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when to use a splinter bid

edited June 2009 in All Things Bridge
My partner holds:S:xx,H:Kx,D:Axxx,C:AKxxx and opens 1 Club

I hold:S:Axxx,H:AQx,D:K,C:QJxxx

Do I show the spade suit with 1 Spade, jump shift into 2 spades to show club support or splinter into 4D?

Thank you for your thoughts on this.


  • edited 12:00AM
    1 Spade seems fine; if it is pairs you certainly want to get spades in the picture. I can't comment on the jump shift because I don't know your partnership's style; if it is a fit jump and your agreement is to do it with 4-card suits then that is OK.

    What I really want to comment on is the splinter bid. The first comment is that splintering into a stiff King is ofen a poor idea, as partner will downgrade, say, AQJx. The other thing is, would you also splinter on a suitable 9-count? Since splinters bump the auction so high, it is a good idea to have specific agreements for them. A common one is 3 or 4 controls (A=2, K=1) without much regard to HCP. After all, if you are heading towards a slam, minor honours in the side suits are less likely to be important. If you use this criterion, the given hand is too strong for a splinter.

    By the way, how do you play 1C-2D? If this is game-forcing and natural, can't you use 1C-3D as a splinter, and leave yourself a lot more bidding room, besides staying below 3NT?
  • edited 12:00AM
    It is usually bad news to splinter with a singleton honour as partner may misjudge the hand. A jump shift over 1C should be based on a good suit and Axxx does not come close. 1S is entirely normal on this hand whatever the form of scoring and after partner's rebid you will be clearer on where your side is going.
  • edited 12:00AM
    Think of a splinter as a limit raise with announced shortness. The point is to learn if all your side's values are working. If neither of you has strength in the splinter suit, then all your points are working with each other, and you may have a game or slam you might not otherwise be able to bid. It focuses you on WHERE your values are held, rather than how many points your side has.

    With many points, bid natural suits -- splinter bids are less useful, because you may have enough points to overcome point wastage> But with only limit raise points, your points need to be well-positioned to enable you to make game (most of the time).

    It is for that reason that it is not wise to splinter with an honor in a short suit.
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