Learning tricks and transfers of game

Linda and I will be leaving our games in the hands of a home grown director, Indian Springs math teacher Mac LaCasse, while we attend the Labor Day Regional in Atlanta.

Mac and his partner John Lusco are the only team we know whose only convention is the original version of Blackwood asking for aces.

They are consistently first or second because unlike poker, where you watch the cards, in bridge you actually play the cards. You don’t need to know all (or any) of the fancy conventions in order to be a good bridge player or enjoy the great game.

I’d like to add on to last week’s column on Jacoby Transfers, where Responder bids an artificial bid of 2D or 2H over opener’s 1NT in order to transfer to hearts or spades. Responder bids 2D, opener announces transfer, and then when it’s his turn to bid, bids 2H.

If the final contract is in hearts the good hand is protected, not only from inspection, but also more importantly from the opening lead. You’d be surprised how many contracts in bridge are won or lost on the opening lead.

But what if responder has a bunch of diamonds or clubs and wants to tell 1NT opener that the team needs to play in those suits?

This is called Four-Way Transfers — 1NT (P) 2S (P), 3C. When playing Stayman and Jacoby Transfers, 2S is a non-bid, never used. In this bidding sequence responder promises six clubs and potentially zero points. 1NT opener announces transfer after 2S and bids 3C. If responder actually wanted to transfer to diamonds, he would correct to 3D, as in 1NT (P) 2S (P), 3C (P) 3D (all pass). While the 3D bid doesn’t transfer the play to the strong hand, it does allow the team to stop at the correct partial contract; note that a 1NT (P) 2S (P), 3C (all pass) does transfer the play to the strong hand. I believe this allows teams to use 1NT –– 3 (any) to be strong bids indicating an opening hand or close, a strong 5/6-card suit, game forcing and slam interest kind of hand.

In other words, only use transfers to a minor suit over 1NT with a weak hand that needs to be played in a suit contract instead of NT.

Winners this week

Monday: Judy Funk and Kathy Flemming, Jerrie Friar and Liz Milko, Guy and Roy Martin, John Griffith and Jill Salmon, Janet Johnson and Barbara Dawson.

Thursday: Peggy and Gene Graham, Mel Dupuis and Judy Chase, Barbara Dawson and Janet Johnson, Aileen Hill and Jerrie Friar, Jill Salmon and Bonnie Segers, John Lusco and Mac LaCasse.

Friday: Pete Partin and Jim Rabb, Liz and Tom Milko, John Lusco and Mac LaCasse, Frances Hereford and Rita Van Blommensteyn, Peggy and Gene Graham, Judy Chase and Bernie Liberman, Jo Weatherly and Charlotte Lusco, Helen Thrasher and Mel Dupuis.

Saturday: Janet Johnson and Peggy Olson, Jo Weatherly and Charlotte Lusco, Jerrie Friar and Barbara Dawson, Hazel Haas and Marion Henry, John Griffith and Jill Salmon, Arlene Owens and Frances Ubben.

HAND OF THE WEEK

Lead: nine of hearts

The lead of the nine shows either “top of nothing” or two above it. North looks at the board, then his hand, and figures since they’re playing the contract in NT that partner is “top of nothing.” An observant East will see that he needs to establish the extra heart before the defense gets to spades and drives out the queen of hearts, making his jack good. The spade shift is too late and declarer scampers home with 11 tricks, five clubs, three diamonds, two hearts and a spade.

Two of the contracts bid tonight made it to NT. The 1C-2C is called Inverted Minors and is alertable. It shows 5+ support cards and 10+ points. This convention allows declarer to take it slow in order to find 3NT. A 1C-3C bid puts East in a bind, as does his 3S reply. What to do? Some Wests may go to 4C, missing a 460 point game.