Monday, July 25, 2005 8:54 PM

Stayman - Smolen after 2

 

PITBULLS:

 

           Stayman has to be more than just finding 4-4 major suit fits. There has to be a way of accurately describing 5-4 in the majors by way of Stayman to the NT opener.  Smolen type hands ( 5-4 in the majors both ways) have always interested bidding theorists. The Smolen convention is a partial fix in that the bid handles the game forcing 5-4’s quite well but at the 3 level. Can we handle both the 5-4 in the majors forcing and game invitational hands in an efficient manner and not go to the 3 level ? The answer is yes but we need two Smolen like bids and the power of the relay. Of course ,  Smolen kicks in only after you get a 2 response to a Stayman bid.  These Smolen at the two level bids are focused on the 5-4 in the major hands as slams and correct games with those hand types are worth a lot of IMPS.

 

          OK the first way to handle these hands are with the Smolen relay . This occurs only after a 2 response to Stayman. Like all relays , the Smolen relay shows the invitational or non slam going hands. Bidding naturally shows the stronger hands. Like Smolen , you bid your 4 card major ( hearts)  for partner to relay to spades .This shows spades as the anchor suit ( 5 cards ) for the 5-4 hands & as a bonus the game invitational 5-5 hands with spades as the anchor suit.  Again like Smolen , if you bid 2 after the 2 response , you have hearts as the anchor suit ( 5 cards). Lets start with the Smolen heart relay

 

1NT     2

2       2                   relay to 2 to show forcing & non forcing Smolen hands & two suiters - spades as the anchor suit

2                               forced (may have a weak 54xx hand)

2NT                 5 , 4 , Game Invite

3/3             5 , 5 minor , Game Invite

3                   5 , 5 , Game Invite

3                   5 , 4 , 3-1 in minors, Game Only

3NT                 5 , 4 , 2-2 in minors, Game Only

4/4             5 , 4 , 3 or 4 card minor , Slam Try ; Bid short minor

 

The above treatment includes all the Smolen hands forcing and non forcing with spades as the anchor suit. The relay transfers the play of the hand to the NT bidder if spades eventually become trump. The beauty of this treatment is that it includes the invitational 5-5 hands with spades as the anchor suit as well.

 

OK what about the Smolen hands with hearts as the anchor suit ?  Enter a Smolen like treatment but not a relay ( NT opener is allowed to make other bids) . Bid the 4 card suit ( spades) and if partner buys the hand in hearts , the NT bidder plays the hand. This treatment only occurs after a 2 response to Stayman

 

1NT     2

2       2                    Forcing: a) 4 , 5 , GI; b) 4 any Major, 5 or 6 minor GI; c) 4 , 5 , GF

2NT                             the usual bid, no interest in game

            Pass                 4 , 5 , GI

3/3             4M, 5/6 minor, GI – if 4-5, will have a singleton

                        Continuation by opener asks shortness: LMH

3                   4 , 6 , GI

3                   4 , 5 , 3-1 in minors, Game Only

3NT                 4 , 5 , 2-2 in minors, Game Only

4/4             4 , 5 , 3 or4 minor , Slam Try

 

3♣                               Accepts game somewhere with a ♣ fit

            3NT=not ; other=

3                                Accepts game somewhere with a fit

            3NT=not ; other=

3                                Accepts game with 3 , wants to declare

            3                    4 + 5 or 6 minor , looking for game in minor

3♠                                Accepts game with 3 , wants to go to the bathroom ?

            4 minor            4 + 5 or 6 minor , looking for game in minor

3NT                             Accepts game with a soft hand

 

4 Major by opener in all sequences suggests a place to play where responder has shown a known 4 card major