Join Bridge Winners
Is there an "Expert Standard" Transfer Lebensohl?

Scouring the internet for information about Transfer Lebensohl, one fact stands out: agreeing to play this convention with a partner of similar standard to my own without further discussion is a recipe for unmitigated disaster. What I'm interested in here is whether an expert (I'm thinking of someone like Gavin Wolpert) would face the same problem, or whether there is a consensus best answer to the questions I'm about to pose.

Here are a some things I'm going to postulate:

  1. We're playing a strong 1NT opening (14-16 or 15-17).
  2. Our doubles of their (natural) overcalls are for takeout.
  3. Our 1NT-(2)-2NT is ambiguous as to the suit shown (the method where 2NT always shows clubs I would call Rubensohl rather than Transfer Lebensohl).
  4. Our two ways to bid 3NT distinguish whether we have a stopper in the opponents' suit, i.e. 1NT-(2)-3NT denies a spade stopper, 1NT-(2)-2NT; 3-3NT shows one.

 

With all that out of the way, there are still, in my mind, 3 points that need to be addressed.

I. Transfer into or transfer through

Let's say it goes 1NT-(2), with the opponents having shown 5+ hearts. It's rather unlikely that we want to play hearts ourselves, so bidding their suit can have a special meaning. But how do you bid their suit? Is 3 now a "transfer to hearts" with special meaning, with 3 showing spades (we'll call this method "transfer into"), or does 3 transfer to spades with the 3 cuebid having the special meaning (we'll call this method "transfer through")?

Each of these methods creates an extra bid, but in a different area. What is the meaning of 1NT-(2)-3; 3?

II. Use of cuebids

If they've shown one suit, we have two ways to bid it, for instance with "transfer into" we have both 1NT-(2)-3 and 1NT-(2)-2NT; 3-3. What do these show? A rather obvious idea is "Stayman with/without a stopper" but then we need to clarify when we use this route and when we double. Another idea I have seen is that one of them asks for a stopper, presumably with a running minor (the difference to showing the minor being that partner's fit for the minor is immaterial, and the difference to a "fast 3NT" being that we know where we are going if partner doesn't have a stopper). Or we can show a 5-5 hand; with a major we'll probably just transfer to the major and then bid the minor, but 5-5 minors is not an easy hand to show otherwise (given that we want to keep 3NT in play).

III. Bidding clubs

1NT-(2)-3 shows clubs, but obviously this bid needs to be game-forcing. We could also have a weak sign-off in clubs, or we could have an invitational hand with clubs, and we can only fit one of these into 2NT - which one do we choose? (Note: if 2NT can be invitational with clubs, then opener bids 3 to reject or 3 to accept.)

 

I look forward to your comments on which answers you consider best and whether you consider it safe to assume those answers with an expert partner.

16 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top