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I Have Majors!




Responding With Majors After Partner Opens 1NT
Probably the very first convention you learned was Stayman, right?  Now you know there other bids as well that can describe a hand that has major suits.  There's Jacoby Transfers, both standard and Texas, and there is both Smolen and Delayed Smolen.  We have Garbage Stayman for those times when you have very few points, and there are at least two different treatments of 3-level jumps.

5-5 in the Majors
A very popular method for showing both invitational and forcing responses with both majors is to jump to the 3-level with hands that have at least 5-5 in the two suits.  This is a no-name convention.
  • A jump to 3 is non-forcing but usually invitational
  • A jump to 3 shows the same distribution but is forcing to game
There's a big problem with this agreement...
    Half the time the contract is played from the wrong side!
There are several reasons we use Transfer bids, and one of the primary reasons is to make the notrump bidder the declarer so that the opening lead comes up to his hand.  About half the time when responder use the agreement described above he will become the declarer, losing the advantage of having the strong hand be the declarer.

A Fix For the 5-5-Majors-No-Name Convention
Here's a better auction for responding with both majors:

  South      West      North      East   
1NT      P      2      P     
2      P      3     

By agreement that 3 call by responder shows both majors but does not define the strength of the hand.

After the opener chooses a major, responder can pass with a weak hand, go to game with a moderate hand, or cuebid a new suit with interest in slam.  The partnership will have to decide what the cuebid shows... perhaps a singleton or void or perhaps first-round control.  (With 5-5 in two suits responder will always have a singleton or void but will not always have a control.  That's probably the best approach.)



Added Benefit!
If you adopt this convention you will have the added benefit of being able to use the 3-level jump in a major for something other than 5-5 in the majors.

Natural and Strong
Imagine that... A natural call.  But why not use the Texas transfer and then ask for aces if you have that good a hand?  You can, but suppose you have a void somewhere... and suppose you ask for aces and discover you are missing one.  Is it the important one or is it in the suit where you have a void, and probably useless.  (Hmpf.. a useless ace.)  read a bit further, my friend...

If you open 1NT and partner jumps to either 3 or 3 this is the agreement:
  • A rebid of 3NT says you have only a doubleton in support
  • A rebid of any other suit shows an ace and at least 3-card support
If the notrump bidder has support he starts cuebidding with the lowest bid he can make that shows first-round control.  Responder also cuebids, but responder's cuebids can include voids.

NOTE:  Once you start a cuebidding sequence do not lapse into either Blackwood nor Gerber.  You will get redundant information.  Use notrump calls, including 4NT, as the cuebid that shows the ace or king of trump.



As a followup on this subject you might like to read about the Smolen convention.  

Roy Wilson