Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge



Two-tier minor suit transfers

Simple four-suit transfers

As an intermediate-level introduction to transfer bids I suggested that 2 be a transfer to clubs and 3 a transfer to diamonds.

Using that system it will be all but unknown for you to do anything other than complete the transfer into the minor.  You could break the transfer in a number of ways with four-card support opposite what might be a six-card suit in an almost non-existent hand, but this could push you to the four-level.  Consider showing a good stop in this way at favourable vulnerability if you wish, as a partnership agreement, but you will probably be the only pair doing so.

Intermediate and above

Post-beginner and above

2NT to show diamonds

This approach was introduced as an advanced option for responder.

In adopting this approach you will have released an immediate response at the three-level for an alternative purpose.  You should at the same time have incorporated a method such as non-promissory Stayman to show the invitational raise to 2NT.

Two-tier responses

A majority of tournament players will combine this approach with two-tier responses.

This is a powerful method.

The most important application of the method is to test the solidity of a suit, which will on occasion enable you to bid 3NT based on the running minor suit when your combined holding of high-card-points is a little light.

The constructive sequences for responder (particularly five minor followed by four major, forcing - and a raise to four setting the suit for a minor-suit slam-try) are available just as they were with simple four-suit transfers, and as a bonus it also provides a method of finding a weak take-out at the three-level on a hand which is 5-5 in the minor suits.

However, these considerations are in the mind of responder on his first bid and on his rebid.

Your responsibility is merely to respond to the transfer in the agreed manner.

The usual system of two-tier responses is:-

step 1  any hand which does not qualify for a step 2 response;

step 2  any hand containing Qxx or better in the implied minor.

Some authorities include any fourteen point hand in the positive step 2 response.

A J 7 5

K Q 8 4

T 8 6

A 4

Partner has transferred to clubs.

Bid 2NT,

denying three cards to a top honour in clubs.










A J 7 5

K T 8 4

Q 6 4

A 7

Partner has transferred to diamonds.

Bid 3,

promising at least three cards to the queen in diamonds.










It should be noted that some pairs permit a shorter holding to count as suit support - eg Ax or Kx, as well as Qxx.

My recommendation is that you stick with a minimum of Qxx as above.  The critical factor is to ensure that you have an entry to the running suit in dummy, and the third card will frequently be essential in this respect.

Some pairs reverse the meanings of the two-tier responses.  This is inferior because it disables the final advantage of using these transfer.  With 5-5 in the minors in a weak hand, responder can bid 2NT promising a transfer to diamonds.  If partner accepts the transfer with a bid of 3 then he can pass, in the knowledge that he will be playing in at least a 5-3 fit.

If he declines the transfer with a bid of 3, then he is likely to hold three cards in clubs, and you will again be happy to pass.

For continuations after a two-tier minor suit transfer follow one of:-

weak hands;

invitational hands;

game-going hands;

slam-try hands.

Responder’s first bid

Context  -  You opened 1NT - LHO passed - partner made a transfer bid.