Good Slams Gone Wrong

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Surely 92% Chance is Good Enough?

When South opens 1  North's eyes widened a little. With a 19 count North had high hopes. Unsurprisingly South showed a weak hand with hearts after the 1♠  response from North. But 3♣  from North was forcing and allowed South to show a 6 card heart suit and must have one or two other sprinkled values for the opening bid.

The 4NT (RKCB) enquiry revealed South with two keycards but no Q (held by North) so North knew that they were off a keycard, most likely the A . But with the K  in hand and protected at trick 1 North did some quick calculations. With either K♠  or Q♣  with partner it looked like 12 tricks was very likely. So 6NT was bid and North was delighted to see dummy go down. Mentally counting 12 tricks he was congratulating himself on a good bid, especially when East tabled the J  as opening lead. That solved any diamond position and although West took the Ace it looked good.

Sadly for our hero North discovered that hearts were breaking 5-1 and that he could only rely on 4 hearts tricks, 4 club tricks, 2 diamonds and 1 spade. Never mind he thought. I have a spade finesse for 12 tricks and East has already shown up with 5 hearts so there must be a better chance that West has K♠ ! More frustration when that failed as well leaving the contract one down. Consoling himself that it was a good slam he checked his odds sheet and found that 5-1 or 6-0 breaks crop up about 16% of the time and that, coupled with the chance of the K♠  being right meant that the slam was (at least) 92%. It was just his unlucky day. Needless to say he didn't win the lottery later that night!

Last updated : 5th May 2019 14:23 BST
What Can Go Wrong?

West picked up a rather good looking two suited major hand but heard South open the bidding with 1 . 2  was Michaels showing 5-5 in the Majors and either weak or strong. East pushed a little and bid 4  with 4 card support and two side aces knowing they'd cut down the minor suit losers to at most one and West pondered. With such a strong playing hand 4NT was not unreasonable since West couldn't lose more than 1 trick in any suit. 5 showed 2 keycards without the Q  (the two aces) and West bid the slam. After all, what could go wrong?

West had reckoned without some good analysis from Sneaky South who was on lead...

K from KQx of clubs looks standard. But is it good? Can we do better? South knew that West has bid the slam off an ace (since S has A ) but that West has at least 5 spades and at least 5 hearts. With one A in the West hand it looks like the odds are with it being the A  and that East has the two minor suit aces. If that's the case, with South having Q  and K♣  there's no way that West should bid the slam holding more than 1 card in each of those suits (Kx of diamonds is getting the lead coming through it at trick 1). So it looks like the slow trick development of the K♣  is not going to work. Now South has Axxx in spades and West has 5+ spades. The best chance therefore is a quick ruff if North has a singleton. So Sneaky South led the A♠  and was rewarded when partner ruffed the second spade to beat the slam!

Last updated : 5th May 2019 14:21 BST
An Unusual Ending

This hand was originally played in an England v Germany match in Beijing. I saw it in the Coventry "International Replay" competition, where competitors play the hands of a past international match, and can compare their results.

South opens 1 Heart and West overcalls 2 Clubs. North bids a 4C splinter, and South Bids 6 Hearts.

The Club Queen is led - how would you play it?

Answer

The A is most probably with West, and the ♠Q may well be too.

But if the A is with West you are home!

Win, take out trumps and play 2 more rounds of Clubs, throwing 2  from dummy. The second one loses, of course, but now West is on lead and dummy has a Diamond void.

He has 3 choices -

             a ♠ (gives a free finesse),

             a (sets up the K for a ♠ discard)

or

             a ♣ (gives a ruff and discard)

all give you the contract.

I managed to play it like this, and was impressed with myself - until East turned up with the Diamond Ace, and I only made 11 tricks.   :-(

 

Brent

Last updated : 14th Mar 2014 18:05 GMT