Source: IBPA Column Service MAR 2022

Marty Bergen
Marty Bergen

Wikipedia: Marty A. Bergen (born April 21, 1948) is an American bridge teacher, writer and player. A ten-time national champion and American Contract Bridge League Grand Life Master, he retired from active competition in 1993. He is still a bridge teacher and writer and is a World Bridge Federation World International Master. He was recently voted to be the 22nd most influential person in the history of bridge.

Bergen has been a columnist in the monthly ACBL Bridge Bulletin since 1976. He has also written a total of 69 bridge books and booklets from 1995 to 2018. Two of his books won the ABTA Bridge Book of the Year award, Points Schmoints!: Bergen’s Winning Bridge Secrets in 1996 and Declarer Play the Bergen Way in 2005.

On many hands, experts know that the key factor in deciding which player should become declarer is not overall strength. Instead, very often, you’ll have a holding such as an ace-queen or king-low, which will be worth a lot more if you play last when the suit is led. When you have tenaces, you’d much prefer to be the declarer.

With queen-doubleton in a suit opposite partner’s ace third, you want the queen hand to be the declarer. Then, no matter which opponent holds the king, you’re assured of eventually winning two tricks after an opening lead in the suit.

Playing from the right side is even more important when an opponent overcalls. Here, it is definitely in your best interest to put that player on lead so that he will have to lead away from strength. When your RHO has overcalled, you would always much prefer that your partner becomes the declarer.

With this in mind, I invented the following convention: After an opponent’s one-level overcall, a jump cue-bid shows an opening bid with at least one stopper in that suit. As you’d expect, it denies four cards in an unbid major. I call it “Jump Q TNT” (TNT = Transfer to No Trump).

What do you need in RHO’s suit for a Jump Q TNT? Two or more cards, with enough strength so that you do not expect RHO to immediately run his suit. Queen third is okay, and you would love it if partner turned up with king-doubleton. Then, when partner declares three notrump, the opening leader will be leading away from his ace, and your side will have a second winner in the suit. When you have two stoppers in RHO’s suit, such as ace-queen-third or ace-king-third, you may be happy to bid three notrump and not care who is declarer. But, two stoppers are not always enough, so give your side a chance for three. Opener might have jack-doubleton or jack-third. If he is declarer and RHO leads his long suit, your side will win three tricks.

After responder’s jump cue-bid, opener will almost always accept the transfer and bid three notrump. The only two exceptions are: (i) hands with slam interest, or (ii) very unbalanced hands that are unsuitable for three notrump. jack-doubleton or jack-third. If he is declarer and RHO leads his long suit, your side will win three tricks. After responder’s jump cue-bid, opener will almost always accept the transfer and bid three notrump. The only two exceptions are: (i) hands with slam interest, or (ii) very unbalanced hands that are unsuitable for three notrump.

Here’s a deal from the Bergen/Cohen archives

IMPs Dealer South. N/S Vul

A 6 2
K Q 9
10 3 2
A 10 6 5
Q 10 9 8 5 3
A 7 5
A 4
8 3
7 4
8 4 2
8 7 6 5
Q J 9 2
K J
J 10 6 3
K Q J 9
K 7 4
West North East South
1
1 3 Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass

Contract: 3NT by South. Lead: 10. Result: Making five, plus 660. At the other table:

West North East South
1
1 3NT Pass Pass
Pass

Contract: 3NT by North. Lead: 7. Result: Down two, minus 200. Over the years, Larry and I (and other experts) have used this convention with a great deal of success. A leading expert even went so far to say that, in his opinion, “this is the best convention I ever invented”. I have my doubts about that, but I suggest you give it a try

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