Dan Romm

One Level Transfers (Part I)

One level transfers as I propose them is not a new system, it is merely an effective adjunct to the 2/1 system currently in vogue and makes it more competitive with strong club systems. Although it has undoubtedly been thought of before, I offer a thorough analysis on the pros and cons in which it comes out a clear winner and a bona fide improvement (not a gimmick). Although they are currently not approved by the rules committee I hold out hope that they will be in the near future, since the committee already allows artificial one club openers and has recently approved artificial one spade openers. Including artificial one heart and one diamond openers to allow one-level transfers seems like the obvious next step since they are easy to play and are offered as a sincere attempt to raise the bar on bridge bidding to a higher level.

One level transfers        


1.  One diamond and one heart

An opening bid of one diamond now means exactly what an opening bid of one heart did and an opening bid of one heart now means exactly what an opening bid of one spade did in non-deluxe 2/1. They show opening bids with at least five of the major they transfer to. That’s all there is to it. So what’s the big deal? For one thing you gain an extra bid! One spade is now freed up for other purposes. But, as we shall see, there are several other far-reaching advantages. Moreover, one-level transfers are trivial to incorporate into 2/1. After a one diamond or a one heart bid responder proceeds exactly as he would if opener had bid one heart or one spade respectively! The only difference is that if you were going to pass a heart opener you now bid one heart over one diamond (unless, of course you would prefer to play one diamond!) and likewise you would bid one spade over one heart (or pass if you prefer hearts).

Here are a few example auctions using one-level transfers*:

a) 1D – P – 2H shows a simple raise just as 1H – P – 2H would without one-level transfers.   

b)   1D – P – 1H shows a marginal response to a one heart opener. Responder should have either (a) fewer than 6 HCP with three or more hearts or (b) fewer than 8 HCP with less than three hearts. If opener bids again he shows extra values.

c)  1D, 1H (or 1S) – P – P shows a hand that is not worth a normal response and contains length in the bid suit and shortness in partner’s real suit.

d)  1D – 1S – dbl is a negative dbl showing the minors.

e)   1D – 2C – dbl is a negative dbl showing 4 spades.

f)  1D – dbl – P shows a weak hand (less than 6 HCP) with fewer than three hearts.

g)  1D – dbl – 1H shows a weak hand (less than 6 HCP) with more than two hearts.

h)   1D – dbl – 2H is a normal heart raise (6-9 points).

i)   1D – P – 3H is a limit raise in hearts (10-12 point).

j)  1D – P – 2NT is Jacoby 2NT (if you play it).

k)   1D – P – 4D is a splinter (an opening bid with four or more hearts and shortness in diamonds).

l) The meaning of 1D – 1H – dbl will depend on what methods your opponents are playing. If they play the one heart cue bid as a takeout dbl, then dbl will have the same meaning as a redouble after a takeout double would have playing your usual methods.

Etcetera. Just respond as you would in 2/1 had opener bid his real suit instead of the suit below it.


2.  One club

It is already commonplace to play “one club could be short” so that is what we will do. An opening bid of one club guarantees at least one three-card or longer major. That’s all there is to it. All one level openings that contain no three-card or longer major are opened one spade or one no trump. The bulk of your one-club openers will be balanced hands, 4432 or 4333 distributions. Many of these will play best in a 4-3 major suit fit and this is the main reason for requiring a three-card major; it will be easy to find your 4-3 fit if partner knows you have at least one three-card major:

a)  1C – P – 1M (or 1NT) – P – 2D (2C) shows 12-14 points with four or five diamonds (clubs), at most three M, and a hand unsuitable to play a 4-3 fit in partner’s M with three of them (otherwise, bid 2M). Note – you no longer reverse to show a strong hand with clubs and diamonds; you will open those hands one spade.

b)  1C – P – 1M (or 1NT) – P – 3C (3D) is 15-17 points with a good six card club (diamond) suit.

c)   1C – P – 1M – P – 1NT – P – 2D (2C) is one-way new minor forcing (NMF) with diamonds (clubs). Here NMF is not even invitational, it is merely an attempt to find the right part score. If opener’s partner wishes to invite he can always bid again.

d)  1C – P – 1D shows diamonds. If followed by a rebid of diamonds it is weak, if followed by the bid of any other suit it is GF.

e)  1C – P – 1S – P – 1NT – P – 2H is not forcing and shows at least four hearts, but does not guarantee five spades. Responder may be probing for the known 4-3 major suit fit and should start with spades if 4-4 in the majors. To force, use NMF (see c above).

f)   1C – P – 1NT is 8-10+ points with no four card major.

g)  1C – P – 2D (2C) is an inverted minor in diamonds (clubs), i.e. – no four card or longer major, at least five diamonds (clubs) and 10 or more points.

h)  1C – P – 2H (2S) is a jump shift with hearts (spades). These can be either weak or strong (your choice, although I prefer strong at IMP’s).

i)   1C – P – 2NT shows 12-14 points with no four-card or longer major.

j)   1C – P – 3C, D, H, or S is preemptive.

k)  1C – P – 3NT shows 15-17 points with no four-card or longer major.


3. One spade

Open one spade if and only if you hold no three-card or longer major** – that is the sole criterion! As we have seen, all one-level openings that contain a three card or longer major are opened one club, one diamond, one heart, or 1NT. Continuations after one spade are:

a)  1NT shows 6-9 points with holdings in the majors.

b)  2C is a weak hand (0-8 points) asking opener to pass or correct to diamonds.

         1)    1S – P – 2C (or 1NT) – P – 2H shows 18-21 points with at least six clubs.

         2)    1S – P – 2C (or 1NT) – P – 2S shows 18-21 points with at least six diamonds.

         3)    1S – P – 2C (or 1NT) – P – 2NT shows 18-21 points with no six-card minor.

         4)    1S – P – 2C (or 1NT) – P – 3C (3D) shows 15 – 17 points with at least six clubs (diamonds).   

c)  2D is artificial and GF. Bidding proceeds naturally.

d)  2H is a six-card or longer heart suit with 0-9 points.

e)  2S is a six-card or longer spade suit with 6-9 points (pass with less than 6 points). 

f)  2NT shows 10-12 points with holdings in the majors.

g)  3C (3D) shows 10-12 points with at least five clubs (diamonds). With more, start with 2D.

h)  3H (3S) is a six-card or longer heart (spade) suit with 10-12 points. With 13-15, start with 2D and then bid NT.

i)   3NT shows 16-18 points with holdings in the majors. With more, start with 2D and then jump in NT.


4.  One no trump

With a balanced hand worth 15-17 points including a 5 card major, I recommend a 1NT opener whether or not you play one-level transfers since if you open with a suit and partner bids 1NT (forcing) you can no longer play 1NT and you will also have trouble describing the strength of your hand.


* I will only discuss auctions beginning with one diamond since those beginning with one heart are identical if you substitute  “H” for “D” and “S” for “H”.




** Excluding, of course, two club and two no trump openers and preempts.


[…] This is a continuation from One Level Transfers (Part I) […]

John GregoryDecember 23rd, 2008 at 2:16 am

You hold X,QXX,JXX,K109XXX (I think/am pretty sure) and partner opens 1NT. I thought about 3NT, transferring into 3C and finally passed.

Opener underled the HAK, Roger misguessed and got a poor result. He was pretty adament…I should transfer into 3 C. With 6 points and a great chance to get a higher score than 3C?…yes especially with 6 points he said.

But I don’t think so. Pass beats everything unless 3NT makes or 3 C makes on the nose. At teams I can see safety but at match points?

What do you think???

Dan RommFebruary 24th, 2009 at 6:21 am

Author’s response to John Gregory:

This is a close call at MP’s and either could be right (at IMP’s you should play C’s). I play 4-way transfers which solves the problem. Using them you should bid 2S, a transfer to C’s. P bids 2NT with honor 3rd or better in C’s, otherwise he bids 3C which must be the right spot whenever opener’s C’s are weak. Over 2NT you can pass or bid 3NT depending on how lucky you feel.

don christensenJuly 21st, 2010 at 4:54 pm

dan are you familiar with bergen’s switch convention? disallowed except at the high level tournaments, but i like it a lot.

Dan RommJune 18th, 2011 at 12:11 am

Hi Don. Sorry for the late response. I am not familiar with that convention, but will take a look at it.


mickbuelyDecember 31st, 2011 at 7:46 pm

hello every one – hope yous had a nice one – back from parents 12lbs heavier a`hhh just back from tenerefe weather crap , all the best for new year – mick

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