1. Why Transfers?
2. Simple Transfers Over 1NT
3. Advanced 2♠ / 2NT Transfers
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: -
- They allow you to show a 5-card major and to show the strength of your
hand below game level, aimed at finding a 5 – 3 fit.
- They allow the hand to be played with the stronger 1NT or 2NT opening
hand hidden, and the lead running up to Opener’s tenaces.
- They provide additional bidding sequences to describe Responder’s hand
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.
- With a minimum opening hand, Opener can pass 2NT with doubleton support
or raise partner to 3♥ with 3-card support – keeping
the bidding as low as possible.
- With a maximum opening hand, Opener bids 3NT with doubleton support and
bids 4♠ with 3-card support.
2. Simple Transfers Over 1NT
After a 1NT opening bid, responses with Transfers
- 2♣ - Stayman
- 2♦ / 2♥ - Transfer
asking partner to bid 2♥ / 2♠
. At this stage, Responder has shown at least a 5-card heart / spade suit
– but no indication of strength
- 2♠ – 11 points and even distribution
- 2NT – 12 points and even distribution
- 3♣ / 3♦ / 3♥ / 3♠ show a good 6-card
suit and interest in a slam
- 3NT to play
- 4 of a major or 5 of a minor to play.
☀ After Opener responds 2♥ / 2♠ to the 2♦ / 2♥ Transfer bids, the next
bids by Responder are: -
- With a weak hand, pass.
- With 11 / 12 points and a 5-card major, bid 2NT
- With 13+ points and a 5-card major, but no interest in slam, bid 3NT
- With a hand around 10 points to a poor 12 points and a 6-card suit, raise
the transferred suit, inviting, but not forcing, partner to bid four of the
- With a 5 – 4 distribution and sufficient points for game, bid the second
suit, which is a forcing bid. The partnership bids naturally until a game
fit or 3NT is found. If Responder is strong enough, he can then use Cue bids
and /or Blackwood to investigate a potential slam.
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
Bidding, after the 2♠ bid, is: -
2NT Response to 1NT
- If Opener has a minimum hand (12 or poor 13 points) he bids 2NT and Responder
will then pass if he holds 11 / 12 points. If Responder holds the 18+ point-count
hand and is still interested in slam in spite of the negative bid by Opener,
they continue bidding 4-card suits in ascending order until a suit-fit or
3NT is found. If a suit-fit is found, Cue bids and /or Blackwood can be used
to investigate slam. If no suit-fit is found, Blackwood can still be used
to investigate a slam in No Trumps if Responder is strong enough.
- If Opener has a maximum hand, Opener bids his lowest 4-card suit. If
Responder has the 11 / 12 point hand, he bids 3NT, closing the auction. But
if Responder has the 18-plus point hand, they continue bidding 4-card suits
in ascending order until a suit-fit or 3NT is found. Again, if a suit-fit
is found, Cue bids and / or Blackwood can be used to investigate slam, or
Blackwood can be used to investigate a slam in No Trumps.
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: -
- 3♣ - Stayman
- 3♦ - Transfer to 3♥
- 3♥ - Transfer to 3♠
- 3♠ - ‘Baron’ strong hand with interest in
a slam. In reply, Opener rebids 3NT with a minimum. With a maximum, they
bid 4-card suits in ascending order until a suit-fit is found, after which
Cue bids and / or Blackwood can be used to investigate a slam.
- 3NT - to play
- 4♥ / 4♠ /
5♣ / 5♦ - to play
- 4NT - a quantitative invitation to 6NT. Partner passes with a minimum
opening 2NT (20 / poor 21 points), and bids 6NT with a maximum.
- 5NT- a quantitative invitation to 7NT. Partner bids 6NT with a
minimum opening 2NT (20 / poor 21 points), and bids 7NT with a maximum.
5. Breaking The Transfer
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
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♦
. 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
- 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
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: -
- 2♣ is Stayman
- 2♦ / 2♥ tell partner
to Transfer to the next-level up suit e.g. 1NT – Dble – 2♦ tells partner to bid 2♥
- Redouble tells partner to bid 2♣ , which
Responder will pass or convert to 2♦ .
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.