A tale of bidding a 7NT hand courtesy of ATeacherFirst.com and reproduced here by kind permission of the author...
The Elusive 7 No Trump
Sometimes, as I am sitting down at the first table of bridge for a duplicate
session, after greeting my partner and the opponents of course, as that is the polite thing to do, I will check the bidding box to make sure all the bids are there. Sometimes one bid is tucked behind or missing and I do not need that distraction when I am trying to concentrate at a duplicate game.
Depending on my perceived sense of the opponents’ fun and humor level, I might joke with them, “Just checking to make sure 7NT is there — I always like to have it ready!” Then all of us will have a little bit of a chuckle about that.
Hahaha. I consider the 7NT bid to be the “Jewel in the Crown” of the bidding box. If I ever get the chance to bid it and make it, I will have experienced something quite rare and special. Unfortunately, I did have that chance one time and I missed it.
This happened one afternoon when I was a novice player. (That’s my excuse, anyway.) I picked up this hand and almost wanted to jump out of my seat with glee and anticipation. Also, a little bit of trepidation because I can easily screw up a really good bid when I try to think too much.
At that point in my experience of bridge playing, I was still not thinking
“outside the box” and was trying to be very diligent about doing everything right, proper, and according to the rules. Things have changed for me since then — now I find that I should be confined to stay “within the box” more often! I do tend to get carried away with my bidding at times and take chances that I should not be taking. But in those days, I was very cautious. Too cautious, perhaps.
So with this hand, I counted my points as I had learned, and I counted them a few times. Was I seeing straight? I had 23 HCPs plus 3 for length. Is length that important with that many HCPs? Where’s my teacher when I need one?
I do know this much — we may have a slam, probably in Diamonds, so I open 2♣ (strong hand, 22+ points). My partner bids 2♦ (“waiting,” 3+ points). I bid 3♥ to show my 4-card major, since our first goal is to be in a major. Those diamonds look awfully good though! If we can find an 8-card fit in a major, that is much better. The 2♦ bid by partner is conventional — it does not mean diamonds. After my 3♥ bid, my partner bids 3♠ to show his 4-card or more spade suit. Now I am in a dilemma.
What would you bid at this point?
Remember, I am not an expert. I am just an average bridge player and back then, just a beginner. Now I teach bridge to beginners but that does not mean I know everything. Should I bid 4♦? That might complicate matters since now we would be too high and could miss 3NT as an option. With a singleton, I don’t think that a NT contract is safe anyway. If I jump to 4NT to ask for Aces, he might think I want the Spade suit. Should I bid 5♦ and take it to game?
I was not totally stumped for thought, however. I knew enough to realize that I have just one loser in clubs so I decided to simply jump to 6♦ and that’s where we ended up. My partner got to play the hand since he bid diamonds first. Even though 2♦ is a conventional bid by him (his response to my strong opening of 2♣), it’s still the first mention of diamonds, so he became the Declarer. My partner was quite astonished to see my hand go down on the table and I was quite proud of it, too. He thanked me as he should! He had the ♣Ace so we made a slam of 7♦.
Rats! Why didn’t we bid it? My fault, of course.
So what should I have done? I am sure that the experts would easily know this, but I must be forgiven — I was just a beginner back then and I hope I am smarter now.
With this hand, I needed to forget the rules and use another strategy. I should have opened with 4NT, asking for Aces! If partner has 1 Ace, the bid is 7NT, of course! Should I care if the hand is not balanced? Of course not! The hearts and diamonds are almost 100% going to run. There is a miniscule chance that one of the opponents could have 5 hearts including the Jack, but that is so unlikely that it’s not worth considering. If my partner is missing an Ace and answers 5♣ to show 0 or 4 Aces (I have 3 of them, so he cannot have 4), then I can always bid 6♦ on my own with this hand.
This was my one and only chance I have ever had to bid and play 7NT and I missed it. But every time when I sit down to play duplicate, I will still keep checking my bidding box and make sure that the 7NT bid is there. Perhaps I will be a little bit smarter in the future and will still have my chance to bid 7NT and make it in my lifetime!