Balanced hands have eternal losers
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!