IN March, the Pakistan Bridge Federation organised an international bridge tournament in Karachi. Thirty five teams took part, including two from the UK, two from China and one each from Jordan and Turkey. The winners were the British team of Mike Bell, Alex Hydes and the Hackett twins, Jason and Justin. On deal one Bell and Hydes employed a useful bidding device to avoid an ill-fated slam.
Over two notrumps three spades showed slam interest in one of the minors. Three notrumps allowed Hydes to show which minor. When Bell heard that it was clubs he bid four notrumps to deny great interest. It would have been different if his partner was shopping around for a diamond slam. But his shortage in clubs and his weakness in diamonds did not auger well for a club slam. In this way they avoided a slam that was doomed to fail. Four notrumps easily made with an overtrick.
At the other table, the Pakistani player sitting South charged all the way to six clubs, being unable to check on his partner’s opinion. However, there was no way to avoid losing the ace of diamonds and a club so he was one down.
It reminds me of the hand that haunts Eddie Kantar to this very day. It comes from the 1975 world championship final between Italy and the USA. Who would be world champion for the next two years hinged on the club suit on deal two. Note that the North-South club holding on the two deals is virtually identical. It is only the East-West holding that is slightly different, to Kantar’s great regret.
The auction given is a reasonable way to bid the hand. It would be quite normal for South to have a fling at six clubs, being sure of 32 HCP and with fine shape. In fact the Italians had an accident in the bidding and ended up in seven clubs. Kantar had the West hand and he had visions of beating the grand slam winning his first world championship until dummy went down. With the ace-queen of clubs in dummy, Kantar’s king was dead. Declarer led a club to the queen and cashed the ace to drop the king. Now nothing could stop the Italians from making their very lucky grand slam and clinging on to their world championship. Kantar never did win a world championship.