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Play Bridge: Improve your slam bidding

"In order to improve one’s slam bidding, one needs to know Gerber and keycard Blackwood well."

Happy Guy Fawkes day. Had Guy learned the game of bridge, he may have stayed out of trouble. However, unfortunately for him, bridge was not known in 1605.

In order to improve one’s slam bidding, one needs to know Gerber and keycard Blackwood well. Gerber is best only after any No Trump opening. Once Four Clubs has been bid, directly over One No Trump, Two No Trump and any No Trump after a Two-Club opening, Five clubs asks for Kings and Four No Trump is to play.

One should also use keycard Blackwood and not regular Blackwood, because the King of trump is just as key as any ace. One also should never use any form of Blackwood when the location not the number of Aces is needed. Typically, one does not use keycard Blackwood with a worthless doubleton or a void.

Cuebidding is a tool one needs. In any auction that is forcing to game where trump has been agreed upon, bids typically show controls, an Ace, a King, a singleton or a void. I think everybody should use the Italian style of cuebidding shown in a column a couple of weeks ago, but first, one should be comfortable with standard cuebidding, which is reviewed in today’s column.

Exclusion Blackwood and Small and Grand Slam forces are also important tools one can eventually add to their arsenal. All of these bids have been covered in past columns.

The bidding: South opens One Diamond and North bids his four-card major. South bids Two Clubs and North sets the trump suit by raising. South cuebids his first round control in diamonds which must be the ace because he cannot be void from the bidding. North skips Three Hearts because he does not have first round control in that suit and bids Three Spades showing first round control there. South suggests Three No Trump which is to play even though they have both expressed slam interest by cuebidding. Serious Three No Trump shows strong slam interest but is usually only after a major fit has been found.

North bids a forcing Four Clubs and South shows the King of Diamonds. North shows the Ace of Spades, and they land in Six Clubs.

The Lead: King of Spades. A Heart lead gives away Six Diamonds or Six No Trump. A minor is certainly not an option here because the opponents are strong there.

The play: Declarer draws trump and runs Diamonds pitching the Spade from dummy. Declarer ruffs a Spade and loses the Ace of Hearts and claims. Note a four-four fit can gain up to two tricks on a five-three fit because the five-card suit allows two discards. Six Clubs is cold and Six Diamonds only makes on a heart or a minor lead.

Result: Six Clubs making for +920.

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