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18-point slam
Here's a hand (from memory, not sure it's fully correct) played last night with Mike on lead against Les in 3NT. He wanted to lead the Club Ace but I suggested a small club. Les  made 9 tricks exactly. Perhaps this will stimulate some interest?
Last updated : 5th Mar 2010 17:52 GMT
Board 24 on February 19th: On a night of big hands and long suits this one was not atypical. Stan sitting North cannot open 1NT (we play variable, 10-12HCP non-vulnerable) and chose 1D (as would I) when some might prefer 1S. Presuming East bids his Hearts, then if E/W defend 4S the winning defence is hard to find, relying on West to play Diamonds instead of leading his partner's suit. Indeed, 11 and 12 tricks were made in Spades. After I chose to support my partners Diamonds with the South hand (rather than introduce Spades at the 4-level) we landed a bottom after Roy made the killer Club lead.
Last updated : 19th Feb 2009 23:05 GMT
Board 26 on February 5th: Just over half the high-card-points but E/W can make 7 Clubs on a heart finesse. Nobody bid to even the small slam but 2 pairs were doubled in 5 Clubs (a stripe-tailed ape on a good day)
Last updated : 5th Feb 2009 23:23 GMT
All Blacks need only 5 Points for Game

Board 9    4 December

What an amazing hand. When I looked at my hand (West) I was preparing myself to make a bid (possibly sacrificial) showing a 2 suited hand but my partner opened the bidding with 1 H. Help! My hand  was so short of points that I really didn't want to bid but felt I couldn't leave 1H so I bid 1S. Partner's jump to 3D diamonds meant I couldn't show my long club siut as 4C would be Gerber so I bid 3S hoping parrtner might have enough to support me. But no I saw the dreaded 3NT on the table. At that point I felt I had no option but to press on into what I epected to be disaster and for the first time in my life intrduced a new suit at the five level and bid an unbeatable 5C (Partner must have club stops to bid 3NT) I made 6 with the play as follows:

Diamond lead taken with ace discarding Spade. A K of hearts discarding  two more Spades.    J Spades to the A. Spade ruff. Diamond ruff. Spade ruff. Diamond ruff. J Clubs taken by Ace.ruffed diamond return and drew remaing 2 trumps contract made with overtrick. Even on a lead of trump Ace and another providing I discard 3 Spades whilst in Dummy contract still makes losing only Club Ace and one Spade. 4 Spades is also making. All my hard work and still it was not a top as Vera was doubled by Harry in 5 Clubs.

Last updated : 5th Dec 2008 12:23 GMT
Board 24 on November 27th: Stan and I had a torrid night so I make no apology for blowing our own trumpet over bidding this 18-point Slam. Stan's 2C is Michaels showing length in both majors. I thought my 2 Aces & singleton Heart justified a jump to 3S, and after discovering I have the Aces Stan can figure the Slam has reasonable chances. The play appears to be trouble-free.
Last updated : 27th Nov 2008 23:07 GMT
Board 3 on November 13th, This hand has a "manufactured" feel about it but to the best of my knowledge was hand-dealt on the night. At our table Harry declared 4H and Chris led a small Diamond to the Queen, then Diamond Ace and a third round of the suit. This fortuitous defence had the effect of putting Harry in dummy before he was able to discard Spades on the Club King/Queen. He ended up losing 2Ds and the major suit Aces for -1 (still good enough for a shared top). Can you see how our defence gave him a chance to make 10 tricks?
Last updated : 13th Nov 2008 23:09 GMT
Board 26 on October 9th. One E/W was left in 4H (-2) for a middle but 4S was played 5 times with 2 making it and 3 off 1. West has a lead problem: a Heart makes it relatively easy for declarer, a Club works very well in practice but is by no means obvious & a trump is ineffective.
At our table Vera led a Diamond and after much huffing and puffing (pitching both my Hearts on dummys Diamonds and getting in a position to make an overtrick*)  I lost my way and managed to lose 3 trumps (!!) and a Club - sorry Chris, and well done Vera for some canny defence along the way.

* If I only play trump Ace before dummy's fourth established Diamond then West cannot ruff and all I lose is 2 trumps to East.
Last updated : 10th Oct 2008 09:17 GMT
No hand to illustrate this week but here's a card combination problem Stan encountered in a NT contract. With opposition silent and no entry problems, what is the best way to tackle this suit?
Last updated : 13th Jun 2008 07:48 GMT
Board 20 on June 5th: A hand that Peter asked to see because some Easts made 4H and others did not. Harry & Viv won the evening despite this hand not because of it! I played the hand, won the Diamond lead & played a Spade to Jack and Queen. Viv played a Club, ruffed in hand, then a small spade ruffed low and Harry pitched a Club (he thought we were playing in Spades!!) After that I scraped home on a cross-ruff. Can the contract be made against any defence?
Last updated : 7th Jun 2008 09:45 GMT
Board 14 on May 22nd: Stan & I played E/W against Harry & Vivienne. A nice Diamond fit and 9 tricks made but +110 scored only 1 matchpoint for N/S. Even an overtrick in Diamonds would have produced a below-average score. The best result was David & Vera in 3NT+1 by North (presumably East led a Club) and Mary & Philip got 6 matchpoints (out of 8) in 3 Spades + 1. The Heart suit clearly holds the key to the defence who can make 3 tricks in the suit. 
Last updated : 22nd May 2008 22:12 GMT
Board 23 on May 1st: A top for Sheila & Roy playing in 4H+1 with most N/S making 10 tricks in Notrumps or Hearts. We just suffered a bottom against Harry & Vivienne so I punted the slam and went one off on the lead of the Diamond nine. Can you see a way to make it?
Last updated : 1st May 2008 21:59 GMT
Board 11 on March 6th: At our table Sheila & Roy ended in 2S and Stan led a Club to my Ace and I continued with the Queen which Sheila ruffed. A trump to the Ten and Jack was followed by a third club, again ruffed. Sheila is in danger of losing control now as she has less trumps in each hand than me; She played the Diamond Ace which Stan ruffed with the King, followed by Heart Ace and another. The final outcome was one off but -50 was an outright top for E/W with Diamond contracts failing at the 4 and 5 level at 3 tables (top for Harry & Vivienne getting 5D Doubled -3) and the only contract making was 4 Clubs + 1 by Chris & Roy for a second. Rarely can Stan have stayed silent throughout with such a powerful hand as he had sitting North!!
Last updated : 6th Mar 2008 23:01 GMT
Board 13 on February 28th. One of several hands this evening with amazing distribution. The East hand is short of HCP to open strong and unsuitably powerful for a pre-empt so I prefer to pass and await developments... The Dble of Harry's 1S showed interest in Hearts and Clubs. It might look like Harry was wrong to bid 6D instead of defending 5H but that contract will make (losing just a Spade & a Club) provided declarer picks up the trump Queen. The +500 we achieved by getting 6D off 2 was only bettered by Lilly & Russell's +620 in 5C+1.
Last updated : 28th Feb 2008 23:54 GMT
Board 24 on February 7th: South has a powerful hand but what to open? Brian and Abbie agreed they would open strong 2 (based on losing trick count of 4) but I couldn't see 8 playing tricks and opened 2NT (19-21) which Stan understandably passed. On a spade lead I only made 9 tricks (finessing the heart Queen when it would have dropped on the second round) but every other pair played in Hearts making ten tricks although nobody bid game. It's clear 10 tricks in Hearts has a good chance (even if the diamond King is with West you can still hope to bring in all the trumps and lose just 1 Spade & 2 Diamonds) but difficult to bid. Interesting to note that just getting the Hearts "right" and scoring 180 for 3NT+2 would have given us an outright top instead of outright bottom and catapulted us into first place: such is Matchpoints bridge.
Last updated : 8th Feb 2008 19:00 GMT
Board 22 17 January: Stan and I play 5-card puppet Stayman over 2NT, so to my 3C (as East) Stan replied 3D meaning "I do have a 4-card major but not a 5-card major". In order for the strong hand to be concealed I bid 3H (the "puppet" major I don't have) to which Stan can bid 3NT or (in this case) 4S. However Stan forgot the "puppet" and raised to 4H which I converted to 4S and thankfully we had a fit in that suit. After Jerry led out her 2 Aces I hastily claimed the remaining tricks, then realised there would be work to do if the trumps didn't break and we played out the hand, making 11 tricks on the finesse of Heart Jack. Sorry Jerry - I will try not to do that again.
+650 was an outright second. Only Brenda & Peter bettered that score with 3NT + 2 (although a Diamond lead looks sure to hold this contract to 9 tricks).
Last updated : 28th Jan 2008 19:42 GMT
Board 22 on November 22nd: Bidding at our table with Abbie (W) and Brian making 3S + 1 after the losing clubs disappear on the soon-to-be-established Diamonds. With Joyce & Les E/W they were doubled in 4S and made it +1 for a top. With 4S "cold" is there a case for N/S to sacrifice at this vulnerability? Assuming declarer manages to find the Club Jack he loses 1S, 2D and 2C so 5H doubled - 3 for -500 is worthwhile so long as most of the E/W are bidding 4S. Also, there appears to be scope for a forcing defence against 4H so it may be difficult not to go -800.
Last updated : 22nd Nov 2007 23:22 GMT
Board 16 on November 15th: Ivan (W) and Les (E) bid their 4S game after a Gerber inquiry, but Nick & Stan had the bit between their teeth at the time and judged to save in 5C/6C respectively which might be the right decision at this vulnerability (on a Spade lead losing just 2Ds & 1 or 2Hs for -300/500) but best defence (via AK Diamonds & ruff, passive Spade exit by East) could yield +800 for E/W if declarer doesn't get the heart suit right. Les wasn't happy.
Last updated : 15th Nov 2007 23:25 GMT
Board 18 on October 25th: An outright top for winners Peter & Brenda in 4S+1, Mary & Philip bid the game but most N/S made 9 or 10 tricks in a part-score contract. At our table Nick (N) and Greg (S) meekly subsided in 2 Spades, Les led the Diamond Ten and dummy's Jack held the trick. Afterwards Joyce (W) said she hadn't noticed the Jack holding the trick and had unintentionally held back her Queen - but look what happens if the Queen is played: Trumps can be drawn and the established Diamonds allow 2 Club discards from dummy for 11 tricks. Not easy to make that play is it?
Last updated : 25th Oct 2007 22:16 GMT
Board 2 on October 11th: Top score was achieved by Philip & Mary playing 3NT+2 by North (2 tricks more than the 3 other pairs in the same contract). The bidding shows what happened when Stan & Nick ventured game in Spades. Margaret led a club to the Ace and a club return by Jack was won in hand. Is it best to play a cross-ruff or attempt to draw trumps & enjoy the established clubs? The trouble is the 6 of diamonds is the only card which is an entry to the clubs... If (after a heart ruff, Ace & Jack of trumps to West's queen) Margaret had removed that card by playing a diamond it would have been "curtains" but she cashed the heart Ace and continued the suit to allow me to draw the outstanding trumps and claim. It appears that a cross-ruff would fail due to diamond shortage and trump length in the West hand.
Last updated : 11th Oct 2007 22:45 GMT