Transferring hands

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2008

In last week’s column, I reviewed one of the oldest conventions in a bridge bidder’s arsenal, the Stayman convention; used to ask partner, who has opened 1NT, if he has a four-card major suit. The bid also informs partner that he has a minimum of 8 HCP.

This week, I’m going to cover Jacoby Transfers. World champion Oswald Jacoby, one of the unsung heroes of WWII who helped break Japanese signal codes, made the convention popular.

To use a Jacoby Transfer over a 1NT opener you need a five-card major suit and as few as zero points. When responder bids 2D over 1NT, opener knows partner has at least five hearts. When responder bids 2H over 1NT, opener knows partner has at least five spades.

These are artificial bids and must be announced by the 1NT opener before RHO bids or passes. Unlike Stayman, which asks, Jacoby Transfers tell partner. The purpose is to get the strong hand to play the contract. Opener accepts the transfer by bidding 2H or 2S as directed.

With a bust hand, 0–7 responder will pass and the team will play a part score contract in a suit instead of NT, most times with at least an 8-card trump suit. If responder raises the suit to the third level, it’s invitational to game and shows 6 cards in the suit. A bid of 2NT tells opener about the five card suit and invitational support to 3NT. A jump by responder to 3NT is a “pick-em partner” response, either 3NT or four of the suit.

The clear benefit of using Jacoby Transfers is when responder has a bust, a terrible hand. Most times declarer will go set when playing in NT but will have a fighting chance when playing in a trump suit.

Is opener required to accept the transfer, that is bid 2H or 2S? No. However, opener must announce “transfer” to explain responder’s bid of 2D or 2H. Opener can “super-accept” the transfer by bidding 3H or 3S, telling responder that he has 4 in the suit; or opener can go directly to 3NT, 4 of the suit or any other sufficient bid.


Monday: Linda Floyd and Rosann Dufek, Lorette and Clark Ogle, Janet Johnson and Peggy Olson, Jerrie Friar and Liz Milko, Peggy Graham and Marilyn Spacht, Carolyn Gunn and Tom Nelson.

Thursday: Judy Chase and Mel Dupuis, Peggy and Gene Graham, Jo Weatherly and Charlotte Lusco, John Lusco and Mac LaCasse, Arlene Owens and Barbara Dawson.

Friday: Judy Chase and Bernie Liberman, Hazel Haas and Geri Dodson, Jan Lovorn and Roy Martin, Judy and David Funk, John Lusco and Mac LaCasse.

Saturday: Judie Fair and Barbara Dawson, Judy Chase and Jan Lovorn, Charlotte Lusco and Jo Weatherly.


I might be tempted to overtake North’s queen of spades with the ace, although it’s a risk if you win. Return a low spade or the queen? It’s safer to let the king ride. Doesn’t matter. The killing lead is a heart. If North leads a heart the defense gets a trump and a heart for sure.

John Randall and his wife, Linda, run the Shelby County Bridge Club. For more information, call 451-5997.