The Strong Jump-Shift Response: New Tricks for an Old Bid
Part 1 -- Evaluating Your Hand
Partner opens 1D and you are delighted to be looking at one of the following
responding hands. Would you make a strong jump shift, or would you choose
to take it slow with a low-level response?
1 - KQ3 AQ 4 AQJ9876
2 - AKQJ865 5 87 A93
3 - AQJ105 KQ5 87 AQ5
4 - 8 AKJ106 KJ92 A74
5 - KQJ107 A J6 AKJ87
6 - AK92 AQJ106 Void AQ85
7 - AK
AJ8654 Q5 KQ3
8 - AKQ84 A98 A8 A54
The strong jump-shift is one of the first special responses new players
learn to use and, once discovered, it's usually used far too often. One
form of abuse, "standard" in many party bridge games, is to jump-shift
with even a balanced 13-count, just to give partner the good news that
a game is available.
With experience, most of us learn to abandon this treatment and convert
to the old Goren requirement of 19+ points. But according to many of today's
experts, that standard may no longer be practical or even correct.
With some 19-point hands, good players wouldn't be caught dead jump-shifting.
With some 16-point hands, they would always make one. Which is which? In
the examples above, a jump-shift is recommended with Hands #1 through #4;
a simple one-bid works best with Hands #5 through #8. Here's why:
When to jump-shift
A jump-shift always shows a long suit and very strong responding hand,
but the modern treatment is that it doesn't necessarily guarantee 19 high-card
points. In fact, the jump-shift can be most useful for those hands where
you want to invite a slam, not insist on one.
A strong jump-shift should be made only when you have a one-suited hand
with good honor strength in your suit, slam-try strength or better and
a good rebid. An additional guideline is that the jump-shift works best
when you want to describe your hand to partner (not vice
versa). A jump-shift, then, is valuable in describing these types of hands:
A strong hand (17+ pts.) with ONE long, strong suit (at least two of the
top three honors). Hand #1 above is "perfect" for a 3C response.
An intermediate hand (13-16 pts.) with a long, solid suit
and good controls. With Hand #2 above, jump to 2S and rebid 4S at your
next turn to show the solid suit.
A balanced slam-invitation (17 to a "bad" 19 pts.) with a good 5-card suit.
With Hand #3, jump to 2S, then rebid 3NT to show balanced strength.
A slam-try or better hand (16+ pts.) with a good 5+-card suit
length in opener's suit. With Hand #4, jump-shift to 2H, then show your
diamond support with your next bid.
And -- most important -- when NOT to jump-shift
Even with very powerful hands, you should make a low-level response any
time you need general information from partner about his strength and distribution.
Avoid making a jump-shift with the following types of hands:
(1) A two- or three-suited hand.
With Hands like #5 and #6 above, you have plenty of high-card strength,
but no clear idea about what the trump suit should be. You may need a lot
of bidding room to show your distribution and locate support in partner's
hand. Since you want to hear partner's natural, length-showing rebid, you
should make a one-level response with each of these hands and follow up
with as many forcing bids as you need.
(2) A one-suited hand with a bad suit (missing two or more top honors).
Don't jump-shift into a suit that needs good honor support
or length from partner. You'll crowd the auction if you jump to 2H with
a hand like #7 above. Even if partner raises hearts, you won't be able
to tell if your suit is running. And whether he raises or not, you have
no intelligent rebid.
(3) A very strong, balanced hand.
A jump-shift doesn't always promise a distributional hand -- it can also
be made with a good 5-card suit and balanced strength. If you have a balanced
powerhouse, though, an initial jump-shift can create problems. Because
the jump-shift uses up so much bidding space, it often leaves opener only
one "safe", below-game rebid to describe his hand. He may be hesitant to
go past your 3NT rebid if he has a two-suited minimum, and he's often unsure
of your exact strength.
Best is to limit the jump-shifter's 3NT rebid to no more than a good
17 to a "bad" 19 (a hand like #3 above). With stronger hands, you may have
trouble finding a good rebid after your jump-shift, so use the low-level
Hand #8 above came up at a sectional. Those players who jump-shifted
to 2S heard 3H from partner and were at a loss for what to do next. The
hand is too strong for 3NT -- partner could pass. You can't rebid spades
or raise diamonds or hearts, and Blackwood won't tell you if partner's
suits are running.
An additional problem arises because so few players have discussed the
exact meanings of opener's rebids after the jump-shift. In the auction
above, could partner's 3H show a minimum like 3 KJ76 K8754 KQJ,
where even 6NT is a gamble? Or might he have 53 KQJ4 KQJ102 86,
where 7NT is laydown? You're more likely to find out about partner's distribution
if you start with a simple 1S response.
The Strong Jump-Shift Response: New Tricks for an Old Bid
Part 2 -- Opener's and Responder's Rebids
You open 1D and partner makes a strong jump-shift to 2S. What's your
rebid with each of the following hands?
1 - K3 65 AQ876 AK86
2 - 832 65 AKJ765 AJ
3 - 8 Q865 A10643 AK4
4 - 82 KJ64 KQ75 A103
In the absence of any special agreements, many players would rebid 3C with
Hand #1, 3S with Hand #2, and 3H (or perhaps 2NT) with Hands #3 and #4.
But what do these rebids mean to responder? Do they show suit length, honor
locations, overall high-card strength? Do they give partner enough information
to make an intelligent decision about where the hand should be played?
Because a jump-shift uses up so much bidding room, your partnership
needs to have clear agreements about the meanings of subsequent bids. There
are many different approaches -- the only important requirement is that
you and your partner discuss the auctions in advance so you're ready when
they come up at the table. To start your discussion, you may want to consider
the suggestions here, which include some of the most valuable and widely
In choosing your rebid as opener, the main points to remember are:
Here's a recommended set of agreements for opener's rebids after responder's
The jump-shifter promises at least 5 cards in his suit and good honor strength
(at least two of the top three honors).
Partner's jump-shift shows at least a slam invitation, but he doesn't necessarily
promise 19 high-card points. He may be basing his evaluation on playing
strength and, with some types of hands, can have as few as 13-16 high-card
points (see the discussion below on responder's rebids).
Partner will never jump-shift with a two- or three-suited hand (unless
his second suit is your suit). For this reason, it's often
a waste of bidding room for opener to show new 4-card suits after a jump-shift.
Instead, it's more important to tell responder about the location of your
hand's honor strength, especially for his suit.
A raise of responder's suit promises
one of the top three honors and at least doubleton support (Qx or better,
although some players advocate raising with even a singleton honor). With
Hand #1, raise to 3S -- partner will be more interested in your filler
for his suit than in your club length.
A failure to raise responder'ssuit DENIES
one of the top three honors in his suit.
A rebid of your suit shows extra length with good honor strength
in the suit. With Hand #2, you can't raise to 3S immediately because it
promises a top honor. Instead, rebid 3D to describe your strong suit, then
show your spade length with your next bid.
A new suit shows concentrated honor strength, but
not necessarily length. With Hand #3, rebid 3C to show the location of
your outside strength.
Notrump rebids show balanced minimums with stoppers in both unbid
suits. Rebid 2NT with Hand #4. Since partner won't have a 4-card heart
suit, there's no point in rebidding 3H.
The jump-shifter's rebids
Before you make your jump-shift, it's wise to think about your possible
rebids. All of the hands below are good choices for an immediate jump-shift
over partner's 1C opener. What's your plan for the rest of the auction?
5 -A7 KQJ AQJ10872 6
6 - 6 AKQJ843 A84 64
7 - AQJ106 KQ9 AQ3 64
8 - AKQ93 K10 A5 Q1074
9 - A8 AKJ94 6 KJ865
Opener's rebid may give you a clear idea of how to continue, especially
if he raises your suit. On many hands, though, you'll need to find a rebid
that further describes your hand or elicits more information from partner.
Here are some recommendations for defining the jump-shifter's second bid:
Using these guidelines, here's how you would rebid the various types of
hands with which you would make an initial jump-shift:
Key-Card Blackwood is always for your jump-shift suit (unless
you've also shown support for the suit partner opened).
A 2NT or 3NT rebid shows a balanced slam invitation
(17 to a "bad" 19) with a strong 5-card suit (at least two of the top three
A jump to 4 of your major-suit jump-shift (1C by partner - 2S by
you - 2NT - 4S) shows a long, solid suit with intermediate
high-card strength (13-16 pts.) and good controls.
A simple rebid of your jump-shift suit (1C-2S-3C-3S) shows
a long, solid suit with more high-card strength than the jump to
A rebid of partner's suit (1C-2S-2NT-3C) promises support
-- 4+-card length if the opening bid was a minor, 3-card length if it was
a major. It also tends to deny an outside singleton.
A new suit (1C-2S-2NT-3D) shows support for partner and a
singleton in the suit bid.
A strong hand (17+ pts.) with ONE good suit.
A jump-shift is often the best way to find out whether partner can fill
in your long, almost-solid suit (a 6+ card suit missing only one of the
top three honors). With Hand #5, a grand slam (or even a small) probably
depends on partner holding the diamond king. Since it's unlikely partner
will be able to raise a 1D response, the best way to find out about his
support is to set the suit by jump-shifting to 2D. If partner has at least
Kx, he'll raise to 3D. You can then Blackwood and bid the laydown 7NT if
partner shows two aces and another king. If partner doesn't raise diamonds,
you can still Blackwood to find out about a possible singleton king.
An intermediate hand (13-16 pts.) with a solid suit.
Many players favor using a jump-shift followed by a jump to game in that
suit to show solid trumps with good outside controls, but not enough to
make a five-level slam try. A good rule to follow is not to have two quick
losers in an unbid suit.
With Hand #6, jump to 2H, then rebid 4H. Partner will know not to worry
about trumps. He'll bid on with good quick tricks (a hand like A765 6 K92 AK954),
but pass with softer values (KQ7 654 KQ KJ853).
Note that 5H may be too high with the second hand.
A balanced slam invitation (17 to a "bad" 19 pts.) with a good 5-card suit.
With Hand #7, jump-shift to 2S, then rebid 3NT. This gives partner a near-perfect
description of your point-count, balanced strength and source of tricks.
For the best results, this jump-shift sequence should only be used with
slam invitational hands. With stronger, insist-on-slam hands, you
may have a hard time coming up with a good rebid after your jump-shift,
so start with a low-level response instead.
A slam-try or better hand (16+ pts.) with a good suit AND length in partner's
With Hand #8, start with a jump-shift to 2S, then raise partner's club
suit. This auction shows your good support and outside source of tricks
and helps partner evaluate his hand. He'll be encouraged to cooperate with
your slam try when he holds the "right" minimum (54 A753 K8 AJ932).
You can also use any new-suit rebid to show support for partner. Many
experts advocate using this bid to identify a singleton. With Hand #9,
the auction might go 1C by partner - 2H by you - 2S/2NT/3C - 3D. Your 3D
can't be natural (since you wouldn't have jump-shifted with length in two
unbid suits). Instead, it shows your singleton diamond and 4+-card club
support, which may help you get to a short-point slam.
The Strong Jump-Shift Response: New Tricks for an Old Bid
Part 3 -- Fit-Showing Jump-Shifts by a Passed Hand
This bidding problem in our District 8 newsletter led to an interesting
debate about North's 3D bid:
Matchpoints, neither vulnerable
West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1S
Pass 3D* Pass ? * (Fit-showing jump shift)
What is your call as South holding: AKQ75 KJ103 A 1065
The panel, which was split between a 3H slam-try and a direct 4S, had
several different ideas about the meaning of a "fit-showing jump-shift".
Some panelists admitted that they had this treatment written on their convention
cards, but had never discussed the exact requirements with their partners.
One panelist thought the best hand North could hold was something like
J1032 6 KQ1082 A53.
Others thought partner should have longer, stronger diamonds for his jump.
So what exactly is a fit-showing jump-shift, and what should it show?
Does it promise 3-card or 4-card support, an outside ace, a singleton?
How good should the jump-shift suit be? Here's a review of expert opinion
and some guidelines on how you can add this valuable bid to your system:
Why use fit-showing jump-shifts?
Old-time Standard American defined a passed-hand jump-shift as "good hand,
good suit". If partner opened 1C in third or fourth seat, a jump to 2S
showed a hand like KQJ87 A82 J74 92.
In practice, though, a simple 1S is better with this type of scattered
strength. If partner has opened light and passes, you're probably high
enough -- and you certainly aren't missing a game. If partner has a full
opener, he'll bid again and you can make a game try.
For these reasons, today's experts recommend that a passed-hand jump-shift
be reserved for a special type of hand -- one that has been revalued upwards
because of partner's opening bid. Since the jump takes you to a higher
level than partner may have planned, it's important to have the safety
of a known fit. Some players use the passed-hand jump-shift as a mini-splinter,
but a more popular treatment is the natural, "fit-showing" jump-shift used
in the problem above.
What does the jump show?
To add this bid to your system, you and your partner need to agree on some
basic criteria. In general, a passed-hand jump-shift should
meet four requirements:
(1) A good 5+-card suit.
The honor strength you promise in your suit may depend on whether partner's
opening bid was a major or a minor. Keep in mind that if partner opens
a minor and you jump in a major, you're suggesting a new trump suit --
if your hand meets the other guidelines, your major can be any "decent"
5+-cards (KJxxx, AJxxx, even QJ10xx). But if partner opens a major, your
jump confirms his suit as trumps and shows an outside source
of tricks. You may want to agree that after a major opening,
responder promises two of the top three honors in his jump-shift suit.
(2) 4+-card support for opener's suit.
This is an absolute requirement if partner opened a minor. If he's opened
a major, some partnerships agree that you may occasionally have good
3-card support. You can discuss whether or not you want to bid 3D over
1S with a hand like
KJ6 7 AQ1082 6543.
If you play the Drury convention (which shows support and asks partner
how good his hand is), a 2C bid with this hand may work better.
(3) Maximum high-card points.
"Maximum" is usually 10-11 HCPs, but can be fewer, especially after a major
opening. You may jump-shift with 8-9 HCPs if your honors are "prime" and
concentrated in your two suits.
After a 1D opening, respond 2H with 92 AQ1086 K10743 3.
Over 1S, jump to 3D with J9654 8 AQJ102 86.
But if partner opens 1C, a simple 1H is enough with K KJ754 KJ5 9843.
This 11-count is a maximum passed hand point-wise, but with only 4 of its
11 points in the two critical suits (and the dubious singleton king), it's
not worth a jump-shift.
(4) Good distributional values.
Most experts recommend that you promise a singleton, but your partnership
might agree that a "perfect" 5-4-2-2 is a possibility. For example, you
could bid 3H over 1S with Q983 AKJ103 75 65.
As opener, you should treat partner's jump-shift as virtually forcing.
Don't worry about points -- your holding in the two suits partner has shown
is more important.
This notrump bid can also improve the accuracy of your slam bidding. If
partner bids 3C over your 1S opening bid, you can rebid 3NT (asking for
his singleton) with AK10754 765 A3 QJ.
If he bids 3H, you'll confidently bid your 22-point slam, knowing partner
has a minimum of J963 4 842 AK954.
Pass is a possibility only if you have weak support for partner's
major and have opened a real dog. If you open a third-seat 1C with 764 K1043 Q4 KQ106
, you might pass partner's jump to 2S. But note that if partner had bid
this hand would be worth a jump to game.
A rebid of your suit (1D-2H-3D or 1S-3C-3S) is a very
weak hand with no fit for partner's suit. Partner should always pass.
A jump to game (1C-2S-4S) is a signoff, showing a minimum
with a fit and enough well-placed cards to make game playable.
A jump to 3NT (1C-2S-3NT) is to play, showing good stoppers
in the unbid suits and no interest in slam.
A simple raise of partner's major (1C-2S-3S) "sounds" invitational,
but it's more useful if you play it as forcing, suggesting a slam and asking
for a cuebid. Since responder has already invited game with his jump, there's
little value in using this raise as a re-invitation by opener.
A new suit (1C-2S-3D/3H) is a cuebid for slam in opener's
suit (to show a slam-try in responder's major, use the direct raise).
A JUMP in a new suit (1D-2S-4C or 1H-3C-4D) can be
a splinter for the major. After 1S-3C, opener's 4H bid would show a hand
like AKQ76 5 Q854 AJ3.
For most slam-try hands, though, consider using the notrump asking bid
A minimum notrump bid (1C-2S-2NT or 1S-3D-3NT) can
be used to ask partner for his singleton, which can be helpful for both
game and slam decisions. Suppose you open 1D with Q4 AKJ J8543 K103
and your passed-hand partner jumps to 2S. Over your 2NT, if he bids 3H
(his singleton), you'll know 3NT is the best contract. If he bids 3C, you
can forget notrump and try 3S to show your modest support.
Now . . . back to the problem at the beginning of this article.
Want to change your answer? With the system described here, there's no
longer any guessing about slam possibilities. The vote should now be unanimous
for 3NT -- if partner can show the singleton club we're hoping for, we
can Blackwood to check on the heart ace and bid our "easy" slam.
© 1997, Karen Walker