Transfers in a competitive auction
First known articles about the transfers are made by Olle Willner of Sweden in Bridge Tidningen in the early 1950s.
In 1956 in The Bridge World, Oswald Jacoby published a convention, named Jacoby Transfer bid stating that it was adaptation of a bid then known variously as either the ‘Texas Convention’ or the ‘Carter Transfer’.
The main purpose of this convention is to make the notrump opener the declarer in a suit contract; this way the opening lead comes up to the stronger hand, and usually, the declarer possesses one or more tenaces or tenuously guarded honors.
The other advantage of the transfer bid is that the responder shows his suit and has the opportunity to bid more on the next round.
This way responder can show his strength; pass with a weak hand, make an invitational bid, another bid, to reach the best partscore, game, or slam.
Almost 70 years later the convention has become more popular and widely used. Nowadays the transfer bidding has become much more diverse; they have different and sometimes multiple meanings, depending on the opening bid, suit and level of the overcall, and the level of the responder’s bid.
But the basic rule is the same – use one bid or double to make a transfer bid to the next possible bid.
Using transfer bids in competitive auction gives a lot of advantages. You have the opportunity to show suit, after which you can show additional strength and distribution.
At the same time, you put the opponent who has shown the strength to make the opening lead, and normally he is stronger than his partner.
It is much better to put the stronger opponent to lead in your tenaces. The transfer bids give better chances to determine the points between the hands.
In competitive bidding, we can use some bid to make a transfer to notrump. The reason is the same – putting the right person for you on lead.
The transfer system allows you to make non-forcing bids and gives you the chance to stay on safe level. By making a transfer bid the responder show some points and length in a suit.
The opener could decide to raise or not, based on the information from his partner. Compared to the natural ways of bidding here we have two opportunities: the first one is to show suit and 10 plus points thus making the partner bid once more; the second is to start with a double and then bid a suit natural and non-forcing, but sometimes we do not have that option or it is risky as we cannot be guaranteed partner’s support.
Transfer bids are very suitable to show a suit with an invitational or better hand at the third level. With minimum hand and without support the opener just accepts the transfer and if the responder is stronger he makes natural bid or cue bid.
Transfer bids or transfers with a jump can be used to show two-suited or three-suited hands, can be used as a cue bid, to describe specific distributions, for example (54)31, etc.
After preemptive openings on third level we can use transfers as well. Some of the bids could be a transfer even for notrump, some of them semi-natural or showing two-suited hand, or just a natural bid. The combination gives us more flexibility and options for overcall.
When the opponents make a two-suited overcall, we have more options using transfer bids. There is room to add bids for two-suited hands with a different point range.
Transfer bids can be used in combination with natural ones. Sometimes we have the range to make a transfer with slam try and to declare suit naturally for sign-off.
In certain cases, we can use the transfer for certain suits to show the presence of another suit, not the one for which we are making the transfer. The advantages are similar, we play from the right hand and we have a better opportunity to show our strength and distribution.
Introducing transfer bids in a competitive auction is a matter which each partnership can define differently.
Depending on the support raises which are being used without interference, the style and aggressiveness of bidding, each transfer bid can carry a different meaning which can vary depending on the opening bid and the suit of the overcall.
You can contribute multiple meanings to the bids whereas some bids stay of single meaning and descriptive. It is all down to individual approaches and assessments.
The advantages and benefits of the transfer bids are being acknowledged by many leading partnerships. A lot of them go further and have started experimenting with different options. Soon, I reckon, we will witness even further progress on the topic of transfer bids.
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