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Jacoby Transfers are used after a player has opened or overcalled a natural 1NT and his partner holds at least one five-card major suit. Responder naturally wants his side to play in his long suit, but with a weak hand, he would prefer his partner to play the contract. The reasoning is this: If the weak hand plays the contract, the strong hand becomes dummy and exposes its high card points and tenaces to the defenders. If the strong hand plays the contract, however, the weak hand becomes the dummy and the opponents have a harder time locating the high cards.

Jacoby Transfers work as follows. In response to 1NT:

Response Meaning
2 Shows at least five hearts. Asks partner to bid 2.
2 Shows at least five spades. Asks partner to bid 2.


Opener's Rebids

Opener must complete the transfer by bidding 2 or 2. However, opener can make a super-acceptance bid of 3H or 3S if holding 4-card support and 17 points. Some experts like Marty Bergen espouse an approach of making a super-accept whenever holding 4-card support, in accordance with the Law of Total Tricks. Of course, this is up to partnership agreement.


Responder's Rebids

Responder's rebids after

1NT : 2
2 : ?

Rebid Meaning
Pass A weak hand with at least five hearts.
2 Five spades, five hearts and 0-6 points. Nonforcing.
2NT A balanced or semi-balanced (no singletons or voids) distribution, five hearts, and invites game. Partner can pass, sign off in 3 or bid 3NT.
3 At least five hearts, at least four clubs and game forcing.
3 At least five hearts, at least four diamonds and game forcing.
3 At least five hearts (usually six), invitational. Partner can pass or bid 4H.
3 N/A
3NT A balanced or semi-balanced (no singletons or voids) distribution with five hearts. Partner can pass or correct to 4.
4 At least six hearts, signoff.


Responder's rebids after

1NT : 2
2 : ?

Rebid Meaning
Pass A weak hand with at least five spades.
2NT A balanced or semi-balanced (no singletons or voids) distribution, five spades, and invites game. Partner can pass, sign off in 3 or bid 3NT.
3 At least five spades, at least four clubs and game forcing.
3 At least five spades, at least four diamonds and game forcing.
3 At least five spades, at least five hearts and invitational. Partner can pass, sign off in 3 or bid 4 or 4.
3 At least five spades (usually six), invitational. Partner can pass or bid 4.
3NT A balanced or semi-balanced (no singletons or voids) distribution with five spades. Partner can pass or correct to 4.
4 At least five spades, at least five hearts and game forcing. Partner can pass or bid 4.
4 At least six spades, signoff.


Examples

OpenerResponder
AJTS972
HK76QJ932
DQT74K5
CAK3654

Opener
1NT
2 (2)

Responder
2 (1)
Pass

  1. Jacoby Transfer to hearts
  2. Completing the transfer


OpenerResponder
AJT5SKQ832
HK432Q8
DA9T875
CAJ792

Opener
1NT
3 (2)
Pass

Responder
2 (1)
4

  1. Jacoby Transfer to spades
  2. Super-acceptance with 4-card support and a maximum


OpenerResponder
93SAJT52
HAK2QT954
DKJ329
CKJ8576

Opener
1NT
2 (2)
Pass

Responder
2 (1)
3 (3)

  1. Jacoby Transfer to spades
  2. Completing the transfer
  3. Inviting game with 5 hearts


OpenerResponder
KQ2SJ9543
HAKTJ754
D98762A3
CA7QJ

Opener
1NT
2 (2)
3

Responder
2 (1)
2 (3)
4

  1. Use Stayman with 5-4 or 4-5 majors. Don't start with a transfer.
  2. No 4-card major
  3. Showing 5 spades and 4 hearts


In Competition

After 1NT is overcalled, transfers are off. If 1NT is doubled though, opinions vary. In "Modern Bridge Conventions," Bill Root and Richard Pavlicek say that a transfer "can never be preceded by interference." In the SAYC bidding booklet by the ACBL, however, transfers (and all conventional responses) are "on" over a double.

If the artificial transfer bid is doubled, the 1NT bidder can pass with only two-card support, redouble to show a good holding in the artificial transfer suit, or complete the transfer by bidding 2 or 2 with at least three-card support.

If the artificial transfer bid is overcalled, the 1NT bidder can pass with only two-card support, double for penalty or complete the transfer at the three-level with at least three-card support and a very good hand.


Extra Tips

  1. Jacoby Transfers are also used after an opening bid of 2NT or 3NT, as well as strong notrump rebids by an opening 2 (artificial and strong) bid.

    2NT : 3/3

    3NT : 4/4

    2 : 2
    2NT : 3/3

    2 : 2
    3NT : 4/4

  2. Note that Stayman, not transfers, should be used with hands that are 4-5 or 5-4 in the majors.

  3. Beginners are prone to forget transfers when they come up, resulting in some very unhappy contracts. If you are a novice and decide to use transfer bids, be sure to remember them when they come up.


Origins

Jacoby Transfers were invented by American expert Oswald Jacoby.

See also

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