Dan Romm

One Level Transfers (Part II)

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

5.  Analysis of the deluxe one bids

The one-bids described above are the essence of the deluxe version of 2/1. It seems clear to me that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Let us look at this in detail.

Advantages (in descending order of importance):

a)  You get an extra bid that is not available to most the rest of the field – namely one spade.

b)  Bidding after a one-spade opener is easy and highly effective. The GF two-diamond bid allows you to leisurely probe for the right game or slam and all other two level bids are non-forcing.

c)  Opening one spade with minors prevents an opponent from making either a one level overcall in any suit or a takeout double where his partner can respond at the one-level. Although an opponent can still show spades at the one-level by treating a double as such (a break even), he is severely hampered if his suit is hearts or if he has both majors.

d)  Finding the right 4-3 major suit fit after an opening bid of one of a minor 2/1 is difficult without one-level transfers, but now a 1C opening guarantees at least one three card or longer major. Without one-level transfers if the auction goes 1D – P – 1H – P – 1NT and responder is 4-4 in the majors he will pass. But if opener’s distribution is 3244 you are probably better off playing two spades. Now, the auction would go either 1C – P – 1S – P – 1NT – P -2H – P – 2S or 1C – P – 1S – P – 2S.  

e)  Marginal responses are easier to handle. Bidding one heart over one diamond can be as little as zero and as much as a weak eight points. Opener now has a chance to show extra values at the one level and responder can take another bid (possibly also at the one level) when at the upper range of his initial response.

f)   You can handle two-suited hands more easily since partner will rarely pass your first bid with a weak hand, and if he does you will probably be in the right spot (see j below). For instance, without one-level transfers you run a real risk of partner passing when you hold a big hand unless you open two clubs, but if you open two clubs you are in danger of being pre-empted before you can show both suits. Using one-level transfers: 1D – P – 1H – P – 3C or 3D are jump shifts and are forcing for one round; 1D – P – 1H – P – 1S shows extra values with hearts and spades, but is not forcing; 1D – P – 1H – P – 2S shows a true reverse and is forcing for one round; 1D – P – 1H – P – 2C or 2D show two-suited hands with extra values and are not forcing.

g)   You can easily handle hands with four spades and five hearts without resorting to the Flannery 2D bid***, so that 2D can now be used for something else (i.e. – a weak two bid, Multi, or a Roman 2D bid). Using one level transfers you merely open 1D and bid spades at your next turn if you are strong enough. Specifically, over a 1H response either (a) pass with a minimum, (b) bid 1S with more than a minimum, or (c) bid 2S with a true reverse. Let’s explore the advantages in situation (b). If responder has 4 spades he merely passes or raises, but without one level transfers he will pass a one heart opener whenever he has a weak hand so that you will be in hearts even if he has fewer than three rather than in your 4-4 spade fit. If responder has a minimum response with fewer than three hearts and fewer than four spades he will bid one no trump over opener’s one spade rebid and will play it there, but without one level transfers his one no trump bid will be forcing so that the hand can no longer be played in the optimal one no trump contract.           

h)  You can show big (but not game forcing) one-suited major hands a level lower opposite a weak hand by partner. 1D – P – 1H – P – 2H would show 16-18 points with a good 6-card suit and 1D – P – 1H – P – 3H would show 19-20 points or 16-18 points with a 7-card suit.

i)   Whenever you hold a balanced hand worth 15-17 points including a five card major you will avoid trouble if partner has a very weak hand. In non-deluxe 2/1 you will usually open 1NT and, if doubled for penalty, may be in big trouble. But in deluxe 2/1 you pass whenever partner merely accepts the transfer since he shows at most 8 points. It is nearly impossible for opponents to double for penalties on this auction! Furthermore, since partner can pass a 1D (1H) opening with diamonds (hearts) and a weak hand (in which case you will be in the perfect spot), he is likely to have tolerance for your major if he accepts the transfer.

j)   You can play at the one level in a choice of two suits whenever you open a big hand and partner has a bust (see 1b above). If partner has length in your artificial suit and shortness in your implied suit, he can pass. If he has support for your implied suit he can accept the transfer at the one-level. You will certainly get a top board if you hold something like AKxxx, x, AJxx, AKx and partner has x, Q1098xx, xxx, xxx since you will play one heart making two whereas most of the rest of the field will be going down in either one spade or three hearts (if they play preemptive jump shifts).

k)  After a takeout double of one diamond or one heart you can distinguish between weak hands with support for the implied major and weak hands without support for the implied major while staying at the one level (see 1g and 1h above).

l)   Whenever you hold a balanced hand worth more than 17 points including a five card major you can both refine your ranges and also frequently save a level of bidding. Merely open 1D (1H) with a five card heart (spade) suit and continue as follows: rebid 1NT with 18 or 19 HCP; rebid 2NT with 22 or 23 HCP; rebid 3NT with 24 HCP or more. With 20 or 21 HCP open 2NT and use puppet Stayman. Note – the hand will play from the weak side whenever responder has 3 or more of opener’s major; the pros and cons of this are discussed below.

m)  Suppose you are playing in a two-session event or a KO team event and your halfway results are poor, to say the least, so that you now need a very good session to win; a mere 60% game will not suffice. Is there anything you can do to improve your chances for a big game? There are various tactics you can adopt: you can take anti-percentage actions, but you will need to be extremely lucky to succeed with this approach; or you can switch to an anti-field (but not anti-percentage) system, such as a 10-12 NT, but you may not be prepared to play it. One-level transfers don’t require any major alterations to 2/1 and they are strongly anti-field since they transfer play to partner whenever you open one diamond (instead of one heart) or one heart (instead of one spade) so that the opening lead comes from a different side than at the other tables (which is only slightly anti-percentage; see below). Needless to say, once one-level transfers catch on (as I think they will) then they will no longer be anti-field so that this advantage will disappear.


Features that are both advantageous and disadvantageous:

a)   The hand will often play in a major suit from the responder’s side instead of from the opener’s side. When this happens it will convey an advantage to the opponent on opening lead whenever responder’s hand is weaker than opener’s and an advantage to you whenever responder’s hand is stronger than opener’s. In the former case you will probably be playing a part score and in the latter you will probably be in game or slam, so that your disadvantage is increased at match points and your advantage is increased at IMP’s.

b)  Whenever you open one club, neither the opponents nor your partner know any details about your minor suit holdings; they only know that you don’t have a five-card major. This has the same advantages and disadvantages as an artificial one-club system or any system where a one-club or one diamond opening could be short.



a)   Opponents gain an extra bid at the one-level since they can either double your artificial suit or cue bid your real suit. One (i.e. – the cue bid) can be used as a normal takeout double of your real suit (or suits if one spade shows minors, in which case two clubs and two diamonds are both available to show majors) and the other (i.e. – the double) can be used for another purpose, such as showing the (artificial) bid suit or as a stronger takeout. If double is used to show the bid suit (the recommended defense) then an opponent can, in effect, overcall in the bid suit at the one-level by doubling, which incurs no risk of penalty, rather than at the two-level which incurs a significant risk. However, the lead directing value of a double is neutralized when opener’s partner passes with support so that opener will again be declarer.


Recommended defenses are straightforward:

a)   Over one diamond or one heart – double to show the bid suit; bid the implied suit for takeout.

b)   Over one club – use whatever defense you normally play over “one club could be short.”

c)   Over one spade – double to show spades; use two clubs and two diamonds as Q-bids for whatever purpose you prefer.



*** Flannery was introduced to eliminate the necessity of bidding 2C over a forcing 1NT response to 1H when opener holds 4522 distribution.

1 Comment

David PayneMay 23rd, 2010 at 11:44 am

I would adopt this innovative and logical transfer system, if it was allowed in ACBL general convention land.

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