Several of my partners (including Ed Davis) prefer John Mohan's defense against weak notrumps. We define "strong" to be "any 1NT opening that includes 16 HCP, but in addition 13-15 HCP played in conjunction with a big club system." All weaker than that are "weak."

The basic idea is to use transfers in order to give the overcaller a chance to bid twice with very good hands. Initial actions are:

Dbl  Good 14+, usually balanced
2C:  Both majors
2D:  Transfer to hearts
2H:  Transfer to spades
2S:  Spades and a minor
2NT  Hearts and a minor
3C:  Natural
3D:  Natural
3H:  Natural, preemptive
3S:  Natural, preemptive

Note that initial actions are sound overcalls. Most overcalls are something that resembles a decent opening bid with some playing strength. This means that we might get shut out with 13 vs. 13, but since it is quite possible that we have a game, we can't afford to bid light and get doubled at the 3-level after a game try.

Advancer's Actions

After an initial double, some play system on, some play natural. In either case, I suggest making a 2C: response to the double be a scramble, not showing much of anything, just usually fear. It might be a reasonable shapely hand that doesn't want to play 1NT doubled and doesn't have a convenient way out, but that's rare. A redouble of 2C: is takeout. We play system on if their pass is forcing to a redouble, but system off otherwise.

If they redouble for business, pass is to play. System should definitely be off.

We play that after a double, the next double is takeout, usually showing exactly two cards in their suit. Others prefer that the first double is only semi-natural and just shows extra values. Discuss this with partner.

We play that after 1NT is doubled, we are in a force through 2S:. Some prefer to make this 2H:, because the force on 2H: usually leads to our contract of 2S:, whereas being forced vs. 2S: forces us to the three-level.

In response to 2C:, 2D: shows no or little preference. This is quite helpful if overcaller is 5-4. 2NT is a natural game try. Jumps are invitational. 3D: is to play. 2D: followed by 3D: is forcing.

In response to the transfers, all bad hands simply accept the transfer. New suits are natural and forward-going, but not 100% forcing. 2NT is a natural game try. Jump acceptances are invitational. Yes, there is no force. That probably ought to get changed.

In response to 2S: showing spades and a minor, 2NT is an artificial game try, asking for size and the minor. 3C: is pass or correct. 3S: is invitational.

Over 2NT, showing hearts and a minor, 3C: is pass or correct, 3D: is natural and forward-going, 3H: is to play, and 3S: is natural and forcing.

Overcaller's Rebids

Everything is pretty much natural; second bids show extra strength. One strangeness is that a transfer to a major followed by a minor shows a four-card major and a six-card minor.


We do not play this method by passed hands. Instead, we play Woolsey.
Jeff Goldsmith,, Dec. 19, 1996