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Partner opened 1N and we got lost along the way! HELP!

Q.   HELP!  Partner opened 1N, I made a transfer to hearts and then (what I thought was a quantitative raise), but he answered aces with a minimum hand and we got way too high.  Who was right? 

The auction was:

1N     Pass    2D    Pass

2H    Pass    4N    Pass

5S    Pass    6H

I bid 6H to try to get out of the auction, but partner had a minimum hand and only 2 hearts so we got a horrible board.  Was 4N asking for aces? 

A.  Your bid of 4N was a quantitative raise.   A quantitative raise asks partner to place the final contract.   His possible choices were:

  • PASS — Minimum hand and 2 hearts
  • 5 Hearts – Minimum hand and 3+ hearts
  • 6NT –  REALLY maximum hand with 2 hearts
  • 6H – Maximum hand with 3+ hearts.

Q.  (by partner) Then how do you ask for aces after a transfer?  This is where you would revert to the Gerber bid of 4C.   There would be no other reason for partner to pass 3N by jumping to 4C other than to ask for aces. Unfortunately, you  give up key card asking — and the ability to ask for the queen of trump.  One way to deal with this is to play Texas transfers when you are on your way to a major suit slam and you’d like to check key cards.

Your auction would go:

1N     Pass    4D    Pass

4H    Pass    4N   = Roman key card (or 1430 if you play it)

My favorite partner and I play special pre-acceptance bids after a transfer when the notrump bidder has 4+ card support.  We play it in the following way:

1N     Pass    2D    Pass


1)  With a minimum NT opener and 4-card support, the NT bidder bids 3H.

2) With a maximum NT opener and 4-card support, the NT bidder then bids a useful doubleton or 2N with a flat hand and no useful doubleton.

Notice, that failure to make either of those bids after a transfer also tells the transfer bidder something.  The NTer does NOT have 4-card support.

Q.  WHAT?  But I might have made the transfer with zero HCP!   What then?

A.   Ok, so you are then on the 3-level in your 9-card fit with only 15-17 HCP and the opponents, who clearly have the balance of power and probably a good fit elsewhere get to start looking around on the 3+ level.  What’s the problem?

Q.  Ok, but what is a useful doubleton?

A.  On many hands, you might open 1N with a small doubleton or with Ax or with Kx.  All of these would be useful in a suit contract.