Hand of the Week, Vol. 3 No. 1

Hand of the Week moves into its third season! I started the series with a "Christmas Slam" played in December 2007. And here we have another slam from the Friday 08 January 2010 game.

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

Twelve easy tricks in spades. The only problem is that nobody bid it! Every East in the room got stuck in only a game. The auction at my table was 3S - Pass -4S, when it should have been 4S - Pass - 6S.

The problem is East's 3S opening. Yes, he has seven spades and less than 12 HCP. But if you make the same bid on SKQT9xxx Hxxx Dxx Cx or even SQJTxxxx Hx DQxxxx Cx as you do on SAKQJxxx, there's no way your partner is going to know whether to raise you or not.

Preempts promise a certain number of tricks, not a certain length of suit. The standard rubber-bridge rule of thumb is the "rule of two and three," which in duplicate bridge gets updated to the "rule of two, three, and four:" if you are vulnerable and your opponents are not, a preempt shows you expect to go down two if you get no help from your partner; at equal vulnerability, down three, and at favorable vulnerability, down four.

On the hand, both sides are vulnerable, so a 3S opening promises a hand worth six tricks if spades are trump: SKQJxxxx Hxxx Dxx Cx is the classic hand; SKT9xxxx Hxx CKxx Dx or SQJTxxxxx Hx Dxx Cxxx or even SAKQxxx Hxxx Dx Cxxx are also good 3S openers. East has seven tricks and must open 4S, not three. SKQxxxxxx Hx Dxx Cxx or SKQJxxxx Hx CAxx Dx would also open 4S.

West expects to win five tricks -- one heart, one diamond, and three clubs. Responding to partner's preempt is a matter of simple arithmetic: 6+5=11, so raise a 3S opening to game. But 7+5=12, so raise a 4S opening to slam.

One note about the defense. Leading a bare ace is rarely right against any contract, and is an exceptionally terrible idea against a slam. I led from my diamond sequence as south; but any lead except a heart is defensible. If you led the HA you opponents deserve their top for making seven.

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This page last updated 12.01.10
©2009 Gordon Bower