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A Lighter Look

SLAM ON “14”

One side has 26 hcp between their two hands and the other a more modest 14.

One side can make 9 tricks with their best combined suit as trumps. The other can make 12.

Naturally, you would much rather be holding the combined 14 hcp if you had slam ambitions….but only one pair in the recent Wellington Open Teams did!

Board 30
East Deals
None Vul
A K 7
Q 8
K J 10 9 6
K 7 3
10 8 6 5 4
9 7 4 2
A 8 7
W   E
A K J 6 5
Q 10 9 6 5 4 2
Q J 9 3 2
10 3
Q 5 4 3
West North East South
    4  Pass
4  Dbl 4  5 
Pass Pass 6  All pass


It would be lovely to relate to you how the slam was bid with 100% confidence. It was actually bid with 50% confidence….East was super confident. Rumour has it that West was dreading having to put down dummy!

East’s 4Club-small opener showed long (6+) clubs, an undisclosed 5 card major and less than an opener. In fact, although East had all that, he had a few extras. Thus, when West made a slam try in whichever major East held, East was very interested! The only problem was that though West might have had going home on his mind (it was at the day’s end), he had no such slam ambitions. Game was as ambitious as he wanted to get. "Let's find your major, partner" was the reason he bid 4Diamond-small. East thought 4Heart-small was forcing, a view he backed up by going all the way to slam on his next bid.

East’s explanation of 4Diamond-small was bad news for West. Diamond-small3 was led and that was one trick to the “good guys”. Trumps were drawn and a club lost. Declarer did not own up to holding any spades or any further diamonds and a couple of club ruffs in dummy saw 12 tricks roll in. We know there would not have been an atom of surprise on the face of New Zealand Bridge Secretary, Alister Stuck’s face at the claim by his partner. Secretaries are not allowed to show emotion!

That’s one system bid he will not forget again in a hurry, will he, Russell!Alister and Russell Wilson.jpg 
The "14 Pointers", Russell Wilson, the 4Club-small opener, and Alister Stuck, the smiling (afterwards!)

The contract was 4 or 5Heart-small at nearly half the 26 tables, the latter often doubled. Most of the rest of the tables saw unsuccessful spade contracts by South.

So, the North hand above, a mere 16 pointer did not take a trick against a small slam. The same fate happened this week to an even stronger hand, an 18 pointer, over at the Yeh Bros event in China. The only difference was that their partner, with 8 more, did not take one either!

Board 19
South Deals
E-W Vul
8 2
Q J 10 9 6 4
K Q 4 3
7 6 5 4 3
8 5 3 2
Q J 10 5
W   E
10 9 8 6 5
A K 8 7 6 4 3
K Q J 10 9
A K 7
A J 7 2


I doubt that any South player who opened 1Spade-small expected to be defending, unsuccessfully a club slam. Even less so if their partner made a slightly aggressive but constructive 2Heart-small response. Vulnerability might slow East-West down a little.

The defence can take a trick against 7Club-small x but only if they lead their trump. (Have you heard that before about leading a trump against a grand slam? It is even truer when your side has 26 hcp!).

The board was played at 12 tables. At three of them 6Club-small was doubled, twice making an overtrick and at another three (including where New Zealand were North-South), two overtricks were made in 5Club-small X. The rest of the tables, except for one, played unsuccessfully in hearts. One enterprising East-West pair tried 3NT going just 2 down, but no great score when your side can make a vulnerable slam!

GeO Tislevoll and Michael Ware bid to 6Club-small but their opponents believed them and bid on to 6Heart-small. Alas. West did not get a diamond ruff. Thus, the dive only cost 100 whereas on an initial diamond lead, the defence could have got 4 tricks for 500.

So, maybe the moral is that this is the season of the 14 point slams. You have been warned!

Richard Solomon


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