Quick summary

Responder is saying "Major game is certain, I have 11-13 HCP, and a weak singleton / void. Is Slam on?"

So Opener should now either:

  1. explore Slam if the splinter is opposite either his rubbish or best of all his Ace + rubbish
  2. deny slam interest if opposite a strong suit

Responder can try again if he has a void:

Responder can splinter on the second round of bidding with 3-card support if opener shows 5-cards in trumps:


Print cribsheet

Bridge Venue

Example Deal
spade 3
heart K 8 5 4
diamond A K J 10 9 6
club K 5
Example Deal
You: North
Dealer: East
Vuln: all

Sorry partner, we should have been in a Slam…
Go to quiz (& full page) of deal # 126032

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«  0151  »

Splinters: Getting to slam more often

I like your Major, & I've got a nice singleton too

151. Splinters and Jacoby 2NT are better than jumping to Major game
bid trumps message: "I have a game going hand.
Double jump shift in the short suit ("Splinter") e.g. 3spade, 4diamond/club/heart 8 ..8-card Major trump fit, 11-13HCP, plus a short suit that could get us to slam".
2NT ("Jacoby 2NT") 8 ..8-card Major trump fit, opening hand .. but no great shape help, do you have any shortage? If not, anything else useful?"
3 of partner's Major 7 . . .but only rely on me for 3 trumps. I have no splinter". (Can also be interpreted as 4-card support / 8-card fit, but short on HCP). (With a splinter, bid alternative suit on first round, pending 5-cards from opener).
Single jump shift in a new suit, eg. 2spade, 3diamond/club/heart x ..I've got 16+ HCP, 6-card new suit. Wow. (Might, or might not, have support for your suit)".
Add to your customised cribsheet

Point Count and Losing Trick Count do not tell you how well your hands fit.  But Splinters do, and can get you to Slam with a 11-13 HCP (Acol), that would otherwise only get to game.

If you have 4-card trump support for partner's opening 4-card Major, and 11-13 points (enough normally to jump support in the Major), then, instead, you can bid another suit at the 4 level if you have a singleton or void in it.   Eg. 1heart-4club means you have 4-card Heart support, 11+ points, and void or singleton clubs.

Your partner can then evaluate his holding in the splintered suit (club in this example) as follows, with a view to a Slam bid:

  • if partner's short suit corresponds to a very poor suit full of losers, (e.g. 974), then great, explore Slam! The problem of your losers has been removed.
  • with Ace plus rubbish, Axxxx, even better !
  • if the short suit is opposite winners (e.g. KQJ), then that's a pity. These cards will win anyway, and so your hand is not promoted to greater strength by the ability to ruff that suit. It would be better to have that strength somewhere else. Put it back into game in the trump suit (4heart in this example).

If a splinter is rejected, you can rebid the splinter if you have a void. Partner can then re-evaluate.

If you have 3-card support, you can also defer a splinter to the second round of bidding if opener shows 5-cards in trumps. 1heart-2diamond-2heart-4club is a strange sequence ! The crazy jump in club can only mean OK, we've got 8 cards in heart, I've got 10-12 and a singleton club

Other types of Splinter

After a minor

You can do this in later rounds of the bidding, but not usually in the first round. You would not normally splinter after a minor opening, as it would be unusual to know so early on that you can make a game in the minor (11 tricks). It would be unusual to splinter after a minor opening if you hold a four-card Major.

If you want to use a splinter when partner opens one of a minor, it's the same as usual: game values, good trump support and a shortage in the suit bid. Since you need 11 tricks for game in a minor, you will generally have five-card support.

After a strong 2 opening

Yes, certainly. In fact you can splinter after any bid, when a jump shift has no other normal meaning.

Why Splinters and Jacoby 2NT are better techniques than a double jump raise to Major game

The same situation.  Your partner opens 1heart, promising 12+ points and a 4-card Heart suit. You have 3- or 4-card Heart support and 11-13 or more HCP. So game is on. But, with a conventional jump support in heart, some questions remain

  1. Does partner have a 4 or 5-card suit… only his rebid will tell you;
  2. He could have as many as 19 points… but only his rebid will tell you;
  3. How do you tell your partner that you have 3-card support, and not 4, or vice vsersa?
  4. You might have a nice singleton or void to tell him about. How ?
  5. He might have a nice singleton or void to tell me about. How do you give him the chance to tell you ?

The problem is that bidding a conventional 3heart or 4heart will not illuminate the situation as well as it might.

All these problems can be resolved with Splinters and Jacoby. No wonder it's better for getting to Game or Slam more accurately.

The cribsheet table above shows you how.

Most experts agree that a responder should have 11-13 high card points for a splinter. With a stronger hand, a responder and opener may be able to make slam on sheer strength.   Note: 11-13 for Acol palyers, 10-12HCP hand for SAYC,because SAYC requires 13HCP to open the bidding, whereas Acol only requires 12.


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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