Smolen shows a hand heavy in the major suits. It is a bid of 3s or 3♠s following the Stayman 2 negative response. Remember the Stayman negative denies a four-card major. Smolen is intended to avoid playing in a No Trump contract on the assumption that their distribution is unsafe. Smolen also seeks to keep opener’s hand hidden as declarer.

In Smolen responder bids his shorter suit first:

South as responder
3sShows four hearts and five spades
3♠Shows four spades and five hearts

There is a later stage in the Smolen sequence to show a six-carder, insisting on Game on a transfer basis. North will always end up as declarer (see examples below):

South as responder
4Shows six hearts
4sShows six spades

1] Negative response from North:


In the first bidding sequence, South bids the Smolen 3♠s to show he has four spades and at least five hearts, possibly 6. He asks North to show a 3-card suit. However, North’s 3NT is a negative bid, showing a doubleton in s (partner’s longer suit).

2] North has support for spades:


In the next example, South bids 3s in response to North’s negative 2s. He shows he has four hearts and five spades. Again he wants North to indicate if he has 3-card major, this time in ♠s. North has the goods, bidding 3♠s. South is happy and raises to Game. North is declarer with spades as trumps (because he bid the suit first).

In each case, South is showing a minimum 10 points plus distribution, and is Game-going. The convention is clearly to avoid a No Trump contract, given South’s unbalanced hand, while at the same time making the opener declarer to keep his hand hidden.


1] North supports spades

South as responder
♠ K 9 7 6 2
A J 8 6
♣ Q 10 7


South’s second reply of 3s is Smolen showing four hearts and five spades. North shows he has three ♠s so raising to Game and becoming declarer.

2] North has no support

South as responder
♠ K 10 6 3
A J 9 7 4
10 6
♣ Q 5


South bids 3♠s to show he has four spades and five hearts. North has only two s, so he replies with the 3NT negative bid, but will remain declarer.

3] South has a six-carder.

South as responder
♠ K 9 8 4
A J 10 7 5 4
9 7
♣ Q


South has a six-carder. Following North’s denial of a four-card major, South invokes Smolen asking partner to bid if he has a three-card heart suit. (South’s 3♠s shows four spades and five hearts).

North replies with a negative 3NT. And like the previous example, the bidding would have ended there but for the fact that South is sitting with six, not five hearts. So he presses on, bidding 4s to push North into a suit Game contract. North is declarer in 4s.

Let’s consider the dialogue against the above bidding:

1NTI have 12-14 points and nothing worse than a doubleton
2♣Stayman by South. I am 5-4 in major, maybe 4-4 if stronger in points. Please show me any 3-card major
2Sorry, mate, I don’t have one
3♠Smolen by South. This is my 4-card major. I also have five hearts. We really should avoid a NT contract if possible. Bid if you have three hearts
3NTSorry, still no good. I only have two hearts. And that is my doubleton
4Actually, I have six hearts, and I insist you go to Game in my suit
4OK, since you insist. North agrees hearts, knowing South has good ruffing values. North is declarer

4] Another six-carder

South as responder
♠ A Q 10 8 7 3
K 8 5 3
10 8
♣ J


In this final bidding sequence South’s majors are reversed. He has a six-carder spade suit. His 3 Smolen says he has 4s and five ♠s. North has no more than a doubleton in spades so returns the negative 3NT. South, however, has six spades and shows this with a response of 4s, asking North to go to Game. North obliges and closes the auction at 4♠, and he will once again be declarer.

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To continue reading go to: Weissberger

By Nigel Benetton – based on the UK Acol Bridge Bidding System

Last updated: Monday, 19 April 2021