SPLINTER BIDS

xDefinition

An unusual jump, which makes no sense otherwise, guarantees a fit for the last-named suit by Partner and shows a Singleton or even a Void in the suit in which the jump is made.x

The Splinter bid is always a suit bid, never a bid in No Trump. That, in essence, is the Splinter bid. This bid is Alertable. The decision to employ this particular designation remains unknown. The concept or conventional method was developed independently by Mr. David Cliff in 1963, who was the first to publish an article relating to this concept, and by Dorothy Hayden, presently Dorothy Hayden Truscott.

The Splinter bid convention has been altered, varied, extended and modified. Be certain that the variation used is agreed upon by both partners before application. We have attempted to present the Splinter bid as devised in its original version.

Read also about Mini-Splinter Bids

The key to bidding most suit slams that are short in point count is distribution.

After the last bid of his partner, the other partner discovers he has:

a good fit

x
4-card support in the Majors
5-card support in the Minors
x

plus a singleton or void

x
With a Singleton 10-13HCPs
With a Void 9-12HCPs
x

slam interestx

There should be a way to convey this message below the slam level. The answer is to use Splinter bids (Jumps) to show partner your short suit so that he can evaluate the combined hands for slam purposes.

xSplinter Bids can be made by either the opener or responder.x

In order to make a Splinter bid, the opener jumps one level higher than a jump shift or makes a Jump Reverse, and, of course, the responder does likewise.

We should back-track a little to the First Bid of responder and remember the following basic guideline:

xRAISE BY RESPONDER

Raise the suit of partner to game with fewer than 10HCPs, but with excellent support AND excellent distribution.x

xBe careful with this guideline. It is generally used when your team is vulnerable and/or there has been an intervening bid.

You are also telling your partner all he needs to know about your hand.

The reasoning behind this Basic Guideline for the First Rebid by the Responder is the same logic behind the Splinter bid.

However, instead of bidding just game with good distribution, the Splinter bid aims for slam in the last-named suit.

The Splinter Bids by the Opener:

Example 1:

Opener Responder
2
AK54
KQ1087
A54
 
KQ54
Q8763
32
J10
1 1
3

Analysis:
The opener jumps one level higher than a regular Reverse bid, which would be two Spades, to show the singleton Spade with 4-card heart support and game values. Responder, with wasted spade values, is not interested, and bids 4 Hearts.

Example 2:

Opener Responder
A654
2
KQ10
AKJ76
 
K109732
A874
2
54
1 1
3 4

Analysis:
The opener uses the Splinter bid and bids 3 Hearts, which is also known as a Jump Reverse, to show his Singleton or Void in Hearts and slam interest, and also the Fit in Spades.

The responder cuebids Hearts to show slam interest. If the responder had no interest in slam, he would simply bid 4 Spades.

The opener is not quite sure about how to proceed, and decides to let responder take the lead, which is by no means a Final Contract bid, and therefore, bids game in Spades, 4 Spades.

The responder takes the initiative and bids 4 No Trump, asking for Aces.

The opener shows two Aces by bidding 5 Hearts.

The responder then places the contract in 6 Spades.

And with only 24 high card points, a slam contract has been reached by each partner knowing the distribution held by the other partner.

Normally, the auction would have progressed as follows:

Opener Responder
1 1
4 Pass

But, with the Singleton in Hearts in combination with the usage of the Splinter bid, a solid slam contract was reached.

The following example must be presented to avoid confusion:

Opener Responder Meaning
A54
2
AQJ7
AK843
 
108732
AKQ
1054
92
1 1
2 Reverse Bid treatment and shows 5/4 distribution and a minimum of 16 HCPs.
2 NT Responder shows No Fit and 10-12 HCPs.
3 Opener now shows total distribution: 5 Clubs - 4 Diamonds - 3 Spades. Therefore, the opener can only have 1 Heart.
3 NT Responder elects to play 3 NT because of his super Hearts, known singleton, and 8 Spades.

One must not confuse the Reverse Bid with the Reverse Jump.

1. The Splinter Bid is not complicated and definitely has no variations.

2. The user should be aware of the differences between Reverse Bid and Reverse Jump.

3. It becomes impossible to show Splinter Bids after an interfering overcall. Therefore, all bids after an interfering overcall are natural.

The Splinter Bid by the Responder
Opener Responder Meaning
4
AQJ765
A76
Q43
 
AK765
K93
3
A765
1 1
2 I have a 6-card suit. What else do you have?
4 Singleton or Void and at least 3-card support.

The Splinter bid of the responder of 4 Diamonds indicates a singleton. The opener has rebid his Hearts indicating a 6-card suit and together both partners have 10 Hearts as trump. Remember the requirement of a 4-card support above? This bidding auction allows the responder to have only 3-card support.

The opener, with a singleton in Spades, uses any form of Blackwood or Ace-Asking to reach slam.

Note: The first Splinter bid response by the responder upon discovering an immediate fit includes only twelve auctions, which are shown below. No examples are included since the concept is logical and self-explanatory by definition. It is up to the player to determine whether or not a Splinter bid best describes the holding and whether or not the holding is worth exploring for slam.
Opener
Responder
1
3 / 3 / 3
I have support in your suit and have a singleton / void in my bid suit. Slam interest.
1
3 / 3 / 4
I have support in your suit and have a singleton / void in my bid suit. Slam interest.
1
3 / 4 / 4
I have support in your suit and have a singleton / void in my bid suit. Slam interest.
1
4 / 4 / 4
I have support in your suit and have a singleton / void in my bid suit. Slam interest.

Since Splinter bids are the application of so-called and otherwise idle bids, the partnership agreement should definitely be clear that these first responses by the responder do not carry any other significance and/or meaning.

The remainder of this explanation deals with the fits found, which are not immediate fits.

The Splinter bid can be used under different and unexpected circumstances, for which each partner must be attuned.

Opener Responder Meaning
Q105
AK9875
AKQ
A
 
4
J1042
1063
QJ843
2 2 I am weak. No Aces using the Ace-Showing Response treatment.
2 This is my suit.
3 I jumped / Splinter bid.
I have a Singleton or Void in Spades.
I have 4-card Heart support.

The opener sees his chance, uses Blackwood or Ace-Asking. No Ace. The opener bids 6 Hearts.

If the partnership agreement uses the Ace Showing Response to a Strong Artificial 2-Club bid, then there is no need to ask for Aces, but the partner can still show a Singleton or Void with the Splinter bid.

xRemember

In order to make a Splinter bid, there must not be any interfering overcalls by the opponents.

In the case the opponents overcall, any and all jumps are considered natural.

x If you and your partner decide to use the Splinter bid, then you should be aware of the fact that they almost equal mathematical formulae. If you both study them in advance, then the employment thereof becomes easy.

Sliver Bid

This is an extension of the Splinter bid principle and was devised by Mr. George Rosenkranz for use with weaker responding holdings. With four- or preferably, 5-card trump support for a Major suit opening and fewer than 10 high card points, the standard response would be a jump to game. When such a hand includes a singleton or void and a minimum of three controls including at least one King (3 controls), Ace or void (2 controls) or a King or singleton (1 control), possession of a "sliver" is indicated by a response of 3 No Trump.

The rebids of the opener are then to sign off in the Major suit with more than five losers and a holding with minimum high card points and controls. Holding at least six high card controls, or five controls and a singleton, 15 plus high card points and fewer than six losers, the opener explores slam possibilities by bidding the suit where the responder's singleton or void will represnet duplication and be of least value.

The rebids of the responder are then to sign off by bidding game in the agreed suit, if the singleton or void is opposite partner's "exclusion" rebid. If the responder has any shortage elsewhere, the responder rebids in steps:

First Step:

  Singleton in lower unbid side suit.

Second Step:

  Singleton in higher suit.

Third Step:

  Void in lower unbid suit.

Fourth Step:

  Void in higher unbid suit.

In counting the steps, a game bid in the agreed trump suit, the sign off, is omitted.

Summary of Splinter Bids by Opener

Opener

Responder
1 1
3 / 3 Fit in Diamonds  

Opener

Responder
1 1
3 / 3 Fit in Hearts  

Opener

Responder
1 1
3 / 3 Fit in Spades  

Opener

Responder
1 1
3 / 4 Fit in Hearts  

Opener

Responder
1 2
3 / 3 Fit in Clubs  

Opener

Responder
1 1
4 / 4 Fit in Spades  

Opener

Responder
1 2
3 / 4 Fit in Clubs  

Opener

Responder
1 2
3 / 4 Fit in Diamonds  

Opener

Responder
1 2
4 / 4 Fit in Clubs  

Opener

Responder
1 2
4 / 4 Fit in Diamonds  

Opener

Responder
1 2
4 / 4 Fit in Clubs  

Summary of Splinter Bids by Responder
Last Bid by Responder is a Splinter Bid

Opener

Responder
1 1
1 3 / 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 1
1 3 / 4 Fit in Spades

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 3 / 3 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
1 1
1 4 / 4 Fit in Spades
This is a rare sequence where the responder can apply the
Splinter Bid 4C to show a Singleton in an already bid suit.

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 3 / 4 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 , a Reverse Bid 3 Fit in Diamonds

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 , a Reverse Bid 4 Fit in Diamonds

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 , a Reverse Bid 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 1
1 4 / 4 Fit in Spades
This is a rare sequence where the responder can apply the
Splinter Bid 4D to show a Singleton in an already bid suit.

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 3 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 3 / 4 Fit in Diamonds

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 4 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 4 Fit in Diamonds

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 , a Reverse Bid 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 , a Reverse Bid 3 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 4 Fit in Spades

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 4 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
1 1
2 4 Fit in Diamonds

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 3 Fit in Diamonds

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 3 / 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 , a Reverse Bid 4 Fit in Spades

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 3 / 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 2
3 4 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 4 Fit in Diamonds
2 Hearts could mean either a Reverse Bid by responder or the bid of the
last un-named suit to force opener to give more information.
3 Hearts would be a Jump by responder showing strength.
The Splinter bid showing slam interest in Diamonds is 4 Hearts.

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 4 / 4 Fit in Spades

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 4 / 4 Fit in Spades

Opener

Responder
1 2
3 4 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
1 2
2 4 / 4 Fit in Spades

Opener

Responder
1 2
3 4 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
2 - Strong 2-Club 2 - Waiting Bid
2 3 / 4 / 4 Fit in Hearts

Opener

Responder
2 - Strong 2-Club 2 - Waiting Bid
2 4 / 4 / 4 Fit in Spades

Opener

Responder
2 - Strong 2-Club 2 - Waiting Bid
3 4 / 4 / 4 Fit in Clubs

Opener

Responder
2 - Strong 2-Club 2 - Waiting Bid
3 4 / 4 / 5 Fit in Diamonds

Splinter bids are commonly used and enjoy popularity after Dorothy Hayden Truscott devised them. Splinter bids are a means of reaching slam contracts by sharing information about the distribution of the hands. The convention is a good tool to have. Understanding this convention can help you in obtaining better results at the bridge table. However, as with all other conventions, this convention needs to be part of your partnership agreement. If you and your partner do decide to include this convention, then please realize that such hands do not often occur, but once they do, each partner must realize it for what it is. Experience and practice shall be your guides.