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Tales of Akarana 008

               Different Routes: Same Result.

               Party Spoilers!

There were many different approaches taken on Board 14 this week but not one pair reached the very cold 26 hcp heart grand slam. Despite interference, it seems that failure to make a natural bid may have been partly to blame. However, there were other considerations:

Board 14
East Deals
None Vul
K 7 6 5
10 9 6
K J 5 3 2
A Q 2
10 9 8 7
K Q J 7 4 3
W   E
J 10 9 8 4 3
J 4
6 4
10 6 2
A K Q 8 7 5 3 2
A 9 5
West North East South
    Pass 2 
3  Dbl 3  Dbl
4  4  Pass 5 
Pass 5 NT Pass 6 
All pass      


At least South got to have first shot. I wonder how many Souths would have faced a lightweight Weak 2 opening had the vulnerability been more favourable to East-West. South’s opening with 10 and a half playing tricks is surely of the game force variety.

However, much happened before South got another chance to bid. The bidding was fairly normal until Malcolm Mayer (East) chimed in with the major he did not hold. This used up a valuable round of bidding with South unable to bid their suit until the 5 level and left North somewhat uncertain of where the bidding would end. North thought initially that 5Heart-small was Exclusion Key Card..hence the 5NT response.

Although the following sequence was different, both sequences seemed to suffer from one key factor.

West North East South
    Pass 2 
3  Dbl 4  4 
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 NT
Pass 6  All pass  


This time East steered clear of the majors, allowing South to introduce their suit at the 4 level. North used Key Card and got the 5NT response showing all 5 were in the South hand with North opting for small slam. One problem with the sequence was that the wrong hand was doing the asking. Where possible, it should be the strong shapely hand. Opposition bidding up to 4Club-small made this difficult to achieve.

North might have continued after 5NT with a 6Club-small (“We have got this suit under control, partner. What do you think about grand slam?”)  South would be keen and might even just bid grand slam or just try with 6Diamond-small (“Any help there, partner?”) and now North would be likely to go for gold! “Gold” might still be tarnished if North converted 7Heart-small to 7NT (“You did show all 5 key cards!”) with East having to guess which ace has caused partner’s double!

The missing suit

So, what is it that the above 2 sequences both lacked? The answer is the missing suit, diamonds. It is easy to be wise after the event, though it is hard to see what would have been lost had North in both sequences called their own five card suit in preference to a value showing take-out double of 3Club-small. This bid would not preclude finding a major fit but would offer the real chance of finding a 5-3 fit in this suit….and here would have given South a very handy piece of information.

In another sequence, diamonds were mentioned though South still did not go all the way.

West North East South
    Pass 2 
5  5  Pass 6 
All pass      


West made it even harder by jumping to the 5 level. The suit-finding started at a very high level. It gave South a new concern, that of East overruffing dummy at trick 1. The danger of that happening was possible if West had, say 9 clubs, but if that could be survived, then the prospects of all 13 tricks would be excellent. Surely partner could be relied upon for the Diamond-smallK (hopefully the Diamond-smallJ too) and enough length for their free 5 level bid to be able to overtake on the second round of the suit? The three -card trump suit in the real hand above was a bonus.

So, three different routes, all ending in small slam. Yet, that was a better result than was achieved at 5 of the 13 tables where the auction ended at the game level. It would all have been so easy had South been allowed to jump to 3Heart-small (suit set) after a negative/waiting 2Diamond-small response from North…or had North responded 3Diamond-small at their first opportunity. No-one invited the opposition to this “grand” party. They seemed to make their presence felt more than they should.

Richard Solomon



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