Splinter Bids – Answers

Reference:  25 Bridge Conventions You Should Know


In an earlier lesson on slam bidding I presented the idea that successful slams require controls and a source of tricks.    Sometimes you get both when you have shortness in a side suit and a fair number of trumps.  For example, suppose you have a side suit with Axxx in your hand and a small singleton in a dummy that has 4 trumps.  In No-trump this suit produces only one trick but in a suit contract you get 4 tricks:  the Ace and 3 ruffs.  Dummy’s singleton in this suit produces second round control and the good trump fit produces the extra tricks.  Being able to identify situations like this during the auction can allow you to get to good slams lacking the usual 33 points.  This is why the splinter bid was invented.


  • A splinter bid is a bid showing:
    • a singleton or a void in a hand
    • with four or more trumps and
    • values for game.
  • Usually, a splinter is shown by a double jump – shift in a side suit.
    • This bid isn’t used for anything else.
    • The bid takes a lot of bidding room, so it needs to be very descriptive.

Example Sequences

  • After an opening bid of 1H, responder can bid 3S as a spade splinter, 4C as a club splinter, or 4D as a diamond splinter.
  • After an opening bid of 1S, responder can bid  4C as a club splinter, 4D as a diamond splinter, or 4H as a heart splinter.
    • With S KQxxx H Axx D x C Kxxx, after your partner opens 1S you respond 4D.

Responder Splinters

  • After a major suit opening, responder should have 13 to 15 points, including distribution.
  • With more than 15 points start out by responding with Jacoby 2NT.

Opener Continuations

  • Opener should reevaluate her hand, focusing on the splinter suit.
    • Good holdings in the splinter suit:
      • Axx(x)
      • xx(xx)
    • Bad holding in the splinter suit:
      • KQx because this has wasted values .
  • With a minimum hand, opener should just bid game .
  • With wastage in the splinter suit, opener should just bid game .
  • With slam interest, opener can either
    • Cue bid cheapest control; or
    • Ask for keycards .

Opener Splinters

  • Opener’s splinter requires 18 to 19 points, because responder might only have 6 points and opener is forcing the auction to game.
  • Opener splinters using a double jump-shift, just like responder.
    • Example:  you open 1C and partner responds 1S.  You can splinter with 18 points and a singleton diamond by bidding 4D .


As above, responder evaluates her hand and determines if slam seems likely.

Singleton Honor

Avoid making a splinter with a singleton Ace or King, because:

  • Partner will misevaluate a holding like KQxx if your singleton is the Ace.
  • Partner is expecting your values to be outside of the splinter suit.