Non-promissory Stayman

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Non-promissory four-card Stayman


If and when you choose to use the 2NT response as your transfer into diamonds you will find that the natural invitational limit raise to 2NT is no longer available.


To replace this bid it will be necessary to incorporate an artificial sequence.


The simplest option to fill the gap is


Non-promissory Stayman


The most common solution is to play that 2 followed by a rebid of 2NT from responder is no longer promissory - i.e. the Stayman bid no longer guarantees a four-card major suit.  It is merely a mechanism to show a limit raise based on eleven or twelve points.

A J 2

9 8 5

A J 8 6

Q 8 7 3

Partner opened 1NT.

If playing non-promissory Stayman, bid 2.

You will rebid 2NT over any response, showing invitational values whilst not promising a four-card major.

Intermediate and above

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid


Note that, when playing non-promissory Stayman, your bid of 2 still asks partner for four-card majors in the first instance, and partner’s first response will be exactly the same as if playing the promissory version.


Note also that nothing else changes - both constructive and garbage sequences are still available as when playing four-card promissory Stayman.


An alternative method is offered on the page ‘Marx-Sharples transfers’.

It is at least as effective in the non-contested auction, and incorporates valuable additional sequences, but is just a little more susceptible to enemy interference.  By all means try it, but in the first place, as you add the 2NT transfer response to your repertoire, non-promissory Stayman as outlined on this page probably represents the simplest modification of your basic method.


The use of two-tier transfers into the minors is recommended for any partnership with wider aspirations than local club bridge.

A part of this method involves the use of an immediate 2NT as a transfer into diamonds.

For this reason it is recommended that you should adopt non-promissory Stayman at the same time.


An immediate response of 3 is then released from its duty to show a transfer into diamonds and becomes available for other purposes.

This page last revised 26th Mar 2017

Context  -  Partner opened 1NT - RHO passed - Stayman variations.