By Prof Tony Campbell

AN important innovation in bidding was the introduction of transfers after a one no trump opening by your partner.

These bids were actually first described by the Swedish bridge player Olle Willner in the early 1950s, but were opened up to the world of bridge by the American bridge player Oswald Jacoby in an article in The Bridge World published in 1956. However transfers did not really take off in Britain until the late 1960s and early 1970s.

After an opening of one no trump, a bid of two clubs by the partner is Stayman and asks if the opener has a four card major. In contrast with the transfer convention a bid of two diamonds after an opening one no trump promises at least five hearts, and instructs partner to bid two hearts.

Whereas a bid of two hearts tells him to bid two spades. The original idea was to tell partner you have a five card heart or spade suit and a weak hand, so that the lead has to come up to the hand with the most points. However, as we see with this week’s hand, it can also be used with strong hands, because it has the ability to tell partner both that you have a five card major and how many points you have.

The Auction

East-West were playing the weak no trump. So the one no trump opening showed a balanced hand with 12-14 points. West had a five card heart suit, and made the transfer bid of two diamonds. East responded correctly with two hearts. West had a good heart suit and eleven points. If his partner had a maximum point count, as here, then game should be on. So West bid two no trumps. East now knows his partner has eleven points and five hearts.

With three hearts to the king and fourteen points, East decided to bid four hearts because of his doubleton spade. East knew they had the magic twenty five points between them. So, if he only had two hearts he would certainly have chosen to bid three no trumps instead of four hearts. If West had an opening bid himself and five hearts, he would bid three no trumps after the two heart transfer, leaving the opener to choose between three no trumps and four hearts.

The play

South led the two of clubs. East looked at the hand and could see ten tricks so long as the trumps broke 3/2, a 68% chance. Realising that the opening lead must be South’s fourth highest club, he must have either the ace or jack of clubs, or even both. So, the best play from dummy was the ten of clubs. North covered this with his jack, and East won the trick with the king. Was there a reason not to draw trumps at trick two? It might be tempting to play the ace and king of spades followed by a spade ruff in East’s hand. This had a high percentage chance of working. But there is no need to risk an over ruff by South. Furthermore, declarer needs to keep the ace of spades to gain access to his winning clubs.

East, correctly, drew three rounds of trumps, followed by the queen of clubs from dummy, which was won by South’s ace. Hoping North might have the ace and queen of diamonds, South led a small diamond, which North won with his ace. He returned another diamond which was won by South’s king.

It was now all over. East won the third diamond with his queen, and played the nine of clubs, discarding a losing spade from dummy. He then played the ace and king of spades, claiming the last two tricks with dummy’s last two trumps. East thus made ten tricks – two spades, five hearts, one diamond and two clubs, for a score of 420, the defence winning just one club and the ace and king of diamonds. However, three trumps also makes ten tricks, for a better score of 430. So it might have been better for East to bid three hearts after West’s two no trump bid. This would have been forcing, asking West to choose between three no trumps and four hearts.

What have we learnt?

1. Jacoby transfers are a must in your bidding armoury to be used after either a one or two no trump opening by your partner.

2. A further bid by the person making the initial transfer bid gives the opportunity for the opener to decide on what the final contract should be – two or three no trumps, or four of a major. But as we see in this hand these decisions are never easy.

Club news

I was delighted to receive an email recently from a regular Penarth Times reader who plays bridge with a group of ladies online. She asked if I could help her group develop their bridge skills. So I am now running a weekly zoom, where we will discuss opening bids, responses, leads and how to play a hand as declarer. Let me know if you would like to join us. It is a lot of fun. Peter Sampson’s ladder competition continues to be a success, continuing for 27 weeks with 24 competing pairs. Current leaders are Angela and Rod Hudson, followed by Peter Millar and Mick Green, with Phillip Bottrill and Carol Cochlin in third place, and Marnie Owens and Peter Craig in fourth place.

Further information

If you have any views, experiences and information you would like to share, please email me, Meanwhile, good luck with your online bridge. You can always find my articles online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up!