by Kitty and Steve Cooper, Fort Collins, CO


Ed Schwartz of Phoenix, Arizona asks “How frequently do experts play weak jump shifts not in competition rather than strong jump shifts? What do you think is best?”

Coopers: The top pairs do not use weak jump shifts unless they play a strong club system, and not often even then. Many pairs who do not play Bergen raises use invitational-to-game jump shifts to the three level (as we do). Some modernists play that the jumps to two of a major over one of a minor show weak (2H) or invitational (2S) hands with five spades and four hearts, since it is often difficult to find the heart fit with those hands in standard bidding.

For those of our readers unfamiliar with weak jump shifts over opening bids, they show hands that are barely worth a response, usually 3-6 points mostly in the six card or longer suit with no outside ace or king. In some partnerships AQxxxxx is too good a suit. Opener usually passes the bid unless he has a fit. This is more restrictive than a weak jump shift in competition which can be a bit better, more like 6-8 points,  particularly vulnerable.

We do not recommend using weak jump shifts in a standard-style system. The strong jump shift to the two level handles an important hand where slam is possible: about 17+ points and either a single-suited hand, a balanced hand with a good 5+ card suit, or a hand with a fit and its own semi-solid suit. Many experts prefer the Soloway responses to this bid, where opener almost always bids the next step as an artificial ask to learn which hand partner has, but that is a topic for another article.

A little research to support our assertion seemed in order so we went to and to to look at convention cards. Many world champion pairs, such as the current Italian team, Hamman, and others play totally artificial meanings for responder’s jump shifts, including various raises and the major suit hand mentioned above. The only weak jump shifts we found were 2S over 1H by Meckwell and three of a minor over a major by Kit Woolsey-Fred Stewart. Other world champion pairs with natural systems who play strong jump shifts are Bobby Levin-Steve Weinstein and Peter Boyd-Steve Robinson and to some extent Chip Martel-Lew Stansby (not over one of a minor). We even found a world class pair that play strong jump shifts to all levels, Adam Wildavsky-Doug Doub . The great Italian (Monaco now) pair Fulvio Fantoni-Claudio Nunes (aka the Fantunes) play most of responders jump shifts as strong. Finally the famed Norwegian pair, Geir Helgemo-Tor Helness(also now Monaco) play as we recommend above.

This issue marks our one year anniversary as editors and we thank you all for the feedback and great questions; keep them both coming!

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