Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 15th, 2021


Iain ClimieMarch 1st, 2021 at 10:42 am

Hi Bobby,

Should South bid 5N here, presumably accepting the slam invitation (nobody wants to play 5N after all) and giving North the option to suggest choice of slams by bidding 4-card or longer suits upwards? I wondered if N should bid 5N with a similar meaning but there seems to be a danger then that South might think North was temporizing with the initial reply and offering a choice of 6N or 7N.

South got lucky today but the potential swings from getting such hands right or wrong are huge.



Iain ClimieMarch 1st, 2021 at 10:44 am

Having said that, North might still decide that the flat shape and modest clubs justified bidding 6N over 5N anyway.


Steve ConradMarch 1st, 2021 at 2:18 pm

Hi Iain,

When I teach, I try to get people to use minor suit Stayman. I have been working on bidding that way for about a decade. Recently, Gavin Wolpert presented a nice little tidbit about it. For 4-card suit, he too bids 5N first. If he bids a minor directly over 4N, it shows a 5-card suit if bid at the 5-level and a 6-card minor suit if bid at the 6-level. And, as you suggested, he bids 5NT to ask for 4-card suits up the line. I am surprised that a young player who plays as well as this Dutch player did not try for a minor suit slam.

Iain ClimieMarch 1st, 2021 at 4:05 pm

Hi Steve,

Thanks for that, good stuff and it makes sense. I can understand North taking a simpler approach to be fair.



bobbywolffMarch 1st, 2021 at 4:27 pm

Hi Iain & Steve,

Remember the long ago, but popular love song, “Little Things Mean a Lot” it, probably more often than recognized, often occurs in bridge and thus “winners” out of “losers”.

Especially at IMPs (and, of course rubber bridge) instead of matchpoints where making one’s contract, instead of aiming at a slightly higher total score, ranks supreme.

True, on today’s hand, I may have been reluctant to do anything but pass, partner’s 3NT rebid while being North with only 3 queens, but holding the dreaded 3-3-3-4 distribution and it becomes somewhat ironic that the heart ten, possibly North’s excuse for bidding on, became the contract making trick.

However, I do think it clear that first South accept his partner’s invitation to a slam, but yes, raise to 5NT a definite partnership acceptance of the small slam and asking partner to bid 4 card suits up the line.

The big reason for doing so is of course the spade holding of the doubleton KQ, which (unless catching an unlucky mirror doubleton spade with partner, signaled the best chance for the crucial twelfth and contract making trick). And so it would become, not having to deal with an always “chancy” finesse for success.

Finally, when and while playing against a very top world player and seeing the jack ten of spades being discarded, I would still be very suspect of those spades being a giant ruse with West starting with also the spade nine and only three small hearts originally.

The above hand represents what is so exciting, not to mention extremely challenging, with our great game, forgetting the exact percentages, almost not applicable, but being at the table (better to be in the same room than in separate ones, which is now in the process of being established for high-level play, mainly to help make it more difficult to cheat).

However, yes I can understand that worthy purpose, but it is still a total shame that only a small percentage of cheaters will become such a large factor in destroying what I thought, was such an important factor in determining winning and exciting psychology (similar to the chief asset in poker) among the elite in bridge.

Thanks to both of you for first bringing up this discussion and then important contributions.