Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are transfers on?

Playing with an occasional partner in a strong club game, I ran into questions of what standard 2/1 is.

Opposite an overcall of 1NT, we play "systems on",  so that:

1C - 1NT - P - 2H

the 2H is a transfer to spades.

But how about this situation:


North deals and opens 3C.  Partner (East) bids 3NT.  Now, as West, I had a problem.  Are transfers on, or off in this situation?  This is the bidding:

3C - 3NT - P - 4H

Is this a sign-off in hearts, or a transfer to spades?

I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and passed.  Partner played 3NT beautifully, squeezing South in diamonds and spades to pick up 10 tricks. But there are 11 tricks in hearts, and so it was not a great board.

Once you are playing "systems on" after NT overcalls, Stayman and transfers should be on over a 2NT or 3NT overcall as well.  On this hand, though, I have an even better bid available -- I could have bid 4C to cater to partner having four spades.  Since clubs is North's preempt suit, this would be unmistakably Stayman.  I simply was not thinking.


  1. I was also playing with occasional partner last night in a strong district (cf unit) game and we had the auction:

    1S (Pass) Pass (Dbl)
    1NT (Pass) ??

    Do you play transfers here?

    As I was a pointless 1-2-6-4 I decided to pass rather than risk an auction where the opponents could start doubling. This decision was helped by the fact that we were non-vulnerable and, even if two diamonds was taken as natural, they'd find their heart fit. As it happened, 1NT made. We did agree later that transfers do not make sense in this auction.

    Over your 3NT overcall, we used to play Stayman and transfers. However we now play that 4C is a relay, asking for strength and whether balanced or single-suited. 4D is a puppet to 4H, used to sign-off in a contract, and 4M/5m are slam invitational hands. When 4M/5m is a cue bid, it shows a two-suited hand.

  2. Maybe it ought to be played that anytime you can transfer, they are on. I'm not sure that's best, but it sure simplifies things.