Squeezing The Dummy

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Classic Fit Jump

Nobody is vulnerable and you pick up K9742 74 6 KJT87. LHO passes, partner opens 1 and RHO makes a takeout X. You're not sure how to describe your hand, but luckily you have you have a 4 gadget at your disposal to show 5+ clubs, 4+ spades and a game going hand. In fact, this would be the textbook hand for that auction. This "fit jump" enables partner to accurately judge what to do if the opponents compete to the 5 level and can get you to a low HCP slam opposite a prime double fitter. It's the perfect bid right?


A bid being the perfect description of your hand does not necessarily make it the right bid. Though in constructive auctions I advocate describing your hand as well as possible, competitive bidding is a completely different matter. Tactical approaches that will make life hard for the opponents should often be adopted, even at the cost of some accuracy.

The biggest problem with the 4 bid is that it gives LHO entry to the 4 level to introduce a save-suggesting bid. For example, with a hand like 63 KQ853 Q542 94 LHO can bid 4 to invite his partner to save in 5. This way they get to communicate and judge intelligently whether they should be bidding at the 5 level or not. Had you just bid an immediate 4 your left hand opponent would be forced to pass with that hand, and your RHO would also pass without significant extra values.

The other problem with 4 is that you aren't just telling your partner what your hand looks like, you're telling the opponents. That information gives them an even greater ability to judge whether to bid on, double you, or pass. If RHO has a balanced 18 count with most of his values in the red suits, he would have to double back in if you jump to 4. However, by jumping to 4 you alert him that his red suit tricks are not cashing so he will no longer feel compelled to double you. Likewise, LHO will not X 4 with a random 10 or 11 after a 4 bid unless he has values in the black suits. He will even know that his red suit values are likely to be working on offense and may save or suggest a save that he wouldn't have done after the more straight forward jump.

What about the potential downsides of disguising your hand with an immediate jump to 4? If the opponents do go on to the 5 level then you will be poorly placed. You will guess right some of the time, but not as much as you would have had you started with 4. This risk is not as great as it seems though. With LHO being a passed hand he is unlikely to have a long enough suit or a good enough hand to bid at the 5 level. If he does bid, it will most likely be a card showing X which will generally be passed out at such a high level. You also might miss a slam, but that would be a rare occurrence after RHO has shown opening values. Partner would need to have a great fit, and in that case the opponents may have one as well and might have a cheap save at the 7 level.

It is worthwhile to note that the problems of making a fit jump in this auction are so severe because the suits involved are spades and clubs. If you made the hand 6 K9742 KJT87 74 after partner opens 1 and RHO Xs, a 4 bid would have a lot more appeal as you now give the opponents very little additional useful room. Since you need to prepare for the likely 4 bid it now becomes a good tactical maneuver to describe your hand. However, in the original example a fit jump is clearly a tactical blunder.



  • It seems that the issue is not just spades and clubs, but also that the hand in question is both completely offensive and lacking in high cards. However, if we strengthen the hand a little more, should we now make a fit jump? Strengthen the hand again and we are probably making a fit jump and moving again over 4S. The corollary of this reasoning should be that IF partner makes a fit jump into a lower suit, should we play him for more values?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/3/06, 4:55 AM  

  • Justin:

    Glad you're back on line. It's been a while.

    You have pointed out what is wrong with a fit-jump in this auction. But, with 1S - x - 4S available, (or 1H - x - 4H in a comparable auction), why even adopt fit-jump methodology?

    As "anomymous" said, doesn't the fit-jump make more sense when responder holds a strong hand? Also, doesn't it make more sense in a passed hanfd auction, such as

    P - P 1S - x; 3C (fit jump) or the like? Possible with some artificiality in responding to prevent the opponents from doubling 3C for takeout?

    Alvin P. BVluthman

    By Anonymous Alvin P. Bluthman, at 9/4/06, 6:32 PM  

  • I view a fit jump like I view a splinter; a descriptive bid that transfers captaincy. Making a fit jump then bidding over 4S would seem odd, why make a fit jump in the first place?

    The idea that the lower a fit jump is the more strength it should have is interesting and probably playable. It's similar to the rule that the higher a splinter is the more descriptive it should be.

    As to why one should even adopt fit jumps at the 4 level, I don't play them...this is one reason why. I like fit jumps at the 3 level and splinters at the 4 level.

    By Blogger Justin Lall, at 9/4/06, 7:21 PM  

  • The upside of 4♣ is that partner is better positioned to make a decision at the 5-level.

    Though, as you point out, it increases the chances of having to make such a decision!

    By Anonymous Paul, at 9/5/06, 4:57 AM  

  • My conclusion from this hand was that I should not make a fit-jump unless I think it's our side that will have to make the critical decision of the deal. In the example hand, we will obviously bid 4S over 4H, but very rarely bid 5S over 5. The money-decision of the deal will be theirs over 4S, and we shouldn't help them.

    If you switch spades and hearts, then it will usually be right for them to bid 4S over 4H, and you should help partner to make the critical decision over 4S.

    That 1H (x) 4C and 1S (x) 4C show different hands would then just be a corollary to this principle - the latter bid thinks 5S is a possibility, which needs a different hand than one to suggest 5H in the former auction.

    Arend (who bid 4C on the hand Justin discussed)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/5/06, 10:18 AM  

  • High level competitive auctions can be so difficult deal with. Do we just need experience, or are there some underlying pribciples that can be followed e.g. "5 level is for the opponents"?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/8/06, 12:53 PM  

  • Interesting collumn, food for thought. The importance of the disadvantages in question had not occured to me before.

    Clearly Arend is right that 1H-(double or 1S)-4D is different. It still makes sense to me to play 4D here as a more distributional fit-jump than 3D. However, for simplicity's sake it seems best to play all these double jumps to the four-level in the same way.

    Echo's suggestion also makes sense, play that the jump to the 4-level shows a 5-5 with real slam interest, a hand too good for a direct 4S. Then you can also be quiet when partner rebids 4S.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/8/06, 4:01 PM  

  • I never liked fit jumps as they are played by most. I prefer the second suit to be a potential trump. meaning a good offesive hand but the trump support isnt that good (not enough according to the LOTT)


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