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A Better Structure for Transfers over Opponents' One-Level Take-out Doubles

When the opponents double our opening bid of one of a suit, they provide us extra bidding room. Whatever meaning we assign to redouble, all the bids we might have made absent their double remain available. Many use transfers at this point, including using redouble as a transfer to the next higher strain.

Those who use transfers typically define 1 after the opponents' take-out double, or redouble after a 1 opener, as a transfer to clubs, or as a transfer to 1N, with 1N a transfer to clubs. I think there is a better structure -- one that lets us show a strong hand (formerly shown by starting with a redouble), while still enjoying the benefits of transfers, and lets us invite game in no trump while staying at the one level.

I propose having two different routes to 1N -- by transferring to 1N or by bidding 1N.   Incorporating a modern split-range approach,

  • Bidding 1N can show the range our partnership would call invitational (10-12 in my partnerships);
  • Transferring to 1N can show either less than invitational values (7-9 in my partnerships) or game-forcing values (13+ in my partnerships).

Opener assumes the weaker meaning of a transfer to 1N, but if Responder later takes another call (whether a bid of a suit or no trump, double, or a cue bid), it is game forcing. This way, we can show length in a lower ranking suit (other than clubs) by transferring to it over the double to show a weak hand or by transferring to 1N then bidding that lower ranking suit (including clubs) with game-forcing strength.

This structure, combined with having bids of lower ranking suits at the two level be transfers, means that to reach clubs with a weak hand, Responder must bid 3 over the double. Transferring to a lower-ranking suit and then raising it would show invitational values. That would not be possible in clubs, the red-headed step child of suits. In my opinion, being able to show a flat game-invitational hand while remaining at the one level (without impairing our ability to reach 1N competitively) much more than offsets our ability to bid clubs as comfortably as other suits.

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