The concept or conventional method was developed independently by Mr. David Leigh Cliff in 1963, who was the first to publish an article relating to this concept, and by Dorothy Hayden, who later married Mr. Alan Truscott and was addressed as Mrs. Dorothy Hayden Truscott. She was born on November 3, 1925 and died on July 4, 2006.

Note: Mr. Phillip Alder, bridge columnist for The New York Times, published an article about Mrs. Dorothy Hayden Truscott following her death. The column was printed on July 8, 2006, and can be accessed online at: The New York Times. This bridge article has also been preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format without change for future reference.

Mr. David Leigh Cliff

Note: The photograph presented on this web page of Mr. David Leigh Cliff was contributed to this site by Ms. Lee Cliff Millot Ryan of San Diego, California, United States, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude for sharing this rare photograph and also additional information about her brother.

Mr. David Leigh Cliff , aka Dave, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, on September 26, 1932, and died November 7, 1999, and was of Branchburg and also Basking Ridge, New Jersey, United States. He was a leading bridge theorist and developed Denial Cuebids, and also specialized responses to strong 2 Clubs opening bids.

Note: Mr. Alan Truscott, the bridge columnist for The New York Times includes details about Mr. David Leigh Cliff in his bridge column of November 22, 1985. This information has only been preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.

Note: Mr. Alan Truscott, the bridge columnist for The New York Times includes details about Mr. David Leigh Cliff in his bridge column of August 19, 1988. This information has only been preserved and archived on this site in .pdf file format for future reference.

Note: Mr. David Leigh Cliff also authored a bridge article for The Bridge World, issue October 1985, Volume 56, Number 12, titled Cliff Over One Club.

     
     

Definition of a Splinter Bid

By definition a splinter bid is an unusual jump in the bidding sequence, which makes otherwise no logical or rational conventional sense, and which guarantees a fit for the last named suit by partner. In addition, the bid shows a singleton or a void in the suit in which the jump is made.

Note: The splinter bid is always a suit bid, never a bid in No Trump.

This method is described also as a variation of the Fragment Bid, which was developed by Mr. Monroe Ingberman. The concept was based on the principle of an unusual jump, especially a double jump in a new suit on the second round of bidding, showing a fit with partner's suit and a shortage in the fourth suit.

Note: The splinter bid, in some bridge circles, became known as an anti-fragment or single-showing bid. The bid has hence held an ambiguous character for many players since the bid itself could be easily confused with the fragment bid. Therefore these two designations have become obsolescent.

The conventional method of the splinter bid has been altered, varied, extended, and modified. For example, the splinter bid requires that the player make an unusual jump, which consumes bidding space. Thus was born the concept within the bridge community of the Mini-Splinter Bids, which did not require an unusual jump, but which kept open additional bids in order to have the opportunity to exchange and communicate additional information to partner.

The most important feature about the splinter bid is to communicate to partner that a game contract is secure and that slam interest is present. With the knowledge of a singleton or indeed a void the partnership can better decide whether a slam contract is possible. This added feature, this exchanged information about the precise location of a singleton or void can be especially important in determining the final contract.

The key to bidding most suit slams lie in the combined configuration of both holdings. When a fit has been found, then the partnership can determine better whether or not a slam try should be attempted. This is the logical foundation of the concept, the parameters of which can guide the partnership to a slam contract without holding the traditionally required values.

Note: The following evaluation method is only a guideline. The evaluation of the player holding a singleton should evaluate the holding differently than when holding a void. When holding a void the player normally requires fewer points since the holding is regarded as being stronger owing to the distribution of the holding. For instance, a distribution of 4-4-5-0 is stronger after finding a suit fit than a distribution of 4-4-4-1.

Fit   Support   Singleton Values   Void Values
Major Suit   4-card support   10-13 hcps   9-12 hcps
Minor Suit   5-card support        

Passed Hand and Third Seat Opening

The holding of the player, who splinters, should also contain game values based on the general evaluation method described above. When partner is already a passed hand, then the holding should be re-evaluated accordingly and a splinter bid must still fulfill all the requirements and fall within the parameters of a splinter bid.

When a player opens in third seat, then the responder, who is considering a splinter bid, may do so in full recognition that an opening in third seat, following two passes, may open the auction with fewer than traditional values. The responder, regardless of count, may only make a splinter bid when the re-evaluation of the holding fulfills the parameters of a splinter bid and guarantees game values.

Either Partner Can Splinter

Note: splinter bids can be made by either member of the partnership, and in some cases following a one level opening by the opposing side and the splinter bid is in the suit of the opponent's opening bid.

Note: In general a splinter bid cannot be made after immediate competition. A qualification of this restriction is necessary in the sense that if an opponent opens the auction prior to any competition by the partnership, then splinter bids are played as systems on. However, if the partnership opens first and there is immediate competition, the the partnership plays splinter bids as systems off.

In order to make a splinter bid the partner, who splinters, jumps one level higher than, for example, is necessary for a traditional jump shift or for a traditional jump reverse. This definition of a splinter bid sets the parameters for such an action of supporting partner to the extent that the bid cannot be ambiguous.

The following examples illustrate the employment of a splinter bid.

Splinter Bids by the Opener

Example 1

Opener Responder   Meaning
2
AK54
KQ1087
A54
 
KQ54
Q8763
32
J10
   
1 1    
3 Opener splinters showing a singleton or void in Spades, game support in Hearts, and possible slam interest.

Analysis: The opener makes an unusual jump one level higher than, for example, for a regular reverse bid, which would be two Spades. This splinter bid shows either a singleton Spade or a void in Spades, at least 4-card Heart support, and game values. The responder, with very few values, is not interested in a slam and signs off in a game contract in Hearts. (Note: only with strong, additional values should the opener, in this example, continue to force the auction.)

 

Example 2

Opener Responder   Meaning
AJ54
2
AK9
AKJ76
 
KQ9732
A874
2
54
   
1 1   The responder seeks a fit in a Major suit.
3     The opener splinters showing a singleton or void in Hearts, game support in Spades, and possible slam interest.
  4   The responder denies slam interest and signs off. Generally a sign-off ends the auction, but this is not always the case.
4 NT     With additional values the splinter bidder can force a continuation of the bidding sequence. In this bidding example the opener should employ a Blackwood-style conventional method to ask for the number of Aces and/or Keycards held by the responder.

Note: Continuations can be forced by the splinter bidder in the case that partner signs off in game showing fewer than slam values. In the above example, for instance, the opener can continue the bidding with a bid or 4 No Trump to show additional values and demand a slam try. When this occurs the partner may not pass.

Note: In the above example the opener forces a continuation and the partnership lands in a secure grand slam contract of 7 Hearts or 7 No Trump with a combined number of 29 high card points.

Note: In the above example many partnerships will open a strong, artificial 2 Clubs. This opening bid is possible if the agreement is that a strong, artificial 2 Clubs opening bid shows a minimum of 8 winning tricks. Other partnership agreements set the minimum number of losing tricks as four losing tricks, or 9 winning tricks.

Splinter Bid versus Jump Reverse Bids

The following example should illustrate the reason why a jump reverse bid is not possible if the partnership agrees to employ splinter bids.

Opener Responder Meaning
A54
2
AQJ7
AK843
 
108732
AKQ
1054
92
1 1
(3 )   Option 1: The partnership has agreed to play jump reverse bids to show a 4-5 distribution and a minimum of 16/17 high card points.
  Option 2: The partnership has agreed to employ splinter bids and a rebid of 3 Diamonds by opener shows a a singleton or void in Diamonds, game support in Spades, and slam interest.

Note: The partnership is unable to play both jump reverse bids and also splinter bids at the same time. The partnership must agreed upon playing either the one conventional method or the other conventional method, but not both.

It becomes impossible to show splinter bids after a competitive suit or No Trump overcall by the immediate opponent. Therefore, all continuations following an immediate overcall are natural.

 

Splinter Bid by the Responder

Opener Responder Meaning
4
AQJ765
A76
Q43
 
AK765
K93
3
A765
1 1 The responder attempts to find a second - Fit in Spades..
  Note: The responder, generally and by consensus, should hold at least 4-card support in a Major suit before showing support. (Note: partnership agreement.)
2 The opener rebids Hearts to show a 6-card plus Heart suit. The bid also informs partner that no additional values are present.
4 Shows a singleton or void, at least 3-card support in Hearts, game values, and slam interest.

Note: The splinter bid of the responder of 4 Diamonds indicates a singleton or void. The opener has rebid his Hearts indicating a 6-card suit and thus have 9 cards combined in the trump suit Hearts.

Note: By bidding a new suit when holding only 3-card support for partner's suit ,and then splintering on the second round, the partner shows only 3-card support. By splintering immediately the partner should have 4-card support for partner's suit. In this manner the partnership can exchange additional information.

Note: In the above example the opener, with a singleton in Spades, has an easy decision to employ any form of Blackwood or Ace-asking method to reach slam.

Note: The first splinter bid response by the responder upon discovering an immediate fit includes only twelve bidding sequences, which are shown below. No examples are included since the concept is logical and self-explanatory by definition. It is up to the player to determine whether or not a splinter bid best describes the holding and whether or not the holding is worth exploring for slam.

Opener Responder
1 3 / 3 / 3 Shows support in Clubs, a singleton / void in the bid suit, and slam interest.
1 3 / 3 / 4 Shows support in Diamonds, a singleton / void in the bid suit, and slam interest.
1 3 / 4 / 4 Shows support in Hearts, a singleton / void in the bid suit, and slam interest.
1 4 / 4 / 4 Shows support in Spades, a singleton / void in the bid suit, and slam interest.

Since splinter bids are the employment of so-called and otherwise designated idle bids, the partnership agreement should definitely be clear that these first responses by the responder do not carry any other significance and/or meaning.

Non-Obvious Employment of Splinter Bid

The splinter bid can be used under different and sometimes unexpected circumstances, which each partner must expect and recognize as such.

Opener Responder Meaning
Q105
AK9875
AKQ
A
4
J1042
1063
QJ843
 
2   Strong, artificial opening bid. Partner may not pass.
  2 Generally a so-called waiting bid.
2 Shows an unbalanced holding with long Hearts.
3 Shows a singleton or void, at least 3-card support in Hearts, game values, and possible slam interest.

Continuations: The opener, being informed of the singleton or void in Spades, realizes that there is only one loser in Spades, and continues by asking for either Aces or Keycards, etc.

Note: The reason for any continuation by the opener is that a splinter bid is defined as showing either a singleton or a void. These two options of a splinter bid can be the the difference between a small slam or a grand slam. By inquiring with a 4 No Trump bid the opener can, per partnership agreement, determine whether the responder holds a singleton or a void. For example, by bidding 5 Clubs to the 4 No Trump inquiry the responder can show a singleton, and by bidding 5 Diamonds the responder can show a void. In the above example, if the responder shows a void in Spades, then a grand slam in Hearts is not unthinkable and quite feasible.

Note: The partnership agreement, suggested above, of how the responder can show a singleton or a void can, of course, be reversed. Then a first response of 5 Clubs would show a void, whereas a first response of 5 Diamonds would show a singleton. Partnership agreement.

Rosenkranz Sliver Bid

This is an extension of the splinter bid principle and was devised by Mr. George Rosenkranz of Mexico City, Mexico, for use with weaker responding holdings. With four-card trump support, (or preferably with 5-card trump support), for a Major suit opening and fewer than 10 high card points, the standard response would be a jump to game. When such a hand includes a singleton or void and a minimum of three controls including at least one King (3 controls), Ace or void (2 controls) or a King or singleton (1 control), possession of a sliver is indicated by a response of 3 No Trump.

Note: The reason for the use of the word sliver is unknown.

The rebids of the opener are then to sign off in the Major suit with more than five losers and a holding with minimum high card points and controls. Holding at least six high card controls, or five controls and a singleton, 15 plus high card points, and fewer than six losers, the opener explores slam possibilities by bidding the suit where the responder's singleton or void will represent duplication and be of least value.

The rebids of the responder are then to sign off by bidding game in the agreed suit, if the singleton or void is opposite partner's exclusion rebid. If the responder has any shortage elsewhere, the responder rebids in steps:

First Step: Singleton in lower unbid side suit.
Second Step: Singleton in higher suit.
Third Step: Void in lower unbid suit.
Fourth Step: Void in higher unbid suit.

In counting the steps, a game bid in the agreed trump suit, the sign off, is omitted.

Splinter Bid Sequences by Edwin Kantar

The following bidding sequences have been compiled by Mr. Edwin Kantar, aka Eddie, in his publication Bridge Convention: A Guide to Understanding Techniques of Modern Bidding, published in the year 1974 by Wilshire Book Co., ISBN-10: 0879800135 / ISBN-13: 9780879800130. For those bidding sequences, which may not be self-explanatory a short explanation is added for clarification.

     
     

Summary of Splinter Bids by Opener

Opener Responder
1 1
3 / 3 - Fit in Diamonds.  
   
Opener Responder
1 1
3 / 3 - Fit in Spades.  
   
Opener Responder
1 1
3 / 4 - Fit in Hearts.  
   
Opener Responder
1 2
3 / 3 - Fit in Clubs.  
   
Opener Responder
1 1
4 / 4 - Fit in Spades.  
   
Opener Responder
1 2
3 / 4 - Fit in Clubs.  
   
Opener Responder
1 2
3 / 4 - Fit in Diamonds.  
   
Opener Responder
1 2
4 / 4 - Fit in Clubs.  
   
Opener Responder
1 2
4 / 4 - Fit in Diamonds.  
   
Opener Responder
1 2
4 / 4 - Fit in Hearts.  

Summary of Splinter Bids by Responder.
The last bid by responder is a splinter bid.

Opener Responder
1 1
1 3 / 4 - Fit in Hearts.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
1 3 / 4 - Fit in Spades.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 3 / 3 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
1 4 / 4 - Fit in Spades.

Note: This is a rare sequence where the responder can
Splinter Bid 4 to show a Singleton in an already bid suit.

   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 3 / 4 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 3 - Fit in Diamonds.

Note: The 2 rebid is a reverse bid.

   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 4 - Fit in Diamonds.

Note: The 2 rebid is a reverse bid.

   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 4 - Fit in Hearts.

Note: The 2 rebid is a reverse bid.

   
Opener Responder
1 1
1 4 / 4 - Fit in Spades.

Note: This is a rare sequence where the responder can apply the
splinter bid of 4 to show a singleton in an already bid suit.

   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 3 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 3 / 4 - Fit in Diamonds.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 4 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 4 - Fit in Diamonds.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 4 - Fit in Hearts.

Note: The 2 rebid is a reverse bid.

   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 3 - Fit in Hearts.

Note: The 2 rebid is a reverse bid.

   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 - Fit in Spades.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 4 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
1 1
2 4 - Fit in Diamonds.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 3 - Fit in Diamonds.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 3 / 4 - Fit in Hearts.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 - Fit in Spades.

Note: The 2 rebid is a reverse bid.

   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 3 / 4 - Fit in Hearts.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
3 4 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 - Fit in Diamonds.

Note: 2 Hearts could mean either a reverse bid by responder or the bid
of the last non-bid suit to force opener to provide additional information.
3 Hearts would be a jump by responder showing strength.
The splinter bid showing slam interest in Diamonds is 4 Hearts.

   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 - Fit in Hearts.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 / 4 - Fit in Spades.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 - Fit in Hearts.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 / 4 - Fit in Spades.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
3 4 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
2 4 / 4 - Fit in Spades.
   
Opener Responder
1 2
3 4 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
2 2
2 3 / 4 / 4 - Fit in Hearts.

Note: The 2 is a strong, artificial opening bid.
Note: The 2 represents only a waiting bid.

Note: The same holds true also in the following three bidding sequences:

   
Opener Responder
2 2
2 4 / 4 / 4 - Fit in Spades.
   
Opener Responder
2 2
3 4 / 4 / 4 - Fit in Clubs.
   
Opener Responder
2 2
3 4 / 4 / 5 - Fit in Diamonds.

Conclusion

Splinter bids are commonly employed by partnerships. These bids, when suitable, enjoy popularity ever since being devised by Dorothy Hayden and Mr. David Cliff, who published an article in the year 1963 relating to this concept. Splinter bids are a means of reaching slam contracts by sharing information about the distribution of the holdings.

 

 

If you wish to include this feature, or any other feature, of the game of bridge in your partnership agreement, then please make certain that the concept is understood by both partners. Be aware whether or not the feature is alertable or not and whether an announcement should or must be made. Check with the governing body and/or the bridge district and/or the bridge unit prior to the game to establish the guidelines applied. Please include the particular feature on your convention card in order that your opponents are also aware of this feature during the bidding process, since this information must be made known to them according to the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge. We do not always include the procedure regarding Alerts and/or Announcements, since these regulations are changed and revised during time by the governing body. It is our intention only to present the information as concisely and as accurately as possible.

 


     
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