Source: www.abfevents.com.au

SMOLEN EXTENDED

In the previous article, we looked at how to show 5-4 Majors with game-forcing values opposite a 1NT (15-17 HCP) opening. This was via 3-Major Smolen bids, as shown below: We can now extend this even further. Instead of bidding 3or 3, what does it mean if responder jumps to 4, 4, 4, 4? Both 4and 4look like they are natural bids to play and, because they bypass 3NT, they should therefore promise a 6-card major. Also, because responder went via 2 Stayman, this must imply that responder is 6-4 in the Majors. In other words, bidding 4shows 6 hearts + 4 spades, and bidding 4shows 6 spades + 4 hearts. What is the point of this? Imagine that, as responder, you hold J97652 AK72 Q4 4. Rather than committing yourself to 4 (via a transfer) with such weak spades, it is better to look for a 4-4 fit in hearts first, by using Stayman. If opener bids 2 (no 4-card major), you can now jump to 4. What about if responder jumps to 4 or 4in this sequence: In a similar fashion as the 4and 4bids, 4 and 4can be used as delayed Texas transfers, also showing 6-4 in the Majors. That is, 4 shows 6 hearts + 4 spades, and 4 shows 6 spades + 4 hearts. Since there is an overlap between the 4/4and 4/bids, you can now split your point ranges. Here is the structure: It is logical for the slam try hands to be placed in the 4 and 4 bids, because it allows that extra space for opener to make a ‘noise’ to suggest a bit of interest – i.e. over 4 opener can bid 4, and over 4 opener can bid 4to confirm slam interest. (Rule: the “in-between” bid shows slam interest.) So, what is the purpose of the delayed Texas Transfer bids? Say you hold:It is not hard to imagine for opener to have, say, where 6is a decent contract but 4 may fail from a 4-1 break in hearts! The main advantage is for you to find your 4-4 fit first, before committing to your 6-card Major. Playing in a 4-4 fit, as we all know, is often better since you can generate additional tricks from your long suit (providing discards). Again, like all conventions, do not forget to use your judgement. If your 4-card Major suit is quite weak, it might be better to play in your 6-card suit (i.e. don’t bother with 2to find that 4-4 fit): a weak 4-4 trump fit may prove to be difficult to play in when faced with a bad trump break. For example, if, as responder you held AQ9862 Q652 4K4, do not bother with the hearts because if partner’s hearts are J743, a 4contract may be quite a struggle, but 4should be comfortable.