Points of interest from the June 2015 duplicates
1 Mini-Splinter points the way to slam
Board 10 Thursday 11 June – Vulnerability Amber – Dealer East
None of the five North South pairs managed to reach the excellent slam contract of 6 Hearts on the above hand. After North responds 1 Heart to South’s opening bid of 1 Club South has to decide what to say. While he might bid 3 Hearts showing 16 to 18 points including shape as he has 14 points with four card Heart support plus a singleton Diamond for which we should count 3 points once a trump fit has been found (total 17 points) there is a much more descriptive bid available. That bid is to make a MINI SPLINTER of 3 Diamonds.
A mini-splinter is where responder’s major suit is agreed by the opener jumping to the 3 level after a 1 Heart or 1 Spade response to the opening bid of 1 Club or 1 Diamond in a higher ranking suit to the one opened.
Opener promises either:-
1 A raise to at least the three level of partner’s with a singleton in the mini-splintered suit.
2 A raise to the three level with a void in the mini-splintered suit but insufficient points to splinter at the four level.
There are four such sequences:-
They are called mini-splinters because in each case responder can sign off in 3 of the major if he is minimum or has a bad holding in the mini-splintered suit. For instance in the above hand if North held ♠xxxx ♥Q10xx ♦KJx ♣Jx then he would sign off in 3 Hearts and the bidding would end in a part-score.
When South makes a Mini-Splinter of 3 Diamonds the North hand has enormous playing strength. However North cannot bid Keycard because he has a void and in any event there might be two losers in Spades if South has for instance:-
Accordingly North bids 4 Diamonds as a cue-bid showing the Ace (since it would be completely pointless to cue-bid a King opposite the known shortage in the South hand). South then cue-bids in Spades and North can then jump to slam in Hearts. Thus slam is reached on only 23 points between the two hands and even then the King of Clubs is superfluous to its success.
On a passive Jack of Hearts lead North should win in hand and then trump three Diamonds in the Dummy using Club ruffs as a means of transport each time. Even though the Diamonds split 5-3 the fourth Diamond is trumped with the Ace of Hearts and 12 tricks roll in : +1430 to North South.
2 Agreeing opener’s major suit after a 2NT opening
Board 15 Wednesday 24 June – Vulnerability North South – Dealer South
Only two pairs out of seven managed to get to the excellent 6 Spade contract on the above hand.
After the bidding starts 2NT – 3 Clubs – 3 Spades, responder holding four Spades has to be able to set Spades as trumps and investigate slam. FOUR HEARTS, THE OTHER MAJOR, IS AN ARTIFICIAL SLAM TRY SETTING SPADES AS TRUMPS. IF RESPONDER BIDS ANYTHING OTHER THAN FOUR HEARTS, EXCEPT A NON-SLAM TRY RAISE TO FOUR SPADES, RESPONDER DENIES FOUR-CARD SPADE SUPPORT. The use of the other major in this sequence is not needed as a natural bid.
When South shows a four card Spade suit in response to Stayman then the North hand is definitely worth a slam try with five trumps, a singleton, an Ace and nine points opposite a 2NT opener. The way to express this is to bid the other major at the lowest level ie 4 Hearts over 3 Spades. (If South had shown a four card Heart suit in response to Stayman then similarly 3 Spades by North would agree Hearts).
South holding a maximum with eight controls bids keycard and over the 5 Club response showing one Keycard asks for the Queen of trumps by bidding the next step 5 Diamonds. North holding the Queen of trumps then jumps to 6 Spades as he has no other King to show. There are no problems in the play and a score of +1460 to North South is soon entered.
Board 19 Monday 29 June – Vulnerability East West – Dealer South
Only one pair out of eight managed to reach the excellent 5 Club contract on the above hand.
After South responds 1 Heart to the 1 Club opener West is too weak to make an overcall in Spades at red. North rebids 2 Clubs and South having a maximum pass bids 2NT implying a good 10 or 11 points.
North is very unhappy with notrumps and so he should now bid 3 Diamonds. This implies a very unbalanced hand but one which is limited by the failure to reverse earlier. In fact it is highly likely that it shows six Clubs and five Diamonds. This is because there would be an element of risk in bidding a higher ranking suit over 2NT with only a 6-4 shape because it would commit to playing in Clubs if South’s shape were exactly 4=5=2=2.
Over 3 Diamonds the South hand now looks very promising for playing in a Club contract. There is a known nine card fit in Clubs; South’s honour in Clubs will be of great value; Kx in Diamonds is a great holding in partner’s second suit since if North is missing the Queen South will be able to ruff the third round and finally the Ace of the unbid suit is ideal opposite shortage in the North hand (whereas KJ in Spades would be a very bad holding).
Accordingly South should jump to 5 Clubs. In the play if East opens with the King of Spades North would win with the Ace in Dummy discarding his losing Heart. A trump is then played to the nine and Ace. Spades are continued and declarer ruffs the second Spade. At this point Declarer should continue with King of Diamonds, Ace of Diamonds and ruff a Diamond with the Queen of trumps. This is in case the trumps are splitting 3-1 and one of the defenders originally held Jxxx in Diamonds. On this particular occasion the precaution is unnecessary but the technique is important.