I picked up quite a strong hand yesterday in a pair game and opened 1♠:
I was extraordinarily pleased to hear partner bid 3♠, which we play as a limit raise (showing 8 losers). Now that we had a fit I counted my losers and saw that I had a 5-loser hand, 4 losers if you subtract a loser for the two aces. One thing was certain: we were in the slam zone.
I cuebid 4♣, trying to learn more about partner's hand. He responded with a bid of 4♠. On one hand this bid was disappointing, because he failed to show the king of hearts, but on the other hand, it was encouraging because he failed to show the ace of diamonds, which meant that we had no wasted values in diamonds.
I bid 4NT, RKC, and he responded 5♣, showing one control--which I assumed was the A♠. I made one more try by bidding 5♦ (the next step), asking about the queen of trumps. If he had the queen he could show it, along with a king in a side suit, by bidding the suit his king was in at the 5-level. A bid of 5♥, for example, would have confirmed possession of the Q♠ and also shown the K♥, a bid that would have definitely propelled us to slam. Alas, he responded 5♠, denying the Q♠.
As he had made a series of discouraging bids subsequent to his initial limit raise, I reluctantly gave up the search for slam and passed 5♠.
A heart was led and the dummy was about what I expected:
I won the 10♥ with the jack and pondered the situation. I couldn't really tell where the K♥ was and whether we had a heart loser or not. I decided to play trumps from my hand first, in order to wind up on the board at some point to take a heart finesse. All followed to the K♠ and RHO showed out on the A♠, discarding an encouraging diamond. We had a spade loser.
At this point there were options. In a team game it would probably be best to cash the A♥ and start a cross-ruff, a plan which would guarantee the contract. In a pair game, I hated to give up on the possible extra trick in hearts, however, even if it meant there was a small chance of going down.
I therefore took the heart finesse which lost. LHO could now have caused me some grief by cashing the Q♠, but instead she played a diamond to the jack and queen which I ruffed. I now attempted a cross-ruff, but LHO ruffed the second club honor. Her play was immaterial at this point as I was able to ruff two of my losing clubs and pitch the third one on the Q♥.
As it turned out, half of the field had minus scores, so our plus 450 turned out to be well above average.
See you at the table!