The idea when playing transfer bids is to protect the no trump bidder’s hand from the opening lead, to force opponents to lead into strength. Regretfully, some hand patterns don’t fit easily into this mold. This usually occurs when responder is five – four or six -four in the majors. Normal procedure is for responder to Stayman the hand. If the opening no trump bidder rebids two diamonds the normal action is for responder to bid his longer major at an appropriate level. This negates the advantage that a transfer bid would normally confer on the partnership.
The Smolen Transfer Convention restores this advantage on game forcing and better hands. After a Stayman denial of two diamonds to a two club inquiry the responder jumps to the three level in his four card major. This promises at least a five card suit in the unbid major. These are the two common sequences:
One no trump – two clubs – two diamonds – three hearts showing five or more spades and one no trump – two clubs – two diamonds – three spades showing five or more hearts.
Over a Smolen Transfer the opening no trump bidder has several options. With no eight card fit the opener simply bids three no trump, denying the transfer. With three cards in the long major the opener may bid the suit at the lowest possible level. Lastly, with a three card fit and a maximum hand rich in controls the opener may make an advance cue bid of a side suit ace. When responder has no interest at all in slam there is a small possibility of the hand being played by the responder rather than by the opening no trump bidder:
One no trump – two clubs – two diamonds – three spades – four diamonds. Here hearts are agreed upon and the opener shows the ace of diamonds. With no interest in slam the responder would now have to bid four hearts himself.
If the no trump bidder denies the transfer the responder, on six-four hands, can show his six card suit by bidding the suit directly beneath it. The no trump bidder is now obliged to complete the transfer. Examples:
One no trump – two clubs – two diamonds – three spades – three no trump – four diamonds shows six hearts and four spades. One no trump – two clubs – two diamonds – three hearts – three no trump – four hearts shows six spades.
Smolen Transfers also apply over strong two no trump sequences:
Two no trump – three clubs – /three diamonds – three spades would show five or more hearts.
Two clubs – two diamonds – two no trump – three clubs – three diamonds – three hearts would show five or more spades.