M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



Texas transfers and South African Texas Transfers

Why should transfer bids be restricted to the two-level, and perhaps the three-level?

No reason at all.

On this page I shall recommend that you extend the concept to the four-level!

Many club partnerships will transfer at the two-level and then bid 4NT (intended as RKCB with the implied suit agreed) - all well and good when responder holds a six-card suit, but how is he supposed to make a slam-try with just a five-card major in a balanced hand - does he really want to ‘set the suit’ on a 5-2 fit?

And if he plays the two-level transfer followed by 4NT as a quantitative raise with a five-card major then how is he supposed to investigate the genuinely single-suited hand.

Either of the following conventions addresses this  dilemma admirably.

Texas transfers

Using the Texas transfers convention an immediate response of 4 instructs opener to convert to hearts and an immediate response of 4 instructs opener to convert to spades.

These bids promise a six-card holding and set the suit.

Any subsequent bid in a new suit, or 4NT, will then be control-showing or RKCB with the suit agreed.

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid

Partner opened 1NT.

Bid 4(setting the suit as spades).

If you subsequently bid 4NT you will be asking for key-cards with spades the agreed suit.

K Q T 8 7 3

K Q 2

A K 5


South African Texas Transfers

O.K. - so this sounds like a geographical conundrum, but once you remember that Texas transfers came first it is possible to make some sort of sense out of it.

Quite simply an immediate response of 4 is used to set the suit as hearts and an immediate response of 4 is used to set the suit as spades.  Any subsequent bid in a new suit or 4NT will then be control-showing or RKCB with the suit agreed.

Which convention

One problem with Texas transfers is that there is a real danger that you, or more probably I, or just possibly one of my partners, will forget that an immediate response of 4 is anything other than preemptive and natural - oh dear.

For this reason alone there is much to be said for adopting the South African version which avoids this potential difficulty.

Against this, if you adopt South African Texas Transfers you will lose the 4 bid for other purposes.

4 is of course frequently played as Gerber, and as such is much loved by many club partnerships.

Personally I feel that Gerber as an immediate response is greatly overrated.  Your first thought when looking for the possibility of a slam should only rarely to be check for immediate losers - much better to start by investigating how well the two hands combine, with the thought of producing twelve or thirteen tricks - perhaps you will check for immediate losers later.


I shall in due course recommend that you should adopt the same, or a similar, convention over 2NT.

And when I come to looking at some of the advanced extensions when facing 2NT I shall have other powerful uses for the immediate 4 response.  For that reason I shall at that time and in that context recommend the Texas version.

Your choice

So if you have no plans ever to move on to the seriously advanced extensions when facing a 2NT opener then prefer the simplicity of South African Texas Transfers.

If, on the other hand, you can foresee such a step then either adopt the South African version now with a view to changing it later, or stick with the South African version over 1NT but select Texas transfers over 2NT (umm - don’t know about that), or bite the nail and go straight for Texas transfers now.

How these bids can be combined with other sequence will be discussed in defining the hand-type.

For the moment suffice it that a transfer at the four-level followed by a pass or a correction to the agreed suit suggests no slam interest, whereas a transfer at the four-level followed by a further bid in a new suit or RKCB will be a slam-try in its own right.

The following examples assume South African Texas transfers.

Intermediate and above

Context  -  Partner opened 1NT - RHO passed - intermediate and beyond - available bids.

Partner opened 1NT.

You have hopes of making this contract, but such is your shortage of controls there cannot possibly be a slam available.

Bid 4 and then pass or convert to 4.

K Q T 8 7 3

J T 2

Q J 5


Partner opened 1NT.

It is all but impossible that there will not be a slam available.

Bid 4.

You will follow partner’s response with a further move towards a slam.

K Q T 8 7 3

A K 2

K Q 5


Either one of these conventions represents an excellent addition to your system.

My recommendation is that one should be incorporated at a relatively early stage as you move beyond an improvers’ level.

This page last revised 23rd Oct 2019