Transfers Over 1 Openings Part 2


The previous article set out the basic structure of using major suit transfers over 1♣ openings, whereby opener accepted a major suit transfer with 2 or 3 card support and a balanced 11-13, rebid 1NT with a balanced 17-19, or rebid clubs with an unbalanced shape. Responder’s 1♠ bid is a transfer to 1NT with a range of options, usually 6-11 with no 4 card major, or a weak takeout into a long minor, or 13+ with 5+ diamonds and a 4 card major.

This article examines different responses to an opening 1♣ bid, starting with 1NT and covering all two level responses.

1NT Response to 1♣ Opening

A key principle of the transfer system over 1♣ openings is to let opener declare major suit contracts or rebid a 17-19 balanced hand at the one level if possible. When responder makes an immediate response of 1NT this takes away the initial advantages of the former opportunities, and therefore there needs to be some added value to be gained by taking the 1NT route.

As a first step a choice of five options will be outlined, three showing hands in the 6-11 range and two game forcing; later the respective merits and demerits of each approach will be discussed.

    1. 6-11 : denies a 4 card major : at least 4-4 in the minors:

Opener may take the following action after 1♣ : 1NT:

  • Pass  with major suit stops





  • Rebid a 4+ minor





  • Rebid 2NT with 17-19





2.  6-11 : 5-4- or 4-5 in the majors :

Opener may:

  • Rebid a 4 card major





  • Rebid 2 to deny a 4 card major : responder now transfers to the 5 card major via 2/ to reach the 5-2 or 5-3 fit

♠ QJ7




3.  6-11 : balanced with either 5 diamonds or 3343 shape :

Opener rebids:

  • 2/ = to play : rebid 2 with Rebid a 4+ minor





  • 2/ = 17-19 and a 4 card major




♣ AJ8

  • 3 = 17+ : game forcing with diamonds





  • 3NT = 17-19 balanced and diamond fit

♠ KJ6




4.  13+ : 5+ Clubs : Transfer to Clubs:

Opener rebids:

  • 2 = 11-13 : no club fit





  • 2// = natural with 4+ clubs





  • 2NT = 17+ : any shape

  • 3 = 11-13 : club fit





  • 3// = 14+ : splinter with good clubs





  • 3NT = 17-19 : balanced

5.  13+ : General enquiry

This is similar to the Forcing 1NT bid over a major suit opening

but this time is a game forcing enquiry. Opener rebids:

  • 2 = 11-13 : 5 card minor. Responder bids 2 to check back on which minor : 2 = clubs, 2 = diamonds





  • 2// = 14-16 : 5-4 in clubs and bid suit





  • 2NT  = 11-13: balanced





  • 3 Level bids = 17-19

The table below summarises the respective merits of each of the five options.




4-4 or better in the Minors


If opener is weak in the majors then a sound 4-4 or better minor suit fit can be found, when 1NT is unlikely to make.

May encourage opponents to compete at the two level and find a major suit fit.

5-4 or 4-5 In the Majors


Opener always declares a major suit contract.

Handles 5-4/4-5 major shapes well.

Possible duplication of effort when one level transfers are used.

5 Diamonds or 3343


Can show weak diamond hands.

The 1S transfer to 1NT allows these hands to be bid, so better use could be made of the 1NT response.

Transfer to Clubs


Keeps the bidding one step below the equivalent inverted minor raise to 2.

Allows for a wide range of shapes and strengths to be explored.

Opener declares in clubs.

No specific problems: does what it sets out to do well.



Similar to the transfer to clubs but this time does not promise clubs.

Explores potential contracts in all suits

No specific problems.

Partnerships have a wide choice of bids available for a direct 1NT response to an opening bid of 1♣, and may wish to develop their own versions of any of the above options. The key issue is how well the full suite of responses to 1♣ openings fit together. This may become clearer when the two level responses to 1♣ openings have been examined. The choices here fall into two main camps, weak and strong, as outlined in the table below:

Weak Two Level Responses:

Strong Two Level Responses

2♣///♠ : 6+ suit : 5-9

2♣///♠: 5+ suit : 13+

2/♠ : 4-5 or better in minors 0-1 in bid major : 9-12

2NT : 12-13 balanced

2 : Multi : 6 card major : 5-9

2♣ : transfer to diamonds : 5+ suit:

2 : 5+ spades and 4+ hearts: 5-9

3 : 14-16 : balanced

2♠ : 5-5 minors : 9-12

3/♠ : 4-5 or better in minors

0-1 in bid major : 13-16

3NT : 17-19 balanced

As the one level transfers cover major suit hands there is less incentive to employ the two level to show weaker holdings in the majors. Using jumps in the major suits at both the two and three levels to show at least 9 cards in the minors and shortage in the bid major makes sound sense.

With the transfers at the one level covering the 6-11 responding hands well, there is a good case for keeping jump bids in all suits as game going. This is also easy to remember in the heat of battle.


This second article has outlined in some detail the wide range of options available for using the 1NT response to 1 openings, and the respective merits of each option have been highlighted. For those partnerships thinking of taking up the transfer approach two key points to reflect upon are:

  • Select an option, or devise your own variation, which suits your bidding style, such as a more simple or more complex approach

  • Ensure that the chosen option integrates effectively with the rest of your system, so that you get the best value for each of the responses and opener’s rebids

  • This same message applies to your choice of two level responses. One of the big advantages of accepting major suit transfers with either 2-3 card support is that responder knows from the outset the strength of the opening bid. When the major is accepted at the one level, or at the two level to show 4 card support, the opening strength is 11-13. If opener rebids 1NT instead of accepting the transfer this confirms the balanced hand of 17-19. Therefore responder holding a six card major and as little as 3-5 points can safely transfer, knowing that over a rebid of 1NT it is safe to re-transfer to two of the major. On this basis the use of two level responses to the opening 1 may work best to show 13+ hands or both minors with a short major.