Wednesday, October 19, 2005 1:21 AM

Mini - Splinters




            When I first learned splinters they were defined as limit raise or better. I have been told that in modern bidding this is “old fashioned” thinking . The mini-splinter just needs to be a response with 4 trump . Subash Gupta taught me “masked splinters” . The purpose was to splinter but not give too much information to the enemy . Subash advised to use the lower ranking minor ( 3♣ ) to show a forcing to game splinter in some suit and 3 as a mini splinter in some suit and not forcing to game. What is a mini splinter though ? Is it a limit raise ? I guess I most go the “modern” way and drop my HCP requirements for a mini-splinter . We will go for the modern definition of a response with 4 trump and a stiff. Therefore , a mini-splinter is mainly a tactical bid.


          This understanding means that a jump raise in the major should deny a stiff . This is handy for sacrificing decisions or game bidding decisions. 1-P-3  shows a response with 4 trump and no singleton. Of course with some hands , a tactical jump raise might be less than a response.  A leap to game probably has 5 trump and is highly pre-emptive in nature.


          This means a mini-splinter and a slam is a rare occurrence. If partner bids 3 as a mini-splinter and you do have slam aspirations how do you ask ? The other major asks for the stiff. 1-P-3*-P  3 asks and partner uses step responses.  3NT – stiff ♣ , 4♣ - stiff and 4 is a stiff spade. You could go natural on this sequence and have 3NT for a stiff spade and the other bids natural but it encourages the enemy to make doubles for possible sacrifices. With spades agreed , 3 asks for the stiff and step responses identify the singleton.


          If partner makes a serious slam try of 3NT after your splinter , she is not interested in your singleton. Your duty is to bid your controls up the line and of course a singleton is a control. If your singleton is your first lower ranking control by all means bid it. 3NT is not natural showing duplication and offering a choice of contracts. After you have splintered, there is no choice of contracts as the major is preferred.


          There are some special KCB rules in mini/maxi  splinter auctions .  if either player has splintered, a six level response to the Specific King Ask in the splinter suit, shows the Spade King.  It is wasteful for the responder to show the king of the splinter suit when hearts is the agreed suit, so why not use it for something useful? Showing the spade king is always dangerous as its rank virtually forces you to a grand. Do not splinter with stiff kings as it is a splinter distortion. Splintering with stiff Aces is also a no-no .