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The “Standard BBO Italia” System by Mario Martinelli (10): Jump shift responses

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Mario Martinelli is a Neapolitan excellent player and accredited bridge teacher. He is an expert about systems and he developed the system “Standard BBO Italia”. The last version of it (2012) can be browsed on Vincenzo delle Cave’s BBO Italia website. Mario is also the nephew of Eugenio Chiaradia, the creator of the Neapolitan Club, a system which our magazine is dedicated to. Neapolitan Club has been publishing a summary of the system developed by Martinelli both in Italian and in English. In todays’ article we publish the fourth and last  part of chapter about “Jump shift responses”.


Jump shift responses

Fourth Part


 Three-level double jump shifts

Three-level double jump shifts occur when responder’s suit, which could have been bid at the one level, is higher in rank than opener’s.

The most common use for this bid is to show weak hands with preemptive purpose, i.e. seven good cards and no more than 6-7 points, mostly in the long suit.


South West North

1 Pass 3♠

Nord: ♠KQ109643 8 103 ♣J54


There is a crucial difference between two-level jump shifts and three-level jump shifts. The former has broader criteria of application (6 or 7 cards, decent or poor, side values or not), because it leaves space open for further enquiries by opener within the limits of a suit contract at the three level. On the other hand, the latter type of jump forces a strong opener to an immediate choice: pass or bid game. In order to let him make a sensible choice, the requirements for a three-level jump shift have to be precisely defined.


From these remarks it appears that only very specific hands are suitable for three-level weak jump shifts. Needless to say, this type of jumps is often used by experienced partnerships to show fit in opener’s suit. Let us look at an example:


South West North

1 Pass 3♠

Nord: ♠7 A83 KJ8543 ♣K104

In this case this partnership decided to use three-level weak jump shifts to show splinters. This shows a strong fit (at least nine trumps), singleton or void in the suit bid and a game going hand. The advantage of this agreement is that it leaves space to stop in 3NT if opener has too much wasted in responder’s singleton (good values for NT but not for a minor suit slam), or to play in 5 of the minor if opener is minimum without a spade stop, or to bid slam. It is easy to see though that these sequences are not going to come up very often.


Jumps to four of a minor

Jumps to four of a minor usually show fit with opener, and since they overcome 3NT, they are used only after 1M openings. The most common use of 4♣ and 4 bids is to show a splinter in the suit bid with at least a 4-card fit in opener’s major and game going values (9-11 with 4-card fit, or even less points with 5-card fit or a void). In some popular systems the point requirement is slightly higher. Examples:


South West North

1♠ Pass 4♣

Nord: ♠KQ75 10763 AQ52 ♣2


South West North

1 Pass 4

Nord: ♠AQ7 Q10764 5 ♣J952


Note that splinters tend to deny a source of tricks in a side suit. A strong side suit is an important feature for bidding slams and responder would rather show it than splinter.


South West North

1♠ Pass 2

Nord: ♠K1075 63 AQJ752 ♣2

Responder does not splinter by bidding 4♣ but shows his diamonds, planning to support spades next time round.

Splinters are not the only possible meaning for jumps to 4♣ and 4. Transfer splinters are quite popular (3NT for singleton/void club, 4♣ for diamonds, and 4 for the other major), and they meet the twofold purpose of stopping opponents from doubling the splinter to show their long suit to sacrifice, and gaining a bidding step if opener has a slam going hand. A more sophisticated treatment uses one bid to show any singleton (3♠ over 1 opening, and 3 over 1♠ opening), after which opener can ask by bidding the next suit up as a relay. According to this system 3NT, 4♣ and 4 show a void in the suit above the bid.


Jump shifts to four of a major

Jump shifts to four of a major are usually natural and to play, with possibly one exception: the 4 response over 1♠. This jump could either be natural or splinter showing spade fit and singleton or void heart. Players should be careful about this dangerous sequence if it has not been discussed with partner before. Standard BBO Italia has 4 as natural, if players have no specific agreements.


Natural jumps to four of a major show a self-supporting suit with usually 7 cards and a weakish hand. With a stronger hand it is better to bid slower by responding at the cheapest level, planning to make a forcing bid next time round. The golden rule is the usual one: jump immediately with weak hands, bid slowly with good hands.


Concluding remarks on jump shifts

From what has been said so far it is clear that jump shifts cannot be all treated in the same way. A sophisticated system has to distinguish between different types of jump bids and merge them smoothly with ordinary sequences. For this purpose, the first step is to establish precisely the strength of normal 2/1 and 1NT responses after 1M openings; the second step is to decide how fine-grained we want the system to be in showing fit for opener’s suit. If we want to show many different types of support, this requires to add more artificial bids, giving up on some natural ones.


Another important concluding remark should be clear. Each jump shift, even if not artificial, should show something specific and cannot be left to responder’s mood. The practical suggestion is: if you have not agreed what jumps exactly mean, simply do not jump!


Make complete and coherent agreements

When you get ready for a competition with your partner, I recommend you follow these steps, in the following order:


1. Decide how far your 2/1 responses are forcing: GF with no exceptions, GF unless rebid suit or “old style” forcing for one round with the possibility to stop at 2NT, or short of game if opener’s suit is raised at the cheapest level. Personally I recommend one of the first two options, but the third is actually in use in the most popular modern systems: Standard American and French Standard, including their Internet versions (SAYC and SEF).


2. Define the strength of your 1NT response after 1M opening: forcing for one round, semi-forcing, or non-forcing in the traditional style. This question makes sense only if you play 2/1 GF.


3. According to what you have decided about (1) and (2), define the strength of three-level single jump shifts. Keep in mind that one agreement will be enough if you choose to play natural jumps, otherwise you have to have an agreement for each artificial jump.


4. Define two-level jump shifts: are they weak, strong, or artificial?


5. Define double jump shift at the three level: weak and natural, or fit-showing splinters? Be careful with the sequence 1-3♠ which is most easily misunderstood.


6. If you play 4♣ and 4 as splinters after 1M openings, agree if 1♠-4 shows a splinter or it is natural.


7. Foresee opponents’ interferences:

a) an overcall can take up space in such a way that a would-have-been double jump is now a single jump. For instance 3 after 1m opening is a double jump shift, but after overcall it becomes a single jump. In Standard BBO Italia 2012 all jumps after overcall are weak. With invitational hands responder can bid 2/1 (forcing for one round and not necessarily GF) and then repeat the suit at the three level.

b) In case you have agreed artificial jumps (Bergen or others), agree if you are system on after overcall or not (1-(1♠/2♣)-3?)

c) It is not obvious that splinters are on after one-of-a-suit overcall. Many prefer to keep splinters only when they are in the same suit as the overcall, while a jump to four of a different suit shows fit with opener and length in the suit bid.


8. Do not forget to decide how opponents’ doubles interfere with your agreements.


The “Standard BBO Italia” System by Mario Martinelli – English edition by Laura Cecilia Porro for Neapolitan Club.

February 28, 2012

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