Smolen is an extension of the Stayman convention. It is used after getting a 2 negative response to a Stayman 2 bid. A jump to 3-Major shows 4 cards in that major and 5 cards in the other. It also shows game-forcing values.

Opener  Responder
1NT 2 1
2 2 3


AKT92
KQ53
KT
J9

1 Stayman.
2 Denies a 4-card major.

3 is Smolen, showing 5-4 shape in spades and hearts. Partner is asked to bid 3 with a 3-card spade suit, or 3NT with 2 spades.


Opener  Responder
1NT2 1
2 23


QJ93
AKT92
KT
J9

1 Stayman.
2 Denies a 4-card major.

3 is Smolen, showing 5-4 shape in hearts and spades. Partner is asked to bid 3NT if he only holds 2 hearts, or 4 if he has 3 hearts.


Opener  Responder
1NT2 1
2 23


KT93
AKT952
8
96

1 Stayman.
2 Denies a 4-card major.

Some partnerships also choose to use Smolen with 6-4 shape in the majors. I'm not really a fan of this approach, preferring instead to keep it simple and use a Jacoby transfer or Texas transfer.


Playing traditional Stayman, responder would invite game with the above hands by bidding his 5-card major instead of his 4-card major. The benefit of Smolen is to allow the 1NT opener to declare the hand. The philosophy is akin to Jacoby transfers, in that the strong hand's tenaces should be protected by playing the contract.


Origins

Smolen was created by the late American expert Mike Smolen.

See also

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