Mike's Advice


Recently I have gotten a lot of emails asking my preference of jump shifts. Do I like strong jump shifts or weak jump shifts. In this article and in the next article, I will discuss both briefly and at the end of the next article will give my choice between the two.

Strong jump shifts have been around a long time. Initially a player would jump with just about any hand that was worth an opening bid and in time that treatment was changed to include a small family of hands. Paul Soloway created a version of strong jump shifts that has become the standard treatment.

In his version of strong jump shifts, the jump shift shows one of three kinds of hands. In all cases, the responder has a good idea where the hand will be played. No jump shifts just because you have a good hand. You always have a goal in mind. Here are the three types of hands that make a strong jump shift:

  1. A hand with a terrific suit.
  2. A big hand with a suit of your own and a fit for partner.
  3. A big hand with a suit of your own and about 18-19 high card points in a balanced hand with the unbid suits all stopped.

In all cases, a strong jump shift is into a higher ranking suit that can be bid at the two level. Jumps to the three level show other kinds of hands.

Big hands with a terrific suit

♠ A K Q 10 7 4 3
8 4
Q 2
♣ J 4

West North East South
1♣ Pass 2♠ Pass
2NT Pass 4♠ Pass
All Pass

Jumping in your suit and then jumping again shows a solid suit without any useful side control. The intent of this jump shift trick is to let partner know that you have a solid suit and if that information is enough for partner to look for a slam, your bid will be successful. This means that if you respond with 1♠ and then jump to 4♠, you have a hand that does not have a solid suit, information that your partner will appreciate.

♠ K 3
A Q J 10 8 7 6
♣ K 9 8

West North East South
1 Pass 2
2NT Pass 3 Pass
4♣ Pass 4NT Pass
5♣ Pass 6 Pass
All Pass

East jumps to 2 and rebids 3 next. This sequence shows an excellent but not absolutely solid suit and it shows slam interest. Opener cue bids the ♣A and East uses Blackwood finding West with three key cards. 6 should have a play and East bids it.

Big hands with a fit

♠ A Q J 8 4
A 8
♣ K 10 9 6 4

West North East South
1♣ Pass 2♠ Pass
2NT Pass 3♣ Pass
3NT All Pass

East jumps to 2♠ and then shows club support. Opener shows no interest in slam so East gives up. How would you bid the East hand if you did not have the strong jump shift? Likely, you would bid 1♠ and then bid the fourth suit or perhaps use some other artificial bid along the way. Showing your intentions would not be easy.

Big balanced hands with a good suit

♠ Q J 8
K Q 10 8 7
K 3
♣ A K J

West North East South
1♣ Pass 2 Pass
2NT Pass 3NT Pass
4NT Pass 6NT All Pass

East jumps to 2. At this moment West knows that East has a good hand but does not know yet what East’s intentions are. West rebids 2NT which shows a balanced hand. It does not have to be a minimum hand. West may be waiting to see what East is up to. East can raise to 3NT and feel that he has shown these values. East has stoppers in all the suits and he has 18-19 points. His hand fits the bill for a notrump type jump shift. If East had more, he would not bid just 3NT over 2NT.

If you use strong jump shifts, your methods will include more than I showed here. There are additional tricks that you will need to get the most out of strong jump shift sequences.

How good are strong jump shifts?

When they come up, strong jump shifts have it over any other scientific approach you might come up with. They are descriptive and efficient. Your auctions will have no wasted bids that encumber sequences like this one.

West North East South
1♣ Pass 1 Pass
1♠ Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2♠ Pass
2NT Pass 3♣ Etc

East bid 1 and then bid the fourth suit. After that he bids 2♠, a bid that is strong but ambiguous. West is not sure what is going on. On the next round East bids 3♣, showing something in opener’s first suit. Anyone want to guess what East has? Not easy. If this pair had been using jump shifts, East’s messages would have been easy to understand.

Now the point of this article. How useful are strong jump shifts?

The answer is that they are an excellent convention but one that is very rare. I would claim that strong jump shifts make slam bidding easier than any other method on hands where they are appropriate. But waiting for one of these hands to come up is tedious.

Next week. Weak Jump shifts and an evaluation of them.

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