One of my first introductions to Zach Brescoll was in 2014 in Las Vegas at a training camp for junior (<26) bridge players, in preparation for the World Youth Team Championship to be held in Istanbul about a month later. The training camp began just after the Las Vegas NABC concluded. At some point during the festivities, I found myself at a table against Zach. I distinctly remember on one board: his partner opened 1♠, he supported spades at the 2-level, and his partner launched straight into RKC without making a forcing, descriptive bid at the 2-, 3-, or 4-level. These descriptive bids may ultimately help determine whether we belong on small slam or grand slam, or in spades or NT.
He smiled and shook his head, and muttered “Little Rabbit,” referring to the way his partner jumped like a rabbit.
Zach was, and still is, a better and more experienced player than I am, so I defer to his bridge judgment in most cases. I have always kept this notion with me – jumps eat up a lot of space, and thus they should be VERY descriptive. They should really get the point of your hand across.
With that in mind, consider the following hand:
I was dealt this crazy hand on BBO, playing with Zach earlier this week. He was the dealer and opened 1♦, RHO bid 1♥, and I started with 1♠. To my surprise, Zach raised me to 2♠! I know he’s got around 12-14 points, and 4-card support in spades.
What are our possible bids here?
- 3♣ or 3♦ would be natural and forcing (a Help Suit Game Try, or possibly probing for slam).
- 3♥ would be a CUEBID of the opponent’s suit, showing a very good hand – too much to just go to 4♠.
- 3NT would be natural and balanced, offering to forego our spade fit and play in NT.
- 4m would be a SPLINTER – showing shortness in the bid suit, and slam interest in spades.
- 4♥ would also be a SPLINTER – showing shortness in hearts, and slam interest in spades.
- 4♠ would be natural and to play (no slam interest).
What would you bid?
I decided that my hand was JUST good enough to show some slam interest, and that the heart void was the most important feature of my hand to show, so I jumped like a rabbit to 4♥. This jump describes a lot about my hand. For starters, it shows 0-1 hearts. It also shows slam interest, so a lot of HCP and/or shape. Further, I decided NOT to make a help-suit-game-try to gauge my partner’s fit with mine, in determining slam prospects.
Over my splinter, my partner cooperated by bidding 5♣ – this shows a 1st round club control (either the A or a void) because we are at the 5-level. If the splinter made his hand worse (i.e. he had Kxx, KQx, QJx, or KJx in hearts), he’d just bid 4♠.
This was good news for my hand – my partner likes his hand in context of my splinter, AND he’s got stuff in clubs! I bid hearts AGAIN which now confirms a void, and partner went to 6♠. Given that I had all of 9 HCP and he had 12-14, I decided 6 was enough.
Moral of the story: jumps can be great, so long as they are basically the most helpful, descriptive, or COURTEOUS bids you can make to help the partnership reach the par spot. See the full deal below: