Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 15th, 2021


David WarheitJune 29th, 2021 at 12:31 pm

I believe that NS should have made it to 7S. Of course, today this contract cannot be made, but it does make if a) S are 2-2 unless E has all 5 C, b) S are 4-0 and C are 3-2 or 4-1 with the singleton J, C c) S are 3-1 and C are 3-2 or 4-1 with the singleton J or the player with 3 S has the 4 C. This is absolutely good enough at duplicate. My questions are: do you agree that 7S is the best contract at any other version of our game, and if so,how should NS bid to get there?

bobbywolffJune 29th, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Hi David,

Yes, and no doubt that a grand slam in spades is the percentage contract, well above the likely 67% usually needed chance at success. Being able to down a 4-1 club split (with the singleton club not the jack) and not a 2-2 spade split offside, (meaning the long spade in the wrong hand) is good enough to champion your contention.

However, for teaching advanced play this type of problem (declarer seizing control of terrible and very much against percentage breaks), 1. heart lead and heart honors offside, 2. bad club split, and 3. horrible spade split all combine to make even a spade small slam in serious jeopardy.

However, this part of the game, although unlikely to occur often, does tend to allow a relative young player (albeit with great potential) to begin to understand the complexity when Dame Fortune appears to go on the warpath against the declarer.

No doubt this pair should have gotten to the very good and percentage grand spade slam, but when they don’t (or even if they do, while playing matchpoints) it will require the above skill mentioned, to take 12 tricks.

With the intention of creating an intelligent sequence to the spade grand slam, let us agree with the first two and 1/2 rounds of bidding and have only South underbid and raise to 5 spades after North has finally shown support,, instead of just bashing 6 (IMO, not necessarily the wrong bid, and it isn’t, at least theoretically today, since the grand becomes impossible to make.

Then perhaps 6 diamonds by North, showing his ace, followed by a key 6 heart cue bid, showing first round control by South, allowing North’s AKQ of clubs to easily now justify bidding the grand.

Of course, in actual play and with today’s improved modern slam bidding tools, no doubt there would be many top pairs who would reach the extremely good grand spade slam, only to be defeated with Dame Fortune’s cruelty. Furthermore, most every excellent pair reaching that contract, (because of its complexity and different bidding strokes for advanced partnership folks) might have, at least, a slightly different bidding path.