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Slam Bidding at Buckland on 4th March 2010
No slam was successfully bid and made during the whole of February.

On the 4th March we fared a little better with two pairs each bidding and making one Small Slam, but slams were on offer on 4 of the boards including a lay-down Grand Slam on board 14.

Below are some suggested bidding sequences (probably not the only options). It is interesting that, when asking for Aces, Gerber has been preferred over Blackwood in 3 of the 4 cases. The rule is that 4C is always Gerber if your partner has bid NT. Gerber gives the opportunity of escaping into 4NT or 5NT if necessary whereas a Blackwood 5NT would be treated as asking for Kings, so there would be no way of stopping short of a slam. Another observation is how useful the NT bids are for accurately showing the strength of a hand, thereby enabling partner to judge when a slam is likely.

Board 9

West    East
  2H                 Acol strong 2 opener with 8 Playing Tricks.
            4NT    With 4 Playing Tricks a slam looks likely, so request Aces with Blackwood.
  5H                 2 Aces.
             6H      1 Ace missing so bid the Small Slam.

6H makes on a spade lead. On any other lead 13 tricks can be taken off the top. In fact 6NT makes as well but this looks more risky at the bidding stage.

Board 13

North    South
  1C                    Some might prefer 1H.
               1S       Bid the major in preference to diamonds.
  1NT                 Shows 15-16 points.
                4C     With 30-31 points and 2 long suits a slam looks likely.
                          4C is Gerber. Cannot use Blackwood after a NT bid as may need to sign off in 5NT.
  4S                    2 Aces
               6NT    1 Ace missing so bid the Small Slam. (Could ask for Kings as well)

The contract needs the spades to divide 3-3. Given that, there is no need to take the heart finesse.

Board 14

South    North
  1H                   Open longest suit
               2C      Without a heart fit, take it slowly. A slam already looks likely.
  3NT                 Shows 17-19 points. The clubs are covered, so best to show the strength.
               4C      With 34-36 points, the only question is Small Slam or Grand Slam.
                          4C is Gerber after a NT bid. There would no point in a natural bid of 4C here.
  4NT                 3 Aces.
               5C     Gerber asking for Kings.
  5S                   2 Kings
              7NT    With all the Aces and all the Kings and a long suit, bid the Grand Slam

There are 13 tricks off the top.

Board 15

West    East
  1S                 Open longest suit
            3NT    Shows 13-15 points. It is a good idea to make 2NT or 3NT show exactly 2 cards in an opening
                       major. This shows the hand very precisely.
  4C                West knows Spades is best contract, but must use Gerber as the last bid was NT.
             4D      No Aces.
  5C                 Gerber asking for Kings.
             5D      4 Kings. 5D shows 0 or 4 Kings, but it is not possible for East to have neither Aces nor Kings.
  6S                 It looks like the only loser is the Ace of clubs, so bid the Small Slam.

The contract makes easily with both spades and clubs dividing 3-2. Trying to protect against a bad club distribution by ruffing a third round of hearts could backfire if either the spades or hearts were badly distributed, so drawing  trumps then playing clubs looks like the best plan.

Does anyone have any better ideas? If so let me know at the next event or email

Geoff W  9th March 2010

Last updated : 9th Mar 2010 10:59 GMT
More on Slam Bidding 18th March 2010
Last Thursday there were 3 opportunities for a slam, with only one bid and made.

There are two interesting observations:

1) Gerber was again the preferred slam convention in two out of the three the cases. After a 1NT opener Acol treats 4NT as an incremental bid, and would not work as Blackwood, in any case, as there is no escape into 5NT.  When bidding a minor suit slam, using Blackwood, will usually not work either as the response to 4NT will generally be above 5 in the minor suit making a slam inevitable.

What about bidding a slam in clubs?  Is 4C Gerber or is it incremental?  This will be by partnership agreement, but one alternative is to use the ĎOther Minorí convention, i.e. 4C for diamond slams and 4D for club slams.

2) In two of the cases Responder can see the slam possibilities immediately the opening bid is made. In the other case Responder initiates the slam after Openerís second bid.

 It nearly always works like this. Because Opener describes his hand first, Responder is nearly always in the best position to judge the overall strength of partnership. As Responderís first bid in a new suit is forcing it is often better to play it slow with a strong hand. Opener is then given the maximum opportunity to describe his hand further before Responder takes the initiative and goes on to game or slam.

Board 7

West    East
             2S      Jump shift showing 5 card suit
  4S                 Go to game with 14-15 pts (3S would show up to13 pts)
            4NT    Blackwood
  5D                 One Ace
              6S     One Ace missing, bid the slam

On the bidding sequence 6S is the only contract, but 6NT will make as well.
Any suggestions on how to bid this?

The play is straightforward. Draw trumps, give up the Ace of hearts, then there are 12 tricks off the top.
This is a good example of the general principle that you should give up your losers while you still have control. The only way to fail is to play the clubs before the hearts.

Board 11

East    West
  2D                 Acol Strong 2 showing 8 Playing Tricks
             4C      Gerber, asking for Aces.
  4NT              3 Aces
              5C     Gerber, asking for Kings
  5H                 1 King
                        6D    All the Aces and 2 Kings, bid the slam

Play the Hearts immediately and ruff in dummy with the 10. Draw trumps and the remaining tricks are off the top. The strategy only fails if North has a singleton heart.
In the event, the play turned out even simpler. South led the K of spades which was taken in dummy.
Declarer finessed a heart to South who then, quite reasonably, continued with the Q of spades which was ruffed in hand. The spades were now set up in dummy so the heart ruff became unnecessary.

Board 21

North    South

1NT                  Weak NT
                4C    Gerber asking for Aces. Game in hearts looks certain, but with the exceptional  distribution there could be a slam as there is a guaranteed fit in two suits.
4H                     One Ace.
                5C     Gerber asking for Kings.
5S                      2 Kings. (Could have signed off in 5H if only one King)
                6H     Bid the slam with 1 Ace and 1 King missing.

The strategy is to draw 2 rounds of trumps. If the trumps are 2-2 they will drop and diamonds can be played ruffing the 4th round if necessary. If not draw the last trump and hope the diamonds are 3-2.
In the event this strategy fails so the contract is one-off, but it had an 80% chance of success so was worth the risk. (Please let me know if you want to know how I worked out the 80%).

It is possible to make the contract by playing the diamonds whatever at trick 3. This depends on the long diamonds and the remaining trump being in the same hand, which is at best 50:50, so not the preferred strategy. In the event no-one bid the slam so 4H making 11 tricks was the top for the board.

Geoff W

Last updated : 19th Mar 2010 12:18 GMT