Quick summary

Responder is saying "Major game is certain, no singletons or voids, is Slam on?" So Opener must now:

  1. show a "splinter": bid 3 in new suit, or
  2. deny a "splinter": bid anything else

Responder will assess the value to his hand of opener's splinter, hoping to find it opposite his weak suit.

When denying a splinter, opener can specify strength and support:

  1. 12-13: sign-off, Game in Major
  2. 14-15: 3NT
  3. 16-19: 3 in the major
  4. 16-19 with 2nd suit: 4 in new suit


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Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade A Q 7
heart Q 10 8 2
diamond A J 4
club 9 7 3
Example Deal
You: South
Dealer: North
Vuln: none

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Jacoby 2NT: Getting to Slam more often

I like your Major. I don't have a splinter, do you ?

When "game" in a Major is immediately obvious, use the spare bidding space to check for good shape or strength, in case a slam might be possible.

150. Jacoby 2NT
Player Bid Meaning
Opener: 1 of a major 12-19 HCP, 4-card Major, probably 5
Responder: 2NT 4 card support in your suit to game. I have no singletons or voids in a side suit, please tell me if you do, or tell me more about your strength.
Opener's rebid a. 3 new suit a. I have a void or singleton here
  b. bid 4 of new lower suit b. strong second suit (2+ honours, 4-5 card)
  c. rebid 3 of the major c. I'm strong, (14+) with extra strength and length
  d. 3NT d. I'm strong, (14+) with extra strength, but no extra length
  e. rebid major at 4 e. OK, I'm weak (12-13), let's end here at major game
related stuff Splinters 11, After 1-Suit very strong, Use splinter bid, not Jacoby 2NT, if responder does have a short side suit. Jump shift if v. strong & 6-card suit
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When to use

Your partner opens 1 of Major (heartspade), say 1heart. He has therefore promised 12+ points and a minimum 4-card Heart suit, or 5 cards if you play American Standard with 5-card Majors.

You have 12-15+ points and 4 cards in heart. So things are looking good: with a Major fit "8 & 25", game is in effect certain. (Same is true with 3 cards in heart if you play American Standard with 5-card Majors from the opening bidder).

Beginners would reply by simply jumping to 4heart. That's because you have an 8-card trump match in a Major and 25+ points - that's good enough.

The trouble is, you will quite often miss a Slam which better players often seem to find. And after a while that becomes annoying! Your parter might have more than 12HCP. Say 16 points. Or he might have great shape. If you simply bid 4heart, you will lose the chance to find out. So, rather than bid 4heart, more advanced players give themselves two better options:

  1. If you don't have a short side suit, i.e. a suit with 1 card or less, then ask your partner to describe his hand in more detail. Bid Jacoby "2NT".
  2. If you do have a short side suit, tell your partner. Bid a Splinter.

Opener's response to Jacoby 2NT

First of all, you need to be absolutely sure your partner is not saying "balanced hand, limit bid of 12 HCP"! Assuming you have agreed to use the Jacoby 2NT convention, and not forgotten about your agreement to use it Guy (hey, we're all human, maybe you could print the convention card and take it with you?), then the Opener's rebids are these. . ..


As Opener, we now know that responder has no shortages, otherwise he would have splinter bid. But on the other hand if we as opener have a shortage in a side suit, we should tell partner about this. Simply rebid that suit at the 3-level, e.g. 3club (a "Splinter" to show a singleton or void in clubs). Partner will assess the value of this shortage in his hand and decide whether to explore Slam. If the shortage is in the same suit as responder's long line of losers, then great! The shortage is really useful and the hands become more powerful when viewed together. So with an xxx in clubs, responder might go higher. See Splinters for more detail.

On the other hand, it's no use having the club shortage in the same suit as a string of winners. For example, when responder has AKxx in club, because the value of the strong cards would be better used in another suit. Responder should pass.

No shortage

When opener does not have a shortage, he can show his exact strength more accurately:

  • he should use the remaining two "3-level" bids to show extra strength, i.e.
    • bid trumps if 14+
    • bid NT if 16-19
  • use the 4-level bids for either a good new suit with extra power, or back to trumps for a minimum hand with no extra power, i.e.
    • wiht 16+ HCP, bid a second suit if it's a 4-card suit wiht 2+ honours
    • bid trumps (i.e. game) for a minimum hand (12-13 HCP) with no extra power

Again, partner can then assess this extra information against his hand, and decide whether to explore Slam.

When not to use

  • When responder is very strong. Jump shifting is more informative (16+ with a long strong suit), and anyway doesn't deny 4-card Major support.
  • Minors. Even with opening points and 4-card support, don't use Jacoby 2NT when opener bids a minor. With opener's minor, you should be trying to head towards a NT game, hopefully, which is usually more achievable than making 5 in a minor trump contract. After a minor opening, opener should interpret a 2NT response in the traditional way: “I'm balanced with 12 points”.

Drawback with the Jacoby 2NT

There are some very minor drawbacks, and only really for beginners or people with insufficient practice using the convention.

  1. The 2NT bid used by "level-1" players, to signify balanced hand 11-12 points, becomes unavailable when replying to a Major. (This drawback does not apply to a use with a minor, when the bid is the most useful);
  2. You need to make some mental effort to remember the opener's re-bids (even though they are quite logical, they need to be understood);
  3. Your partner might be a bit absent minded, or thinking about work or something, and forget you are using this convention. In this case confusion will abound! ("When he said 3club, did he mean he has a void in clubs, or that he has a nice strong 4-card suit in clubs? Oh dear. . .")

Showing 3-card support

  1. Show 3-card heart support because it will often lead to an 8-card match. You'd like your partner to know precisely whether you have 3 or 4 (bid 3heart after 1heart).

Now try the quiz

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(You can try quizzes for any other subjects too while you're there. Look out for the thin red line).


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