Switched Splinters
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:

SOUTH       NORTH
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.