This conventional method was introduced into the bridge community of the American Contract Bridge League by Mr. Oswald Jacoby of Dallas, Texas, United States. This rather world-renown bridge personality was also known under the nicknames of Ossie and Jake. He was born on December 8, 1902, and died on June 27, 1984. His interest was mainly for the game of bridge, but he also was professional, skilled, and accomplished in the games of backgammon, gin rummy, and also the game of poker.

Note: In several other bridge-related publications, but also the publication Conventional Wisdom Plus: A Comprehensive Guide To Modern Bridge Conventions, published in the year 2009 by AuthorHouse of Bloomington, Indiana, United States, and authored by Mr. Jean J. Reaves explains that the concept of Jacoby Transfer bids did not originate with Mr. Oswald Jacoby, but rather in the country of Sweden. The concept was only introduced, promoted, popularized, and advanced by Mr. Oswald Jacoby within the bridge community, especially in the United States.

Note: In the publication The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, published by the American Contract Bridge League, it states that these transfers were introduce by Mr. Oswald Jacoby in The Bridge World magazine in the year 1956 although they had been used in Sweden as early as 1953-1954 as a result of a series of articles by Mr. Olle Willner published in Bridge Tidningen. Mr. Olle Willner of Sweden and also Mr. David Carter of St. Louis, Missouri, United States, both independently, are also credited with the development of the concept behind Texas Transfer bids.

Biographical Information

Mr. Oswald Jacoby had established his skill as a bridge player in the mid- to late 1920s in both Auction Bridge and Contract Bridge. He was offered an opportunity by Mr. Sidney Lenz to enter the international competitions by partnering for the famous and heavily media-covered event known as the Culbertson Match in the year 1931. Owing to his aggressive bidding style compared with the rather traditional and inflexible bidding style of Mr. Sidney Lenz he withdrew from the match.

He was also selected as a member of the famous and feared Four Horsemen from the year 1931 to 1933, and also a member of the Four Aces from the year 1933 to 1941. He was elected to the ACBL Hall of Fame in the year 1965, became an Honorary Member of the ACBL in the year 1967, and was named an Honorary World Bridge Federation Grand Master.


The above publication shows a rare portrait or sketch of Mr. Jacoby Oswald on the front cover. The publication is known as the Oswald jacoby's Official Canasta Score Pad And Official Laws of Canasta. The photograph is from a score pad published in the year 1950.

Parameters of the Concept

The fundamental principle of Jacoby Transfer bids is that the responder guides the No Trump bidder to the best possible contract by communicating information about the holding. Such responses can include not only information about the number of held values, but also information about the shape of the holding.

Although Jacoby Transfer bids are generally reserved for 1 No Trump opening bids the partnership can also agree to employ such transfers if the opening is 2 No Trump or 3 No Trump with a certain pre-agreed range.


1. Responder must have at least a good 5-card suit, otherwise a moderate 6-card suit.
2. Responder may have zero high card points, but this is not a requirement.

The concept consists of two bids:

1. Bidding 2 transfers the No Trump bidder to Hearts.
2. Bidding 2 transfers the No Trump bidder to Spades.

Experience has shown that it is better for the partnership if the No Trump bidder becomes the declarer. First of all, the strength is concealed. Secondly, the opponent on lead could lead up to a tenace such as an Ace-Queen or even King-Jack, whereby the No Trump bidder would not have to finesse. Thirdly, the opponents would have a more difficult time in defending and establishing a line of communication.

Note: Bridge designations limit the two transfer bids to either Major suit on the next level following the No Trump bid. If the intended suit, per partnership agreement, is neither Major suit, then the correct designation is either a relay bid or a puppet bid.

Note: Early after the publication of this conventional method some bridge players have extended the transfer to include 2 Spades as a transfer bid to Clubs, and 2 No Trump as a transfer bid to Diamonds. If this should become the partnership understanding, then this information must be included it in the partnership agreement.

Perhaps this is one method of confusing the opponents, who should be made aware of these expanded Jacoby Transfer bids, but adding this complexity seems unnecessary in view of the Stayman variations which cover especially the Minor suits. Following is a short list of conventional methods developed to account for such distribution.

Note: This original convention distinguishes itself from the following versions in the sense that the original concept was designed only to transfer the No Trump bidder to a Major suit.

Four-Suit Transfer Bids - This is an extended version of the Jacoby Transfer convention, by which the No Trump Bidder can be transferred to any suit. This extended version is generally used by the responder holding zero to an unlimited amount of values, which are concentrated in the Minor suit, although the length of the Minor suit can be only a 5-card suit.

Jacoby For the Minor Suits - This is an extended version of the Jacoby Transfer convention, designed for the responder to show a long Minor suit. This extended version is generally used by the responder holding very little values and at least a 6-card Minor suit.

Minor Suit Stayman - This is an extended version of the Jacoby Transfer convention, also designed for the responder to show at least a 4-card Minor suit. This extended version is generally used by the responder holding either weak values or possible slam values.


To demonstrate that it is generally better to let the stronger hand play, please review the following deal carefully.

West (D)   North   East   South
Pass   1 NT   Pass   2
Pass   2   Pass   4

Using the Jacoby Transfer bid the generally stronger holding of the No Trump bidder remains concealed. The concealed holding contains two tenaces, in this case the Ace and Queen of Spades and Diamonds. If East decided to lead the 10 of Diamonds, which is a lead from an internal sequence, then the contract is secure. If East decides to lead trump, which is not a good idea, the contract is secure.

Note: The early conventional wisdom of the 1930s and 1940s requiring South to simply bid 4 Spades is definitely less appealing and less advantageous. If South played the hand in 4 Spades, West would lead the Queen of Hearts. The opponents would take 3 Heart tricks and 1 Club trick, defeating the contract. Therefore, the use of the Jacoby Transfer is highly preferred by experienced bridge players.

An opening of 1 No Trump, 2 No Trump, or 3 No Trump is explicit and informative in that the responder knows very much about the distribution and limited strength of the No Trump bidder. The distribution normally ranges from patterns of 4-4-3-2 to 4-3-3-3 to 5-3-3-2. The No Trump bidder should not have a void, a singleton, and no more than one doubleton. And playing strong No Trump openings the responder knows that the No Trump bidder has between 15 and 18 high card points.

The responder becomes Captain and must lead his partner to the most optimum contract. The Jacoby Transfer conventional method allows the responder to deal with certain types of distribution in his own hand. View the following holding, which belongs to the responder.


In this example, the responder has zero points. But the responder also has six Hearts. The responder knows that the opener has at least two Hearts. The responder will bid 2 Diamonds, transferring the opener to Hearts, knowing that together the combined holding contains eight trump. By bidding 2 Diamonds, the responder will also perhaps discourage the opponents from entering the bidding auction.


The responsibility of placing the contract lies with the responder. Once the No Trump bidder has limited his holding, it becomes the obligation of the responder to establish the most favorable contract. After the transfer has been accepted the responder has several options to further describe the holding.

Opener   Responder   Meaning
1 NT       Range is generally between 15 and 18 points.
  2 Jacoby Transfer bid to Spades
2 Acceptance by the No Trump bidder.
  Continuations by the Responder
  2 NT A natural bid, invitational and semi-balanced, which promises 5 Spades and 8-9 points.
  3 Shows a two-suited holding in Spades and Clubs; natural bid, forcing, showing slam interest.
  3 Shows a two-suited holding with Spades and Diamonds; natural bid, forcing, showing slam interest.
  3 Shows a 5/5 distribution in both Major suits; game forcing.
  3 Shows a 6-card suit, invitational.
  3 NT Shows a semi-balanced holding and allowing opener to establish the contract either in No Trump or to play in 4 Spades.
  4 Shows a 6-card Spade suit. This rebid by the responder is a sign-off.
  4 NT A natural slam invitation; responder shows definite slam interest.

The conditions remain the same if the transfer is to Hearts. The responder considers his distribution, counts his high card points plus distributional points, and sets the contract.

Texas Transfer Bids

It has become the general partnership understanding that Jacoby Transfer bids are employed well together with the Texas Transfer conventional method. Texas transfer bids consist of a 4 Diamonds response to transfer to Hearts and a response of 4 Hearts to transfer to Spades as was developed independently by Mr. David Carter of St. Louis, Missouri, United States and Mr. Olle Willner of Sweden.

This understanding results in a binding partnership agreement, which eliminates a certain ambiguity regarding the interpretation of the bid of 4 No Trump. It is a foregone conclusion that the values of the responder are at least minimum for a game contract.

Note: The difference between partnership agreements is explained below and must be seriously discussed by the partnership.

1. After a Jacoby transfer bid, the consensus is that a bid of 4 No Trump is quantitative, and partner may pass.
2. After a Texas transfer bid, the consensus is that a bid of 4 No Trump is any variation of Blackwood, normally Roman Keycard Blackwood. The partner may not pass since it is considered Ace-asking.

Alternate Transfer Approach

There is another Transfer treatment after a No Trump opening, and it is called Smolen transfer bids. It has some merits and should be considered. Smolen Transfer bids is a conventional method following a No Trump opening, whereby the No Trump bidder always becomes the declarer.

Alternate Defense Treatment for Interference by Opponents

Several conventional defense methods allow the opponents to enter the auction even after a Jacoby transfer bid has taken place. The following is a method of handling such interventions and is regarded simply as a treatment, not a convention. The following relates only to a specific bidding sequence and should not be deemed an appropriate and possible partnership agreement, when the bidding sequence is altered. Assume only the following bidding sequence:

South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double

In this particular bidding sequence, the double by East comes after North has initiated the Jacoby transfer bid to Spades. The priority is to discover the significance of the double and base all continuations on this information. However, the following method is offered to those players, who would prefer to communicate information to their partners by bidding or calling.

The following treatment is offered as a suggestion for a partnership agreement based on this particular bidding sequence, which strongly suggests a Lead Directing Double, and the following suggestions are based on that assumption.

1. A Pass by South indicates exactly a 2-card Spade suit, or if the Jacoby Transfer is to Hearts, then exactly a 2-card Heart suit. This particular pass does not indicate anything about whether the No Trump bidder holds minimum or maximum values.
2. South can bid 2 Spades and accept the Jacoby Transfer. This shows a 3-card Spade suit, or even a 4-card Spade suit and, by implication, a minimum of values.
3. A Redouble by South promises a 3-card Spade suit and moderate values, or, by partnership agreement, a 4-card Spade suit and values better than minimum values.
4. South can bid 3 Spades, or jump in the intended Transfer Suit. This rebid promises exactly a 4-card Spade suit and maximum values.

Since North gains information about the strength and quality and suit-length of the holding of the No Trump bidder, then North can safely adjust his bidding accordingly. Following are several bids, which are available to the responder:

1. In the case that, in the above example, South has passed, then North can redouble, and South must accept the transfer.
South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass   Redouble   Pass
  The quality of the holding of North still has not been clarified and North may continue the bidding after South has been forced to accept the transfer. The holding of North may include any range from zero points to unlimited points. The holding will be clarified in the ensuing auction.
2. A distinction must be made if the responder holds a stopper in the suit bid by the opponent and game values, as with the following holding:
South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass
  The question is whether a redouble or a bid of 3 No Trump is preferable. The general consensus is that a bid by North of 3 No Trump denies a stopper in the suit of the opponent and that first a redouble, which forces South to accept the transfer, and then a rebid by North of 3 No Trump shows at least one stopper in the suit of the opponent, which is Hearts.
3. A bid of 2 Spades by North indicates a very weak hand, and if passed out, the lead will come up to North. If the opponents decide to continue bidding, then they must do so on the three level. It is doubtful that the opponents will wish to play in a No Trump contract after the opening has been a No Trump.
4. A bid by the responder, in this example North, then this bid shows minimum values and a two-suited holding.
South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass   3
  After South has shown only a 2-card Spade suit by passing, North can show a second 5-card suit by simply bidding it. This second bid shows minimum values and no desire to continue the auction. South must pass.
  However, in the following example, the bidding sequence should be different to show a game-forcing action taken by North.
South   West   North   East
1 NT   Pass   2   Double
Pass   Pass   Redouble   Pass
2   Pass   3
  South has shown a 2-card Spade suit by passing the transfer bid. North has game-going values and must force South to bid. This is accomplished with a redouble and then the rebid of a side suit.
    Note: This treatment, whenever the opponent enters the auction after the Jacoby Transfer, is only a recommendation, not a convention, and should be considered as such.



If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.