For part­ner­ships, singularity is good

Cecil Whig - - & & - By Phillip Alder

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.

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