M J Bridge

Theory and Conventions



Fit-jumps and the delayed game-raise

It’s only a personal view, but - ‘fit-jumps - good/delayed game-raise - bad’ is my underlying approach to the content of this page.

Q 8 6 2

K 5

T 7

A K J 4 2

Partner opened 1.

You have more than enough for the spade game, but you would really like partner to know about that club suit.

Bid 2.

You will follow with a jump to 4.

This will still work perfectly well most of the time, and if you happen to be up against nice, quiet, polite, and respectful opponents who will sit back and admire your masterly display of bidding then it will work well all of the time.

Not a favourite of mine

Post intermediate and above

Q 8 6 2

K 5

T 7

A K J 4 2

Partner opened 1.

Bid 3, agreeing spades, forcing to game, and showing the excellent side-suit.

I like this convention.

If, as discussed above, your opponents find their way rapidly to five hearts then partner has all the information he needs about your hand on which to base his next decision.

If the club suit suggests a double-fit he will probably bid one more - if the club suit does not enhance his trick-taking potential he may well choose to come in with a penalty double.

These bids can be incorporated into your system in any one of a number of different ways, but typically, in the uncontested auction, a single jump will be a fit-jump and a double-jump will be a splinter.

The only loss in adopting such an agreement is obviously that any other interpretation of the single jump-shift has been forfeited.

The traditional use for such a bid was to create a game-forcing situation based on responder’s six-card (or longer) suit.  This method has not been popular with tournament players for many years.  There are other ways of showing such hands, frequently involving a bid in the fourth suit to create a game-forcing scenario.

8 2

A K Q 8 5 3

A 9 7

T 4

Partner opened 1.

Bid 2.

If partner rebids in spades jump to 4 opposite his assumed six-card suit.

If partner rebids in a minor choose between a jump to 4, and a bid the fourth suit followed by a rebid in hearts.

There is one little wrinkle which is well worth a few moment’s consideration.

If you happen to hold four-card support for partner together with a five-card side-suit then it is more than likely that you will also hold a shortage (void or singleton) in one of the other two suits.

This gives you a choice of support bid - splinter or fit-jump.  Which should it be?

There is little doubt in my mind that you should prefer the fit-jump to the splinter provided that the side-suit is of adequate quality.

There are two good reasons for this.

The first is that in the early stages of an auction it is more important to locate a potential source of tricks. Only after you have ascertained the likelihood of sufficient tricks should you start looking for possible losers before committing to too high a level.  The fact that knowledge of the existence or non-existence of a double-fit will also help partner’s decision-making in the event of enemy interference merely adds to the argument.

And the second reason is that, if you start with the fit-jump you may well get a further opportunity to show your shortage in a third suit with some sort of cue-bid, but if you start with the splinter you will never get the opportunity to show the playing strength of your side-suit.


My guideline

With both a splinter-raise and a fit-jump available, which should it be?

The fit-jump, provided that the side-suit is well up to standard.

The following hand which I encountered recently shows just how effective the fit-jump can be.


Q 8 6 5 2

A Q T 7 3

9 5

Partner opened 1.

Despite holding only eight high-card points this is a six-loser hand.

Bid 3 (fit-jump).  Opener, with seventeen points, Kx of diamonds and five hearts to the AK had little trouble in bidding to and making 6.

The problem is that not all opponents are like that any more.


A quick overcall of 2 on your left - partner may or may not find a bid - and a most inconsiderate raise to 5 on your right will leave you with no basis on which to judge your correct next action.

Partner does not know that you have a spade fit, you do not know whether your club suit improves your partner’s trick-taking potential as declarer or contributes to the sort of misfit on which you should be doubling and taking the penalty, and all in all you are on a guess which you will get right roughly half the time.

And if that raise to 5 sounds a little unlikely then change it around so that your suit is hearts and the opponents compete rapidly to 4.

This sequence happens all too frequently.

There is a second short-coming in the approach.

If you have a full-value four-card raise to game, but no more than that, then the delayed game raise will work for you most of the time.

But if you yourself wish to push beyond game in search of a slam you will have considerable difficulty in creating an auction starting out with such a bid which tells partner about the side-suit, tells him about your trump support, and creates an auction which forces beyond game-level.

There must be a better way.

The fit-jump

It is with such possibilities in mind that many tournament pairings adopt a convention which was originally devised for use in the contested auction.  (It makes sense if you think about it - to borrow a phrase from ‘Robson and Segal’, we are treating this as a ‘potentially contested auction’.)

Quite simply, why take two bids (as above) to describe your hand when you could do it perfectly well in one - before the opposition even get started?

A typical agreement would be that a single jump in a new suit is game-forcing (in the uncontested auction), agreeing partner’s suit and promising a quality side-suit.

Note that a perfectly reasonable alternative would be to play it as forcing for just one round as is more often the case in the contested auction.

You should agree some sort definition of a quality side-suit - a common agreement would be at least five cards headed by two of the top three honours, I would go along with this or something very similar (you might even choose to insist on a third honour to add some substance to the suit.

Opener’s first bid

Opener’s rebid

This page last revised 24th Oct 2017

For a further example of the fit-jump in action follow this link.

Almost all tournament partnerships use the jump-shift facing partner’s opening bid of one of a major as some sort of support bid.

The two main contenders are the fit-jump (this page) and Bergen raises.

Both are excellent - take your choice.

I have a slight preference for the fit-jump with its emphasis on shape rather than points and its similarity to my methods in the contested auction, but there is not much in it.

The important detail is that you agree with your partner on the lengths promised in the two-suits, the quality promised in the fit-jump suit, and to what level the bid is forcing.  All sorts of agreements are possible - just be sure that you are both playing the same one.

Context  -  Responder’s first bid - partner opened one major in first or second seat - no intervention - support bids.

Beginner and above

The delayed game-raise

I make mention of this method only for the sake of completeness.

It has long been recognized that a long strong side-suit greatly enhances the trick-taking potential of a hand.

Knowledge of such a suit might well be just what partner needs to suggest that the combined holding might have the potential to make a slam contract, or it might justify competing one level higher should the opponents choose to join in.

With these thoughts in mind, early Acol made a point of telling partner about the good news with a simple forcing change of suit before raising to game in the known fit.  Such a manoeuvre was referred to as a ‘delayed game-raise’.

It was a corner-stone of the method and featured strongly in the early writings on Acol.