Today, I will take a break from the beginner bridge columns and discuss a hand that happened at the Kootenay Jewel bridge club.
South opens with 12 high card points in his five-card major, spades. I open with any 12 points and reevaluate my hand as the bidding progresses. The jack of clubs is probably worth zero points at first, but it could prove to be a full point if partner bids notrump or clubs.
North has 20 high card points which puts the partnership in the slam ball park. However, there is a lot of exploring to do first. A jump to 4NT asking for aces over partner’s opening is too hasty.
North makes a forcing call of two diamonds. Whether you play 2 over 1 or Standard American, it is forcing at least one round. Let’s play Standard American.
South does not have six spades so he does not rebid two spades. He cannot rebid a new suit because he has no second suit of four or more cards. He cannot rebid notrump because he does not have a club stopper, however he can raise diamonds with three-card support. Four-card support would be better, but pass is not an option here since partner’s two diamond call not only demands another bid from opener (South), it also promises a rebid by responder (North).
Now North jumps to 4NT asking for keycards (aces and the king of trump) in diamonds. North knows diamonds will never be trump because of the spade fit, but he can see the king and queen of spades in his own hand so there is no point in asking about them.
South tells North he has 1 or 4 keycards with the five club bid. They are playing 1430 to give room for the queen-ask when the response is one keycard. North bids the next step up (five diamonds) asking for the queen of diamonds. Five hearts is no and five spades is yes. North discovers he has all the keycards in both spades, their primary fit, and diamonds, their secondary fit, and asks for kings with a bid of 5NT.
5NT tells South that the partnership has all the diamond keycards (ace, king and queen) and all the other side-suit aces. 5NT is used to try for a grand slam so one is unlikely to be missing a keycard. Sometimes, with this information, South can place the contract in 7NT if he has a solid side-suit of his own. He only has spades, and he tells partner he also has one king.
North and South have all the aces and are missing one king. One does not need all of the kings for 7NT. One needs to be able to count 13 tricks.
Let’s count. There are five spade tricks, five diamond tricks, one heart, one club and a king in either hearts or clubs. That makes 13. North makes the bid of 7NT.
A contract of seven spades is not correct. One does not chance the opponents getting a ruff on the opening lead, no matter how small that chance is, especially when North has no need for short-trump-hand ruffs himself. Furthermore, North and South have all the aces and can count to 13 tricks and are not relying on a void. So 7NT is the correct contract.
The play North wins the opening lead of the jack of hearts. Then he checks how the diamonds split and seeing the split is three-two, claims a grand slam.
-One does not make a grand slam just because one has all of the aces and kings. One makes a grand slam when one can count 13 tricks. All of the aces and kings are simply eight tricks.
-All the bridge columns may be viewed at http://watsongallery.ca