Colin Lee — The Lee Club

Transfer responses

Well it was mentioned in a previous post’s comments so I might as well get to it now as it leads into a bunch of other things later and basically totally invalidates everything I’ve talked about to date!

So let’s start – we are talking about playing transfer responses to the opening strong 1♣ bid.

So we have choices for natural transfer responses (obviously we could bid completely artificially but I’m still trying to show natural hands):

One suggestion is bid the step lower: e.g. 1shows ♠™ and 1♠™ shows ♣, etc.

Meckwell play that but they play 1 Heart shows Spades, 1 Spade shows Hearts, 1NT shows Clubs and 2 Clubs shows Diamonds.  As one of the best practiced pairs and having one of the highest regarded forcing club systems you definitely have to look at this seriously.  Just for the record – 1 shows ♠™ OR a balanced hand (11-13).

What’s the advantage of playing transfer responses?  Well I think there are two advantage: 1, you get the strong hand on play (probably). 2, you have a few more bids available in certain situations (depending on how you play responses).

Let’s look at the first suggestion – bidding 1 rank lower than the suit you have: the advantage to this situation is that you now have a 1♠™ response to 1.  This should allow you a few more bids.  The disadvantage – you no longer have a 1♠ – 2 response after 1 showing hearts.  I think you are just as likely to have any of the suits – so is gaining 1 response in 3 suits (2 in clubs actually) and losing 4 in one suit better than just natural bids?  I guess it depends on what you plan to do with the extra bids and how valuable each of the suits are.  Personally I think that the Majors are worth more than the minors so I think that losing 4 bids in major is not worth gaining 4 bids – 3 in minors – personally I think this overrules whatever we gain from transfer responses.  What we should find is a way to take bids from our minor suits and give them to our major suits; but, unfortunately, our minor suit bids are already bad enough.

So let’s look at what Meckwell play.  We now gain 1 bid in Spades, Clubs and Diamonds and lose 1 in Hearts – that sounds like a major improvement.  Of course we lose a little definition of our 1 bid since now it doesn’t always show spades.  Since we have so much room to explore and since the balanced hand shows extra values we are in good shape (if you are wondering – 2 shows 8-10 balanced).  Their responses to the transfer bids is to show their own suits in steps with a fit being the last step (e.g. 1♣ – 1 – 1♠™ – shows hearts and 1♣ – 1 – 2 – shows a spade fit (1NT isn’t part of the steps)).  I think the system is interesting in its artificial but natural nature.  They are bidding their suits – naturally – but they are maximizing room by using every bid available to them (the next bid in the sequence shows a fit for opener).

I have to admit – I really like what Meckwell play.  They add tons of room; but stay natural.  Here’s a comparison of sequences of pure natural to Meckwell:

(To understand the sequence remember that the left side is completely natural bids (after 1♣)

Natural Meckwell Comments
1♣ – 1♠™ – 2♠™ 1♣ – 1 – 2 Meckwell’s sequence has a minor upside and no downside.
1♣ – 1♠™ – 2– 3 1♣ – 1 – 1♠™™ – 2 Meckwell’s sequence has major upside and no downside – we are a level lower.
1♣ – 1 – 2 1♣ – 1♠™™ – 2♠™™ Meckwell’s sequence has a minor downside; you do still have a chance of having the ♣ hand play it though
1♣ – 1 – 1♠™ 1♣ – 1♠™ – 2♣  Meckwell’s sequence has 2 minor downsides; you do still have a chance of having the ♣ hand playing hearts (but not spades!)
1♣ – 1 – 1♠™ – 2♠™™ 1♣ – 1♠™™ – 2♣ – 3♣ Note that this is one of many sequences here – this shows the best hand by responder for a fit with 4 card support – other support steps were possible showing 3 card support and min / max hands.
1♣ – 1NT – 3NT 1♣ – 1 – 1NT – 3NT
1♣ – 2 – 3NT
Meckwell’s sequence gets the strong hand on play – always a bonus in NT.

This really gives you a glimpse into all the possible sequences; but I think shows how much better these responses are than the standard natural ones.

For reference here’s how Meckwell works (please note that this can easily have changed as Meckwell’s system information changes often and is not public domain; however, I suspect this fundamental part is probably still the same):

After 1♣:

1 – 0-7 (if A & K then GF – if 8 without A or K then can bid 1).

1 – 5+ Spades or 11-13 Balanced

1♠™   – 5+ Hearts

1NT – 5+ Clubs

2♣ – 5+ Diamonds

2 – 8-10 Balanced

Rebids by opener (steps skip NT)

1st step = lowest unbid major

2nd step = lowest minor OR other unbid Major

3rd step = other minor

4th step = support for responder

NT = balanced hand

Rebids by Responder:

1st step: No fit (good hand)

2nd step: No fit (bad hand)

3rd step: 3 card fit (good hand)

4th step: 4+ card fit

2NT: minimum 3 card fit

Some higher steps available for other various hand types

1 Comment

Larry LowellFebruary 13th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I have based our strong club transfer system on Jeff Rubens “Useful Space Principle.” Thus transfers into a major promise only 4-cards! However, like the Meckwell Club, 1H promises 4+ spades or balanced and 11-14 hcp. 1NT response shows both majors, either 5-4 or better or 4441 hands with a singleton minor. A 2 club response is one or both minors and a 2D response is balanced and 8-10 per Meckwell. I hope to publish this scheme in the Bridge World in 2010. We have played this for 2 years and are very pleased with it. It is somewhat based on Sabine Auken’s One Club Forcing System.

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