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Playing Bridge last night my partner opened 2NT, showing 20-21 points. I had 11 HCP and a five card major. I used Jacoby Transfer, calling 3 hearts and my partner responded 3 spades (all OK so far) I then needed to show our possible small slam hand. I did not want to call 4 spades as she may only have had two spades. Equally I didn't want to call 3NT in case she passed. I therefore called 4NT and a big debate started about whether that was Ace asking.

What should I have responded? All Jacoby Transfer pages I find on the net only specify full responses after 1NT.

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Check out Richard Pavlicek's web pages at rpbridge.com for really good advice, geared to a variety of levels. –  Pieter Geerkens Jul 24 '13 at 22:19

3 Answers 3

I agree with Aryabhata as far as general principle. Most beginners and even intermediate players greatly overuse Ace-asking bids -- their primary purpose is to keep you out of a slam when you have the tricks but lack controls in side suits; they shouldn't be used to get into a slam when you're not sure you have the values.

A decent agreement in this situation is to use Texas transfers as well as Jacoby. Now you can use the sequences like so:

  • 2NT-3H-3S-4NT: Usually 5332, quantitative invitate to a small slam
  • 2NT-3H-3S-4C: 5-4 or better in spades and clubs (this is mostly to find the best strain, but you can use the follow-on auction to look for slam)
  • 2NT-3H-3S-4S: at least 6 spades, a faint invitation to slam (opener might look for slam with something like Kxx Ax AKQxx AJx -- rich in controls, a good source of tricks)
  • 2NT-4H-4S-pass: at least 6 spades, no interest in slam
  • 2NT-4H-4S-4NT: Whatever your normal Ace-asking bid is (Blackwood, RKC), with 6 spades at least.
  • 2NT-4H-4S-5C: at least 6 spades, first-round control in clubs
  • etc
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It is probably a matter of partnership agreement. It depends on what other sequences you have available and what they would show. For instance, do you play Texas transfers (i.e. 4D and 4H are also transfers)? There is no clear-cut answer.

But, absent any discussion, without having a found fit yet (when opening bid is 1 or 2NT), I would take any jump to 4NT by responder as quantitative, as a matter of 'general' principle.

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The simplest (and I believe most comprehensive) agreement is that 4NT is quantitative by a Jacoby transferor (with 4C available as Gerber) and 4NT is Blackwood by a Texas transferor. The rationale for this style is that a Jacoby transferor cannot set the denomination, as an eight card fit is not confirmed; thus the option reverts to opener to show strength and length with his 2nd rebid. Likewise a responder with exactly 5 trumps can ask for aces with a 4C (Gerber) rebid, confirming that opener is allowed to convert back to NT after responder sets the level.

On the other hand a Texas Transferor can set the strain as an eight card fit is confirmed. 4NT would then be Key Card (if played) or normal Blackwood.

This then provides a distinction between transferring at the 2/3 level and raising to 4, versus a straight Texas transfer. The latter is sign-off, and the former is invitational with 6 trumps, but a hand that is (1) unsuitable for notrump; (2) without a singleton; (3) unable to bid Blackwood/Gerber (usually because of owning a small doubleton).

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2NT - 3H - 3S - 4C as Gerber? No. "Many" people who play both Jacoby and Texas play it as a natural slam try with spades and clubs. –  Aryabhata Jul 27 '13 at 21:16

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