated you wish to make your system -
In particular you may well choose to consider:-
alternative uses for immediate responses at the three-
and extended Stayman sequences -
What follows is just one set of choices.
It tends towards the maximum complication end of the spectrum.
Feel free to agree a simpler, or just a different, set of methods.
Immediate responses at the three-
There are numerous possibilities (see three-
On the example page which follows I have allocated all of the three three-
The sequences 1NT, 2♣, 2♦, 3♣ and 1NT, 2♣, 2♦, 3♦
I have chosen to use these sequences to show game-
A good alternative is to use the first of these sequences as minor suit Stayman.
Agreeing partner’s major
A useful device is to follow a Stayman enquiry and a major suit response with a bid at the three-
If you have adopted all of the suggestions above then the sequence
1NT, 2♦, 2♥, 3♠
will have become available for any purpose you choose.
Make any additions or changes you like -
I have little choice but to commend this convention to you, as it is a widely (and may well be the most widely) used method at a high level.
However, my understanding is that Smolen appeared on the scene before transfer responses to 1NT became commonplace.
I cannot believe that had the order been reversed then the hand with five hearts and four spades would not have been introduced with a 2♣ enquiry followed by a 3♦ transfer to show five hearts and four spades.
This is a more efficient use of bidding space. The only downside is that it removes ‘Stayman in doubt’, but in return it releases the sequence 1NT, 2♣, 2♦, 3♠ for some other purpose.
Alternatively, it seems to me that a method based around ‘improvers’ methods’ offers as much opportunity for elaboration.
On the next page you will find a table which incorporates all of the choices made above.
|Overcaller's rebid and beyond|
|Responder's rebid and beyond|
|The continuing auction|