1. Why Transfers?
2. Simple Transfers Over 1NT
3. Advanced 2 / 2NT Transfers Over 1NT
4. Transfers Over 2NT
5. Breaking the Transfer
6. Extended Stayman
7. Opponents Intervene Over Transfers

1. Why Transfers?

A Transfer is a response to 1NT in the suit below the one actually held, asking partner to bid your 5-card major. So a response of 2 shows five or more hearts and asks Opener to bid 2 .

Whilst Stayman is useful to find 4 – 4 major fits over 1NT, Transfers have several further benefits: -

There is a small downside to Transfers – you haven’t got a weak take-out into 2 . However, if the 1NT opening hand is doubled, you can escape into 2 using ‘Exit Transfers’ – see Section 7.

One example of the advantage of Transfers can be seen in the following hand where Responder bids after a weak 1NT opening hand: -

             AQxxx       xx       Qxx      Kxx

Without Transfers, the bidding would go: -

1NT – 2 – 2 – 3 invites Opener to bid 4 or 3NT. But if Opener has a doubleton spade and a minimal 1NT opening hand, he must either pass, leaving partner in a 5 – 2 fit at the 3-level with possibly only 23 points, or bid 3NT, again with possibly only 23 points.

With Transfers, Responder bids 2 , asking Opener to bid 2 , at which point Responder bids 2NT, showing a 5-card spade suit and 11/12 points.

2. Simple Transfers Over 1NT

After a 1NT opening bid, responses with Transfers are: -

After Opener responds 2 / 2 to the 2 / 2 Transfer bids, the next bids by Responder are: -

After the 2 (11 points) or 2NT (12 points) response to 1NT, Opener defines the final contract as 2NT or 3NT, depending on his values.

After a jump response at the 3-level (1NT – 3 / 3 / 3 / 3 ), Opener replies 3NT with doubleton support and Cue bids with either 3- or 4-card support. Further Cue bidding and / or Blackwood can then be used to investigate a potential slam.

3. Advanced 2 / 2NT Transfers

In the previous section, the 2 and 2NT bids showed 11 and 12-point hands with even distribution, a simple form of Transfers. However, the ‘Baron’ 2 bid and the 2NT ‘escape into minors’ bids can be used to provide a more precise definition of Responder’s hand. The following is the EBU Standard Modern Acol approach to Transfers, using Baron 2 , documented in more detail in their book “Really Easy Modern Acol”.

2 Response to 1NT

The 2 bid (Baron) is a 2-way bid showing either 11 / 12 points with even distribution, or 18+ points with an interest in slam.

Bidding, after the 2 bid, is: -

2NT Response to 1NT
The 2NT bid is aimed at escaping into a minor suit and tells Opener to bid 3 .  Responder passes with a long club suit, or converts to 3 with a long diamond suit.

4. Transfers Over 2NT

Stayman and Transfers are used over 2NT as well as over 1NT. This also applies to a 2 opening bid followed by a negative 2 response and then 2NT. (NB if there is a positive response to 2 , subsequent bidding is natural, not Stayman / Transfers, after 2NT.)   The responses to the 2NT or 2 – 2 – 2NT opening bids are: -

5. Breaking The Transfer

‘Breaking the Transfer’ is a further option that can be used over the 1NT and / or 2NT opening hand – you need to decide with your partner whether to adopt it - either over 1NT, over 2NT or over both.    Break the Transfer over 1NT
The Transfer bid by Responder over 1NT asks Opener to bid the next suit up. If Opener has a maximum opening 1NT hand and excellent support for Responder’s suit, Opener can “Break the Transfer” by jumping to the 3-level in the ‘Transferred’ suit, e.g. 1NT – 2 – 3 . If Responder has a moderate hand, say a good 9 or 10 points, a game can be found. If Responder has a weak hand, this pre-emptive bid may make it more difficult for the opponents to compete.

Break the Transfer over 2NT

Breaking the Transfer can also be used over a 2NT opening hand - in this case it shows that Opener has excellent support for Responder’s suit, has a maximum 2NT opening hand and is a Cue bid. Responder, if sufficiently strong, via further Cue bids and / or Blackwood, can then investigate a Slam.  

6. Extended Stayman

Stayman can be used to find a 4 - 4 major fit. Transfers can be used to find a 5 - 3 major fit, where Responder has a single 5-card major. With 5 – 4 in the majors and a game going hand, Responder can seek a fit by an immediate Transfer to the 5-card major followed by a bid of the other 4-card major. But Stayman and Transfers don’t easily cope when Responder holds a 5 – 5 distribution in the majors.  

If Responder has two 5-card majors, then a further tool is available to find a 5- 3 major fit - ‘Extended Stayman’. The bidding sequence for this is: -

1NT                             - 2 (Stayman)

2 (no 4-card major)  - 3 (Extended Stayman)

The 3 bid asks partner to bid 3-card majors in ascending order – the 3 response therefore denying a 3-card heart suit (same as 4-card majors for Stayman).  Since Opener cannot possibly have opened 1NT without a 3-card major, a 5 – 3 fit in the majors must be found. But to use Extended Stayman, you need to have a game-going hand. With a weak to moderate hand and 5 – 5 in the majors, Extended Stayman should not be used. The best bet is to use Stayman, just in case Opener holds a 4-card major; and if Opener responds 2 , bid your best major at the 2-level, closing the auction.

7. Opponents Intervene over Transfers

If the opponents overcall or double a 1NT bid, then Transfers are abandoned and bids at the 2-level are weak take-out.  Alternately, conventional escapes from 1NT doubled can be used, such as Helmic, Wriggle, Exit Transfers, etc. Since this tuition is about Transfers, below is a description of ‘Exit Transfers’.

Exit Transfers over 1NT doubled are usually weakness take-out bids, though they may be based on a moderate hand, which will play better in the long suit. One version of Exit Transfer bidding after a penalty double of 1NT is as follows: -

Another simpler Exit Transfer option excludes Stayman and has 2 / 2 / 2 as Transfers, with Redouble as the exit to 2 - but the first option seems to have greater flexibility, especially if Responder has a strong hand with one or two 4-card majors.