38. Interesting Gadgets

This chapter describes a variety of interesting conventions you might see, or wish to adopt. Many of these “gadgets” outside the standard ones have one or more variants. If something here sparks your interest, you should do further research.

Warning

Many of these ideas are incompatible with each other

The Sandwich Notrump

After (1x) - P - (1y), a double is for takeout and shows the other two suits; the suits are at least 5-4 and you have an opening hand.

The Sandwich 1N convention is a bid of 1N rather than double, showing the other two suits but less than an opening hand:

(1x) - P - (1y) - 1N!(other two suits, less than opening hand)

Mathe Defense To A Big Club

After a strong 1♣ opener, Mathe is the simplest commonly-used defense. In the simplest version, double is the majors, 1N is the minors, and suits are natural. A slight improvement is:

  • Double shows the majors

  • 1♦ is a transfer to hearts

  • 1♥ is a transfer to spades

  • 1N shows the minors

  • 2♣ shows clubs

  • 2♦ shows diamonds

The added transfers force the big hand to lead.

Some also use this defense over a standard strong 2♣ opening.

Lead-directing Raise Over Partner’s Preempt

When partner opens a weak two-level bid, you generally want to raise to the three level if you have three-card support and a few values, in order to be as obstructive as possible. This is called reinforcing the preempt.

However, it often happens that the auction goes something like:

2♥ - (3♦) - 3♥(you) - 3N

Now your partner is on lead and unless he has a great suit he’s leading into stoppers. Meantime you’re sitting there with the Ace of spades. If only partner knew to lead spades so you could return a heart.

We change the agreement about what a new suit by you means; it shows a lead-directing raise. Partner is authorized to correct to 3♥ for you if necessary. So in this case you bid 2♠!(heart raise, lead-directing). You also might do this for example if you had three hearts and ♠KQ52. 2N remains feature-asking but can also be used to keep the bidding open for your next bid when you really do have a good hand.

You can optionally vary this system as follows:

Over interference of a double or a two-level bid after our two-level preempt:

  • Double (redouble) is a runout. Opener bids the next suit up, pass or correct.

  • 2N! is Ogust.

  • New suits are a lead-directing raise, not forcing.

You may wish to research the “McCabe Adjunct” for more variations.

Puppet Stayman

Over 2N or 2♣ followed by 2N, bid 3♣!(asking for a four- or five-card major) if you have a 3-card or 4-card major. Puppet Stayman is game forcing because, lacking a major, the opener will reply 3N. The 3♣ bid need not be alerted, but the responses must be alerted.

Responses are:

  • 3♦!(No five card major, one or two 4 card majors)

    • 3♥! Responder has four SPADES <– major you do NOT have!

    • 3♠! Responder has four HEARTS <– major you do NOT have!

    • 3N! Responder does not have a four card major

    • 4♦! Responder has both 4 card majors. Opener has choice of games.

  • 3M!(five cards)

    • Responder normally chooses between 3N or 4M.

    • Responder with slam interest and 3+ card fit in M can bid the other major as a power raise of M.

    • 4♣ is natural with long clubs.

    • 4♦ is natural with long diamonds.

    • 4N is quantitative (M is not agreed as our suit)

    • Suit bids at the five level are splinters.

  • 3N!(Opener has no four or five card majors)

The name “Puppet” comes from the 3♥ and 3♠ rebids after a 3♦ response, in which the responder bids the major he DOESN’T have, so that the strong hand becomes the declarer. He’s pulling the opener’s strings.

The point of this structure is that the strong hand declares all the hands with a major fit, whether 5-3, 4-4, or 3-5.

Five-card Stayman is an easier and better alternative to playing 1N - 3♣ as Puppet Stayman but it isn’t a big deal to play Puppet over both 1N - 3♣ and 2N - 3♣ to reduce your memory load.

Choosing Puppet Stayman over 2N means you cannot play Smolen over 2N because the sequence 2N - 3♣ - 3♦ cannot mean two things at the same time. But you can and should play Five-Card Stayman and Smolen over 1N.

Modern Super Accept

After a transfer to a major, accepting the transfer shows fewer than four trump. With four trump:

  • Jump accepting shows a minimal hand with four trump.

  • 2N shows a maximum hand but no weak doubleton.

  • All the suit bids between 2M and 3M show a maximum hand with four trump and a doubleton in the bid suit.

Examples:

1N   2♦
3♣

Opener has four hearts, maximum hand, xx in clubs.

1N   2♦
2N

Opener has four hearts, maximum hand, no worthless doubleton

Responder can re-transfer using the transfer suit at a minimal level, e.g.:

1N   2♦
3♦   4♦

Opener has four hearts, a maximum, and xx in diamonds; responder asks opener to bid 4♥.

Showing Both Majors in Stayman

Having 4-4 majors and a maximal 1N opener, opener bids 3♣ as a response to Stayman. Responder then transfers to their suit (or best suit).

1N 2♣ 3♣!(max, 4-4 majors) 3♦!(transfer) 3♥

1N 2♣ 3♣!(max, 4-4 majors) 3♥!(transfer) 3♠

After this, responder can pass, bid the game, or explore for slam as appropriate.

What you’re giving up is that Stayman with a weak hand short is no longer available.

South African Texas

South African Texas is similar to Texas: 4♣ transfers to 4♥, 4♦ transfers to 4♠. This leaves 4♥ and 4♠ as natural and to play. Why have two ways to end up in the same place? Responder can choose to be the declarer if he has the kind of hand that would be better having the lead come into it in the side suits.

Muppet Stayman

Muppet Stayman is a modification of Puppet Stayman apparently introduced by the Italian pair Augustin Madala- Noberto Bocchi. Muppet Stayman interchanges the 3♥ and 3N responses so that 5-3 fits can be found in either major.

2N - 3♣ (or 1N - 3♣ by partnership agreement):

  • 3♦!(Opener has no five card major, has one or more 4 card majors)

    • 3♥! Responder has four SPADES <– major you do NOT have!

    • 3♠! Responder has four HEARTS <– major you do NOT have!

    • 3N! Responder does not have a four card major

    • 4♦! Responder has BOTH 4 card majors. Opener has choice of games.

  • 3♥! Opener has no four or five card major. Responder can now bid 3♠ if he has five spades and 3 or 4 hearts, or 3N otherwise. (See below for an alternative.)

  • 3♠! Opener has five spades.

  • 3N! Opener has five hearts.

Note that if responder has five spades and 2 or fewer hearts he will transfer rather than use Stayman; so by reversing the meanings of 3♥ and 3N, we are leaving open the chance to find an 8-card fit in hearts or spades.

Option: After a 3♥ response, you can again “puppet” by having 3♠! relay to 3N while 3N! shows five spades.

Minor Suit Stayman

1N - 2♠!(minor suit Stayman) shows 4-4 or better in the minors and at least invitational values. It denies a four-card major.

2N - 3♠!(minor suit Stayman) can also be played with game-forcing values.

Sons Of Texas

Playing Texas Transfers opens up some other possibilities. Here are two of them.

  1. Delayed Texas Transfers

    As an additional option if playing Texas Transfers, delayed Texas offers a way to show hands that are 6-4 in the majors.

    Bidding 2♣ first, then 4♦ or 4♥ over a 2♦ response, is called “delayed Texas”. It explicitly shows six of the suit to which you transfer, and four of the other suit.

    • 1N 2♣ 2♦ 4♥! – six spades, four hearts. Opener with 2 spades and 4 hearts should pass. Otherwise bid 4♠.

    • 1N 2♣ 2♦ 4♦! – four spades, six hearts. Opener with 2 hearts and four spades should bid 4♠. Otherwise, bid 4♥.

Note

This convention is incompatible with the advanced 2N structure.

  1. Four Spades Quantitative Minors

    Playing Texas Transfers, the sequence 1N - 4♠ has no meaning. With partnership agreement, this means a hand that has the points for a quantitative raise to 4N, but is 5-4 or better in the minors. Opener can choose between 4N or 5m or 6m.

Fit-Showing Jumps

Fit-showing jumps is an agreement that a jump-shift by responder shows a fit with partner and our own 5(or more) card suit. For example, 1♥ - (1♠) - 3♣ or 1♥ - 3♣ shows 5(or more) clubs with values appropriate for the level (here, at least invitational, since partner will have to prefer hearts at the three-level). The goal is to discover a double fit which may allow us to find a skinny game or slam. The bid is forcing.

This convention is on even if we are a passed hand.

Remember if playing Bergen Raises that they are off in competition but you would have a conflict with no competition. You and your partner need to research this convention because there are some auctions to discuss. For example, In 1♠ - (2♥) - 4♦, is that a splinter or a fit-jump? If it is a fit-jump does it mean a weak 5-5 hand that could have just bid 4♠ or a game-going hand. (I’d play it as a splinter, by the way).

Montreal Relays

This was invented by someone who went crazy trying to tell if responder has four or five of his major over a 1♣ opening. Responder does not bid a four-card major; instead , he bids an artificial 1♦. Responses of 1♥ or 1♠ show five card suits. A responder with 5 hearts and 5 spades bids 1♥.

A response of 1♦ shows enough values to respond but is otherwise artificial. Opener’s rebids after 1♣ - 1♦!(artificial, no five-card major):

  • 1♥ promises 4 hearts, does not deny 4 spades

  • 1♠ promises 4 spades, denies 4 hearts

  • 1N denies a four-card major, denies six clubs

  • 2♣ shows six clubs

  • 2N is 17-18 balanced (as usual).

  • 2♦, 2♥, and 2♠ are normal reverses.

Some play this convention with additional 3-level splinter conventions. It is off in competition.

Namyats

Namyats is Stayman spelled backwards. Apparently this amazing fact is supposed to help you remember what it means. Doesn’t work for me, but maybe it does for you. Samuel Stayman didn’t invent either Stayman or Namyats!

An opening bid of 4♣ is a strong hand with an 8-card heart suit. Likewise, 4♦ is a strong hand in spades. This leaves opening the majors at the 4-level as weak bids with no slam interest. Generally the distinction is that you use Namyats with a hand with no more than five losers.

If the responder wishes the opener to become the declarer, or has slam interest, he can temporize with the intervening suit, e.g.

  • 4♦!(transfer to 4♠) - 4♥!(transfer to 4♠).

To accept the Namyats transfer is a sign-off.

An opening bid of 3N! shows a hand that would have preempted in 4♣ or 4♦; partner usually bids 4♣! pass or correct.

There are more complicated agreements about follow-ups, but that’s the basics.

Wolff Signoff

After the auction starts 1m - 1M - 2N, opener is showing 18-19 points. As we have seen, New Minor Forcing is available to optimists looking to get to the right game. Wolff is for pessimists, who are worried about signing off when they don’t have the values for game. This allows for more light 1M bids but it is incompatible with NMF.

With Wolff, 3♣!(Wolff relay to 3♦) allows responder to place the contract. There are some subtleties to it, which I leave for your own research if interested.