When the caller Thursday evening said she was Diane, I thought it was my partner from earlier in the day, Dianne Bloom. But no, different phone number, although it seemed familiar. It was Diane Belinski, whose number I’d put in the newspaper along with the information for the Slam Zone game on July 21 at the Bridge Center of Buffalo.
I’d like to play in the Slam Zone game one of these days – a game in which every game apparently is a slam. But the timing is wrong on July 21. Play starts at 2 p.m., won’t be done until after 5. And I have to work that night. Too late to make it to work by my appointed 5 p.m. starting time, or even half an hour after my appointed starting time. And too late to ask for that night off without causing serious distress.
At any rate, during our chat, I was surprised to learn that people at the Bridge Center had been collecting slam hands all year. Couldn’t you just set the dial for Slam on the club’s dealing machine, I asked, and get a whole bunch of them automatically. No, Diane said, it doesn’t work like that.
Lo and behold, we had a little Slam Zone ourselves Friday at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines. Two of them were ours. One belonged to the opponents. None of them were successful, although one of them could have been if it was played in the right suit. Here they are:
Board 19, South is dealer, East-West (us) vulnerable
Spades: Q; Hearts: K-J-6-5; Diamonds: K-9-2; Clubs: 10-8-4-3-2
Spades: None; Hearts: 10-9-8-4-3; Diamonds: A-10-5-3; Clubs: K-Q-J-9
Spades: J-8-7-3-2; Hearts: 7; Diamonds: Q-J-8-6-4; Clubs: 6-5
West (me)Spades: A-K-10-9-6-5-4; Hearts: A-Q-2; Diamonds: 7; Clubs: A-7
South passed and, intoxicated by the 17 high card points and the distribution, I bid 1 Spade but was aspiring to much, much more. Selina bid 2 Hearts and, with visions of only a Diamond loser, I jumped to 4 No Trump to ask for Aces. She bid 5 Diamonds. One Ace. Perfect. I went straight to 6 Spades.
Not perfect, as I discovered when I drew the first round of trump. I only took 10 tricks – down two. Three other pairs went down two on that hand. One unlucky twosome had a minus 800, which would have been down three doubled vulnerable. Best it does is 5 Spades or 5 Hearts, according to the hand summary.
Board 21, North is dealer, North-South vulnerable
Spades: 10; Hearts: Q-7-3-2; Diamonds: 10-4; Clubs: A-Q-10-9-8-5
Spades: J-6-4; Hearts: K-10-9-6; Diamonds: K-5; Clubs: K-J-6-4
Spades: Q-8-7-5-3-2; Hearts: 8; Diamonds: 9-7-6-3-2; Clubs: 3
Spades: A-K-9; Hearts: A-J-5-4; Diamonds: A-Q-J-8; Clubs: 7-2Too strong for a 1 No Trump opener, I started with 1 Diamond and watched approvingly as Selina put down a 1 Heart bid. Hearts looked good to me, so whamo! 4 No Trump. This time Selina bid 5 Clubs. No Aces. That’s OK, I have plenty for both of us. Six Hearts! We went down before we could draw a breath. South led the singleton Club. North took the Ace, returned a Club and South won with a trump. We also lost a couple more trump tricks down the line. According to the hand record, it makes 6 No Trump, but only 5 Hearts or 5 Diamonds. That was a bottom board for us. Nobody else tried for the slam, but four of them made 6 NT.
Board 22, East is dealer, East-West vulnerable
On the heels of the previous hand, the bid here zipped up to the Slam Zone right away, 6 No Trump, this time courtesy of the opponents, who were a little uncertain once they landed it. South was declarer, but North, with 17 high card points, couldn’t resist going all the way.
NorthSpades: A-8-6-3; Hearts: A-J-10-6; Diamonds: Q-J-8; Clubs: A-J
East (Selina)Spades: 10-5-4; Hearts: Q-9-4; Diamonds: 9-5-2; Clubs: 7-6-3-2
SouthSpades: Q-J-2; Hearts: 7-5; Diamonds: A-K-7-4; Clubs: Q-10-5-4
West (me)Spades: K-9-7; Hearts: K-8-3-2; Diamonds: 10-6-3; Clubs: K-9-8
Although No Trump defense dictates leading the fourth card from your longest and strongest suit, I didn’t want to underlead any of my Kings. So it was a Diamond, which turned out to be the least harmful choice. In the end, my Kings turned out to be good and North-South was down two vulnerable. According to the hand records, North-South should make five in every suit except Hearts, which makes four. In the actual play, two North-Souths made 6 NT, but they bid only 3 NT.