One of my greatest pleasures in bridge comes when my partner and I succeed in a hand that leaves our opponents in a protracted discussion with each other. I enjoyed a fine example of that today, Monday, Jan. 23, at the Airport Bridge Club.
As the dealer on Board 2, sitting East with a miserable 4 high card points, I began the bidding with a pass. Marietta Kalman, sitting South, opened 1 Diamond, if I’m not mistaken, then went to No Trump. My partner, Joyce Greenspan, who was West, inserted a Heart bid somewhere. North, Carole Bedell (I originally identified you as Barbara Landree -- sorry, Barb, it was late) threw in some Spades and nudged things into slam territory with a bid of 6 Clubs.
I bid 6 Hearts, figuring that we could take maybe seven tricks. They were vulnerable, we weren't. Carole went to 6 Spades. Hmm. A small slam would give them 1,430 points. Seven Hearts doubled, down five or even six, would cost us less. I bid 7 Hearts. Marietta doubled.
Undeterred, Carole went to 7 No Trump, figuring that they would make it and get a better score. It also left Marietta with a contract she did not want to play. Here are the hands:
Spades: Q-6; Hearts: Q-J; Diamonds: A-Q-J-7-4; Clubs: A-8-6-5.
Spades: 8-7-2; Hearts: K-10-9-8-4-3-2; Diamonds: K; Clubs: J-4.
Spades: A-K-J-10-9-3; Hearts: A-6; Diamonds: 9; Clubs: Q-9-7-2.
Spades: 5-4; Hearts: 7-5; Diamonds: 10-8-6-5-3-2; Clubs: K-10-3.
Joyce led a low Heart, of course, taken by the dummy’s Ace, but a few cards later she allowed my King of Clubs to win a trick. I laid down my remaining Heart and Joyce ran her suit. Down six. A top board for us. Marietta and Carole were still debating the hand two hours later when the session was over.
Worse yet, the hand record shows that a grand slam can be made in either Spades or No Trump. Six clubs also is makeable. Had we bid Hearts, according to the hand record, we would have taken only six tricks. Down seven would have been a minus 1,700.
Despite what the hand record promised, nobody who bid slam made one. A six Spade bidder went down one. A six Club bidder went down two. One of the three four Spade bidders won 12 tricks, but the other two only took 11.
The winning strategy, however, seems to involve capitalizing on a couple lucky breaks – the West’s singleton King of Diamonds falling on the Ace and the King of Hearts being a sitting duck. So there are six guaranteed Spade tricks, two more in Hearts, the Ace of Clubs and a successful squeeze to produce a fourth Diamond trick.
That would be easy if the bid was 6 Spades or 6 NT. Playing at 7 NT, however, Marietta didn’t have the luxury of seeing whether the King of Diamonds would drop. Nor did she apparently feel secure in assuming that Joyce held the King of Hearts, since she put up the dummy’s Ace on the opening lead. In any event, she should have run the Spades before venturing into the minor suits.