Source: www.qldbridge.com by George Cuppaidge
IF you are serious about bridge, you must be able to incorporate relay into some of your sequences. Garozzo does, why shouldn’t you? Fundamental to most systems is opening 1NT to show a balanced hand in a certain point range. That is a good start, the distribution is limited but there can be a huge difference between one balanced hand and another. Stayman 2 is in fact a relay, but to get full value, you must be able to continue your enquiry. You must be able to do so in the face of opposition bidding as well.
To play that the cheapest bid over the Stayman reply is a further shape enquiry usurps a relatively unimportant bid and gives enormous power in terms of finding out all you want to know. This is a simple frame work. Over a 2H reply and a 2S relay, the replies are:
- 2NT I have four spades
- 3 I have four clubs
- 3 I have four diamonds
- 3 I have no other suit, so I am 3-4-3-3 shape. (or if you must, some 3-5-3-2)
When the initial reply is 2, denying four hearts, the relay is 2NT and the replies are identical. Over a 2 reply and a 2 relay, these are the responses.
- 2Clubs only, 3-3-3-4 or some 2-3-3-5
- 2NT Diamonds only
- 3 4-4-3-2
- 3 4-4-2-3
This example hand demonstrates how simply the concept extends to coping with interference.
1) West’s double of 2says, “I have four hearts, possibly four spades.” You could keep it very simple and play pass shows no four-card major. Alternatively and recommended, pass shows the suit below, diamonds only, 2NT shows both minors and 3shows clubs only.
2) To pass may be right, but it is rarely right to defend a two-level partscore when your opponents have a nine-card fit. So East relays.
3) The suits come out, upwards in steps, so 2NT shows four spades, 3shows four clubs and here 3shows four diamonds. It is important to appreciate that over further intervention, pass is the first step-spades and double or redouble is the second-clubs.
4) Slam is most unlikely but 5 looks a good shot. And it is. 3NT is hopeless.
Could you possibly bid this hand without calling in aid relay?
There is another important matter, “Drop Dead Stayman” as it is so delightfully termed in America. There are essentially two variations, one where you pass anything, another where you can escape to a major over 2. It is a valuable treatment but relay is compatible only with the first variant. The ideal hand for it is 4-4-5-0 but with shapes like 4-3-5-1, or 4-4-4-1 it is the percentage action. You may get too high over interference but at least you will get to your best fit. The reassuring factor is, you know, they don’t. Must you disclose the possibility? Your partner doesn’t so why should your opponents? But it is a “nice question.”