M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



The splinter bid

This bid agrees partner’s major and shows a shortage in a side-suit.  It is forcing to four-of-the-major.

The bid is a double jump shift - e.g. 3 over partner’s 1 or 4 over partner’s 1.

As the hand is unbalanced it will be based on a losing trick count of seven and four-card support for opener’s suit, with either a void or singleton in the suit bid.

It is a particularly helpful bid if partner is considering the possibility of a slam, or if he is considering competing when the opponents come in with your short suit.  Although it shows genuine hopes of making the game, the hand making the splinter bid will frequently be light in HCP and defence for a hand forcing to game.  Partner should bear this in mind when considering subsequent action.


Q J 9 7

A K T 5

J 8 6 4

Partner opened 1.

Bid 3, agreeing hearts and showing a spade shortage in a seven-loser hand.

Note that it contains only eleven HCP, one of which might well be worthless.

Partner must bid to at least 4.

There is just one detail associated with splinter bids which needs to be agreed by aspiring partnerships, and that relates to game-raises on particularly weak hands.

You have a choice between the following two approaches:-

i)   if you don’t splinter then you don’t have a short side-suit;

ii)  a splinter-bid promises at least a modicum of high-card points.

The choice is highlighted in this example.

Post-beginner and above

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid

Q 9 8 7 4 2

Q T 5 3

8 6 4

Partner opened 1.

This is a seven-loser hand, and a raise to 4 is mandatory,

but it is a partnership decision whether or not this raise should go by way of a 3 splinter bid.

There is no clear-cut correct answer to this decision.

On the hand shown I would happily compete as far as 5, certainly when not vulnerable, but I should hate to see my partner go looking for a slam in the expectation of making.

I tend to bid 4 directly on such hands, but the choice is yours as a partnership.

Context  -  Responder’s first bid - partner opened one major in first or second seat - improvers’ methods - support bids.