This conventional method was originated by Mr. Michael Smolen of Alamo, California, United States (1940-1992). This conventional method is also designated as Smolen Transfers or Smolen Transfer Bids. Under the conditions set forth in the established partnership agreement, both the Stayman convention and the Jacoby Transfer convention are employed after partner has opened 1 No Trump. If the responder holds game values, but has a 5-4 distribution, or even a 6-4 distribution in both Major suits, the responder will use the Stayman convention.

Principle of the Concept

However, if the response by the No Trump bidder is 2 Diamonds, denying a 4-card Major suit, then a situation has occurred. In the generally accepted continuance the responder must now bid the longer Major suit to show at least a 5-card Major suit. When this occurs, then the transfer advantage has been lost and the weaker of the two holdings becomes the declarer hand. Instead of concealing certain tenaces, such as King-Jack or Ace-Queen, these tenaces are revealed to the defenders, providing them with additional defense advantages.

Note: Any additional information regarding the person of Mr. Michael Smolen, especially photographic material, would be greatly appreciated. In private and certainly professional career Mr. Michael Smolen was a Futures Trader in the stock market following a career as a personal injury lawyer.

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Carla Lazzareschi authored an article for the Los Angeles Times financial section of the newspaper on January 30, 1989, comparing Mr. Michael Smolen's dedication to his career with his zeal for the game of bridge and playing in bridge tournaments. This information has only been preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.

Parameters of the Concept

When the partnership includes and employs the Smolen Transfer bids, designed specifically for this situation, then the responder will jump to the three level in a Major suit. This initiates the Smolen conventional method and the No Trump bidder now has the information that partner holds game values. It is this jump which shows a 4-card suit in the suit bid and either a 5-card or a 6-card suit in the other Major suit. In this manner the No Trump bidder becomes the declarer, which is the intention of this conventional method.

Example:

Opener   Responder   Meaning
A74
A76
Q843
AK8
 
K9865
K984
K7
QJ
   
1 NT   2   Stayman convention
2       Denial of a 4-card Major suit.

The No Trump bidder has no 4-card Major suit and bids 2 Diamonds, denying a 4-card Major suit. According to the Smolen conventional method the responder no longer bids the 5- or 6-card suit directly, but jump bids in the 4-card Major suit. This action initiates the Smolen Transfer bid and shows exactly a 4-card Major suit in the Major suit bid and at least a 5-card suit plus in the unbid Major suit, plus game values, as shown in the continuing example:

Opener   Responder   Meaning
A74
A76
Q843
AK8
 
K9865
K984
K7
QJ
   
1 NT   2   Stayman convention
2       Denial of a 4-card Major suit.
    3   Smolen convention.

Continuations

Once the No Trump bidder realizes the distributional pattern of the responder, then the No Trump bidder is better informed to make the correct decision. Holding 3 cards of the longer Major suit, the No Trump bidder will bid this suit.

Opener   Responder   Meaning
A74
A76
Q843
AK8
 
K9865
K984
K7
QJ
   
1 NT   2   Stayman convention
2       Denial of a 4-card Major suit.
    3   Smolen convention.
3       Completes the transfer.

In this particular bidding sequence, the No Trump bidder completes the transfer, and becomes the declarer. The responder, depending on the amount of held values, will either bid game or attempt slam.

Holding only two cards of the longer Major suit, the No Trump bidder rebids 3 No Trump:

Opener   Responder   Meaning
A7
A76
Q843
AK85
 
K9865
K984
K7
QJ
   
1 NT   2   Stayman convention
2       Denial of a 4-card Major suit.
    3   Smolen convention.
3 NT       Denies a 3-card suit.

If the distributional pattern of the responder is as shown above, then the responder will pass game in 3 No Trump holding only a 5-card Major suit. However, with slam values the responder will continue the auction.

Holding a 6-card Major suit the action of the responder changes. The illustration below should clarify this continuance:

Opener   Responder   Meaning
A76
A7
Q843
AK85
 
K984
KJ9865
K7
Q
   
1 NT   2   Stayman convention
2       Denial of a 4-card Major suit.
    3   This jump shows a 4-card Spade suit and a longer Heart suit, plus game values.
3 NT       Denies a 3-card Heart suit.
    4   Shows a 6-card Heart suit. This is the Smolen transfer bid. The opener is required to complete the transfer.

Additional Employment Situations

It is also important to remember that the Smolen transfer bid may be used in other bidding sequences such as the following two bidding sequences. The continuances, as described above, are the same following the No Trump bid.

Opener     Responder   Meaning
2 NT     3   Stayman convention following a strong, artificial 2 No Trump opening. The range is generally 20 to 21/22 high card points, but this range can be varied by partnership agreement, and the partnership adjusts accordingly.
3         Denial of a 4-card Major suit.
           
The Smolen conventional method can also be applied following a strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening followed by a rebid of No Trump.
2         Strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid. Forcing for one round.
      2   Generally a waiting bid. However, the partnership agreement can employ other versions of responses.
2 NT         The rebid of No Trump by the opener shows a holding too strong to open with 2 No Trump and too weak to be opened with 3 No Trump. (Note: This bidding sequence normally shows a holding worth 8.5 to 9 winning tricks according to the Losing Trick Count method.)

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

 


     
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