For partnerships, singularity is good
Jean Genet, a French author and dramatist, said, “Anyone who knows a strange fact shares in its singularity.” Last week, we looked at the few bidding conventions I believe all pairs should employ. There is one other for serious partnerships: the splinter bid. It comes up rarely, but it is great when it does because it helps you to reach low-point-count slams and to avoid bad slams. A splinter bid is usually a doublejump-shift to show a big fit with partner’s suit, at least game-going values and a singleton (or void) in the suit just named. The splinter is typically below game in the agreed suit and is one level above a bid needed in a natural sense. One caveat: Do not make a splinter bid with a singleton king (and try to avoid it with a bare ace). In this deal, North’s four-diamond response was a splinter bid. South then knew that he had no diamond losers, because if necessary he could have ruffed his low diamonds in the dummy. He used Blackwood before bidding seven spades. After West led the diamond king, what should South have done? Declarer seemed to have 13 top tricks: five spades, two hearts, one diamond and five clubs. He just had to draw trumps -- but how? If spades were 2-2 or 3-1, there was no problem. If East had all four, the contact was unmakable. But in case West had four spades, South cashed his queen first. Then he twice led through West, using dummy’s king and ace to capture West’s 10 and jack.