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 Oct. 11/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

  One of the most popular conventions on the market is the splinter, or "shortage" raise. Splinters (double jump shifts or jump reverses) do not replace otherwise useful natural bids. They improve slam bidding by revealing the degree of fit or wastage (secondary honours facing shortage) and can be adopted without changing the basic system.

East-West vulnerable  West deals


  K Q J 5

A Q 9 8

A J 9 7 3

Q J 10 6 3
6 5 4 2

10 6 4

10 8 2
9 7 5 4 2

K Q 5 2

  9 7 6 4 3
A K 8
K 10 7 3


West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass 5
Pass 6 End  

 Opening Lead: keep reading

 The splinter bidder should be prepared to relinquish "captaincy,"; he describes his general strength, pinpoints his shortage, then leaves the rest to partner. To avoid the need or desire to bid again over a signoff it is best to try a different sequence when you slightly too strong for a splinter.

 On today's deal, North had a very good hand when his partner responded 1
to 1.  North had a splinter bid available but wished to make a distinction between raises with singletons and voids.

 Rejecting the direct splinter, North used a treatment known as "bidding around your shortage." His sequence described a game raise in spades with a void in hearts, 4-0-4-5 or perhaps 4-0-3-6 shape. Although South had wasted strength in hearts, he had a fifth spade and useful holdings in the minors. His 5
admitted to good controls but poor trumps. North did the rest.

 That was good natural bidding and the contract deserved to make. And it would have had West made the stodgy lead of the
Q. But West had been listening to the bidding.

 Diamonds had been bid and raised and although it was conceivable that North had "invented" a force with a three-card suit, it was more likely that North-South had eight combined diamonds. That left East with just one.

 West led a diamond, won the first trump with the ace, and gave East a diamond ruff. So much for good bidding!