Source: Which forcing raise with a singleton do you choose? (Editor Note: We are not posting the whole article you can access to it in the link)

I asked my expert panel:

Partner opens one-of-a-major. You have a game-forcing hand with at least four-card support for partner and you have a singleton or void. With what types of hands do you splinter? With what types of hands do you make a forcing raise (Lets assume you’re playing Jacoby 2NT –meaning that a bid of 2NT over one-of-major usually shows at least four-card support for opener’s major; a game-forcing hand; and asks partner to bid a singleton at the three-level or a second good five-card suit at the four-level.) With what type of hands do you bid a suit and then support partner?

1 – 4 is a splinter. It shows at least four-card spade support, singleton or void in clubs and game-forcing values. 1 – 4 shows shortness in diamonds; and 1 – 4 shows shortness in hearts. After a 1-opening bid, 3 shows spade shortness, 4 shows club shortness and 4shows diamond shortness. 1 – 4 and 1 – 3 are the best splinters; they leave maximum room to explore slam possibilities.

1 – 4 and 1– 4 are the worst splinters. There is no room to explore below game. These splinter have to be very descriptive. After 1 – 4and 1– 4, there is only one bid below game. I think its best to play that the bid of the in between suit shows more than a minimum but not enough to bid above game (and says nothing about the in-between suit).

 Splinters work. 

You have AKQxxKQJxxxxx. You open 1 and partner bids 4. You have at most one spade loser. If partner has two aces, you have a cold slam. Three aces and you have a grand.

The problem with bidding a suit and then supporting partner is that partner might not know that you have four-card support. After1 – 2 – 2, there is no way to differentiate the length of your spades.

There are some experts who prefer Jacoby 2NT. Their splinters are very descriptive.

Larry Cohen: Splinter with classical hand (roughly 11 points–not more, no special feature in either side suit–not heavily weighted anywhere). Jacoby 2NT on other hands, unless I have a good reason to show a side suit and hear a reaction.

Jill Meyers: I splinter with hands where I have controls in the other two suits; and not with a hand where I have a good five card suit to bid at two level. If I didn’t have a good five-card suit and I didn’t have controls in the two unbid suits, I would bid Jacoby 2NT.

Ralph Katz: Splinter with about 12-14 HCPs. I also don’t have a side holding of Jxxx or worse. I use Jacoby 2NT with probably all other hands that don’t qualify for a splinter. You probably should also use Jacoby 2NT with a side suit of Jxxx or worse; not only would it be great to find partner with a singleton in that suit, but when they don’t have that singleton why help the opening leader.

You also probably should Jacoby also with a side suit of Axx and certainly Axxx. I probably would never start with a two-level bid. That’s because an opening bidder with AQx in the two-level suit bid by responder will think they are at least five tricks for us in that suit. A two-level response also helps the opponents too much. Maybe if you as a responder were in a bidding contest, you would make your first bid suit at the two-level way.

Henry Bethe: My agreements are: A direct splinter shows either a minimum game force or a hand worth a drive to the five-level. I treat “seven loser” hands as a minimum GF, e.g. KxxxAxxxxKxxx would be about average for 1 – 4. With KxxxAQxxxAQxx I would splinter and bid again over 4. With a hand in between I go through 2NT. The hands on which I bid a new suit, then force to game have a source of tricks, e.g. KxxxxxxxAKJxx I would start with 2.

Other experts prefer the splinter.

Kit Woolsey:  On most hands I would splinter. I might bid Jacoby 2NT if my other side suits were something like Axxx and KQxx. Now catching a singleton in the right side suit would be gold. I guess I could bid a side suit first if everything appears to depend on the fit for that side suit — something like QxxxxAQ10xxAKx. But I don’t think I have ever done that — good rule of thumb is to set trumps as quickly as possible.

I should add that my answer assumes I am playing Standard American with normal Jacoby. If I am playing Precision I am much more likely to bid Jacoby, since with partner’s hand being limited I am better placed to make the full decision — particularly if the Jacoby structure is sophisticated.

Bob Hamman: My opinion is that bidding over splinters is quite sensitive to context. Therefore I prefer to either incorporate splinters within the 2NT response or have some other bid which allows opener to somewhat define his strength, such as one-under limit raises. With respect to bidding suits and then raising, I recommend a method such as one-of-a-major-2NT = GF raise + side suit and one-of-a-major-3 is a balanced raise or moderate splinter. 1-3 or1-3 is a limit raise or game-forcing splinter with accepts being made by bid of one-over-trump-suit.

Eddie Kantar:” I don’t respond 2NT with a singleton; against my religion. If I’m that strong, I splinter. If I have 10-12 HCP, I jump to 3NT, partner asks with 4. If I have 13 or more I jump to three-of-the-other-major and the next step asks. With weaker hand I either make a limit raise (3), or a preemptive raise (3). I can’t imagine raising to the two-level with four trumps and a singleton, though I guess there are some hands that qualify. I might also jump shift (don’t play many strong jump shifts – just from one of a suit to 2) and then bid my singleton as the jump shift either shows a one suited hand or support for partner. Bidding a new suit shows a singleton, presumably with a hand that has support.

Experts suggest their conventions.

Barry Rigal: As to what I think you SHOULD do: Use two-tier splinters (1-3 and 1-3 for 9-12 splinters), with 4/4/4 as 13-16 splinters. Given that you don’t do this — and in fact even if you do — you should not splinter directly with a five-card suit (particularly a minor) with KJ10xx or better. The source of tricks may be critical to slam making. Bid the suit then splinter. AKxxxKQxQxxxx facing QJxxxAKxAxxxx has 11 tricks and no chance of more.

AKxxxKQxQxxxx facing QJxxxAKxxxAxx probably makes 12 tricks in a canter unless both spades and diamonds do not split. With a stiff ace or especially king splintering is very dangerous, whether minimum or maximum for the planned auction. 2NT may be better. Don’t splinter with a void if 13+ (with 9-12 it may be the least harmful lie). 2NT then unusual jump for exclusion, with a void.

Rigal suggests two-tier splinters. 1-3 shows 9-12 HCP, four-card support with an outside singleton. Over 3, 3NT asks for the singleton. Then 4, 4, 4t show singleton club, diamond, spade. If you have a minimum opener, you don’t have to ask for responder’s shortness. He suggests 1 – 3 as a spade splinter but I like 1 – 3NT as a 9-12 splinter. Over the splinter, next higher bid asks for shortness. Using two-tier splinters, all other splinters show at least 13 HCP, usually 13-15. 1 – 3NT shows a 13-15 spade splinter. All other splinters are natural.

The following experts use limited splinters.

Curtis Cheek; I splinter on 90% of hands with 11-13 HCP (hedging my bets – probably 95+). I make a forcing raise with 95% of hands with 15+ HCP. 14 HCP is the breakpoint. I just try to put them on one side of the line or the other. I bid a suit with about 13 HCP with xxx in a side suit. In reality I hardly ever (the remaining 5% at best) bid like that with four-card support. I like partner to ‘know’ I only have three-card support to aid in his evaluation of the trump situation.

Marty Bergen : I splinter on all hands with fewer than 17 points, counting distribution and bid Jacoby 2NT on stronger hands. I never bid another suit.

Richard Freeman: I splinter with no outside five-card suit unless weak, bid 2NT with very strong trumps and bid a five or six-card suit with two of the top three honors.”

Nick Nickell: Splinter should be used with hands that fall into fairly tight ranges. Dick Freeman and I utilize three-of-the-other-major as showing four+ trumps, an undisclosed splinter and 9 -12 HCP. Opener can ask to find out partner’s singleton or just place the contract and leave the opponents in the dark. We splinter at the four-level to show 13 – 15 HCP with 4+ trumps. We do not splinter with better hands, or hands that seem better suited to asking about partner’s hand type.

We tend to bid a new suit and raise partner when you have a concentration of honors in our suit and partner’s suit without any side controls. AQxxxxxxAQxxx is a hand where we would bid 2 over 1 and then bid 4. With most other hands we start with a forcing raise.

I like a jump to game in this situation to show a very bad two-over-one. Shows no outside aces with at most one trump honor. An example would be ªQxxQJxKJx KJxx.

Jeff Rubens: I splinter with a game-force with side shortness seeming most important. I make a forcing raise with neither side shortness nor useful-looking side suit. I bid a suit when the side suit looking most important.

Bobby Wolff: When playing Jacoby 2NT I prefer to only splinter with classic type hands, e g. 4 over 1ª with ªAJxxK10xxxAxxx. 11-13 HCP, usually four but very occasionally five little trumps; a singleton not a diamond void.  With all others I would go through 2NT and ask and then perhaps tell when asking partner to help with the decision. Some hands where I would change suit at the two-level and then either raise or jump raise partner’s major are: Over 1ª: ªKxxxxxAKJxxKx bid 2and then over 2ª or 2NT I rebid 4ª; with ªKJxxAKQxxxxxx over 1ª bid 2 then over either 2ª or 2NT, I splinter with 4. With ªAQx(x)xx(x)AKQJxxx I would jump shift to 3 and then raise spades. My tendency is for the responder to underbid slightly giving the opener some leeway (perhaps at times too much) with his opening bids.

Chip Martel: Complicated answer since it depends on several factors: hand strength (the stronger the more likely to bid 2NT), honor location (with pure holdings, helpful to find out about partner’s shape), space considerations (4over 1 leaves no space, 3ª over 1leaves a lot). For the last question, with four-card support only show side suit if good but not solid (ideally AQxxxx) or so solid it might be the trump suit. I give responder the option to show a strong splinter after bidding 2NT. (Opener bids 3 with all minimums
and 3 with no stiff and extras. Over these, 3ª and four-of-a-minor show a splinter with 15 –17 HCP.