Bridge By The Lake
By Ken Masson
Although I recommend that less experienced players steer clear of complicated bidding systems there are some conventions that are simple to understand and, in my view, very important for them to adopt as they improve their bridge skills. These include, but are not limited to, Stayman, Blackwood, takeout and negative doubles and transfers.
The diagrammed deal is a classic lesson hand that was played in a high level European team match and shown live on Bridge Base Online. The North South pair in this contest could have benefitted significantly had they included one common and easy-to-learn convention in their arsenal.
North opened the bidding with a 15 to 17 high card point 1 no trump. East overcalled a natural 2 diamonds and South jumped to 4 spades which closed the auction.
West led the diamond jack and declarer could see that he would have his work cut out for him if he was to make his contract. He could see 2 sure diamond losers plus the trump ace so he couldn’t afford to lose any more tricks.
Declarer ducked the opening lead (covering the jack with the king wouldn’t have helped his cause) and West continued with his diamond five which was overtaken by East’s queen. East now played the diamond ace which South had to ruff with a high honour as West pitched a small club.
South now played a low trump to the dummy’s jack and East defended beautifully by ducking the trick. Now declarer was well and truly sunk. If he continued with dummy’s spade 10 East would win with the ace and play a diamond which would promote the nine in West’s hand for the setting trick. Note that if East had taken the first round of trumps with the ace declarer would have been in control and would have made his contract. He would have won any return to play the spade 10, get to his hand with a heart and draw the last trump with the remaining high honour.
So where was the lesson mentioned above? Had the North-South partnership been playing Texas Transfers, South would have bid 4 hearts over East’s 2 diamond call and this would have shown his partner he held six-plus spades and game going values. The contract of 4 spades by North would have been immune to any lead from East and the game would have been made, probably with an overtrick. I found it astonishing that players at this level would not be using Texas but I wouldn’t be surprised if in the post-mortem they quickly added it to their convention card!
Texas Transfers are an extension to the Jacoby Transfer convention, enabling the no trump opener to become declarer when the responder holds six or more cards in a major suit and wishes to be at least in game. This allows the stronger hand to remain unexposed and minimize obstructive interference from the opponents.
Interference such as East’s bid above should prove no impediment to implementing a Texas Transfer. If South’s 6-card major had been hearts instead of spades he would have bid 4 diamonds which should be perfectly safe as long as both partners are on the same page.