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Boards 4 Remembering.

If I was to tell you what is my lucky number (I might some day), then the answer would be “4”. I am sure you are not interested why.

26 teams contested the qualifying Swiss of the Waikato Bays Regional Teams in Hamilton last weekend. With 8 short qualifying matches, there were 3 board numbers “4” in play in differing matches. Two of them might be remembered by those playing them for some time to come.


Board 4 in Match 1 would not be remembered by many. East-West had a combined 23 hcp, two major 5-3 fits missing both queens. You needed one finesse to work to make game. Both worked. Perhaps, in view of most players’ ability to take successful finesses, this board is indeed noteworthy!

Let’s move on to Board 4 in Match 4. The hot seat was probably South though some North players had a strange decision to make considering that they held just one king.

Spade-small T93

Heart-small 5

Diamond-small T98742

Club-small K42

Your bid with the above outstanding collection after a normal auction had a surprise bid at its end:

            North                                                            South


            2Diamond-small (happy so far?)                                        2NT (24+ balanced, forcing to game)

           3Club-small (checking on 4/5 card majors)                 3Diamond-small (at least 1 4 card major)

           3NT “would you like a coffee, partner?”         4NT   "not yet!"


4NT was quantitative. Well, how good are you? How good is partner? Obviously, more than 24 but how much more? 26? 27? Do you want to be in slam? If so, it will be partner’s turn to get the coffees as you bid diamonds first!

So, do you or do you not?

What about this next auction? You have a fairly normal hand…a fairly good one too but so, it seems, does everyone else at the table. Yours is:

Spade-small AKQ4

Heart-small QT5

Diamond-small 72

Club-small K965

You are East and everyone is vulnerable and everyone is bidding:

West              North            East                South

Pass                1Diamond-small                x                      1Spade-small

3Club-small                  Pass           Pass                  3Diamond-small

3Spade-small                 4Diamond-small               4Spade-small                   Pass

Pass              5Diamond-small                 ?

It seemed initially that West was searching for 3NT and for a spade hold, (why, though, had a few seconds earlier had West been happy to play in 3Club-small?) though before you could launch into 3NT with your very very good spade hold, the auction took a different turn. Whatever reason partner had for bidding 3Spade-small (there's also the chance that South did not have spades at all... a little psyche?), you could find out by bidding 4Spade-small..perhaps en route to 5Club-small.

That did not materialise as North was not to be outbid. What next… what is the par contract on this deal? One other question. What happened to the heart suit? Who held that suit? (sorry, “two more questions?!")

Life in the Fast, the Middle and the Slow Lane: "4" Tune Favours The Brave

I regret to say that I took the “slow lanewith my 3 countand the play in 4NT took less than 5 seconds:

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
10 9 3
10 9 8 7 4 2
K 4 2
Q 8 6 5
J 9 7 3
Q 5
J 10 7
W   E
J 7 4 2
10 8 6 4
6 3
9 5 3
A K Q 2
A Q 8 6


There was a select group in the “fast lane”. Both Michael Courtney - Rose Don and Leslie and Russell Watt collected 17 imps for bidding to7NT while Linda Cartner- Barry Palmer and Rona and John Driscoll would have been rather disappointed that bidding to 7Diamond-small (no trump finesses this day!) was necessary to secure a flat board. Only 8 pairs bid to small slam (the “middle lane”) while 13 more stayed in game (the “slow lane”). That adds to 25 with one accident seeing 11 tricks made in the only denomination one could not make slam, spades.

The jury may still be out as to whether the South hand was worth 5NT over 3NT, a bid which can be regarded as pick a slam (partner described his hand as “ a poor 30 count”. I do not understand the meaning of that phrase!) or whether he just had a wimp of a partner.

Certainly, balanced hands of greater than 26 hcp are awkward to bid, especially if a 2NT rebid after one has opened 2Club-small shows 23-24. It is a good idea to make such a rebid 24+ which is effectively game forcing. Then, the quantitative raise to raise 4NT as above can show 26-27 hcp…. but 30 hcp?

I was the recipient of a balanced 29 count in a Rotorua National Congress in a different century but have dealt in more modest high card point totals ever since. Can you cope in your system with a balanced 30 count?

A Slam for both sides:

We are still on Board 4 but this time it is match 7, the board where everyone seemed to have a good hand. You remember the bidding?

 West             North            East                South

Pass                1Diamond-small                  x                      1Spade-small

3Club-small                   Pass             Pass                 3Diamond-small

3Spade-small                  4Diamond-small                4Spade-small                   Pass

Pass                5Diamond-small                 ?

where you held:

Spade-small AKQ4

Heart-small QT5

Diamond-small 72

Club-small K965

So, what did you bid? I was a wimp once more and fell well short of the par score on this board. At least, the final contract of 5Diamond-small was not doubled!

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
J 8 7 4 3 2
K Q J 10 6 4 3
J 5 3 2
A 9 6
Q J 10 7 4 2
W   E
A K Q 4
Q 10 5
7 2
K 9 6 5
10 9 8 7 6
A 9 8 5
A 8 3


You can almost make 5Spade-small (E/W) though have to lose two trumps and the Club-smallA. However, 6Club-small is a marvellous contract (one pair got to play there) with a miracle lie of the heart suit and no spade ruff available for North. However, there is absolutely no defence to 6Diamond-small making the par contract as 7Club-smallx down one.

Naturally, no table played in that contract. Twice, North got to play in 6Diamond-small. 6 pairs got to play in 5Diamond-small x. All the rest played in 5Diamond-small undoubled except for a curious 3Spade-small contract by East, the 6Club-small slam and one lucky North-South pair who made 12 tricks in a modest 3Diamond-small contract… not great apparantly for the declaring side except it was doubled. The score of 1270 was only 100 short of what those in slam recorded.

There seem two approaches to a hand like North’s. One is to open the bidding. The other is to pass and enter later to show a red two-suiter. At at least one table, North passed and after East had opened 1NT and West used Stayman, North made a nonchalant 2Diamond-small call..and kept bidding.

Who had the heart suit? Well, North, of course though those diamonds are much more worth bidding especially when partner has 4 card support.

Just another flat board

Not an imp changed hands in the three Board 4’s in our matches this day. Did that make them boring? No way!

No Majors

The following day in the Teams Final, the East players got to hold no major cards and Diamond-small AQT9 and Club-small KQJT96543. They were vulnerable against not vulnerable opponents. At 4 of the 6 tables, the contract was 6Club-small while Duncan Badley and Paula Boughey bid to 7Club-small on the following lay-out:

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
J 9 7 5 4 2
K 7 6 5 3 2
K 10 6 4 2
K Q 8 3
A 8 7
W   E
A Q 10 9
K Q J 10 9 6 5 4 3
A Q J 8 7 5 3
A 10 6
8 4


On the trump lead (don't you always lead a trump against a grand slam, even holding 2 aces?), this contract requires a diamond finesse though the declarer was less challenged on the Heart-smallA lead.

However, being Board 2, this deal has no place in this article. "4" tunately, it snuck in.

Richard Solomon









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