1st June 2016 - Hand 1:
North. Open 1♦.
South. No need to raise as opener is promising a rebid, so bid 1♥.
North. At least a 4 -4 fit in ♥. Losing trick 8 so a raise to 3♥.
South. With so many controls, let's see how many Aces partner has and bid 4NT.
North. Holding 2 Aces. So – my response is 5♥.
South. Two aces. I bid 6♥
Play. No lead really troubles us and draw trumps straight away. Only 1 possible loser in ♦ but this drops and I would recommend the finesse towards AJ anyway which works. 13 tricks should be made.
The Expert's view:
Sometimes you can look at a hand, either immediately or after partner has bid, and you get a "tingle". (I call it the tingle factor which means that this hand could be really good and/or interesting, possibly with a slam there.)
Let us imagine the players thoughts.
North. I have a scrappy 13 count but at least there is a 5 card suit so I can open 1♦.
South. Tingle. Not only do I have an 18 count but I have lots of good controls (Aces & Kings).We are definitely going somewhere on this hand, whether just to game or to a slam remains to be seen. No need to rush so I will bid a simple 1♥.
North. Lovely, we have at least a 4 -4 fit in ♥. There are lots of holes in my hand so just a raise to 2♥.
South. OK, we have a double fit in the red suits. Let's find out a bit more with a forcing bid of 2♠ (a reverse bid)
North. That's useful, we may not have any ♠ losers. Let's tell partner about our Ace ♣ with a bid of 3♣. This is also the fourth suit bid and is usually called "FSF – Fourth Suit Forcing". (You could also make this bid without any values in ♣ – in which case your values in the other suits must be enhanced – but you want partner to bid again.)
South. Time for a little arithmetic. Partner has shown 5♦ and at least 4♥ so that should be nine tricks. He can only have a maximum of 10 points in those suits (AQJ♦ and QJ♥) so he must have something else to open the bidding. If it is the Ace ♣ then I can count 9 tricks in the red suits, the Ace ♠ and the Ace & King of ♣ to make 12 tricks. Let's do a check with the old Blackwood. So 4NT.
North. Hearts have been agreed as trumps. So – my response is 5♥, whether it's normal Blackwood or RKCB.
South. Fine, two aces. (If we are playing RKCB one would know that partner does not have the Q♥). Following our original calculations I can now bid 6N with a high degree of confidence.
Top expert players would probably use a more sophisticated system of bidding to reach the grand slam which is really only there on the favorable layouts in the spade suit.
1st June 2016 - Hand 6:
East. Open 1♦.
West. With 4 - 4 in the Majors, show lowest first so bid 1♥
East. Hand is unbalanced and always show a 4 card Major (rather than 1NT showing 15/16) so bid 1♠
West. Our short suit is covered and we have a suit fit, does partner have A♦ ? Bid 4NT to ask
East. With 1 Ace, bid 5♦.
West. We can now ask for K's but with so many gaps to fill, it's unlikely they will all be filled so jump straight to 6♠
Play. Draw 2 trumps but leave 2 for ruffing 2 losers (we can throw 2 losers on ♦) - play K♥ and back to A♥ then rough 2 . Draw last trump and make 13 tricks.
East. A nice simple opening of 1♦.
West. Tingle. We only need a fit in one of the major suits to have something good here. Again, no need to rush so a simple 1♥.
East. That K♥ could be very useful. Anyway I can afford to bid 1♠.
West. Bingo, a nice 4 – 4 fit in ♠. Time to be a bit more constructive so a jump to 3♣ will wake partner up and alert him to the fact that we are going to game at least.
East. Aha. That jump can only mean one of two things. One is that he is agreeing ♠ and has something in ♣ or two that he has good ♥ and ♣ and is looking for NT. Whatever, game is now on. Now, I have a better than average opening so what would be the most useful bid? Partner knows about the ♦ and ♠ so surely it is time to tell him that I have something in ♥ as well. So I bid 3♥ despite only having two of them. This is the key bid of the hand.
West. That must mean something useful in the heart suit. This is now really tingling. Let's do a quick check with 4N. If RKCB then it is asking assuming hearts are trumps as the trump suit has not yet been fixed so the reply would be 5♥ – 2 of the 5 "aces". If not then 5♦ will show 1 ace.
East. 5♥ (key card)
West. OK, Partner has the Ace of ♦ and the K♥. We are heading for 6♠ (although partner does not know this) so I have room for maneuver with another asking bid of 5NT.
East. We are getting a bit high here but partner is in control. If RKCB then as I have shown the K♥ I must now bid 6♥ showing 2 outside kings. If not then I will bid 6♠ showing 3 kings.
West. I now know partner has three kings so I can count 4 ♠, two ♥, two ♦ and two ♣ in top tricks for 10 tricks. I can ruff two ♦ in my hand so that makes 12 with ♠ as trumps. So I now pass.
Note that one should ruff the diamonds early on in the play before drawing trumps so as to avoid an over-ruff. The top experts might calculate that they can set up a long ♦ trick with two ruffs and actually bid the grand slam. It just so happens that the Q♦ is there and you will make all 13 tricks.
1st June 2016 - Hand 10:
South. Open 1♠
North. We have suit agreement immediately. Losing Trick count of 5 (plus partner's assumed 7 shows 12, 18-12 = 6). Rather than rush straight to 6♠, check for aces first - bid 4NT.
South. 2 Aces, bid 5♥
North. Missing 1 Ace, bid 6♠
Play. Draw 2 trumps and nothing else troubles us - lose a ♦ and slam made.
South. I like this hand but I am just going to open 1♠.
North. Definitely a tingle here. What has partner got to be able to open a ♠? He must have most of his points in other suits and as long as they are not "wasted" in ♣ they will fit nicely with my red suits. I also need to tell him about the superfit in ♠ and there is just one bid which will tell him everything in one fell swoop. This is the "Splinter" bid – a treble jump - and it says exactly that – Partner I have at least 4 card trump support, lots of points and (especially) I have a singleton or am void in the bid suit. So I will bid 4♣.
South. Hey, that is really useful, I will be able to ruff the small ♣ in my hand with impunity. My next bid is fairly obvious – 4♥. This will almost certainly mean I have the Ace of ♥ and nothing in ♦. (Point to note here that by not bidding something it is just as informative as actually bidding something). If I did not have anything useful in the red suits I would just sign off in 4♠. But that is not the case here.
North. It's looking good now with the heart suit covered. I have second round control in ♦. For his opening bid, partner should have either the Ace of ♣ or the Ace of ♦. Either will do very nicely but time to check with the old Black. I bid 4N.
South. 5♥ showing two aces.
North. OK, we are missing an ace so a simple 6♠.
1st June 2016 - Hand 14:
East. 23+, open 2♣ showing a strong game force hand
West. 3 K's is a worth a positive reply, bid 2♥
East. Bid 2NT to show 23/24
West. Show length in ♥ so bid 3♥
East. Our doubleton looks better now, does partner have A♥? Bid 4NT to ask
West. No Aces, bid 5♣ showing 0 or 4 Aces
East. OK, how about K's? Bid 5NT to ask
West. 3 K's so bid 6♠
East. 3 Aces, 4 Ks and a long suit each - bid 6NT
Play. Likely to get a ♠ lead (or a ♦ lead), either is fine. If the lead is a ♠, play low and now we have 3 ♠ winners! Now lose a ♥ and 12 tricks remain. On a ♦ lead we need to do the ♠ finesse ourselves but natural direction is to the AJ and it holds.
East. Yum yum. Don't get many of these but it is a very straightforward opening 2♣ bid. (Note that the extra club is worth another point)
May I commend to you the following simple system of responding to a strong opening hand. I think it is important to say that the strong hand should be in control and decide the final contract. It follows on therefore that the strong hand needs to know about key cards in responder's hand (controls ie aces & kings). So in response to a 2♣ or 2♦ opening responder gives a positive response at the cheapest level holding at least one of each or 2N if holding a balanced 8 – 10 HCP count. A 2♦ or 2♥ response denies holding two controls.
West. Using the above formula I will bid 2NT.
East. So we have a combined 32 or 34 count, enough for a slam. Partner's bid has virtually denied an Ace so a simple 6NT will end the auction.