BRIDGE MASTERCLASS

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SLAM bid­ding is un­der­stand­ably the most dif­fi­cult part of a part­ner­ship’s game, be­cause the oc­ca­sions to prac­tise arise so rarely.

Look at these hands from the lat­est Si­mul­ta­ne­ous Pairs event and you can see that a slam in hearts is odds on to make. Yet only 80 pairs out of 200 reached 6 ♥ . this dread­ful statis­tic sug­gests that ei­ther the stan­dard in these events is poor, or pairs need to im­prove their hand eval­u­a­tion.

there are sev­eral straight­for­ward routes to 6 ♥ and, be­cause this is such an ex­cel­lent il­lus­tra­tion, I’ll dis­cuss the op­tions over the next cou­ple of days.

First of all, when West makes the nor­mal 1 ♥ open­ing, east should get ex­cited and al­ready start to think of slam pos­si­bil­i­ties. Af­ter a 1 ♠ re­sponse, West’s more con­struc­tive re­bid is 2 ♦ , though I can un­der­stand those who will pre­fer to re­peat their long, strong suit.

Af­ter 2 ♦ , east is much too strong to show heart pref­er­ence at this stage and in­stead should make the Fourth Suit Forc­ing bid of 3 ♣ , ask­ing part­ner to de­scribe his hand fur­ther.

now, for his part, east must be care­ful not to make just a sim­ple re­bid of hearts — he must jump to 4 ♥ . the rest will then be easy!

When West de­cides to con­ceal his sec­ond suit ( ♦ ) and re­bids hearts, he must jump to 3 ♥ to show his ex­tra strength in the suit.

And again, east should re­spond in clubs, but this time 4 ♣ is a cue bid, show­ing ♣ A and im­plic­itly agree­ing hearts. West will then show his ♦A (4 ♦ ), and the rest will be a for­mal­ity. there is even a dan­ger of reach­ing the Grand!

You’ll no­tice that, in both cases, each part­ner has shown bet­ter than min­i­mum val­ues, thus mak­ing a slam in­evitable (con­tin­ued to­mor­row).

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