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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

strikes twice?

Lightning on a summer’s day?

Yesterday, we started the New Year off with a lost slam opportunity. It is always a pity to miss a really cold slam. What then of today’s offering? Will lightning strike twice so early in the year?

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

     

North Deals
E-W Vul

 

N

W

 

E

S

   
 

8 5

A K 2

4

A K 9 8 6 5 2

 

West

North

East

South

 

1 

2 

3 ♣

Pass

3 

Pass

?

2H is Michael’s style, at least 5 cards in each of spades and a minor, 9+ high card points, certainly a reasonable hand in view of the vulnerability.

There is one big problem with respect to our being in slam, well perhaps two. Our spade holding is very suspect and we need to know partner can win a trick quickly in that suit while we also want to ensure we are not off two aces. Highlighting the spade problem is:

Michael Cornell “3Spade-small: can only bid 3Spade-small forcing and my next bid will be 5Heart-small, obviously looking for a spade control.

If partner has Spade-smallK but not Diamond-smallA, we are overboard! However, if he has just both aces and Heart-smallQxxxxx, I want to be in 7Heart-small so I must make a slam try.”

 

Highlighting the same trick-taking potential differential but reaching a rather different conclusion is (welcome back. Patrick)

 

Pat Carter “4Heart-small: Spade-smallQx Heart-smallQJ10xxx Diamond-smallKQJ Club-smallQx will make only 10 tricks while

                              Spade-smallAx Heart-smallQJ10xxx Diamond-smallAxx Club-smallQx will make 13 tricks

If 4Club-small was a cue bid agreeing hearts then I would choose that. However, I can't recall making this agreement with anyone. I can imagine partner bidding 5Club-small with either of the two hands I quoted.

That certainly won't help matters so I must choose a conservative 4Heart-small. Presuming that we are playing 5 card majors I would have bid 4Diamond-small last time Yes, I would have liked a 4th heart, but it would make the bidding a lot easier.”

Also bemoaning our previous action but a little more positive now is:

Nigel Kearney “4Diamond-small: A cue bid with heart support and slam interest. Lots of awkward auctions happen when you don't show support immediately, but here 4Diamond-small cannot be natural so we have survived and can get back on track.”

 

4Diamond-small would seem to answer Patrick’s concerns. Agreeing are:

Bruce Anderson “4Diamond-small: East has shown a good hand with spades and diamonds, so partner should read my bid as agreeing hearts and showing control in diamonds. Over 4Heart-small, I will pass as in all probability we are off at least Spade-smallAK. Over 4Spade-small, I will use RKC and bid the slam when partner confirms that they have at least one ace.”

 

 

Stephen Blackstock : 4Diamond-small. This is the only slam try for hearts I have available with this hand, 3Spade-small would be either a no trump probe or an advance cue bid. A splinter in diamonds would be more descriptive but there is no guarantee of safety at the five level, especially given the bad breaks suggested by East’s two suiter.

 

Peter Newell “4Diamond-small: cue - can’t really be natural when the opponents have usually shown diamonds - I have a good hand if partner has a spade control and some sort of club fit - with such great heart support have to start moving. If partner bids 4Heart-small I will pass but over 4Spade-small I will key card.”

Cue or splinter, 4Diamond-small should be forcing and unnatural (5-7 in the minors just does not happen, does it?!)

 

Andy Braithwaite “4Diamond-small: hopefully a splinter agreeing hearts without a spade control.”

The implication is that 3Spade-small would be a cue-bid. I am not so sure of that and neither is Pam:

 

Pam Livingston “3Spade-small: asking for a spade stop or showing a good raise of hearts. If partner bids 3NT, then a bid of 4Heart-small by me shows slam interest.”

I agree but does it show enough interest holding AKx of trumps and AK to seven of our own suit? It seems Michael Cornell’s jump to 5Heart-small highlights both the problem and the potential of our hand.

 

So, which of Michael and Patrick’s two hands did our partner have? The answer, of course, was neither but one with some potential:

North Deals
E-W Vul

K 2

Q 10 8 5 4 3

A Q J 9

10

J 10 9 4

J 9

8 5 3

Q 7 4 3

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

A Q 7 6 3

7 6

K 10 7 6 2

J

 

8 5

A K 2

4

A K 9 8 6 5 2

 

West

North

East

South

 

1 

2 

3 ♣

Pass

3 

Pass

3 ♠

Pass

3 NT

Pass

5 

Pass

6 

All pass

 

The above is the sequence Michael Cornell envisaged. Would our partner have ventured 4Spade-small had we bid 4Diamond-small? Had they not (and there were plenty of reasons not to), then the slam would surely have been missed.

How good is the slam? Pretty good when clubs break 3-2 and trumps are no worse than 3-1. As you can see, it can also make sometimes when clubs are 4-1!

Say Club-smallJ lead which should be followed by 2 rounds of trumps finishing in dummy. Now the other top club and it is all over for the defence. Only the initial Spade-smallA lead earns a trick for the defence.

now or never 2.jpg

for a defensive trick!

 

That was the message yesterday, too, in defence to a cold slam when you hold an ace. As Mike Cornell and Pat Carter pointed out, 12 tricks were by no means certain but 13 on some days were ice cold. Would your bidding have identified which day this was? Only 2 of our 27 pairs made it to slam this time.

 

Richard Solomon

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