Introduction.      It is often possible to make slam with relatively few HCP. For example, consider the following two hands:


Despite the paltry 26 HCP, the two hands are cold for 6. The secret, of course, is the heart suit: declarer's Axx is perfect opposite dummy's singleton.
        Splinters are an essential tool for finding such distributional slams.


         Basic Splinter Bids.      Here's the convention:

After a major-suit opening, a double-jump in a new suit shows:
    • game-forcing strength,
    • 4-card major-suit support, and
    • a singleton or void in the second suit.

Using this agreement, there are six different splinter bids:

1 — 3             1 — 4
1 — 4   1 — 4
1 — 4   1 — 4

        EXAMPLE:     If your partner opens 1, you could bid 4 with:

T752     2     KJ74     AK43


         Evaluating Slam Potential.      After your partner makes a splinter, your potential for slam depends strongly on your holding in the suit:

Good Holdings             Poor Holdings
Axx   KJx
xxx   AKx
xxxx   x

With a good holding, you probably only need about 30 total points for slam. With a poor holding, you will need the traditional 32 or 33 points.

        EXAMPLE:     You open 1 and your partner responds 4. If you hold:

AKQ43     A85     Q32     76

you could bid Blackwood (4NT) to explore slam. However, with:

AKQ43     KJ5     Q32     76

you should probably just signoff in 4.

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