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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Twice in a Lifetime?

Well, it’s not for me. I am still waiting for the first time. At a time when I thought every South would be reaching for a little used convention locked deep far down in their box of favoured conventions, few did. Would you?

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South Deals
Both Vul








A K J 10 9 6 4 3 2












It’s Pairs. It’s your bid. It’s just wonderful!

I asked the Panel and expected answers like:

Andy Braithwaite “4NT: specific ace ask with 6Heart-small rebid unless partner shows Club-smallA - then 7Heart-small.”

Nigel Kearney “4NT: specific ace ask if we are playing that. Otherwise 2Club-small. If partner has a heart void and the Club-smallA, we will reach a 52% grand but I can't find about his heart void and 52% is ok at matchpoints when almost the entire room will be in at least 6Heart-small.”

Michael Ware “4NT: specific ace Ask. Still pre-empts them out of finding a 6Spade-small dive and will answer the key question. Does partner have the Club-smallA. If so 7Heart-small might still go down but hey its well above the percentage required. If you don't open this 4NT - don't play that convention!”

And explaining the responses to this specific ace ask request is:

Kris Wooles “Specific ace- ask where the responses are 5Club-small=0 5Diamond-small,Heart-small,Spade-small and 6Club-small the ace in the bid suit and 5NT 2 aces.”

Oh, Kris. I thought 5NT was the Club-smallA and 6 levelbids showed two aces. Two ways to play a so rarely used convention!

Some have abandoned this convention:

Michael Cornell “2Club-small: l would have to open 2Club-small, bid hearts a couple of times and unless something good happens bid 6Heart-small. Obviously if available I would open 4NT, specific aces request.

However, as we have not had a hand that we have wanted to do this this century, we use the bid for big minors and we have had a couple of those.”


We have differing views over which action is likely to keep the opponents silent:


Peter Newell “2Club-small: looks like a game force to me. 2Club-small because it gives us the best chance to find out whether partner has the Club-smallA (unless you have an opening bid asking for aces which would be best).  I don't particularly like a 6Heart-small opening bid as that could easily encourage a 6Spade-small dive and gives up on bidding higher. 2Club-small is more pre-emptive and clearer than the quiet 1Heart-small”.

It seems sad that with 12 almost solid tricks in our hand that we have to consider pre-empting our opponents!


Then, we have the direct bidders:

Stephen Blackstock “6Heart-small: Very marginally, and subject to a number of caveats. As 6Heart-small is 52% opposite a heart void and no aces, we clearly want to be there, and if possible reach 7Heart-small if North holds the Club-smallA and enough in trumps to play the suit for no losers. However, we also want to avoid a paying E/W sacrifice, and to give away little information so the wrong lead might concede an overtrick in 6Heart-small. While irrelevant at IMPs, at Pairs stealing an overtrick can be as valuable as bidding a good grand slam.

The main alternative is 2Club-small, giving ample scope to explore the grand. It also gives the opponents scope to find a sacrifice and may well identify which ace will cash against 6Heart-small. On the other hand, how many pairs will save vulnerable at the six level in this country? The disadvantages of 2Club-small will vary depending on the level of the event and the ability (if known) of the opponents. At IMPs I might, with reservations, open 2Club-small, since I wouldn’t want to go to score-up having missed an easy grand by not trying to get there. An opening seeking specific aces (not in my bag) might at least reduce the opportunities to find a save.


A far- out option is to start low and walk the hand, trying to conceal its strength. This isn’t really practical, since starting at 1Heart-small and then bidding all the way to six will alert the most somnolent opponents.”


Bruce Anderson “6Heart-small: For two reasons: it will still have a big chance against a void in hearts and a club loser, and is almost sure to make if partner has one heart. And the bid makes it hard for our opponents if they have a big spade fit and a cheap save, or perhaps 6Spade-small is a make if partner has long diamonds and little else.”


Pam Livingston “6Heart-small: I have a void in the boss suit.  We could miss 7 if partner has Club-smallA but opening 2Club-small (second choice) allows the opponents to get into the auction for a dive.”


So, is it more important to keep the opponents out of the bidding or explore for grand-slam? Although it might not be if our partner has say a preponderance of black cards, the dive was very relevant at the table.


South Deals
Both Vul

9 2

7 5

10 8 6 4 2

K 10 9 7

A K Q 10 8 7 3

9 3

A Q 6 2








J 6 5 4

Q 8

J 7 5

8 5 4 3


A K J 10 9 6 4 3 2



In some ways, the 2Club-small opener might have worked out better for South (we have altered the positions from what they were at the table for ease of readers). West would bid 4Spade-small. Now, if South contented themselves with 5Heart-small, would one of their opponents compete to 5Spade-small…and then with absolutely no regret, South would bid hearts again…and might just buy the contract.


Strangely, only two South players, John Skipper and John Wang, opened 4NT. John Skipper managed to be doubled in 6Heart-small but John Luoni (West) bid on to 6Spade-small after John Wang’s 4NT.

6Spade-smallx is an interesting contract. There are various ways to escape for -800 and John Luoni found one of them. He ruffed the opening heart lead with Spade-small8, drawing trumps and finishing in dummy. A losing club finesse was followed by a second heart ruffed and a diamond exit…and then three top diamonds from South. However, on the third round, John Luoni discarded a small club from the West hand. South was left with a string of hearts and John Luoni discarded a second small club from hand as he ruffed in dummy to escape with losing 3 diamonds and a club..-800.

800 or 1100. That was particularly significant at one table for a very strange reason. Fasten your seat-belts for a South Island special…. Suction!

West          North                   East            South

Somerville Livingston            Buzzard      Tuffnell


4Heart-small               All Pass

Well, is it or is it not? Anne Somerville and Greg Buzzard play Suction where in defence to an opponent’s strong opening (you cannot get much stronger than 2Club-small!), the bid of a suit shows the suit above the suit bid or the two suits above that..

Or that’s what Anne thought! Greg thought it did not apply in this case with a 4-level bid…and Graeme Tuffnell decided to defend. He could not deny Anne one trick which meant +900. So, Graeme and a somewhat bemused Pam Livingston would have appreciated those in 6Spade-smallx who had conceded 1100 rather than 800.

For the record, of the 30 tables, 6Heart-smallx was the contract 7 times. 8 times 6Heart-small was undoubled, once with an overtrick. 6Spade-small was doubled for 1100 4 times and 800 3 times.

Of the rest, a couple of times 5Heart-small was passed out and others played spade contracts undoubled while one North-South pair were unsuccessful in 7Heart-small. Club-smallA struck the table at trick 1!

We reported last year on a successful 4NT opener by Jane and John Skipper. Here is number 2. Like me, you may still be waiting to make this bid for the first time.

Once more tomorrow is Fri yay 2.pngDay for our newer players.

Richard Solomon                             


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