002: The super-accept

depositphotos_1563349-The-image-of-playing-cardsIn post #001 below, I mentioned in passing the “super-accept”. I’ve found that people at my club are slightly familiar with it, for the most part, but I rarely see it used. Since it really can be useful, you may find an explanation useful. Here’s how it works.

You’ve opened 1NT (15-17) and partner has initiated a transfer sequence — let’s say, for the sake of example, she’s bid 2D, transferring you to hearts.  Like most players, your hand is reaching for the 2H card almost before RHO passes, right? You’ve been taught over the years that that’s the right thing to do.

Well, suppose for a minute that when partner transferred you to hearts, you thought to yourself, “Wow, that’s GREAT. I have an absolutely perfect hand for hearts.” In fact, your hand meets three criteria:

  1. You have four cards in the suit to which your partner is transferring you to — in this case, hearts.
  2. You have a maximum number of points for your previous bidding — in this case, 17 HCP.
  3. You have some kind of ruffing value; in this case, you don’t have 3-4-3-3 distribution.

Your hand, in fact, might look like this: S KJx H KQTx D KJxx C Ax. That’s why your eyes lit up when partner transferred you to hearts.

Well, it’s not considered ethical to say out loud, “Whoo-hoo! I really like that bid, partner, and I have a great hand for hearts!!” But what you can do is make a bid known as a “super-accept” that gets the same message across without being unethical.

For those of you who are new to the super-accept, the easiest way to indicate that your hand meets those three criteria (four cards in the suit, maximum points, and non-flat distribution) is by raising the level of your response by one.  So the sequence would go 1NT / 2D / 3H, which your partner would alert and then reply, “Super-accept” if asked.  (And if she’s asked further, would explain the three conditions, because partner is so smart she never forgets things like that and always has the perfect explanation at her fingertips LOL.)

Partner, of course, can have any number of hands to initiate a transfer sequence. Many times, she has a real dog — something like S Tx H ATxxx D xxxx C Jx that wants to play in 2H rather than 1NT because of the 5 trumps and the ruffing values. Simply put, she transferred because she thought there were more available tricks in 2H than there would be in 1NT, and her only alternative is pass, leaving you to fumble around in 1NT. When partner has this hand, she’ll look at you with a little bit of sadness and pass your 3H bid because she has no further bids she should be making.  And she will be hoping that your darn old super-accept didn’t get the partnership one level higher than you should be. It happens. You should still consider adding the super-accept to your bidding arsenal, because bidding is about trying to make informative bids that will work a high percentage of the time, not 100% of the time.

Quite often, though, partner’s transfer to hearts will be the beginning of a constructive sequence. For instance, if you improve her hand to S Jxx H KQTxxx D Qx C Ax, she’ll be raising you to 4H after you complete the transfer. If her hand is something like S Jxx H KQTxx D Qxx C Ax, with only five heart cards, after you accept the transfer she’ll bid 3NT to give you a choice between 4H (if you happen to have started with three heart cards) or 3NT (if you happen to have started with two heart cards).  And if she has something like S Jxx H KQTxx D Qxx C Jx, after you accept the transfer she’ll bid 2NT, which says, “Partner, I have 8 or 9 HCP and five heart cards; I’m not sure whether we should be in 3H, 3NT, or 4H, but you have all the information you need to make that decision.” Then you’ll value your hand in a heart contract and bid accordingly.

So the super-accept is your only chance to communicate the full value of your hand, and most of the time that’s a bid that is worth making no matter what happens. If there is a miracle slam with only 29 points between the two hands, the super-accept is the only chance you have to find it. It may get you to a 4H game where the rest of the field has rested at the 3 level, or 3NT making 3 instead of 2NT making 3.

Once your partnership gets comfortable with the super-accept, you can take it to the next level. Simply put, the super-accept is not restricted to bumping the bidding one level higher. If you want to really get refined with this idea, instead of calling it “super-accept”, you can think of it as the Brits do and “break the transfer”. ANY bid that you make over 2D that isn’t 2H breaks the transfer; and the exact bid that you use to break the transfer can convey information.

Let’s suppose, for example, that you started with a 1NT opener like S Kxx H AJxx D KJxx C AJ. You open 1NT, partner bids 2D, and you meet all three conditions for breaking the transfer. There are two general ways you can go with this; if you break the transfer by bidding 3C, you’re showing strength, your cheapest ace (denying the spade ace in the process, and you don’t consider the heart ace yet). And if you break the transfer by bidding 2S, you might be telling weakness to partner, “I meet those three conditions but could use some help in the spade suit.” So you can either show strength or tell weakness; one or the other, but not both, and you and partner have to decide in advance, and of course be prepared to explain fully to your opponents if/when they ask. Whichever you decide, if you break the transfer in the old-fashioned way — 1NT / 2D / 3H — it means, if you’re showing strength, you have an aceless hand outside of hearts, and if you’re telling weakness, your hand has no suit you can pinpoint where you need particular help.

Most people prefer to show strength; it’s easier to remember. But it depends on your partnership style.

Once you’ve broken the transfer, partner is the captain of the hand, because she has more information about your hand than you do about hers. (She always was the captain; when you opened 1NT, you limited your hand.) So if she goes to game immediately, or bids three of the major she transferred you to, just pass. If the auction goes 1NT / 2D / 3C / 3H, she has that crappy hand with five hearts that wanted to play in 2H.  Oh well.  But if she bids a new suit — well, if you were showing strength in a particular suit, so is she. 1NT / 2D / 3C / 3D should be showing that she has first-round control in diamonds. And if you were telling weakness, 1NT / 2D / 3C / 3D should be saying, “I can help out in the club suit and I have weakness in diamonds.” This kind of informative bidding is the way to get to the 29-point miracle slam that no one else in the room has the methods to find; you’ll be playing in 6H making 6, rather than 3NT making 5 or 6, for a top board.

These bidding sequences are delicate and they don’t come up often. One important point; do NOT go crazy and use them if your 1NT opener doesn’t meet all three criteria. That is the fastest way to get into deep trouble on the hand and wind up with a big fat zero. If you’re disciplined and you’ve discussed these sequences with partner, you can occasionally get a lovely top on a board.



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