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Better Super-Accepts after Jacoby Transfers

Super-accepting a major-suit Jacoby transfer bid is used by a 1NT opener when he has such a good fit for responder’s implied major suit that his hand re-evaluates substantially beyond the value usually conveyed by his 1NT opening bid. As generally played, the super-acceptance shows a maximum 1NT opening and 4-card trump support.

Super-accepts are employed by so many bridge players these days that it has become part of standard bidding. However, super-accepts, and their followups, are by no means standardized. Furthermore, I believe the basic concept used by most players is not optimal, because they focus on opener’s hand instead of responder’s hand.

I recently had a long talk with my bridge mentor Fred Hamilton on super-accepting. Prior to that, the only method of subsequent bidding I had seen was a system of transfer-acceptance bids where opener showed a super-acceptance by making any bid that was not a simple acceptance. By responding in a new suit, opener showed a doubleton in that suit on his first rebid, while rebidding 2NT shows a flat hand.  This approach focuses on further describing opener's hand.

Hamilton told me that a lot was known to the partnership about opener’s strength and distribution already, but responder has an extremely wide range of point count and distributional pattern. In fact, opener does not know if responder has a part-score hand, a game-going hand, or a slammish hand, and knows nothing of responder’s distribution other than which 5+ major suit he holds. Fred said it must be right for responder to have as much room as possible to further describe his hand, rather than having opener use up a whole round of bidding to merely say where his doubleton was located.

I have developed a system of super-accepting bidding that focuses on responder’s hand. I think it is easy to learn and is helpful to opener in obtaining the needed information. If responder shows his shortness, opener will know a lot more about how the hands fit. If responder has a side suit as a trick source, opener’s strength in this suit this also greatly affects the slam suitability of the hand.

To show a super-acceptance of responder’s major, opener bids the cheapest denomination immediately above responder’s suit. For example, after responder’s 2 transfer bid, 2 by opener shows a super-acceptance of hearts. After responder’s 2 transfer bid, 2NT shows a super-acceptance of spades. Opener thus keeps the bidding as low as possible to allow responder the maximum room to describe his hand. A responder interested in slam can show a side suit, singleton, or void after the super-accept. A side suit is shown immediately after opener super-accepts. To show a singleton, responder first re-transfers to right-side the contract to opener, and then bids the singleton.

Showing a side (minor) suit after super-accept

After opener super-accepts, an immediate minor-suit bid by responder shows a 5-card suit (or longer). After a super-accept of either major suit (the sequences 1NT-2-2 or 1NT-2-2NT), a bid of 3 or 3 by responder shows length in the bid suit. Opener now accepts the re-transfer by bidding three of the trump suit and the bidding proceeds from that point.

We do not use any bid after the super-accept of a 1NT opening bid to show length in the other major, because our partnership agreements for 1NT responses include a special bid to show a two-suiter in the majors with slam interest which does not start with a 2-level transfer bid.

Showing shortness after a super-accept

When responder does not wish to show a side suit, but prefers to show a singleton, he uses a re-transfer bid to get opener to bid the trump suit, right-siding the contract. Each major suit has its own re-transfer bid. The sequences are 1NT-2-2-2NT, which forces opener to bid 3, and 1NT-2-2NT-3, which forces opener to bid 3. After the re-transfer has been completed, responder has these four choices:

(1) To stop in a part-score, responder simply passes after the re-transfer.

(2) To stop in a game, responder simply raises to game.

(3) To show a balanced hand interested in slam, responder bids 3NT (forcing).

(4) To show a singleton and slam interest, responder bids a new suit, showing a singleton there.

To show a void and slam interest, responder over the initial super-accept makes a jump (to 3 or to the 4-level) to show where his void is located. Note that a re-transfer has not yet been made, so the contract needs to eventually be right-sided. I admit this to be a systemic drawback.

Conclusion

As you can see, a great deal is accomplished by having opener show a super-acceptance with the cheapest bid available (2 for hearts and 2NT for spades), rather than giving opener a wider range of super-accept methods. When opener can use the cheapest bid to super-accept, responder can immediately start describing his hand to opener after the super-accept.

There certainly are other reasonable ways that responder could show length or shortness other than the ones I have suggested. However, it is my opinion that any good super-accept system needs to be based on the 1NT opener making the cheapest possible bid for that major (2 for hearts and 2NT for spades). This allows responder to start conveying information about his hand at the lowest possible level, as opposed to opener trying to give information about his own hand by varying the bid used for the super-accept.

When trying to pitch a new convention, give it a name. I suggest "Hamilton Super-accepts" to describe the method of using opener’s rebids of 2 as a heart super-accept and 2NT as a spade super-accept after a Jacoby transfer bid. Fred Hamilton does not pretend to be the originator of this idea. However, the concept is unclaimed and unnamed as far as I know, and Fred is certainly the person who inspired me to use the idea in a logical way within a bidding system.

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