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Artificial Responses to 1NT


Previously, we taught you a completely natural response structure to your partner’s opening 1NT bid. In that structure, bidding hearts showed hearts, and bidding spades showed spades.

However, this response structure is severely flawed. It cannot help you find 4-4 major fits, and it also cannot help you play in NT as opposed to a 5-2 major fit.

As such, now, we will teach you an artificial response structure, where bidding a suit doesn’t necessarily mean you actually want that suit to be trump! Using conventions, we can better find the appropriate strain and level.

Reminder: Opening 1NT shows

  • Balanced hand. No two doubletons (can’t be 5-4-2-2), no singletons or voids

  • 15-17 HCP


What is it? What are the requirements?

Stayman is the bid of 2♣ in response to 1NT. It is used to uncover 4-4 major fits.

Stayman is only used when responder has:

  1. At least one four-card major suit

  2. 8+ points

Why these requirements?

  1. The only reason why responder would bid Stayman is to find a 4-4 major fit, so responder needs to have a 4-card major too

  2. With less than 8 points, responder is in trouble if partner does not have his 4 card major. Partner will not have enough strength to survive in 2NT.

What does it do?

Bidding 2♣ asks the opener if they have a four-card major as well.

With a four-card major, the opener will bid their suit; without one, opener will bid 2♦. With both majors, bid the lower one first: hearts. This way, you can bid spades after your partner’s next bid.


In response to responder's 2♣ Stayman bid, bid 2M with a 4 card major.

Bid 2♥ with both 4♥ + 4♠

Bid 2♦ with no 4 card major

NEVER bid 2N. That bid does not exist in response to Stayman.


After opener responds to 2♣, bidding proceeds very logically.

Responder can invite by raising the major the opener bid to show support, or bid 2NT without support. If responder knows that the partnership should be in game, they can jump to the game that is preferred. If opener bids 2♦, choose the appropriate level of NT, as no four-card major is found.

Jacoby Transfers

What is it? What are the requirements?

Jacoby transfers are the bids of 2♦ and 2♥ over 1NT. Its purpose is to find a 5-3 major fit.

The requirements:

  1. 5+ major


A Jacoby Transfer bid says NOTHING about the suit bid or the general strength. It only says you have 5+ cards in the suit above. So 2♦ shows 5+ hearts, and 2♥ shows 5+ spades.

What does it do?

Bidding 2♦ or 2♥ forces opener to bid the suit above it. By bidding 2♦, you transfer partner to bid 2♥. By bidding 2♥, you transfer partner to bid 2♠.

Bidding the suit below the one you have forces the 1NT opener to bid your suit. By transferring, you promise five or more cards in the suit. So, if you have five spades, bid 2♥ and your partner will bid 2♠. Likewise, if you have five hearts, bid 2♦.


After responder bids Jacoby transfer, and opener completes the transfer, bidding proceeds logically.

After that, if you have extra length in the suit and an invitational hand, rebid the suit. With extra length and a game-forcing hand, just bid game. With only five cards, bid 2NT to invite or 3NT with enough points for game, since you have already shown your five-card major. The 1NT opener may only have two cards in your suit, making NT a better choice.


After the opener completes the transfer

  • If you have enough values for game, you bid game.

  • If you have enough values to invite, you invite.

  • If you are not strong enough to even invite, you pass.

  • If you only have a 5 card major suit, you don’t need to rebid your major suit. Your partner already knows you have 5! You should bid 2/3NT or pass

  • If you have 6+ major cards, now you would want to rebid your major suit, if you plan on continuing to bid.

Summary (for all responses)

Stayman (2♣) is used to find 4-4 major fits. Jacoby Transfers (2♦/2♥) is used to find 5-3 major fits. These bids are artificial: they promise nothing in the suit bid. If you do not have a 4 or 5 card major, pass/bid 2NT/bid 3NT depending on your strength.

Forget the natural response structure you learn previously and use this artificial response structure instead.


After your partner opens 1NT, what should you respond with each of the following hands and should you continue bidding after partner responds to that?

1) KQxxx Txx xxx xx

Answer: 2♥ to transfer because you have five spades. Plan to pass because 5 + 15-17 = 20-22 < 25.

2) xx AKJxx xxx xx

Answer: 2♦ to transfer because you have five hearts. Plan to rebid 2NT because your side could have enough points for game

3) AQTxx KQx xxx xx

Answer: 2♥ to transfer because you have five spades. Plan to rebid 3NT because your side has enough points for game.

4) AKxxxxx xxx Qxx —

Answer: 2♥ to transfer because you have more than five spades. Plan to rebid 4♠ because you have extra length in spades, and with such a good distribution (void and seven-card suit), game is very likely

5) x KQJxxx Qxx xxx

Answer: 2♦ to transfer. After partner bids 2♥, you should now bid 3♥. You have 6 hearts, so even if partner only has 2, you still want to play in hearts. You also want to invite to game (8 points), so you should bid 3♥—this shows your invitational strength, and if partner passes, you will be playing in hearts which is what you want.

6) AKxxxxx-xxx-Qxx-0

Answer: Bid 2♥ to transfer. After partner bids 2♠, you should now bid 4♠. You have 7 spades, so you know for certain you have at least a 9 card spade fit. Although you only have 9 HCP, you have some extra length points from the 7 spades. So you have enough for game and know for certain that the game you want to play in is 4.

Your partner bids 2after your 1NT opening, with the following distributions, what should you bid?

1) 2-3-4-4

Answer: 2♦ with no four-card major

2) 4-3-3-3

Answer: 2♠ with four spades

3) 3-4-2-4

Answer: 2♥ with four hearts

4) 4-4-3-2

Answer: 2♥ with both majors

Practice Quiz

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