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Weekly updates from Kit Jackson offering hints and tips for the modern Bridge player. Enjoy!

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Splendid Splinter – A Convention Well Worth Learning – 8 July 2010

Another full house - lovely to see you all. When do Stayman and Transfers apply? In these four instances:

1) 1NT opening
2) 2NT opening
3) 2C - 2D - 2NT
4) 1? - 1NT (overcall 15-17)

Just so you know… And now…


When we make a bid, most of the time we can only convey one simple piece of information about our hand. We try to convey a mixture of information over a series of bids to tell partner about our point count as well as our shape: whether or not we have 5 or 6 or 7 cards in any particular suit.

1D - 1S

In this standard auction with our second bid we tell partner we have about 16 - 19 points, 5 Diamonds and 4 Clubs. But we might have 5D and 5C; we might also have 6D and 4 or 5 C but that information is yet to be communicated. The higher points are communicated by the jump to 3C; had we only had 12-15 points, we would have contented ourselves with a simple 2C.

The same is true is the responder has clubs. 1H - 2C is a regular response, at least 10hcp and 4 clubs, and 3C is agame forcing response, 16+ and possibly a lot of clubs.

Well, that takes care of clubs, whatever your strength, so interestingly that leaves higher club bids without a meaning, at least until we give them one… Enter a very useful tool – the SPLINTER bid.

I know, I know… There are times when you really really want to jab partner with a sharp pointy bit of wood but I'm afraid that is not what it means and anyway the World Bridge Federation gets a bit shirty about that sort of thing. It means this:

When you make a double jump bid in any other unbid side-suit it indicates a game-going trump fit with your partner and a singleton or void in the suit bid. Thus:

1H - 4C! (or 4D)

The 4C bidder will have at least 4hearts, wants to be at least in game and has a singleton or a void in Clubs. It’s a DOUBLE jump. As set out above, 2C is just 10+ HCP, 3C is a big hand with a very good Club suit so 4C is a bit redundant otherwise, which is why it has been pressed into
service like this. It's a really handy bid because unlike many bids it carries two pieces of information, not just one.

As well as being handy for responder, opener can also use them – like so…

1H - 1S

Now opener makes a splinter re-bid, promising 4 spades and a singleton or void diamond suit plus they want to be in at least game and could well be interested in going further down the line to one of those incredibly rewarding slams.

The only thing to remember is that splinter bids do not apply in NT auctions – a trump suit is ALWAYS agreed as the previous suit mentioned by partner. Splinters are well worth remembering as it’s great to convey so much information in one go while at the same time making life very difficult for the opponents.

If you’re interested the Italians won the European Bridge Championships at the weekend, with Poland winning the Seniors event and France the Women’s event. No, we didn’t do very well. Don’t ask…

A couple of links you might like:



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