All News

Daily Bridge in New Zealand

The Wrong Slam.

Something went wrong with today’s auction. Slam was reached but it was the wrong slam. We will ask our Panel where they thought it went wrong. What do you think?

 Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

West Deals
N-S Vul
A K Q 10 7 5
A 7
K 6
K 9 6
W   E
8 6
J 10 9 7 5 3
A Q J 8
West North East South
Pass 2  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Pass 4  Pass 4 
Pass 4 NT Pass 5 
Pass 5  Pass 6 
All pass      


2Club-small was a standard Game Force or a strong single-suited major (8 playing tricks’ style). After that, the auction was natural until 4Diamond-small which was Roman Key Card with diamonds as trumps. 4NT showed 0 or 3 key cards.

5Club-small asked for the trump queen and 5Diamond-small denied this card.

The wrong slam was bid with the wrong hand as declarer. Why?

Sometimes, given the choice of two suits as the trump suit, we choose the weaker suit to be trumps so that if you can manage to draw trumps unscathed, you will then be able to play your strong suit for the rest of the tricks. That’s fine as long as the weaker suit is not too weak. The diamond suit above needed a spot of good luck to be played for just one loser.

Our method and both players’ decisions received some criticism:

Michael Cornell “3Diamond-small: I will accept the system but do not consider it has much merit. It certainly has no merit when responder gets in the way with a 3Diamond-small positive missing the top 3 honours.
This is the bid that I abhor but it did not have to be fatal on this hand. I would have thought after 3Diamond-small a jump to 4Spade-small would show the 8 playing trick hand and now responder can take control and if feeling aggressive bid the 73% or thereabouts spade slam which just needs trumps to behave.”

While the North hand looks like the 8 playing trick variety, the 3Diamond-small bid rather improves the hand were South to have a decent suit. 4Spade-small over 3Diamond-small is certainly a minimum 2Club-small opener but how minimum now is the North hand?

Casting the blame in the same direction is another Michael:

Michael Ware “3Diamond-small: bidding 3Diamond-small with such a poor suit is really bad. You take away a whole level of bidding to highlight J sixth? Really bad.”  and

Pam Livingston “2Diamond-small doesn't deny a good hand.  Making a positive response after 2Club-small needs to have a good suit (I think two honours is the general standard).  The auction has already started at the two level and making a positive response whisks away even more room to exchange information. 

Depending on your agreements (maybe 3Diamond-small must be a six-card suit), I would prefer to bid 4Spade-small than 4Diamond-small as the suit is so solid. So, my auction would be completely different.

 Yet, not all were critical of 3Diamond-small:

Nigel Kearney: South’s 4Heart-small key-card ask

 North: I don't like to open 2Club-small with marginal hands but the rest of their bids seem fine.

South: Some will question 3Diamond-small on a weak suit but I don't mind it because the strength of the hand will be hard to express after starting with 2Diamond-small. Over 4Diamond-small, I would just bid 4Spade-small. You have a good hand for spades and have already denied three card support. Partner's 4Diamond-small is just preference and will often be a doubleton.


My suggested Acol auction:        North            South


                                                       1Spade-small                2Diamond-small


                                                     3Spade-small               4Spade-small


                                                     5Club-small              5Heart-small


                                                     6Spade-small             Pass



  Responder has limited their hand with 4Spade-small then co-operated with a heart cue bid. Opener will be expecting something more like Spade-smallxx Heart-smallKxx Diamond-smallQJxxx Club-smallAxx but the actual hand is enough.”


Peter Newell “The first 2 bids look reasonable. However, the system has made things difficult: 2Club-small covering strong 1 suiters, then 3Diamond-small which consumes a lot of space. 3Spade-small looks questionable, I assume could either be a 5-card suit and a game force or an 8 playing trick single suited major. I think a 4Spade-small bid may have been better to clearly describe the hand type held one has for partner who would then realise that 2 small trumps and a singleton heart were very helpful.

4Club-small seems normal.  4Diamond-small is a strange choice with doubleton king not great support, and rebidding spades to show the length and strength (and a modest hand for a 2Club-small bid) would have been far more descriptive.


After 4Diamond-small I don’t think it is that easy for South, and expecting more likely 3 card support, I don’t think key card is too unreasonable.  South could have volunteered 4Spade-small not 4Heart-small but if North had Diamond-smallKQ or Diamond-smallKXX, slam would have been fine. South’s bid of 6Diamond-small was very aggressive.  Missing a key card and the trump queen slam could only be 50ish% at best, and potentially a lot worse like it was. So, North’s failure to rebid spades made it hard to play in spades, and the 4Diamond-small and 6Diamond-small bids resulted in getting overbid in diamonds."


It is perhaps a question of partnership agreement as to whether 4Diamond-small is just preference or indeed genuine support. If just preference (North would have shown genuine support a round earlier) then South does need to be cautious about getting too high in diamonds. So, should North have bid 4Diamond-small? Matt thinks not:


Matt Brown “4Diamond-small: 2Club-small-3Diamond-small has taken up a lot of space which hasn't allowed us to identify a fit below the 4 level. However, I think North should bid 4Spade-small over 4Club-small. It may not be perfectly ideal (obviously partner could be void) but the suit is strong enough and we need to emphasise something rather than this wishy-washy 4Diamond-small on a doubleton.
South knows they are missing 1 key-card and the Diamond-smallQ and should not bid slam in diamonds: that much is absolutely clear, to at least give them a positive score rather than -50. I think North already ruined the possibility of +980 though. I do not think North’s spade suit is good enough to correct back to at the 6-level!"

and agreeing with Matt is:

Bruce Anderson “4Diamond-small: In my view the North hand is not a 2Club-small opener, notwithstanding that as played the bid can also show an old-style Acol strong two. Even if 1Spade-small was passed out, game is far from guaranteed. 

As the given auction progressed, I think it was wrong for North to bid 4Diamond-small. Instead, North should bid 4Spade-small, which surely shows a solid suit, and also conveys that the hand is a strong two, not a real game force. South, with a doubleton spade and a singleton heart, is not averse to playing in spades. RKC could then be wheeled out, and if South is feeling lucky, he/she can bid the spade slam.


I say luck is involved as their partner could hold the Heart-smallK, not the Diamond-smallK or Club-smallK (this kind of hand is why Symmetric Relay was invented).”

 Perhaps then key card in diamonds is not such a bad idea to identify that only one key card in diamonds is missing. Someone needs then to revert to spades as 6Diamond-small seems at best dependent on the location of Diamond-smallQ. That point is emphasised too by Kris Wooles:


Kris Wooles “6Diamond-small: Firstly, I accept North’s hand is best described via 2Club-small as a strong 2.  Secondly, South ought not to have bid 4Heart-small rather 4Spade-small as their hand is minimum, the diamond suit unconvincing and they have a partial spade fit.

North can still move and may well with their control orientated hand.  Finally, South who has taken unilateral control is totally at fault in bidding 6Diamond-small. Why didn’t they think of bidding 6Spade-small?



 That was the pity as 6Diamond-small was down at trick 1 when West led a trump:


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


Stephen Blackstock examined the problems of the auction especially with South not being sure whether their partner has a genuine 2Club-small opener where the spades may not be as strong and long or the type held:


Stephen Blackstock “Perhaps beginning with a more orthodox 2Club-small opening would help to construct an auction to 6Spade-small, but arguably the hand isn’t worth that (opinions will differ!). Without knowing which hand-type their partner has, it is hard for South to set spades with any confidence.”

 He also questions South’s actions:


“Responding 3Diamond-small on a suit headed by the Jack doesn’t look best. I understand that it will be hard to catch up after 2Diamond-small, but 3Diamond-small on this suit with almost all the values elsewhere? South’s RKCB was outrageous. How can it be right for the weak hand to seize control from the strong hand? And why bid slam knowing that a key-card and the trump queen are missing?”


He also questions whether North should respond 3NT to 3Diamond-small though understands 3Spade-small and thinks 4Spade-small is a better option for North over 4Club-small. His best suggested auction is:


                                    North                        South


                                    2Club-small                                2Diamond-small


                                  2Spade-small                                3Diamond-small


                                  3Spade-small                                5Heart-small  splinter


                                  6Spade-small                                Pass


though says North’s first two bids are questionable while South might bid 4Club-small after 3Spade-small.

Stephen Blackstock “Looking at the two hands it’s easy to say that 6Spade-small is where you want to be, but not so easy to produce a convincing sequence to get there.”

So, plenty of commentary about the bidding and while most are not happy with the “either/or” approach to 2Club-small, it is hard to reach the good spade slam after a 1Spade-small start.



How Good is my hand?


You are playing Teams. The bidding reaches 4Spade-small quickly. Are you a bidder or a passer?


North Deals
N-S Vul
8 7 4 3
Q 10 8 4
K J 7 5 3
W   E
West North East South
  3  Dbl 4 

Richard Solomon

Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • Ryman
  • Tauranga City Council