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Over the years, I have found that using one bid, 2♦, to cover long hearts with all ranges is too confusing - even in a big club setting. So I now settle with 2♦ = weak (8-10, 6+ hearts) or strong (game-forcing, 5+ hearts). With an invitational strength, I jump shift to 3♥ over 1♠.

Over 2♦, opener would first treat responder having a weak-2 opening in hearts and bid accordingly. Therefore, 2NT is the only forcing rebid, others are all non-forcing. If opener accepts the transfer, then all responder's actions are forcing, including re-raise of his own suit and return to opener's major. In other words, we are back to a two-over-one game force style. If the transfer is rejected, then responder's return to his own suit or opener's major is non-forcing. Others are forcing.

In a Standard context, where 1♠ is essentially unlimited, I believe it is better to play new suits forcing after the 2♦ transfer, just as you would facing a weak 2 opening.

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Phillip, Thanks for the clarification. This certainly makes my answers different.

After the first switch, my probability of winning is at 30%. The odds of the 3rd Queen in the remaining three cards (i.e. non-Queen and not my current card) is 70% = 100%-30%. Now the host turns over two Kings from these three cards, and down to only one unknown card. But it does not change the a priori probability that this group has a 70% chance having the missing Queen. So, I would switch, as my chance of winning has increased from 30% to 70%.

And this calculation does not depend on which two cards are Kings. The fact that these three cards have different probabilities of 10%, 30% and 30% for the missing Queen before turning over will only affect the frequencies which two cards (out these three) are Kings, not the probability as a group having the Queen. In other words, we should see two Kings from any of {10%, 30%} more often than from {30%, 30%}.

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What if North tells South that he has 4♥-5+♣ and short ♠, and the bidding is now at the 3♠ level, wouldn't South get excited? Below is an auction (not mainstream of course):

1NT - 2♦ (transfer, 4+ hearts, GF or weak, canape possible) 2♥ - 2♠ (puppet to 2NT, GF) 2NT - 3♣ (4♥-5♣. A direct 3♣ earlier shows 5♥-4♣) 3♦ (ask short) - 3♠ (short in spades)

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This hand demonstrates the importance of showing responder's shortness below the level of 3NT. Had responder been 1=4=2=6, 3NT would have been the best contract. It would be wrong for opener to bid unilaterally above 3NT after 3♣.

To show shortness over 3♣, opener relays with 3♦:

1NT-2♣ 2♥-3♣ 3♦-? 3♥ = short in diamonds, typically 4-3-1-5 3♠ = short in hearts, typically 4-1-3-5 3NT = 4-2-2-5

Once responder shows his diamond shortness (3♥), opener, with all 17 HCP working, is off races.

I understand that natural bidding over 3♣ could sometimes achieve the same results, even for this hand. But adding a little artificiality often makes it easier.

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If you play short 1♣ (2+ clubs) and 1-level transfers, you may want to think about transfer rebids as well. For this hand,♠K65 ♥x ♦AQ82 ♣A9654, you would open 1♣. Then, over responder's expected 1♦, showing hearts, you would bid 2♣ to show 5♣-4♦ with minimum values.

1♣-1♦ (hearts) ?

1♥ = weak NT usually (see below) 1♠ = spades 1NT = 6+ clubs 2♣ = 5♣-4♦ 2♦ = 5♣-4♦, regular reverse 2♥ = 4-card support

That is, transfers start at 1NT and end at 2♣. I know many would prefer to use 1NT = 18-19 here. But I am willing to put 18-19 balanced hands into opener's 1♥ rebid. So 1♥ = 12-14 or 18-19, balanced. It is OK to me that 1♥ has two ranges here, since the level is low.

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Below is a scheme of giving up garbage Stayman and focusing more on game-forcing hand types.You may find it useful or me crazy. It runs as follows:

1NT-2♣ ( at least one 4-card major) 2♦-?

Responder's 2♠ shows 5+ spades, invitational, as many now play; and 2NT is also natural and invitational. These do not change. However, all responder's other bids promise game-forcing strength, with 3♣ to 3NT showing both majors; and 2♥ showing all 4M-5m.

I'll show the case of both majors (3♣-3NT) in details:

Over responder's 3♣ (5♥-4♠), opener's can ask with 3♦, and responder answers: 3♥ = 4-5-3-1, 3♠ = 4-5-1-3, and 3NT = 4-5-2-2.

If responder has a 4M-5m type, he would bid 2♥ over 2♦, which puppets to 2♠; and following a similar scheme as above, he will be able to show various 5m4M22 and 5m4M31s. I won't bore you with details. (5431s here include 6421 and 6430.)

So what are the trade-offs: this method vs. Garbage Stayman?

1. Of course we won't be able to play at 2♥ when responder has weak both majors; but we can still play at 2♠ when responder has weak 5♠-4♥ - he will simply pass 2♠ after the 2♥ puppet.

2. The gains are: we are able to show all 4+-card suits and all shortness whenever responder has both majors or 4M-5m. In particular, if you compare it to Smolen, we are able to identify singletons. Of course, this is because we use more bids (the entire 3-level) than Smolen does (only 2 bids, 3♥ and 3♠).

3. It does take some effort to memorize all artificial bids. But there are some symmetries behind them. In fact, the same scheme above can apply to other Stayman auctions, 1NT-2♣//2♥ and 1NT-2♣//2♠, and allow responder to show the other 4oM-5m. It further applies to transfer sequences, 1NT-2♦//2♥ and 1NT-2♥//2♠, in which responder can show 5M-4m in a similar fashion. The result of all these is: when 1NT is opened, we will be able to show 4+-cards and all shortness below 3NT when there is no major-suit fit; and all 4+-cards and all shortness below 4M when there is a major-suit fit.

4. The biggest drawback, in my view, is that the partnership needs to be careful about some simple sequences such as: 1NT-2♣//2♦-3NT. This is not the “old 3NT to play”; instead, it shows 5-4-2-2 exactly. To simply play at 3NT, responder has to go through some windy relay sequence (via 2♥). I have to do this in order to maintain the symmetry above. Maybe I can fix this someday, but now now.

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Will be close. I would play ♣A first, then try to ruff 2 spades in dummy. That would take care of almost all ♠ 4-3 cases, and some ♠ 5-2 cases too (e.g. E has 2 spades and 2 clubs).

We are not given club spots. I could have asked for ♣T if necessary.

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I suppose North would have bid 3♥ if s/he had had 4, since 3♠ was explained as “cards for 3N”. So, given that North had shown 6♣-4♠, shouldn't South have moved passed 3NT to seek a slam in clubs - his red suit ♥AK and ♦A would take care of North's 3 red-suit losers.

Over opener's 2♠(10-15, 6♣-4♥), responder can ask again with 2NT. Opener's 3♣ = 10-12, 6♣-4♥; and 3♦ and up = 13-15, 6♣-4♥. Over opener's 2♥ (10-15, no 4M), responder's 2♠ is now a GF ask (2NT is invitational), with opener's 2NT = 10-15, 6♣-4♦; 3♣ and up = 10-15, 1-suited 6+ clubs. Note that opener gets to show his 4-card major (if he has one) and his strength (min or max) before the level 3♣. This makes it safer for responder to conduct the 2♦ inquiry. And the structure is similar to the regular Stayman as well.

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Not so much about MP vs. IMP. As West, you have essentially one club stopper (OK, maybe 1 and 1/8 with that ♣T), and your other honors (♠J and ♦QJ) are slow, you have to rely on your partner to take immediate 8 tricks at 3NT once a club is led. So, what if, for example, his diamonds are headed by ♦K only? ♠KQxx ♥AK ♦KTxxxx ♣x? Note that this is a 6421 hand. (You would pull 3NT with this hand? What if he has ♠Jx ♥Qxx ♦JTxx ♣KQJx?)

On the hand, partner has at least about 17-18 HCP in the three suits other than clubs. So you have at least 21 or 22 HCP in them. 5♦ rates to be more reasonable. And 6♦ is possible when opener has extra strength or shape.

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“East can make another move over West's 3N.” And then found West has ♠Jx ♥xxx ♦QJxx ♣KQJx opposite my first hand?

Yes, both of my hands are pretty good hands (so that there are no disagreements in reversing). But I could have made them weaker. How about ♠AKxx ♥KQJ ♦ATxxx ♣x or ♠KQxx ♥AKx ♦ATxxx ♣x?

Kai-Ching Lin

Over 2♦, opener would first treat responder having a weak-2 opening in hearts and bid accordingly. Therefore, 2NT is the only forcing rebid, others are all non-forcing. If opener accepts the transfer, then all responder's actions are forcing, including re-raise of his own suit and return to opener's major. In other words, we are back to a two-over-one game force style. If the transfer is rejected, then responder's return to his own suit or opener's major is non-forcing. Others are forcing.

In a Standard context, where 1♠ is essentially unlimited, I believe it is better to play new suits forcing after the 2♦ transfer, just as you would facing a weak 2 opening.

Kai-Ching Lin

After the first switch, my probability of winning is at 30%. The odds of the 3rd Queen in the remaining three cards (i.e. non-Queen and not my current card) is 70% = 100%-30%. Now the host turns over two Kings from these three cards, and down to only one unknown card. But it does not change the a priori probability that this group has a 70% chance having the missing Queen. So, I would switch, as my chance of winning has increased from 30% to 70%.

And this calculation does not depend on which two cards are Kings. The fact that these three cards have different probabilities of 10%, 30% and 30% for the missing Queen before turning over will only affect the frequencies which two cards (out these three) are Kings, not the probability as a group having the Queen. In other words, we should see two Kings from any of {10%, 30%} more often than from {30%, 30%}.

Kai-Ching Lin

(a) I don't follow you…

(b) I would not switch again. My odds is now 9/10, as opposed to 1/10 if I switch.

Kai-Ching Lin

1) If she wanted to switch, after the two Queens were shown, to any card in the bottom row; and

2) If she wanted to switch, after the two Kings were further shown, to the last card in the bottom row.

In both cases, she would say yes, for the the probability of success in Case 1 had increased from 1/10 to 3/10; and from 1/10 to 9/10 in Case 2.

Kai-Ching Lin

1NT - 2♦ (transfer, 4+ hearts, GF or weak, canape possible)

2♥ - 2♠ (puppet to 2NT, GF)

2NT - 3♣ (4♥-5♣. A direct 3♣ earlier shows 5♥-4♣)

3♦ (ask short) - 3♠ (short in spades)

Kai-Ching Lin

Kai-Ching Lin

To show shortness over 3♣, opener relays with 3♦:

1NT-2♣

2♥-3♣

3♦-?

3♥ = short in diamonds, typically 4-3-1-5

3♠ = short in hearts, typically 4-1-3-5

3NT = 4-2-2-5

Once responder shows his diamond shortness (3♥), opener, with all 17 HCP working, is off races.

I understand that natural bidding over 3♣ could sometimes achieve the same results, even for this hand. But adding a little artificiality often makes it easier.

Kai-Ching Lin

1♣-1♦ (hearts)

?

1♥ = weak NT usually (see below)

1♠ = spades

1NT = 6+ clubs

2♣ = 5♣-4♦

2♦ = 5♣-4♦, regular reverse

2♥ = 4-card support

That is, transfers start at 1NT and end at 2♣. I know many would prefer to use 1NT = 18-19 here. But I am willing to put 18-19 balanced hands into opener's 1♥ rebid. So 1♥ = 12-14 or 18-19, balanced. It is OK to me that 1♥ has two ranges here, since the level is low.

Kai-Ching Lin

1NT-2♣ ( at least one 4-card major)

2♦-?

Responder's 2♠ shows 5+ spades, invitational, as many now play; and 2NT is also natural and invitational. These do not change. However, all responder's other bids promise game-forcing strength, with 3♣ to 3NT showing both majors; and 2♥ showing all 4M-5m.

I'll show the case of both majors (3♣-3NT) in details:

1NT-2♣

2♦-?

3♣ = 5♥-4♠

3♦ = 4-4-4-1 (3♠) or 4-4-1-4 (3NT)

3♥ = 5-4-3-1

3♠ = 5-4-1-3

3NT = 5-4-2-2

Over responder's 3♣ (5♥-4♠), opener's can ask with 3♦, and responder answers: 3♥ = 4-5-3-1, 3♠ = 4-5-1-3, and 3NT = 4-5-2-2.

If responder has a 4M-5m type, he would bid 2♥ over 2♦, which puppets to 2♠; and following a similar scheme as above, he will be able to show various 5m4M22 and 5m4M31s. I won't bore you with details. (5431s here include 6421 and 6430.)

So what are the trade-offs: this method vs. Garbage Stayman?

1. Of course we won't be able to play at 2♥ when responder has weak both majors; but we can still play at 2♠ when responder has

weak 5♠-4♥ - he will simply pass 2♠ after the 2♥ puppet.

2. The gains are: we are able to show all 4+-card suits and all shortness whenever responder has both majors or 4M-5m. In particular, if you compare it to Smolen, we are able to identify singletons. Of course, this is because we use more bids (the entire 3-level) than Smolen does (only 2 bids, 3♥ and 3♠).

3. It does take some effort to memorize all artificial bids. But there are some symmetries behind them. In fact, the same scheme above can apply to other Stayman auctions, 1NT-2♣//2♥ and 1NT-2♣//2♠, and allow responder to show the other 4oM-5m. It further applies to transfer sequences, 1NT-2♦//2♥ and 1NT-2♥//2♠, in which responder can show 5M-4m in a similar fashion. The result of all these is: when 1NT is opened, we will be able to show 4+-cards and all shortness below 3NT when there is no major-suit fit; and all 4+-cards and all shortness below 4M when there is a major-suit fit.

4. The biggest drawback, in my view, is that the partnership needs to be careful about some simple sequences such as: 1NT-2♣//2♦-3NT. This is not the “old 3NT to play”; instead, it shows 5-4-2-2 exactly. To simply play at 3NT, responder has to go through some windy relay sequence (via 2♥). I have to do this in order to maintain the symmetry above. Maybe I can fix this someday, but now now.

Now it is your call. Is it worth it?

Kai-Ching Lin

We are not given club spots. I could have asked for ♣T if necessary.

Kai-Ching Lin

Kai-Ching Lin

2♣ (10-15, 6+ clubs) - 2♦ (ask)

2♥: 10-15, no 4-card majors

2♠: 10-15, 6♣-4♥

2NT: 10-12, 6♣-4♠

3♣: 13-15, 6♣-4♠

Over opener's 2♠(10-15, 6♣-4♥), responder can ask again with 2NT. Opener's 3♣ = 10-12, 6♣-4♥; and 3♦ and up = 13-15, 6♣-4♥. Over opener's 2♥ (10-15, no 4M), responder's 2♠ is now a GF ask (2NT is invitational), with opener's 2NT = 10-15, 6♣-4♦; 3♣ and up = 10-15, 1-suited 6+ clubs. Note that opener gets to show his 4-card major (if he has one) and his strength (min or max) before the level 3♣. This makes it safer for responder to conduct the 2♦ inquiry. And the structure is similar to the regular Stayman as well.

Kai-Ching Lin

2♣ (10-15, 6+ clubs) - 2♦ (ask)

3♣ (13-15, 4 spades) - 3♦ (ask)

3♥ (short in diamonds) -3♠ (ask)

3NT (13-15, 4-2-1-6) - 4♣ (key cards in ♣)

4♥ (3 keys) - 4NT (spiral, ask for ♠K)

5♦ (♠K yes, no ♥K) - 5♥ (ask for ♣J)

5NT (♣J yes) - 7♣ (knowing partner has AKxx xx x AKJxxx)

Kai-Ching Lin

On the hand, partner has at least about 17-18 HCP in the three suits other than clubs. So you have at least 21 or 22 HCP in them. 5♦ rates to be more reasonable. And 6♦ is possible when opener has extra strength or shape.

Kai-Ching Lin

Yes, both of my hands are pretty good hands (so that there are no disagreements in reversing). But I could have made them weaker. How about ♠AKxx ♥KQJ ♦ATxxx ♣x or ♠KQxx ♥AKx ♦ATxxx ♣x?

Kai-Ching Lin

Kai-Ching Lin

Kai-Ching Lin

Pass - 1♣ (strong)

1♥ (GF balanced) - 2♦ (16-18, both majors)

2♥ (relay) - 3♣ (5-5 majors)

3♦ (relay) - 3♥ (short in clubs)

3♠ (relay) - 4♣ (5=5=3=0)

4♠ (KC in S) - 5♣ (3 keys)

5♦ (♠Q?) - 5♠ (♠Q, no ♥K)

5NT (♦K?) - 6♣ (no)

6♠ (no 7♠)

Kai-Ching Lin

“Getting into a 2-over-one Game-Forcing Auction”

Playing a “2-over-1 game-forcing” is a plus, but won't help you when you bid 1-over-1.

After partner opens 1♥, we have learned to respond 2♣ rather than 1♠ with hands like ♠AQxx ♥Qx ♦10xx ♣AQxx.

This tells partner immediately that we are on our way to game. Natural, descriptive bidding can follow without any need to jump or manufacture bids.

Kai-Ching Lin