by Kitty and Steve Cooper

Several players have commented on last month’s column where we discussed transfer breaks. That is when you open a notrump and bid a new suit over partner’s transfer to a major in order to show a maximum with four card support for the suit being transferred to. The question we have gotten from several readers is “How do we get partner to play the hand after a transfer break?”


Coopers: The answer is simple, you use the suit one under the real suit to retransfer to it. So for example, in the auction 1NT - 2H - 3C you bid 3H to retransfer to spades. Of course this does not work well when partner breaks to 3H. In that case you can bid 4H to retransfer to spades, as long as you are willing to be in game. When you want to play in exactly 3S you are out of room to transfer and have to play it from the wrong side. Nothing is perfect.


There are a few more cases where you may need to retransfer. The one that comes up often is when the opponents double the transfer suit and partner passes. How do you transfer back? The answer is that you redouble. We once had teammates who came back with a minus 2200 from this very auction! Do not pass this redouble or you may suffer the same fate.


One more interesting point, why did partner pass the double of the transfer? The standard treatment is that pass denies three card or longer support while taking the transfer shows it. It makes responder’s life easier to know whether or not there is a fit if the opponents compete further.


What if the opponents overcall, rather than double, and partner passes? Now as in a transfer break, you use the one under suit at the next level as a retransfer.  So, for example, you transfer to hearts, your LHO bids 3C, and partner passes, you bid 3D to retransfer. If the opponents bid the transfer suit - e.g. 1N- (Pass) - 2D - (3D) - there is no way to retransfer at the three level, only at the four level.  Opener can compete to three of our major with a suitable hand. Double in passout seat by the transferer just says “it is our hand, do something sensible.”


Using a 3H bid to transfer back to spades in a competitive auction presumes that you have other methods for showing both majors besides transferring to spades and then bidding hearts. If you don’t, you cannot retransfer to spades, as showing that you have hearts is more important. In a transfer break auction, you already have a nine card spade fit so showing hearts is not necessary.


Many players use 3H and 3S directly over 1NT to show 5-5s in the majors (invitational and forcing), and Smolen to show a forcing 5-4. But that is a topic for another column.



Previous page: Consult the Coopers: Not taking a transfer, Mar 2012   Next page: Consult the Coopers: Asking Bids after 2C Openers, May 2012