Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Grand Slam Bidding Tactics

 It's always fun and exciting to bid (and make!) a grand slam.  Here are a couple that came up this week, playing with the BBO robots.

The first one is from a BBO Challenge that I issued to my friend Bob Klein. This is a fun feature I recently discovered.  You and the person you challenge play the same 8 boards at your own convenience. After they are concluded, BBO posts the scores, including the result on each board.  You have 2 or 3 days to respond to and finish the challenge. It's interesting tactically to compete against only one person.

When my robot partner, North, opened 1, I certainly envisioned slam with my 17 count, 5-loser hand. I started with a game-forcing 2, then North made an interesting 3 bid, described as a strong 5-5 or better hand. I now showed my spade support with 3♠, and North bid 4.  I elected to take control with 4NT, RKC, and was pleased with the 5 response which showed two controls (known to be aces) plus the trump queen.

With nothing to lose, I tried 5NT, inquiring about kings.  North responded 6, showing the K.  This was enough for me to jump to 7. Perhaps the diamonds would set up if I needed more tricks.

East led a diamond.  I discarded a heart from North on the A and paused to count my tricks. It looked like I would be able to pitch four hearts on the minor suit winners, barring any terrible breaks. I started with a spade to the A, followed by the Q, RHO showing out.

Now I unblocked the K and J from the North hand and came back to my hand with the ♠K, drawing the last trump. So far, so good.  Now I could throw the other three hearts on the ace and queen of clubs and the king of diamonds.  The score of 2210 felt very good.  I wondered whether Bob would get there.

The next day the scores came out and it was a push board.  We both bid the grand! The match was very close with mostly push boards, but I won a few IMPs on a part-score hand.

2. This next hand, from an instant IMP game, illustrates two bidding tactics:  a) how to attempt to recover after a misbid and b) how to bid when you are behind in the match.

As I sat there admiring my 24 point, 3-loser hand and thinking about how to proceed, I noticed that the bidding had started without me!  Apparently my finger slipped and I accidentally opened 1 (instead of 2)! Robot Partner bid 1 and now I was in a fix.  Could I recover, and if so, how? Perhaps a convoluted RKC auction, including king inquiries, would give me the information I needed. 

The factor that tipped the balance was the state of the match.  This was board 10 (of 12) and my score wasn't very good.  I needed a high-scoring board to finish in the money.  It was late and I didn't want to bother with a long auction, so I just jumped to 7 and hoped for the best!

East led a club and the whole hand depended on the spade finesse.  After drawing trump I led a spade to the queen and it held!  13 tricks was an easy matter, and the score of 2210 was worth 12 IMPs and catapulted me to third place.

Bridge can keep us entertained even when we're just sitting at home!

See you at the table!