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My dislike of transfers

David Ezekiel

The Bermuda Regional is in full swing and, as always, I will leave the results for next week’s column when I can give you a full round-up.

What I can tell you is that chairman Kathy Keane and her committee appear to have done all the right things and have produced another first class event.

Attendance is great at both the games and the panel shows, the bulletin is first class and the directors, hotel staff and the locals have pulled out all the stops to make the week a memorable one for our visitors.

They appear to have succeded.

I am loath to use this column to push one bidding system over another but my comment at my Panel Show that ‘I absolutely loath transfers’ clearly surprised a number in the audience – but I do!

Transfers are used to make the hand that opens 1NT the declarer, by responder bidding the suit below the one they have and asking opener to bid the next higher suit and then further describing their hand – transfers are widely used by players at all levels.

The thinking behind the system is that the strong hand is protected from a damaging opening lead through the high cards… hmmmm.

What do you give up for this?

Firstly, you make it all so easy for the opponents to defend — you tell them that one hand is balanced 15-17 HCP hand with no singletons and no five-card majors.

And then to make it really easy for them, you show them the other hand.

Secondly, and for me equally important, is that by playing transfers you give up the chance to play forcing and non-forcing stayman — for me, an almost essential convention over an opening no trump.

Using this, a 2 club bid over a NT asks for a major but is not game forcing and 2 diamonds also asks for a major but commits the partnership to a game or slam contract.

Like 2 over 1, any time you can do that it takes all the pressure out of the bidding and that is huge as it allows you to investigate the best game or slam contract.

It also has the great advantage that once a player responds 2 clubs partner know that hand is weak.

There is a lot more but you can look that up .

So, bid this hand with your partner using transfers and I will then bid it using forcing stayman.

Dealer South, both vulnerable

S 83

H AK95

D KJ109


S K7 S 4

H 953 H KJ1084

D KQJ10 D 863

C A943 C K1085

S AK54

H 52

D AQ63

C K98

The Bidding using transfers:

South West North East1NT Pass 2 C Pass

2 S Pass ???

Where do you and your partner go from here? 2NT is invitational and any other bid is fraught with danger as it may be passed, so I will tell you what happens:

The average player either bids 6NT straight away or Blackwood’s first and then bid 6NT. Down one!

The Bidding using forcing stayman:

South West North East

1NT Pass 2 D (1) Pass

2 S Pass 2NT (2) Pass

3 D (3) Pass 4NT (4) Pass

5 H (5) Pass 6 D (6)

(1) Game forcing stayman

(2) Tell me more about your shape

(3) I also have 4 diamonds

(4) Roman KC Blackwood with diamonds as trumps

(5) Two key cards (aces and trump king count as key) and the trump queen

(6) Thank you!

So there you have it, but in the interests of fair play I am happy to hand this column over to anyone, local or overseas, that wishes to present the case for transfer bids.

After that the reader can decide which one they would like to try.