Jacoby Transfer Bid - Jacoby Transfers

This conventional method was introduced by Mr. Oswald Jacoby of Dallas, Texas, United States, and is used by the responder on the corresponding level whose partner has opened the bidding with 1 No Trump, 2 No Trump or 3 No Trump. As the name of the convention indicates, the responder will transfer the No Trump bidder to a more favorable suit. These transfer bids are an extension of the Texas Transfer bids.


Experience has shown that it is better for the partnership if the No Trump bidder becomes the declarer. First of all, the strength is concealed. Secondly, the opponent on lead could lead up to a tenace, whereby the No Trump bidder would not have to finesse. Thirdly, the opponents would have a more difficult time in defending and establishing a line of communication.


1. Responder must have at least a good 5-card suit, otherwise a moderate 6-card suit.
2. Responder may have zero high card points, but this is not a requirement.

The concept consists of two bids:

1. Bidding 2 transfers the No Trump bidder to Hearts.
2. Bidding 2 transfers the No Trump bidder to Spades.

Note: Early after the publication of this conventional method some bridge players have extended the transfer to include 2 Spades to transfer to Clubs, and 2 No Trump to transfer to Diamonds. If this should become your understanding, then please include it in your partnership agreement. Perhaps this is one method of confusing the opponents, who should be made aware of this expanded Jacoby Transfer, but adding this complexity seems unnecessary in view of the Stayman variations which covers the Minor suits. If you would, however, like to take a look, please click on the following and you can familiarize yourself with these extended variations.

Note: This original convention distinguishes itself from the following versions in the sense that the original concept was designed only to transfer the No Trump bidder to a Major suit.

Four-Suit Transfer Bids - This is an extended version of the Jacoby Transfer convention, by which the No Trump Bidder can be transferred to any suit. This extended version is generally used by the responder holding zero to an unlimited amount of values, which are concentrated in the Minor suit, although the length of the Minor suit can be only a 5-card suit.

Jacoby For the Minor Suits - This is an extended version of the Jacoby Transfer convention, designed for the responder to show a long Minor suit. This extended version is generally used by the responder holding very little values and at least a 6-card Minor suit.

Minor Suit Stayman - This is an extended version of the Jacoby Transfer convention, also designed for the responder to show at least a 4-card Minor suit. This extended version is generally used by the responder holding either weak values or possible slam values.

To demonstrate that it is generally better to let the stronger hand play, please review the following deals carefully.

West   North   East   South
Pass   1 NT   Pass   2
Pass   2   Pass   4

Using the Jacoby Transfer, the stronger hand remains concealed. The concealed hand contains two tenaces, in this case the Ace and Queen of Spades and Diamonds. If East decided to lead the 10 of Diamonds, an internal sequence, then the contract is secure. If East decides to lead trump, which is not a good idea, the contract is secure.

Note: The older principle requiring South to simply bid 4 Spades is definitely out of date. If South played the hand in 4 Spades, West would lead the Queen of Hearts. The opponents would take 3 Heart tricks and 1 Club trick, defeating the contract. Therefore, the use of the Jacoby Transfer is highly recommended.

An opening of 1 No Trump, 2 No Trump or 3 No Trump is explicit and informative in that the responder knows very much about the distribution and limited strength of the No Trump bidder. The distribution ranges from 4-4-3-2 to 4-3-3-3 to 5-3-3-2. The No Trump bidder should not have a void, a singleton, and no more than one doubleton. And playing strong No Trump openings, the responder knows that the No Trump bidder has between 15 and 18 high card points.

The responder becomes Captain and must lead his partner to the correct contract. The Jacoby Transfer convention allows the responder to deal with certain types of distribution in his own hand. View the following holding, which belongs to the responder.


In this example, the responder has zero points. But he has six Hearts. The responder knows that the opener has at least two Hearts. The responder will bid 2 Diamonds, transferring the opener to Hearts, knowing that together they have eight trump. By bidding 2 Diamonds, the responder will also perhaps discourage the opponents from entering the bidding auction.

The responsibility of placing the contract lies with the responder. After the No Trump bidder has limited his hand, it becomes the duty of the responder to lead and direct him to the most favorable contract. After the transfer, the responder has several options, such as the ones listed below.

The bidding is as follows, and below are the options:

Opener   Responder   Meaning
1 NT   2    
  2 NT A natural bid, invitational and semi-balanced.
  3 Shows a 2-suited holding, natural bid, forcing, slam interest.
  3 Shows a 2-suited holding, natural bid, forcing, slam interest.
  3 Shows a 5/5 distribution in both Major suits; game forcing.
  3 Shows a 6-card suit, invitational.
  3 NT Shows a semi-balanced holding and allowing opener to set contract.
  4 Shows a 6-card suit and a sign-off.
  4 NT A natural slam invitation; responder shows definite slam interest.

The conditions remain the same if the transfer is to Hearts. The responder considers his distribution, counts his high card points plus distributional points, and sets the contract. Truly, one of the easiest bridge conventions to learn and use.


Texas Transfer

It has become the general partnership understanding that Jacoby Transfer bids are employed well together with the Texas Transfer convention. This understanding results in a binding partnership agreement, which eliminates a certain ambiguity regarding the interpretation of the bid of 4 No Trump. It is a foregone conclusion that the values of the responder are at least minimum for a game contract.

1. After a Jacoby Transfer bid, the consensus is that a bid of 4 No Trump is quantitative, and partner may pass.
2. After a Texas Transfer bid, the consensus is that a bid of 4 No Trump is any variation of Blackwood, normally Roman Keycard Blackwood. The partner may not pass since it is considered Ace-asking.


Alternate Transfer Approach

There is another Transfer Treatment after a No Trump opening, and it is called Smolen Transfer. It has some merits and should be considered. Please take a look.

Smolen Transfer - A treatment after a No Trump opening, whereby the No Trump bidder always becomes the declarer.


Alternate Defense Treatment for Interference by Opponents

Several conventions allow the opponents to enter the auction even after a Jacoby Transfer has taken place. The following is a method of handling such interventions and is regarded simply as a treatment, not a convention. The following relates only to a specific bidding sequence and should not be deemed an appropriate possible partnership agreement, when the bidding sequence is altered. Assume only the following bidding sequence:

South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double

In this particular bidding sequence, the double by East comes after North has initiated the Jacoby Transfer to Spades. The priority is to discover what the double means and proceed on this information. However, the following method is offered to those players, who would prefer to communicate information to their partners by bidding or calling. The following treatment is offered as a suggestion for a partnership agreement based on this particular bidding sequence, which strongly suggests a Lead Directing Double, and the following suggestions are based on that assumption.

1. A Pass by South indicates exactly a 2-card Spade suit, or if the Jacoby Transfer is to Hearts, then exactly a 2-card Heart suit. This particular pass does not indicate anything about whether the No Trump bidder holds minimum or maximum values.
2. South can bid 2 Spades and accept the Jacoby Transfer. This shows a 3-card Spade suit, or even a 4-card Spade suit and, by implication, a minimum of values.
3. A Redouble by South promises a 3-card Spade suit and moderate values, or, by partnership agreement, a 4-card Spade suit and values better than minimum values.
4. South can bid 3 Spades, or jump in the intended Transfer Suit. This rebid promises exactly a 4-card Spade suit and maximum values.

Since North gains information about the strength and quality and suit-length of the holding of the No Trump bidder, then North can safely adjust his bidding accordingly. Following are several bids, which are available to the responder:

1. In the case that, in the above example, South has Passed, then North can Redouble, and South must accept the transfer.

South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass   Redouble   Pass

The quality of the holding of North still has not been clarified and North may continue the bidding after South has been forced to accept the transfer. The holding of North may include any range from zero points to unlimited points. The holding will be clarified in the ensuing auction.

2. A distinction must be made if the responder holds a stopper in the suit bid by the opponent and game values, as with the following holding:

South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass

The question is whether a Redouble or a bid of 3 No Trump is preferable. The general consensus is that a bid by North of 3 No Trump denies a stopper in the suit of the opponent and that first a Redouble, which forces South to accept the transfer, and then a rebid by North of 3 No Trump shows at least one stopper in the suit of the opponent, which is Hearts.

3. A bid of 2 Spades by North indicates a very weak hand, and if passed out, the lead will come up to North. If the opponents decide to continue bidding, then they must do so on the three level. It is doubtful that the opponents will wish to play in a No Trump contract after the opening has been a No Trump.

4. A bid by the responder, in this example North, then this bid shows minimum values and a two-suited holding. For example:

South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass   3

After South has shown only a 2-card Spade suit by passing, North can show a second 5-card suit by simply bidding it. This second bid shows minimum values and no desire to continue the auction. South must pass.

However, in the following example, the bidding sequence should be different to show a game-forcing action taken by North:

South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass   Redouble   Pass
2   Pass   3

South has shown a 2-card Spade suit by passing the Transfer. North has game-going values and must force South to bid. This is accomplished with a Redouble and then the rebid of a side suit.

Note: This treatment, whenever the opponent enters the auction after the Jacoby Transfer, is only a recommendation, not a convention, and should be considered as such.


If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

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