'The most interesting questions from visitors to the Dutch sister site (Bridgevaria.nl)'.
Dear Ed & Peter,
For some time already my partner and I have been playing weak jump overcalls and splinter bids.
In competitive auctions however, it is sometimes far from clear whether a bid is weak and natural, or strong, with a fit in partner's suit and singleton/void in the bid suit. An example:
I would take 3♠ here as a splinter bid (heart fit, slam try), but according to my partner it's weak with a spade suit. Since this is a rather essential difference of opinions, I would like to hear your view.
Remco ten Hagen, Zaandam
Reply Ed Hoogenkamp (South)
It's hard to give a common reply to questions like these. Preconditions are of main importance here. For instance, in the case you're referring to, many Dutch partnerships have agreed that 2♠ by South over East's 2♣ would be non-forcing: 8-11 HCP, at least five spades. As a consequence 3♠, in your auction, is game forcing with a six-card suit. Not my cup of tea, but many play it that way (outside the Netherlands this is not a common agreement).
If you play 2♠ by South as forcing (the common agreement outside the Netherlands), you should consider the most sensible meaning of your jump to 3♠. I myself think, that hands on which you want to bid 3♠ as natural and weak, are rare. Usually either a 2♠ or 4♠ bid will do (or a double).
So I definitely prefer the jump to 3♠ in this situation to be a splinter bid. More problematic I think, is a jump to 3♦. I suppose that is a natural bid, invitational I think (six-card suit, about 10 HCP, not more), 2♦ is natural and forcing and 4♦ is a splinter bid.
Don't forget to discuss with partner the meaning of 1♣/1♦ - (pass) - 3♥/♠. I have the feeling you and partner will disagree here as well. Again my advice is splinter, since a natural bid hardly makes sense here.
In Norway the 1♥ opening is already a splinter bid, if I'm correct; of course 3♠ is a natural bid then, suggesting the trump suit. Peter knows all about it.
Un saludo desde Barcelona
Reply Peter van der Linden (North)
Your question takes us outside the field of basic agreements in Dutch natural bidding: there is no common agreement about this situation. In other words: opinions galore, anarchy rules. Still, I guess I can dwell upon it a bit.
Firstly, Ed mentioned it, South must be able to make a forcing bid in spades.
- If 2♠ is forcing, 3♠ is free.
- But if 2♠ is non-forcing (8-11, the notorious negative free bid, NFB), 3♠ is necessary to show a forcing hand with a good six card suit (though you could bid such a hand by doubling first and bidding spades later; NFB-followers play this sequence as forcing. Non-NFB-followers play this as 6-9 HCP and five or more spades; they play a direct 2♠ bid as forcing).
Let's assume we don't play the NFB, since it is not a common agreement. So the jump to 3♠ is free and you can give it your favourite meaning. Like I said: there is no common agreement.
- Therefore your partner's suggestion to play it as weak, is a possibility. But so is your suggestion (splinter). If I have to choose between the two, I would choose splinter. I don't like to consume bidding space by way of weak bids, after partner has opened (unless I support his opening suit). After all, that looks like 'bidding pre-emptively against partner', it disturbs your own side's bidding and I think that's the task of the opponents...
But seriously: if you play 3♠ as weak, that bid should be strictly limited. If not, partner wouldn't have a clue whether to bid on with extra strength or not. And the more limited a bid is, the less often you will get a suitable hand to use it.
- But hands suitable for splinter bids are rare too in this situation, since an opponent has overcalled, so he has points. Furthermore, if you have a singleton, it will most often be in the opponent's suit, not in the third or fourth suit. So a jump in the overcalled suit can very well be a splinter bid. But a jump in a new suit, should have another meaning here, I think.
Therefore bidding theoreticians have come up with a more practical meaning: the fitbid. It shows a fit in partner's suit (that will usually become the trump suit) and a good, long holding in the bid suit. This meaning is more practical since you will regularly get a suitable hand to apply it.
In your sequence South would show a heart fit and a good spade suit. The idea behind fitbids is to simplify the bidding in competitive situations. Suppose for instance that over South's 3♠ bid West were to jump to 5♣, clearly pre-emptive. If South's 3♠ was a fitbid, North is usually in a much better position to judge whether to pass (forcing!), double or bid 5♥, than if 3♠ was weak or a splinter bid.
Basically, a fitbid is not a slam try but South can change it into a slam try by showing extra strength later.
Fitbids are also very effective in unclear situations. Like: who's saving, who's bidding to make? I guess you will be familiar with such situations — I am!
I repeat; the jump in the opponent's suit, remains a splinter bid.
Ed mentions 3♦ by South (instead of 3♠). Since everyone plays 2♦ as forcing (even NFB-followers: this is not a NFB), 3♦ is free. There are many possible meaning for this bid:
- Classical: a game forcing jump, good six-card suit. In fact a very practical bid (though, admittedly, suitable hands are rare) since if you bid 2♦ with such a hand, you will be in trouble after a simple raise to 3♣ by West, followed by two passes: after all, you shouldn't light-heartedly bypass 3NT).
- Invitational, six-card suit (as mentioned by Ed).
Apart from weak (as I said: I don't like that meaning), I think every possibility has its merits. Personally I like the good old-fashioned game-forcing... Suitable hands for splinter are too rare and the fitbid should be a double jump to 4♦ here, I think; that doesn't pose a problem, since you're going to play at least 4♥ anyway.
A double jump in an uncontested auction remains a splinter bid, no fitbid here. So I agree with Ed that 1♣/1♦ - (pass) - 3♥/♠ should be a splinter bid. Again: giving 3♥/♠ the meaning weak, would constitute a pre-emptive action against partner.
To conclude: make sure to choose the meaning you feel comfortable with. There is no common agreement here, no standard system, no commonly accepted principles; anything goes. As long as you and your partner agree, you will do fine.
So forget about the so-called experts (especially Ed & Peter; what do they know!)...
Hilsen fra Orkanger