All About Jump-Shifts

A jump-shift is a jump bid of a new suit. For example 1♥ - 3♣ is a jump-shift because a bid of 3♣ is a jump over 1♥. In understanding the meaning of such a bid we must recognize the situation. Specifically,

  • Is the bid by the opener or the responder?
  • If by responder, has responder previously passed or not?
  • Has there been competition?
  • Does the bid have a conventional meaning?

Let us deal with the competitive case first. If there has been competition between the opener and the responder, a jump shift is preemptive. It is also possible to agree that any jump shift that has no other conventional meaning is weak, even without competition (“Weak Jump Shifts”).

For example:

  1. 1♣ - (1♦) - 2♥ shows a hand with weak values, not interest in game, with six hearts. No alert is required.
  2. 1♥ - (X) - 3♣ shows a hand with weak values, not interested in game, with six clubs. No alert is required.
  3. 1♣ - 2♠ is normally a strong bid, but by agreement can be preemptive. If preemptive, alert it.
  4. 1♥ - 3♣ is normally a strong bid, but by agreement can be preemptive. It could also be a conventional bid such as a Bergen raise. If it isn’t strong, it must be alerted.

Now let’s consider the auction with no interference.

Strong Jump-Shifts

A jump-shift shows, in standard bidding, a 19+ HCP hand. Since slam is in the air, the bidder is not worried about getting too high, he’s worried about getting in an awkward situation where partner might pass.

For example, after a 1♠ opener, responder 19+ HCP with 3 spades, and five decent diamonds, cannot bid Jacoby 2N, cannot bid any number of spades without risking a pass, and should not just fly into 6♠ for fear of being too high or too low. After bidding 2♦, which as a new suit is at least is forcing, say opener bids 3♦. Now what?

Unless it is forcing in your system, 3♠ might look like suit preference. Even in Two Over One, 3♠ shows some slam interest but there are a lot of hands that could pose a problem if opener replies 4♠. For example:

Kxx xx AKQJx AQx

Asking for Aces with a worthless doubleton won’t resolve the heart situation. Opener could hold hands as different as:

AJxxx KJ xxx KJx or
AQJxx Ax xxxx Kx

Using a strong jump-shift, 1♥ - 3♦ - 3N - 4♠ leaves the decision to go on to the opener, where it should be, because it is the opener’s hand that is most unknown. In the second hand, knowing there are the points for slam, and partner has show a decent five card diamond suit, spade support, and 19+ HCP, the opener can proceed beyond 4♠ with some confidence.

When the responder is a passed hand, the strong jump-shift shows that the hand has now gotten better so that we should be close to game. The weak version attempts to stop the auction at a low spot.

That’s the old-fashioned Goren jump-shift. However, you don’t often have such a powerhouse. Most of the time when you do, forcing bids can get you where you want to go, especially if you play Two Over One. Thus the utility of the bid came into question.

Good players remain divided on the issue: weak? strong? or something else? It is up to you and your partner.

Some jump shifts, by the way, are a little hard to spot, particularly 1♥ - 2♠. Feel sorry for your partner when he goofs.

See Advanced Bidding for Soloway Jump-Shifts, which is what I prefer.