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The best hand of your life? And it's Dummy!

So, how did South make 6♠X missing all four aces?  Here's the full picture...

♣/♦/♥/♠    The best hand of your life – and it’s Dummy!    ♣/♦/♥/♠

[Hands from CSBC 25, 15/10/15, Board 2]

North

 ♠  J 9 7

 ♥  2

 ♦  K 9 8 7

 ♣  10 9 8 5 2

 

 

West

 

East

 ♠  A K 10 8 6 3  

 ♥  7                

 ♦  A Q 5 2     

 ♣  K

             Dealer:  East

            Vuln:  North/South

 ♠  -

 ♥  A K Q J 10 9 8 6 5 4

 ♦  J 10

 ♣  A

 

 

South

 ♠  Q 5 4

 ♥  3

 ♦  6 4 3

 ♣  Q J 7 6 4 3

 

 

Suggested Bidding

North

East

South

West

 

P

P

P

2♥        [1]

3♥        [3]

5♣        [5]

P

P

P

P

P

2♠       [2]

4NT    [4]

7NT    [6]

 

 

Comments:

  1. How often do you see a 10-card suit![1]  Please, don’t open 4♥.  Take time to think (and enjoy) – and be careful to keep a straight face (close your mouth).  The hand offers 11 tricks with ♥s as trumps – 11 ‘Playing Tricks’.  You only need one trick from partner to make a slam.  Opening 4♥ will leave partner with little option but to pass unless they have a very special hand, because opening at game level (often used as a ‘high level pre-empt’) says to partner that you see no prospect of slam on your hand.  Open 2♥ instead (8+ playing tricks, forcing).  If partner can do no more than bid a negative 2NT (they can’t Pass because the opening 2♥ is forcing) then you can rebid 5♥ which sends the message that if partner can offer even 1 trick then they should bid the slam despite their ‘negative’ values.
  2. 2♠ is a positive bid and therefore the partnership is forced to game, at least.  This should give room to find the slam, if it is available. 
  3. If East now simply bids 4♥ (declining the opportunity to explore slam prospects by signing off at game level) this would show a hand with the minimum values for the opening 2♥ bid.  By bidding 3♥, East confirms the trump suit as ♥, confirms better than minimum values, and invites partner to explore slam, probably by cue-bidding.
  4. Now it is West’s turn to think, and not get carried away.  Partner has shown a hand with an excellent ♥ suit and at least 9 playing tricks (with just 8 PTs they would have bid 4♥).  Where are these 9 playing tricks?  They can’t be in ♠ (West holds AK♠), or in ♦ (the most East can have is the K♦ and that is not a playing trick unless they also hold the A♦).  East can have at most one playing trick in ♣, so they must have 8+ playing tricks ♥.  This analysis is not yet enough because it is just about possible for East to have opened a rather frisky 2♥ with, say, 9 ♥’s to the KQJ (which yields 8 playing tricks) and the A♣ (with only 10 HCP this would invite disaster and with such a hand East should really have opened 4♥).  So West needs to know if partner has the A♣ and the AK♥.  Blackwood (Roman Key card, naturally) will give the information.
  5. 5♣ shows either 0 or 3 key cards (where “key cards” are the four Aces and the king of the agreed trump suit).
  6. Now West has all the information they need.  It is inconceivable that partner has opened 2♥ with no key cards whatsoever, so they must have 3 – and the only three available are the A♣ and the AK♥.  So West can safely bid 7♥, surely?  No! If West has 8 ♥ tricks plus 1 ♣ trick, and West has 2 ♠ tricks and 1 ♦ trick, that makes 12 tricks and the K♣ a good bet for the 13th trick – without any need for trumps.  Bid 7NT and be grateful!

 

Suggested Play

Contract:  7NT                      Declarer:  West                  Vulnerability:  North/South

  1. It’s a lay down.  Enough said.

 

Focus of hand:  slam biding, working out what partner could have and must have.

 

What happened at CSBC?

 

.

N/S

E/W

Contract

By

Lead

Tricks

N/S

E/W

 

 

 

5♥

E

 

12

 

480

 

 

 

7♥

E

 

13

 

1510

 

 

 

6NT

W

 

13

 

1020

 

 

 

7♥

E

 

13

 

1510

 

 

[1]  I always shuffle and deal the hands the day before each club meeting (it saves time and avoids errors), so we do get occasional claims that I fix some of these hands.   I only ever fixed one hand at CSBC (on my 60th birthday) so I can state categorically that this hand was normally (and thoroughly) shuffled and dealt according to EBU rules.  It happens!

 

 

 

♣/♦/♥/♠       Who needs Aces...?  (too "cheerful”)      ♣/♦/♥/♠

[CSBC Christmas competition, 18/12/14]

North

♠  J 10 9 7 5 4

♥  8 6 4

♦  8 7 6 3

♣  -

 

 

West

 

East

♠  A 3 2

♥  A K Q J 10

♦  -

♣  A J 10 5 2

             Dealer:  South

            Vuln:  N/S

♠  -

♥  9 7 5 3 2

♦  A 10 9 5 2

♣  8 7 6

 

 

South

♠  K Q 8 6

♥  -

♦  K Q J 4

♣  K Q 9 4 3

 

 

Bidding (not necessarily recommended!)

Note that E/W are in ‘exuberant’ mood after a few rounds of Christmas cheer.

North

East

South

West

 

P        [2]

4♠      [4]

P

P

6♠      [7]

P

 

1♥      [3]

P

5♦    

6♥      [6]

P

P

1♣

1♠

P

P

P

P

P

X        [1]

4♥

4NT    [5]

5♥

P

X        [8]

 

 

Comments:

  1. West’s double shows either at least one 4-card major (not a 5-card, because this would be shown by bidding it) or a strong hand (15+ HCP) of any distribution.  Another reason for the double is that West wants to know whether East has support for a major, which the double (forcing, unless North bids) is likely to prompt.  If East does not bid a major, then West can then bid ♥s and East will infer that this must be a 5+ card suit (because West knows East hasn’t got 4♥s) and that West must therefore also be ‘strong’.
  2. North resists the temptation to bid ♠, not because of the low HCP count (N’s distributional values may well compensate for that) but because North wants to hear what East’s reply to the X will be.  If N/S do not have a fit then North’s distributional values are worthless unless playing in defence against an E/W contract, in which case they could be powerful.  On the other hand, if South is strong enough to bid a second suit…
  3. East’s ♥ bid could be based on as little as a 4-card suit with 0 HCP.  East has not previously had a chance to bid so should jump (or perhaps cue bid 2♣) at this point with opening values so that West knows the bid is not weak.  Therefore, the 1♥ bid shows a hand with less than opening values.
  4. North can infer from the bidding that E/W are likely to have a singleton or void in ♠ just as South is likely to have a singleton or void in ♥.  North’s ♣ void should also help South to establish their 5+ ♣ suit (by ruffing).  So North concludes that N/S have insufficient defence to take 4♥ off and good prospects of going only 1 off in 4♠.  Hence the spectacular 4♠!
  5. North’s 4♠ bid out of the blue must surely be based on long ♠s and nothing much else, which means East is unlikely to have more than a singleton ♠ and any missing ♣ honours are likely to be in South’s hand.  All of a sudden, West’s hand looks good for slam!  But how to bid it?  Blackwood responses will not tell West about East’s ♣ holding, and there isn’t bidding room for the two rounds of cue bids that would be necessary for East to show a second round ♣ control, or even the Q♣, which is all that West wants to know.  And East is likely to take a quantitative raise to 5♥ as natural over 4♠, rather than a general slam-try.  The only option seems to be to use Blackwood and then bid 5♥ over any response, hoping that this will encourage East to bid the slam with significant further undisclosed values.
  6. East gets the message and the void in ♠ plus the extra length in trumps are enough for 6♥.
  7. The logic of bidding 4♠ now seems to have backfired.  North could have passed and they would not have found this unexpected slam.  Nevertheless, with the N/S/ bidding as it is then the E/W slam looks robust.  So time for a sacrifice, again.  Anyway, partner (South) is an excellent player and teetotal, clearly unlike these opponents!  That has to be worth something.
  8. North’s 6♠ infuriates West!  All that careful thinking and cunning communication with partner, thrown aside by North’s supercilious sacrifice!  Well, they’ll get what’s coming to them!  DOUBLE!!

 

Problem:  North made 6♠X!  But how…?[1]

 

What happened…?

  1. Dumbfounded, a little muddle-headed, and with North’s 6♠ bid still ringing in their ears, so to speak, East leads A♦, face up – and out of turn.
  2. West flourishes the Ace of trumps in Declarer’s face chortling “One off!!  One off!!”
  3. Undaunted, Declarer calls the Director and then accepts the lead out of turn (Law 53A) and spreads the South hand as dummy (Law 54A) while pointing out that West’s Ace of trumps is now a major penalty card (Law 49) and must be played at the first legal opportunity.  Which is right now, because West has no ♦s.
  4. Rather subdued, West wins the trick and peers anxiously at dummy (South) wondering how to still take the contract off.  No point in leading ♥ as ‘dummy’ can ruff, no way is he going to simply hand the initiative back to North by leading trumps, and he can’t lead ♦, obviously.  But the A♣ looks good, and best do it now before North can ditch their losing ♣s on all those ♦ honours!  All is not lost!!  A♣ it is - and still 1 off!!!
  5. North, in their unexpected role as Declarer, calmly ruffs the A♣ and proceeds to make the remaining 12 tricks with careful cross-ruffing.  Plus 1660!
  6. Incidentally, West’s brilliant ploy for bidding 6♥, impressive though it was given their state of mind, would have yielded them -50 because it cannot make (East’s trumps are not quite good enough for a dummy reversal play and dummy has one too few entries to set up West’s ♣ suit having taken out the requisite 3 rounds of trumps, and so West must lose 2♣ tricks).

 

 

[1] Hint: the problem contains a clue.  How well do you know the Laws of Bridge?

Last updated : 16th Oct 2015 18:33 BST
Which Grand Slam?

♣/♦/♥/♠               Hands from CSBC ~ 24               ♣/♦/♥/♠

[10/9/15, Board 18]

North

♠  K 5

♥  Q 7 5

♦   A K J

♣  A K J 9 4

 

 

West

 

East

♠  A Q 7

♥  8 6 4

♦  9 8 4 3

♣  10 8 3

             Dealer:  East

            Vuln:  North/South

♠  J 10 9 8 6 4 3 2

♥  -

♦  2

♣  7 6 5 2

 

 

South

♠  -

♥  A K J 10 9 3 2

♦  Q 10 7 6 5

♣  Q

 

 

Suggested Bidding

North

East

South

West

 

2♣       [3]

4NT    [6]

6♥       [9]

X        [12]

P         [1]

3♠       [4]

5♠       [7]

6♠      

P

1♥       [2]

4♦      

P         [8]

7♥      [10]

P

P

4♠       [5]

P         

7♠      [11]

P

 

Comments:

  1. The long ♠ suit is too weak for an immediate pre-emptive opening, especially as this could create problems for partner as well as for the opponents.  So East passes – but anticipates a pre-emptive bid later perhaps, if partner shows no interest in competing.
  2. South wants to force partner to bid but with only 6 playing tricks they can’t open 2♥.  Settle for 1♥ to begin with and plan to bid the second suit strongly if partner shows any values.
  3. Looking at 21 HCP, North is astonished that partner has opened the auction!  Surely there must be a slam in this.  The temptation is to bid 4NT (Blackwood) immediately because all North wants to know is whether partner holds AK♥ and A♠.  This would be OK if all you are looking for is a small slam, but the grand slam could well depend on whether partner holds a minor King, or even a void or singleton (potentially allowing a 3rd ♣ trick). So it is better to wait with a modest bid of 2♣ and see what partner has in mind for their rebid.
  4. East’s 8-card ♠ suit will be worth at least 6 tricks if the remaining 5 cards are normally distributed amongst the other three hands.  Therefore, East estimates that they can afford to go 3 off doubled for -500, assuming N/S get to game, for 600+, which seems likely as partner has shown no interest.  This would suggest a bid of 3♠.  Pondering a little further, East realises that it would take very little for partner to produce a trick or two, so the temptation is to intervene with the far more obstructive 4♠ (making it very difficult for South to show a second suit, or even to repeat the ♥ suit).  If 4♠ goes more than 3 off this would mean, surely, that N/S could make a slam, so E/W could afford to go even more off.  But with only 1 HCP, and no guarantee that N/S are aiming at slam, East settles for the safe option and bids just 3♠.  If North had bid 4NT immediately, then East would have intervened with 5♠ (as happened at CSBC’s sit-out table!).
  5. West’s 4♠ is obvious, not just to make it difficult for North to simply opt for 4♥ but also to alert partner to the possibility of sacrificing against a N/S slam.
  6. North is delighted to hear that South has a ♦ suit worth bidding at the 4 level.  Not only does this mean, surely, that partner has 5+ ♦s including the Queen, but the ♥ suit must be also at least 5-cards.  The destination now must be either 6♥ or 7♥ – or possibly 6/7NT.  How to decide?  Much depends on whether partner can control the opponents’ ♠ suit.  Time for Blackwood (Roman Key Card), with the working assumption of ♦ (last bid suit) as trumps.
  7. Now that East knows the opposition is heading for slam it is time for another intervention, especially if it prevents them finding out about their combined key card holdings.
  8. North does not have to alert South’s Pass[1], so E/W will not necessarily realise (unless they ask) that N/S are playing the DOPI defence against interventions over Blackwood.  This defence means that the first step response (showing 0 or 3 key cards) is replaced by Double and the second step (showing 1 or 4 key cards) by Pass – hence D0P1.  South’s Pass therefore shows 1 or 4 key cards (do not treat a void as a key card – it risks inviting 6NT!).
  9. North can work out that if South holds only 1 key card, they are missing an Ace.  Whichever ace it is, 6♥ must be a virtual lay down (because South must have at least 10HCP to have opened and they surely cannot include QJ♠).  They only worry that North now has is whether partner has a void in ♠, in which case the Grand Slam is on – but how to find out?  Sometimes you just have to trust partner.
  10. South is aware that partner would not have initiated Blackwood with fewer than 3 key cards (after all, South’s bidding does not suggest a lot of HCP) so the void in the opponents’ suit surely must mean that N/S are not missing any significant key cards.
  11. West knows South must be void in ♠ to be bidding the grand slam, so their A♠ is worthless in defence.  If N/S make 7♥ they score 2210 so E/W could afford to go 8 off doubled (2000) and still secure an excellent result. West also knows that partner must have at least a 7-card ♠ suit for their bidding and therefore it is not possible to lose more than 2 trump tricks, meaning that E/W must make at least 5 tricks and so cannot go more than 8 off.  Given East’s bidding and looking at West’s cards, there is no realistic prospect of defeating 7♥ so the sacrifice of 7♠ could hardly be more obvious.
  12. North is left with no option but to double, having been outbid and outwitted.

 

Suggested Play

Contract:  6♥                      Declarer:  East                  Vulnerability:  Both

  1. Declarer loses three ♣ tricks, a ♦ trick and the K♠ for just 5 off and a score to N/S of 1100!
  2. N/S’s 7♥ Grand Slam is a lay-down and would have scored 2210.

 

Focus of hand:  slam biding, sacrifice bidding, assessing probabilities.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What happened at CSBC?

 

.

N/S

E/W

Contract

By

Lead

Tricks

N/S

E/W

 

 

 

6♥

S

 

13

1460

 

 

 

 

6♥

S

 

13

1460

 

 

 

 

3NT

N

 

13

720

 

 

 

[1] Non-natural bids or calls are only alertable if they are in excess of 3NT and/or in the first round of bidding.

Last updated : 11th Sep 2015 16:16 BST
Lucky or Unlucky?

♣/♦/♥/♠               Hands from CSBC 23               ♣/♦/♥/♠

[20/8/15, Board 13]

North

♠  A Q 7 4

♥  10 8 6 4

♦   9 5

♣  Q 7 6

 

 

West

 

East

♠  2

♥  Q

♦  A K 10 8 7 2

♣  A K 10 5 4

             Dealer:  North

            Vuln:  Both

♠  K 10 6 3

♥  A K J 9 7 5 2

♦  -

♣  9 2

 

 

South

♠  J 9 8 5

♥  3

♦  Q J 6 4 3

♣  J 8 3

 

 

Suggested Bidding

North

East

South

West

P

P

P

P

P

1♥       [1]

3♥       [3]

4♥      

5♥       [6]

P

P

P

P

P

P

2♦        [2]

4♣       [4]

4NT     [5]

6♥        [7]

 

Comments:

  1. This lovely hand is too weak for a 2 opening (it has only 5 playing tricks while 2 would show 8PTs) but far too strong for a pre-emptive 3 opening.1 is just right as partner will always show a 4-card ♠ suit (if they have responding values, i.e. 6+ HCP) by responding 1♠.Note that it is better to play in a 4-4 fit than in a 6-2 or 7-1 fit, because the 4-4 fit will make it easier to establish the 7-card side suit (by ruffing, if necessary).The choice between a 4-4 and 5-3 fit is a little less straight forward, but on balance, it is still better to favour the 4-4 fit.

  2. From West’s perspective this looks like a classic misfit so despite having a powerful hand it is wise to be cautious.Reply 2 here with the expectation of rebidding ♣s and thereby allowing partner to correct back to s (if that is their preference) at the same level.

  3. Knowing that West does not have 4 ♠s, East will simply rebid the long suit.The hand is strong enough to justify the jump rebid of 3.

  4. As expected, the misfit is emerging.West can now afford to bid 4♣ (ruling out the prospect of 3NT) which must show at least 5/5 in the minors, knowing that if partner really insists on s then the singleton Q will be a bonus and East will have a long and strong suit.

  5. If partner has long, strong s, then West’s hand now looks to be worth 5 tricks.Slam is worth exploring and Blackwood (Roman Key Card) is the simplest method (a 4♠ cue bid would be an alternative and would have allowed east to cue bid a void in reply, but it would have risked partner concluding that West held the A♠ or a ♠ void, so avoid!).

  6. East’s response shows two key cards without the Queen of trumps. This is enough for West to bid the small slam.

 

Suggested Play

Contract:  6♥                      Declarer:  East                  Vulnerability:  Both

  1. Any lead from South could be damaging, so a trump lead looks the least risky.If North has a trump holding then Declarer is likely to be finessing it anyway and leading away from any of South’s unsupported honours (or insufficiently supported honours) in the other three suits looks a worse bet.South leads the 3.

  2. Declarer wins with Q in Dummy and wonders how to dispose of their loosing ♠s. Two can be discarded on the AKs but that still leaves K♠ and 10♠.One line of play would be to lead 2♠ from Dummy towards Declarer’s K♠, which works if the A♠ is with North but fails if it is with South and leads to one off as South will probably return a second ♠ seeing that Dummy is so strong in the minors and cannot ruff a ♠.So this line of play offers an interesting if unconvincing 50/50 chance of success.

  3. Dummy’s s offer a better prospect.If they can be established, then Declarer will be able to discard 3 or even all 4 ♠s and maybe even make an overtrick!This requires enough entries to Dummy (there are 3, which is enough to ruff s twice) and a 4/3 split in s (a 63% chance).If it doesn’t work there is always the ♠ play to fall back on.

  4. Declarer ruffs a small and returns to Dummy with A♣, then ruffs a second small .When both opponents follow to both rounds of s, this leaves just 3 cards out, which will probably fall under Dummy’s AK.

  5. Declarer can now clear trumps and return to Dummy with K♣, run the s (discarding all their 4 potentially losing ♠s) and claim all 13 tricks!

 

What happened at CSBC?

 

.

N/S

E/W

Contract

By

Lead

Tricks

N/S

E/W

 

 

 

4♥

E

 

11

 

650

 

 

 

4♥

E

 

11

 

650

 

 

 

7♥

E

3♥

11

150

 

 

 

 

4♥

E

 

12

 

680

 

Last updated : 11th Sep 2015 16:18 BST