Stayman convention

Return to the Bridge Burglar’s Guide to Bridge Bidding Conventions

The Stayman convention (just like Jacoby transfers) is only used after a 1 No-Trump opening bid. It is also designed to find a fit for a Game level contract in a major suit, Spades or Hearts. Transfers make it easy to find that fit if either partner has a five-card major suit, but such a fit is much harder to find if both partners have four-card majors.

Even in that case, 4 Hearts or 4 Spades is often a better contract than 3 No-Trump. First of all, it’s worth 20 more points, but it also may be easier to make. In 3 No-Trump, a 4-4 fit between two partners only gets you 4 tricks because all the Spades (or Hearts) will fall over each other. But if you play the contract at game level in 4 of that major suit, you can get one or two more tricks by using one or two trumps from either side to ruff another suit in which that partner is short — hence the extra tricks. The Stayman convention also ensures, just like the transfer system, that the good hand will remain hidden.

Under the Stayman convention, the responder to a 1 No-Trump opener answers 2 Clubs (an artificial bid) if he/she has a 4-card major suit – it is then up to the opener or Declarer to find it. If the 1 No-Trump opening bidder also has a 4-card major, he/she should just bid it at the 2 level (Hearts or Spades). If it happens to be same suit in which the responder has his/her 4-card major, the trump suit has now been established and it is up to the responder to determine the appropriate level (2, 3, 4 or more) depending on the combined point count as determined by responder. If the four-card major bid by the opener is not the same as the one in the responder’s hand, the responder can now bid 2 No-Trump, or a minor suit, to indicate that a match in a major has not (yet) been found.

If the 1 NT opening bidder does not have a 4-card major, he/she should bid 2 Diamonds in response to the 2 Clubs Stayman bid. This 2 Diamond response is artificial and does not mean Diamonds; it simply denies the existence of a 4-card major in the opener’s hand. The bidding will now probably proceed either to No-Trump or to a minor suit contract.

Return to the Bridge Burglar’s Guide to Bridge Bidding Conventions


  1. Orene Carter says:

    Can Stayman be used after a 2NT? Our club also use Jacoby transfer.

Speak Your Mind