Andy Hung
Andy Hung

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 3Heart Suitor 3Spade Suit, what does it mean if responder jumps to 4club suit, 4Diamond Suit, 4Heart Suit, 4Spade Suit?

Both 4Heart Suitand 4Spade Suitlook 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 2club suit Stayman, this must imply that responder is 6-4 in the Majors. In other words, bidding 4Heart Suitshows 6 hearts + 4 spades, and bidding 4Spade Suitshows 6 spades + 4 hearts.

What is the point of this? Imagine that, as responder, you hold Spade SuitJ97652 Heart SuitAK72 Diamond SuitQ4 club suit4. Rather than committing yourself to 4Spade Suit (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 2Diamond Suit (no 4-card major), you can now jump to 4Spade Suit. What about if responder jumps to 4club suit or 4Diamond Suitin this sequence:

In a similar fashion as the 4Heart Suitand 4Spade Suitbids, 4club suit and 4Diamond Suitcan be used as delayed Texas transfers, also showing 6-4 in the Majors. That is, 4club suit shows 6 hearts + 4 spades, and 4Diamond Suit shows 6 spades + 4 hearts. Since there is an overlap between the 4club suit/4Diamond Suitand 4Heart Suit/Spade Suitbids, you can now split your point ranges. Here is the structure:

It is logical for the slam try hands to be placed in the 4club suit and 4Diamond Suit bids, because it allows that extra space for opener to make a ‘noise’ to suggest a bit of interest – i.e. over 4club suit opener can bid 4Diamond Suit, and over 4Diamond Suit opener can bid 4Heart Suitto 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 6Spade Suitis a decent contract but 4Heart Suit 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 2club suitto 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 Spade SuitAQ9862 Heart SuitQ652 Diamond Suit4club suitK4, do not bother with the hearts because if partner’s hearts are Heart SuitJ743, a 4Heart Suitcontract may be quite a struggle, but 4Spade Suitshould be comfortable.