Red Suit Transfers over 1NT

Even those players that do not yet play transfers over 1NT will be familiar with them. Many pairs play transfers and many of your opponents will be using them against you. They are fairly easy to use and very descriptive and we recommend everyone should play them. We describe a simple approach that can be understood as assumed if you agree with your partner to play Red Suit Transfers without any further discussion. To use them you bid the suit below the major, 2for transfer to hearts, and 2 for a transfer to spades. Remember transfers are about 5 card suits not four card suits . You announce transfers e.g. “ hearts”.

Playing transfers gives you two significant advantages. The first is the most obvious and is also the most touted, but it is the second that provides the greatest benefit.

The 1NT opener ends up as declarer when responder is weak, thus protecting tenaces and keeping the stronger hand hidden. However if you only use transfers for weak hands, do not bother, since weakness take-outs offer more choices

Responder has shown a suit at the two-level while opener's forced response guarantees responder a second bid, should he have more to say. Responder can therefore give opener a better description of his hand.

An example of the second feature is that responder can tell opener "I have exactly five hearts and an invitational strength hand". It is not possible to give opener that message unless transfers are in use. This information enables the 1NT opener to select the most appropriate contract for the partnership, either 2NT, 3 , 3NT or 4. Playing transfers will get you into the best contract more often.

The Responses to 1NT

After a player has opened 1NT and the next player has passed, one scheme of bidding is:

2 : Stayman convention. Asks opener to bid 2 with four hearts (may also have four spades), 2 with four spades (denies four hearts), 2 with no four-card major. A rebid of 3or 3 by responder shows a weak hand with a six-card minor and opener should pass.

2 : Transfer to hearts. Shows five or more hearts. Opener is normally expected to bid 2 regardless of his holding. Opener may however break the transfer with a good fit (4 cards) and a maximum point count for 1NT.

2: Transfer to spades. Shows five or more spades. Opener is normally'expected' to bid 2 regardless of his holding. Opener however may break the transfer with a good fit (4 cards) and a maximum point count for 1NT.

2 : A weak raise in no trumps (shows 11 hcp over a 12-14 hcp 1NT). Opener should bid 3NT if holding a maximum (14 hcp), otherwise must bid 2NT.

2NT: A Strong raise in no trumps (shows 12 hcp over a 12-14 hcp 1NT). Opener should bid 3NT if holding better than a minimum (13-14 hcp), otherwise must pass.

3 of any suit: Shows a six-card suit in a strong hand, with slam possibilities if a good fit exists. Opener should bid 3NT with an unsuitable hand.

3NT: to play.

4 of amajor: to play

After the transfer has been completed

Responder is weak

If responder is weak and wants to play in two of the major, he simply passes.

Responder is single-suited

With game-invitational strength or more and a single-suited or fairly balanced hand, responder can use the advantage gained from the transfer bid to give opener an accurate description.

Five-card suit, invitational strength:

Responder rebids 2NT. Opener can choose the denomination (responser's suit if he has three or more cards, no trumps if he has only two), and the level to play at (part score if he is minimum, game if he is maximum).

Five-card suit, game strength:

Responder rebids 3NT. You have given opener a choice of two possible game contracts.

Six-card or longer suit, invitational strength:

Responder rebids three of his suit. Opener will pass with a minimum and raise to four with a maximum.

Responder is strong and two-suited

Two-suited hands are shown by transferring into the first suit and then rebidding a second suit. All further bids after the completion of the transfer are natural. For example, in the sequence 1NT, 2 , 2 ,... 3 , the 2 was a transfer to hearts, of course, but the 3 was natural, showing diamonds. . Any bid in a second suit by responder is forcing to game.

When the opponents double

If the opening 1NT bid is doubled by the next player, all Stayman and transfer conventions are off and any bid is an attempt to escape to a safer contract.

When the opponents overcall

If the opening 1NT bid is overcalled by the next player, all Stayman and transfer conventions are off. Responder's bids are natural

In addition

Transfers can be played over an opening 2NT or over a game force 2 opening when opener re-bids 2NT. Agree with partner though!

You can of course play transfers in any suit but these are more complicated, and may not be suitable for less experienced partnerships.

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See also tranmsfers.pdf which can be downloaded from the "Guides" section and opened in 'Acrobat Reader'