Maritha Pottenger

On August 30, 2018 at Adventures in Bridge everyone loved their slams. Some of them were “better” than others.

Hand 12

West: 75 105 A6432 AQJ10

East: AKQ843 AK95 J7 6

At our table, we passed throughout as North-South. West passed as dealer. Then it went; 1 2; 3 4; 4. East has now shown a BIG hand with six spades and four hearts. West elected to pass. I think the excellent controls are worth another bid. You can just gamble on 6—or you can make the “blame transfer” bid of 5 leaving it up to partner to bid on or not. What does 5 ask?—totally unclear, but it must be a slam try.

Hand #14

West: KJ753 2 J6 A7654

East: 94 A65 AK9 KQJ109

I opened 1NT in the East. South bid 2—showing a single-suited hand. Partner bid 2—transfers are still on when the opponents interfere with a double or 2. I duly bid 2. Partner now bid 3. That shows a second suit—at least four of them, and enough points to be in game (3NT or higher). I looked at my excellent clubs and fabulous controls in the red suits and said 6. No one else bid this slam. Partner did have a wee bit less than I expected and we were very fortunate that the A was onside—although that likely since South had made a bid over my 1NT. Visualizing partner's hand helps you get to good games and slams. Here, I expected partner to have AK and the A if she was only 5-4 in the black suits. I expected her to have the A and either A or KQ if she was 5-5. With any of those hands, 6 is very easy.

Hand #24

West: T 1098 AJ53 KJ974

East: AQ763 AKJ762 A6

Partner passed as dealer and the opponents passed throughout. I opened 1 and partner bid 2 (Drury), showing a 3-card limit raise. I bid 2—ostensibly a “help suit” game try. If partner has spade help, I'm going slamming. Partner bid 3. Unfortunately, in help suit game try tradition that says: “Partner I have mediocre spade help (usually the Queen, Jack, or a doubleton), but I like my raise, and I have good help for you in diamonds. Is that enough for you to bid game?” Basically, it's a counter-offer. (Partner actually thought she was showing the A.) I cue bid 4 anyway—I'm still interested in slam if partner has a doubleton spade, and partner signed off at 4, so I gave up. If partner had understood the second half of help suit game tries, she would have jumped to 4 over my 2 bid and I would have simply bid 6—no point in asking Key Cards with a void and I'll be happy with any Dummy that has three hearts and the K or singleton or void in spades. Or, partner could have bid 4 (delayed cue bid) over my 4 or 4 (definitely cue bid now, NOT help suit) and then 4 over my 4.

Hand #27

North: K1098 5 AK87 AK83

South: J7643 AKQ6 4 QJ5

Partner was South and opened 1. I temporized with 2, not wanting to make a heart splinter with such a big hand. Partner bid 2. I bid 2 (with 2/1, we are in a game force and can explore slowly), and partner jumped to 4—no interest in anything beyond game. I bid 4NT (Roman Key Card for spades) and she bid 5 (showing one Key Card). I then bid 5—asking if she owned the Queen of trumps. She bid 5, denying the Q. So, we were missing the Queen of trumps AND either the A or the A. You are not advised to bid a slam missing one Key Card AND the Queen of trumps. Now, with a known 9 card fit, I could have said—”Oh, the Queen might fall anyway,” and taken a shot at slam. If I had been sure that partner's Ace was the A, I might have bid the slam because now the chances of 2-2 spades OR a singleton Queen are about 52%. However, if partner has the A and we are missing BOTH the Ace and the Queen of trumps, I do not like our chances. If spades are 2-2 or 3-1 with a singleton honor behind my King, partner will have to be really good at guessing when the honors are divided. So, I signed off at 5—which made. Many pairs tried 6 and went down as BOTH the A and the Q are behind my poor K.