Maritha Pottenger

Hands are from Adventures in Bridge, September 14, 2018.

Hand #11

North: AKQ97 1095 Q AK64

South: J8653 AK754 J83

I suspect our auction was not duplicated at the other tables. Partner opened the South hand 1. We have discussed how much to stretch in terms of Losing Trick Count when making opening bids. Our current agreement is that a minimum of 9 HCP are needed. More importantly, the hand MUST include two quick tricks. So, this hand meets those criteria. Plus, all my partners are encouraged to be aggressive with the “boss” suit of spades.

West passed. I could have splintered into 4, but I was concerned that partner might have wasted diamond cards—where are his points, after all?—and would sign off because I KNOW his spades are horrible. So, I bid 2—a suit he is sure to be worried about because I am looking at the Ace and King. East jumped to 3. East is a wild bidder, so he could easily have only six hearts on this auction. Partner passed and West upped the ante to 4. I could have asked for Aces, but figured the opponents might interfere with that as well. I could have bid 5—which tells partner to bid 6 if he does NOT have two quick heart losers, but I felt that was risky. I had so much, partner might be afraid to bid slam with his bad spades. On this auction, partner is almost guaranted to have a singleton (or void) in hearts. So, I simply bid 6. (There is no way to find out if he has the “magic” hand that will make 7.) Since spades are 3-0 and diamonds are 6-1, there is no legitimate play for 7.

If South passes originally, West will pass, and I will open 1. East may or may not bid 2 or 3 on that variation. Regardless, South should bid 4—a splinter in support of spades—showing a hand that is now the equivalent of an opening hand with distribution. If I ask for Key Cards, he will bid 6—showing 1 (or 3) Key Cards and a heart void. We will again play 6.

Most common agreement regarding showing voids in response to Roman Key Card Blackwood is that 5NT shows two Key Cards and a working void; 6 shows an odd number of Key Cards and a club void as long as clubs are not trump—otherwise some other void. 6 shows an odd number of Key Cards and a diamond void if hearts or spades are trump, and a major-suit void if diamonds are trump. 6 shows a heart void if spades are trump and a spade void if hearts are trump. Basically, you bid your void if it is BELOW your trump suit. You bid 6 of your trump suit if your void is higher than your trump suit.

Hand #23

West: Q1082 AJ10954 AK9

East: AKJ9 AK7 KQ96 62

At our table, West opened 1. East bid 1 and West jumped to 3. (By losing trick count, she has a five loser hand now.) East went immediately to 4NT and West showed two Key Cards with a void by bidding 5NT. Unfortunately, that meant East could no longer find out about the Queen of trump, so finding 7 was off the table.

If instead West bids 5 (2 Key Cards and the Q), East can now ask for Kings. West will show the K (specific Kings) OR one King (straight Blackwood), which East knows is the K. At that point, East can bid 7. The logic is: partner has JUMP raised your suit—showing the equivalent of 16-18, factoring in distribution. Partner has shown up with only 13 HCP so far. So, partner either has a singleton heart as part of her values (most likely) and/or a long (5 or 6 card) diamond suit. In either case, there is place to pitch your losing heart. You expect to take four spade tricks in your hand, the AK, at least four diamond tricks, and two heart tricks, with the 13th trick coming either from a heart ruff in Dummy or a discard on partner's long diamond suit. [If partner jumped on a balanced 16 HCP hand with 4=3=4=2 distribution, then she probably has the Q to cover your heart loser.]

I believe this hand is a strong argument for NOT showing your void when you have two Key Cards AND the Queen of trumps—it might keep you from a grand slam.