More on transfers – a hand from the Yeh Cup

March 6, 2009 at 10:40 pm 4 comments

Yeh Cup
Final session 2
Board 16
Dealer West
EW vul






h1 QJ2



Both Wests opened 1NT and both Easts transferred. In my last post we observed that transfer bids, hugely popular as tools in the ‘bridge is a partnership game’ approach, don’t exactly score highly in the ‘bridge is a 4 handed game’ philosophy. But, of course, the opponents’ use of transfer bids is only useful to you if you set about making them so. Here there was a complete difference in approach between the Netherlands and the Sweden.

The Swede who sat South, after 1NT on his left, 2H transfer on his right, passed and that was the end of that. Netherlands bid to 4S and it made. North began with a diamond, South won, cashed a diamond and shifted to a club. Declarer won, cashed a high spade in hand, and claimed the rest.

In the other room, the Swedish East also transfered to spades, which he did at the 4 level and South made the bid that his counterpart should have made also – he doubled, takeout of spades. That permitted a 5C bid by partner, the opponents were pushed to 5S and doubled. North began with a club and the defence was comfortably in control – one down and 13 IMPs to the winners.

Moral of the story: make the opponents pay for using transfers. Probably that is by using double as a takeout of the shown suit – just as if it had been bid – but so much more safely. Look how easy life was for the Netherlands on this South hand. If RHO had bid 4S he would have had just one chance to show his hand. Instead he got 3! He could double 4D, bid 4S or pass and then double 4S. This is a really useful area of bidding to discuss with your partner. Make sure you get the most out of it.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Netherlands wins the Yeh Cup and a lesson on bidding theory Making the most of your opponents’ transfer bids.

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jill magee  |  March 10, 2009 at 6:13 am

    was interested in opinions re the relative merits of
    double over opponents’ transfer being for take-out, versus:
    X= thats my suit, and cue of the suit implied by the transfer being take out, (with possibly a jump cue being michael’s).

    X of tfr being take out would give partner the oppty to cooperate in the decision and possibly penalty pass, the latter, however, not without risk in imps against strong NT (esp if u’ve seen my defence lately:) X being ‘thats my suit’ enables one to demonstrate length, and could be lead directional if they play the contract. it seems that the treatments may have different frequencies of usefulness depending on whether the NT is weak or strong.

    any wisdom re these treatments would be appreciated.

    • 2. sartaj  |  March 11, 2009 at 1:21 am

      The advantage of double = takeout is that we can often get in and out of the auction without either of us bidding a suit. Cuebid as takeout has a higher risk of paying a penalty.

      The advantage of double = i have this suit is that it is super-safe, well almost.

      Among the top partnerships in the world, most partnerships play double = i have this suit after (strong NT) – ( transfer)-double. And most of them play the double as “cards” after (weak NT) – (transfer/stayman) – double.

      Its fashionable in Oz to play double as takeout of the suit suggested. And some might argue that this is superior.

      The situation comes up so rarely that i doubt anyone can be reliably objective.

    • 3. Ben Thompson  |  March 11, 2009 at 3:01 am

      I would say start with your objectives.

      The opponents’ transfers give you an extra bid (cheap cue – accept their transfer for them) and change the risk structure of bidding (X is less risky than it used to be).

      We should use the extra room for something otherwise difficult or risky to describe. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you use the extra bid specifically for the new hand type; you are free to swap things around. Most of us do, for example by changing the meaning of X from “takeout” to something else.

      Here are some things you would like to describe
      * Takeout of their suit (maybe distinguish strength using 2 bids)
      * You have the suit they bid
      * You have their suit (no joke – eg after 1C-P-1D showing H it’s useful to play 1H overcall like an intermediate jump in H)
      * You have a big bunch of points
      * Some 5-5
      * Some other awkward shape (eg 4 other major + long minor)

      My thoughts are:
      * the frequency is with takeout and “I have this suit”
      * cue as takeout is seriously flawed – you return the free hit to the opponents; you commit yourself to play; and you remove one way to win (pass them out doubled)
      * bidding their suit naturally when they should have 5 is … dumb
      * I don’t see value in an immediate light takeout – the return structure isn’t attractive, particularly if they get a redouble in; you have other ways to bid (eg balancing takeout X, or bite the bullet and X light straight up)
      * bidding is riskier than doubling – just because it’s inherently less flexible
      * remember that if you X or cue over their transfer, you give them a free hit in return. Good pairs will use that

      So in the strong 1NT-transfer situation, most good pairs play X as “I have this suit” and handle their takeout X by doing it later because:
      * you get to show a suit with lower risk
      * you don’t lose much in waiting to express your takeout X (sometimes you get bounced, but most good pairs bounce at their first opportunity rather than drag it out through a transfer)

      Some pairs play in the weak 1NT-transfer situation that X is values because:
      * the frequency is still with “I have this suit”, but only a bit
      * the value of expressing your own strong hand is high – higher than the value of expressing “I have this suit”
      Bill & I don’t play it as values because we don’t think the value differential is all that big, so we prefer to be consistent to avoid accidents.

      And the cue? Because you’re essentially committing your side to playing, you should be doing it with a hand type that is confident it wants to play – eg 5-5, or the awkward 46.

  • 4. sartaj  |  March 9, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Good hand for the transfer-weakness exhbit.

    However, it seems that superior agreements by the Dutch team won the board. One guy doubled a transfer for takeout (the other, at a lower level, probably played it as lead directional).

    Transfers can work in a “four-handed” way too sometimes. 4S played by West will be “cold” if the diamond high honours are split. But then again, perhaps a strong South should rise from Kxx or Axx for his legit beat.


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