Bal­anced hands have eternal losers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - GOINGS ON -

Fran Le­bowitz said, “Food is an im­por­tant part of a bal­anced diet.”

As men­tioned yes­ter­day, it usu­ally pays to be cir­cum­spect when you are think­ing about a slam with a bal­anced hand. Your losers tend to hang around. With two bal­anced hands, go with the com­bined point-count guide­lines: 33 for a small slam and 37 for grand (if the three miss­ing points are not a king). With an un­bal­anced hand op­po­site a bal­anced col­lec­tion, it can be dif­fi­cult to judge un­less the un­bal­anced hand holder can count win­ners.

This deal was played 15 times at Bridge Base On­line. Nine of the North-South pairs reached seven di­a­monds. In this auc­tion, which was pop­u­lar, North’s four-club response was a splin­ter bid, show­ing a big di­a­mond fit, game-go­ing val­ues or bet­ter and at most one club. South im­me­di­ately launched Ro­man Key Card Black­wood, tak­ing the rea­son­able gam­ble that North had a spade con­trol. When North showed the three miss­ing aces, South in­vited seven. After North de­nied a side-suit king, South should have passed, but went on to seven di­a­monds.

Yes, seven di­a­monds had play, be­ing all on the spade fi­nesse. Here it lost — luck­ily or un­luck­ily, de­pend­ing on where one was sit­ting.

Five pairs were in six di­a­monds, three of them after suf­fer­ing in­ter­fer­ence from West. One pair stopped in four no-trump after South opened two no-trump, and North raised to four no-trump. (Pre­sum­ably this part­ner­ship had no way to de­scribe North’s hand. Do you?)

This is the key rule: Only bid a slam on a fi­nesse when that fi­nesse is work­ing!

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