Hand of the Week #18

The Farthest North Sectional is less than two weeks away, 31 July - 03 August at the Elks Club in Fairbanks. Lots of time to contact Shirley Liss at saliss@alaska.net if you need a partner.

This week's Hand of the Week is from the Thursday evening session at last year's sectional. A lot of East-West pairs had trouble making a sensible slam decision on these cards, because they didn't plan their auction well:

Dealer North
NS vul
S T 3
H Q 9 8 7
D T 8 7 2
C A 8 2
S Q 8 2
H 6 3
D A K Q J 4
C K J 4
[table marker] S A K 9 7 5 4
H A J T 5
D 5 3
C 3
S J 6
H K 4 2
D 9 6
C Q T 9 7 6 5

Some pairs simply bid 1S-4NT. After getting a two-aces (or three-key-cards) response, this left West with a blind guess, not knowing whether the partnership was at risk of two fast losers (HAK if West has the black aces, or CAQ in North if East had the major aces but two or more clubs and South leads a club.) The latter is a small enough hazard you might ignore it, but the risk of two heart losers is a big risk.

Pairs playing Jacoby 2NT were not much better off, knowing about East's club singleton, but if they used Blackwood they still didn't know about two heart losers.

A more sensible approach, rather than immediately trotting out slam conventions, is to bid naturally: 1S - 2D - 2H - 3S - 4H. West shows East where his values are, and then supports spades strongly; East won't be afraid to cooperate in a slam investigation knowing West has something good in diamonds. The 4H cue-bid says "I don't have the CA or DA, but I do have the HA." Armed with that information, South can now feel confident that, as long as East has good spades, slam would be easy. Now is the time when Roman Keycard Blackwood can help you: after you know that you have one club loser, if your partner promises both the ace and king of spades you can bid the slam.

And, for a little extra insurance -- you can bid 6NT rather than 6S, so that it is played in the West, and the threat of a club lead through the king-jack is eliminated!

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This page last updated 26.07.08
©2008 Gordon Bower