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Breaking Jacoby Transfers

#1 User is offline   pstansbu 

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Posted 2016-November-18, 05:01

I played with a new partner who had a new take on breaking transfers. So just wanted to post and see what experiences, pros and cons people had on both fronts. Also I've only played this over weak NT.

Approach I've known - you open 1NT and partner initiates a Jacoby transfer 2 or 2. Under certain circumstance opener will break the transfer:
  • Max hand
  • 4+ support in target suit

With this in mind the "breaking" options are:

  • 3/ - show 2 of top 3 trump honours
  • New suit - useless doubleton (Jx or worse) in the bid suit
  • 2NT - denies 2 of top 3 honours and denies worthless doubleton


There is also the option to "re-transfer" to allow the strong hand to play - but there isn't always room.

The variation I encountered is the a bid of [*]3/ - shows 4+ card support but Min hand on the basis that holding 2 of top 3 honours and support is exceedingly rare and the jump bid is preemptive in a case when responder is weak.
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#2 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2016-November-18, 05:18

Yes, I play that a jump is pre-emptive (4/5-card suit and depending upon vulnerability), 2NT is maximum without a feature to show and a new suit shows a feature (with one partner I do play the new suit shows a "useless doubleton").

We don't bother to re-transfer in a weak NT context.
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#3 User is offline   wank 

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Posted 2016-November-18, 08:12

showing 2 of the top 3 honours is pointless.

showing weak suits isn't pointless, but is a bad idea - it just helps the opps find the right lead.

if you want to play 2 lots of transfer breaks, just have 1 amorphous weak and 1 amorphous strong. you can also play 2NT as a supermax with 3 if you like.
the 1NT opener is more likely to have tenaces/secondary honours to protect so having opener play it is quite important. by only having 2 breaks you'll always have room for a retransfer.

personally i don't like to break with weak hands. when 2nd/6th hand has the sort of hand which could act, he'll be unable to do so safely as responder is unlimited and in prime position to extract a penalty. you'll peforce get to play 2M with a 9 card fit on minimal values. this argument particularly applies when your suit is spades, because you can compete to 3S over 3H slowly if necessary.
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#4 User is offline   aguahombre 

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Posted 2016-November-18, 09:19

What Wank says is good stuff, IMO. We are more stodgy, though.

We really like to avoid xfer breaks at all, except for 4+ support and a re-evaluation out of the nt range due to the fit.

In a strong NT context, 2M+1 is the only break..and if the xfer is to spades, we have still blown the retransfer and maybe gotten too high from the wrong side. We cringe, but do it.

2M+1 isn't bad after the xfer to hearts. Responder can still retransfer with 2nt or launch directly into the 'Walsh Relay' minor suit slam sequence.
"Bidding Spades to show spades can work well." (Kenberg)
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#5 User is offline   pstansbu 

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Posted 2016-November-20, 03:31

View Postwank, on 2016-November-18, 08:12, said:

showing 2 of the top 3 honours is pointless.

showing weak suits isn't pointless, but is a bad idea - it just helps the opps find the right lead.

if you want to play 2 lots of transfer breaks, just have 1 amorphous weak and 1 amorphous strong. you can also play 2NT as a supermax with 3 if you like.
the 1NT opener is more likely to have tenaces/secondary honours to protect so having opener play it is quite important. by only having 2 breaks you'll always have room for a retransfer.


Good points, you've articulated some concerns that have been niggling but not properly formed in my mind.

Showing 2 of top 3 honours is also a bad idea as it helps paint a very accurate picture of the HCP distribution of the closed hand (at least most likely to be the closed hand). Once dummy goes down it will probably be obvious which these are, and with a weak NT you've pinpointed up to half of your high card points.

Showing a doubleton also helps count out the hand, at least on a presumed basis. Admittedly the opener could have 2 doubletons or a singleton but the odds are now in favour of a 5332 or 4432 shape.

I'm growing to like the idea of amorphous bids in various places rather than highly descriptive bids that help defenders as much, if not more than partner
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#6 User is offline   WesleyC 

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Posted 2016-November-20, 08:19

Some top class players (especially those that open 1NT liberally) have actually extended wank's idea even further. They choose to play only one super-accept, and instead use the 3m bids to show a powerful suit but WITHOUT a primary fit.

After 1NT - 2H*, they might bid 3D with a hand like [xx Ax AQT9xx KQx] which could easily play better in 3D than 2S and also allows partner to bid a thin 3NT holding weak spades, and a fitting diamond card - e.g [JTxxxx Kx Kxx xx].
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#7 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2016-November-20, 09:09

View PostWesleyC, on 2016-November-20, 08:19, said:

Some top class players (especially those that open 1NT liberally) have actually extended wank's idea even further. They choose to play only one super-accept, and instead use the 3m bids to show a powerful suit but WITHOUT a primary fit.


We do the first part, because normally responder is only interested in whether there is a transfer break, so the information leakage is pointless. Also responder can still make a game try.

the 3m bids are currently undefined; the above is probably as good as any, though a weak NT (which I prefer) is less likely to hold as strong a suit as the example hand, since the hand itself is weaker.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#8 User is offline   aguahombre 

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Posted 2016-November-20, 09:15

View PostWesleyC, on 2016-November-20, 08:19, said:

Some top class players (especially those that open 1NT liberally) have actually extended wank's idea even further. They choose to play only one super-accept, and instead use the 3m bids to show a powerful suit but WITHOUT a primary fit.

After 1NT - 2H*, they might bid 3D with a hand like [xx Ax AQT9xx KQx] which could easily play better in 3D than 2S and also allows partner to bid a thin 3NT holding weak spades, and a fitting diamond card - e.g [JTxxxx Kx Kxx xx].

These top class players never find responder with a 5-3-1-4 Zero-count. We mere mortals can expect that if we bid 3.
"Bidding Spades to show spades can work well." (Kenberg)
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#9 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2016-November-21, 11:14

"I am probably the best player of bad contracts in the world. That's because I've been in so many of them" - Oswald Jacoby, as remembered by me as quoted in Watson.

Top-class players catch partner with that kind of hand at least as often as we mortals do; they just play them better.
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#10 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2016-November-21, 12:05

For ease of memory, my suggestion would be that you play these the same way you play game tries after 1M-2M, except of course that there is no point to a shortness showing try since opener can't have shortness.
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#11 User is offline   aguahombre 

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Posted 2016-November-21, 13:58

View Postmycroft, on 2016-November-21, 11:14, said:

Top-class players catch partner with that kind of hand at least as often as we mortals do; they just play them better.

So, we can recover a bit from our lack of those great declarer skills by not bouncing around in response to Stayman and by making fewer transfer breaks. I wonder why they didn't think of that when they decided to do those things.
"Bidding Spades to show spades can work well." (Kenberg)
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#12 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2016-November-21, 14:18

Because every once in a while, when we're playing 2+2 (or, possibly 2+1, or even 2=), they're playing 4=, or 3NT=. Occasionally, they're in 3=, or 3=, where we're in 4 off 1. 5, 6 IMPs if it's wrong, sure; zero if it's wrong, but okay (everyone's making 3); 10+ if it's right (5,6+ if 2-1 matches 3=, or zero if they are both just in, or -1, or whatever). Sure, MPs it's just a coinflip, and they're ahead if the coin flips + more often than - (zeros not counting).

The difference between them and us is that they *also* get 3= when we're in 2= because they play it better.
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#13 User is offline   Siegmund 

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Posted 2016-November-21, 22:26

Quote

There is also the option to "re-transfer" to allow the strong hand to play - but there isn't always room.



You can make room, if you want it.

I have converted several partners to using 1NT-2H-3H and 1NT-2D-3D as "I have 4-card support, but really, it will play better from your side": Axx Axxx Axxx Ax type hand (or Axx Axxx AKxx xx, if you do not show the small doubleton.)

Using 2M+1 as the most common superaccept and only revealing more if responder wants to hear more is an excellent plan.
But if you choose to show doubletons, you now have 1NT-2H-3S=doubleton heart and 1NT-2D-3H=doubleton diamond (as you probably already already 1NT-2D-2NT=doubleton spade if 1NT-2D-2S is generic superaccept.)

I don't worry too much about max vs. min (partner can make a game try over 2M+1, if he cares). I also essentially never superacc with 4333.
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#14 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2016-November-22, 10:27

Rather than the above methods, I play a different transfer break. For a 9 card fit you would want to bid game on a combined 23 hcp, and responder will transfer to 3M or 4M if the total is obviously above or below, but in borderline cases I think it helps to look out for "mirrored doubletons". 5323 opposite 4234 is likely to be game, as opener can ruff a heart, but if opener has 4324 this is likely to earn a trick fewer as he has no ruffs. Whether or not you have values in the doubleton is irrelevant. Anyone else do this?

The simple concept is a transfer break of 2M+1. Responder will always transfer to 3M or 4M if not borderline, or not {5332}, but if a borderline {5332} he bids his doubleton, and opener makes the decision. If opener is a {4333} then of course he declines game on hearing of a borderline hand.

As you will realise, this falls down when responder has a borderline doubleton in the transfer suit, as he needs the bid of 3M-1 as a transfer. Opener therefore bids 3M as the transfer break with a doubleton in the transfer suit, and 2M+1 with any other, or a {4333}.
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#15 User is offline   Kaitlyn S 

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Posted 2016-November-22, 12:12

View PostfromageGB, on 2016-November-22, 10:27, said:

For a 9 card fit you would want to bid game on a combined 23 hcp
Really? I'm tempted to set up a simulation to test this hypothesis but my general impression (assuming the hands are balanced) that this isn't true.
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#16 User is offline   rhm 

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Posted 2016-November-23, 05:16

View PostWesleyC, on 2016-November-20, 08:19, said:

Some top class players (especially those that open 1NT liberally) have actually extended wank's idea even further. They choose to play only one super-accept, and instead use the 3m bids to show a powerful suit but WITHOUT a primary fit.

After 1NT - 2H*, they might bid 3D with a hand like [xx Ax AQT9xx KQx] which could easily play better in 3D than 2S and also allows partner to bid a thin 3NT holding weak spades, and a fitting diamond card - e.g [JTxxxx Kx Kxx xx].

Top class?
I doubt that very much. Second rated players maybe. This is even worse than all this super-accept doubleton nonsense.
The idea behind transfers is that the unlimited hand can decide whether to proceed or stop.

A weak hand may have in any combination:

1) a long major
2) short diamonds
3) a strong major and otherwise an entry less hand.

As a rule it is usually better making the long suit in the weak hand trumps to provide communication between both hands
It is the urge finding a meaning for any sequence, which is plain silly.

Simple is often best

Jump to 3 over 2 with four or more hearts unless your hand looks unsuitable for game on sub-minimum combined values (An ace-less quacks hand for example).
Jump to 3 over 2 with four or more cards and a maximum for suit play.

So super-accept more freely in hearts than spades.
If responder bids 3NT over a super-accept this is natural. He is showing 5332 and suggests 3NT as a final place, which opener will accept with a suitable hand like 4333.

A sequence like 1NT-2-3 has no justification in a top level game. If I would bid like that I would have psyched with a hand too good to preempt in diamonds, more likely opposite a passed hand. Something like 12 HCP and a seven card suit in diamonds.

Rainer Herrmann
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#17 User is offline   WesleyC 

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Posted 2016-November-23, 08:59

View Postaguahombre, on 2016-November-20, 09:15, said:

These top class players never find responder with a 5-3-1-4 Zero-count. We mere mortals can expect that if we bid 3.


Responder does sometimes hold that hand, but given the auction has started 1NT (P) 2H (P) in tempo (even behind screens) then the opponents are pretty unlikely to hold a combined 25 count.

And if partner does have that hand, will your choice of action even matter? You're never making 2S, maybe you go -3 in 3D when you would've gotten out for -2 in 2S. Maybe bidding 3D saves you from the takeout double into penalty pass that would've happened to 2S. Maybe bidding 3D stops them balancing into game?

The actual losing scenario is when responder holds a 6-3-1-4 5-count with good spades and 2S was making but 3D doesn't.

Obviously you should decide based on the whole hand whether the upside (partner holding 6-8 with a fitting diamond card and bidding a good 3NT) is worth the downside (going off in 3D when 2S is making). You're always allowed to just accept the transfer like everybody else.

View Postrhm, on 2016-November-23, 05:16, said:

Top class?
I doubt that very much. Second rated players maybe. This is even worse than all this super-accept doubleton nonsense.
The idea behind transfers is that the unlimited hand can decide whether to proceed or stop.


rhm: I've read/responded to enough of your posts to understand that you struggle with communication. Let me rework your first couple of sentences into normal, respectful, English.

"Using 3m as a natural, invitational is unusual, I haven't heard of any top class players using that method. Perhaps a better use for the bid would be to show a sub-minimum opening with long suit?"
At this point you might qualify that you've not recently played in any high-level international events, so you are expressing just your opinion and have no idea whether top players may or may not use these methods.

The ironic thing is that I actually agree with most of the other points in your post.

I haven't personally tried the 3m showing a natural invite method so I can't back up its usefulness with any personal experiences. I was simply offering it as an additional caveat to the underlying idea that super-accepts (especially in spades) are best used infrequently and generically.
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#18 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2016-November-23, 10:52

I play as follows

2nt - max with 3 trumps, passable and re-transfers

3 of the transfer suit - usually a max with 4 but can be 3, control rich with a tenuous stopper or 2 that makes 2nt unattractive

other suit - 5-card side suit of quality and 3 trumps. Potential side source of tricks that I prefer to showing 2 little, which you almost always have to have not bid 2nt anyway. It gives extra info for light games or slam possibilities when you can run 2 suits.
The race may not go to the swift nor the battle to the strong. But that's the way to bet it.
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#19 User is offline   rhm 

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Posted 2016-November-23, 16:11

View PostWesleyC, on 2016-November-20, 08:19, said:

Some top class players (especially those that open 1NT liberally) have actually extended wank's idea even further. They choose to play only one super-accept, and instead use the 3m bids to show a powerful suit but WITHOUT a primary fit.

Wesley it is you who made this claim, not me.
So whether I participate at top level tournaments nowadays (I don't) is a bit beside the point.
I doubted your claim, because it is hard to believe that a top player would even consider that. The drawbacks are too obvious
Give us the name of a single top player, who plays that way.

But I doubt any names will be forthcoming from you.

Rainer Herrmann
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#20 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2016-November-24, 05:37

View PostKaitlyn S, on 2016-November-22, 12:12, said:

Really? I'm tempted to set up a simulation to test this hypothesis {you usually make a 4M game on a 23 hcp 9 card fit} but my general impression (assuming the hands are balanced) that this isn't true.

I'd be interested to see some statistics, but it is a common opinion that you need 26hcp for an 8 card fit, with 3 hcp or 1 additional card equating to a trick, so game is 26/8, 23/9, and 23/8 makes 9 tricks etc.

As for "balanced", the method I gave excludes a {5332} opposite a {4333}, or a {4432} with a mirrored doubleton. Try different-suit doubletons, though, and you will usually see an extra trick.
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