by Dr. Verne L. Smith, Jr., Danvers, Mass.
One of the main drawbacks of splinter bids
(unusual jumps to show a short suit with good support for partner's suit) is the
ease with which the opponents can double to suggest a sacrifice.
For example, if the bidding goes:
SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST
1H Pass 3S* ?
* Splinter raise
East can double with little risk, since three spades cannot be a playable contract for North-South. Thus, he
can suggest if his hand is appropriate, and East-West will find many more successful four-spade saves than they
would if North-South used different methods. This is particularly important because East-West will often have
a lot of spades (North has none or one, and South opened the bidding in another suit).
I suggest that a splinter bid be made in the suit above the short suit. Over the long run, this will make it
harder, more dangerous, for the enemy to compete, whatever methods they adopt. Thus:
1H 3S (short diamond)
4C (short spades)
4D (short clubs)
The effect of this change on cue-bidding is minor, and in any event not as important as keeping the opponents out of the bidding.
Some systems use splinter bids even in auctions that may stop below game. Here, with the high-card strength more evenly divided, switched splinters will show to even greater advantage.