I discovered the other day that the Gambling 3NT opening bid can produce fantastic results. I was playing in a regional open pairs game with Sigrid Price. Sigrid is a fine player that I am developing a partnership with.
A Gambling 3NT opening bid shows a solid minor suit of at least 7 cards with no ace or king on the side. If you have only 7, they have to be headed by AKQJ. If you have 8, it is acceptable for the suit to be headed by the AK as the suit normally splits 2-2-1 around the table.
Sigrid opened 3NT in first seat, passed to me. I was looking at
We clearly had at least 12 tricks - her diamonds and my quick tricks. A thirteenth trick could be made if she had the side queen of spades or clubs, if she had 8 diamonds (in that case she would have to have the AKQ or possibly AKJ if the queen drops doubleton), or if the jack of clubs can score either by ruffing out the queen or a finesse. It looked like I would have 2 or 3 entries to my hand to try and work on the clubs, but it wasn't certain that there would be enough. The only tool I had available to find out more about her hand was to use 4D to ask if she had a short suit. In this case, that information would not help me decide the likelihood of any of these possibilities unless she showed me short clubs, but even then it wouldn't change the odds very much. So what would you do? Decide before reading on.
The one thing you surely do not want to do is pass or bid any number of no-trump. If you even for a split second considered doing so, slap yourself. In no-trump, you will either make 7 if partner has the side queen of spades or clubs, or go down in flames since you can never reach dummy. The only real options are to bid 6 or 7 diamonds. I decided that the combined chances of making the 13th trick were good enough, so I went for it and bid 7 diamonds.
Life was good. Partner tabled
The eight-carder got me to 13 easily. I just got to dummy with a spade ruff, drew trumps and claimed. (Trumps split 3-2 as expected.) This result was worth all 17 matchpoints with a 17 top, and helped us to a nice fifth place finish.