Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

To Bid Or Not To Bid … Grand Slams

I am in beautiful San Francisco at the Nationals.  Now I could be enjoying the sights or I could be playing in a national event but actually I am spending a lot of my time in my room working on our system notes or playing bridge with Isabelle on BBO.  Most of my friends here think this is really quite funny.  


Isabelle and I bid some hands in partnership practice.  We usually don’t run into too many problems partly because the hand generator program doesn’t provide much in the way of competitive bidding.  Also we are starting to master our standard sequences.  So I was happy to play when asked in a team game.  It was billed as USA against Spain.  Most of our opponents were Spanish Women Internationalist.   We were pretty successful throughout most of the match and actually only lost imps on one board – but that was a doozy.  Back to that one in a minute.  First one where we did very well.  I give all the credit to Isabelle.  This was her hand

S J H AK10765 D AK984 C A.

Here is the auction:

Isabelle    Linda

1H            1S

2D            3S

4D            4H


Isabelle passed and it turned out to be a fine decision.  My hand was

S AK542 H 93 D 732 C 85

There were no miracle holdings in either red suit so 5 was the limit of the hand.  When 6H was bid in the other room we won 11 imps.  Well done Isabelle.

Okay time for the disaster.  There have not been very many times where I have lost 20 imps on a board and this was one of them.  the sad thing was that we were destined to lose most of them.   Here is the hand from Isabelle’s point of view.  You have S AK4 H KQ965 D K95 CA10. Isabelle opened 1H and 1 bid 2NT showing 4H and at least 16 dummy points.  Isabelle asked me about my shape and I showed a spade singleton.  This is the auction so far

Isabelle    Linda

1H            2NT

3D            4C

at this point Isabelle can ask for controls, cue bid or Blackwood.  She chose the later bidding 4NT.  I responded with 5H, 2 without the trump queen and she bid 5NT showing all the key cards.  I continued to cooperate with 6C the club king.  What now?

We have all the aces and kings, a 5-4 fit and I have a spade ruff.  Here only risk is that she has a diamond loser if the diamond queen is missing.  She knows I have some undisclosed values to make it to 16 dummy points.  Do you bid the grand?  Do you make one more try with 6D.  I guess this bid is looking for something more that is useful.  Isabelle bid the grand, 7H.  Now I have a philosophy that you do not bid grand slams unless you can count 13 tricks but surely if there ever was a hand for it this must be it.  Anyway you get the expected trump lead and I put down this slightly disappointing hand.

S 5 HAJ82 D AJ43 CKJ87.  Don’t you wish you could turn in the three jacks for one queen? 


H KQ965  

D K95 

C A10



S 5        


D AJ43


Now how do you play it.  This looks like one of those deals where if you could see the opponents cards you would make it.  You start off with two rounds of trump, they break 2-2 and a club to the CA.   Watch the club spots for a little hint, West playing the C6 and East the C2.  Now you play the C10 and East sinks into the tank before playing the C3.  Do you finesse?

Isabelle had other plans.  Her idea was to ruff the third club and if the queen didn’t come down hope she had a club diamond squeeze or she could pick up diamonds. 

So she rose CK West following with the C4 and ruffed a club West showing out Isabelle cashds the top spades ruff a spade and played the last 2 trump arriving at this ending leading the last trump.  When west held the CQ Isabelle through dummy’s CJ. 

H 5

D K95




She decided to play East for the DQ and played the DK and another.  When East followed low she knew she was going down.  East held the Q10x of diamonds so you couldn’t pick them up.

Did you finesse the CQ?  Did you notice that West gave count! and that East hesitated with the CQ.  I guess that means that the ladies from Spain are honest types.

Now before you decide with me that you should not bid grand slams, let me point out that they also bid the grand at the other table.  They got the D8 lead and figured out that diamonds were not working so in the end they took the club finesse and made it.  Had we bid only 6 we would have lost 13 imps anyway. 

We did win the match pipping them out 25-20.

1 Comment

Jonathan FergusonNovember 26th, 2007 at 9:05 pm

I disagree that you don’t want to be in the grand here. You had the worst possible hand and the grand is still much better than 50%. As you said, trade in your 3 J’s for say, the Club Queen, and it’s virtually laydown. Are you going to move over 6 Diamonds with that hand? I doubt it. She has a hand that evaluates to a good 20 and you’ve shown 16+ with a fit. This isn’t some hand where your teammates are defending 3N and wondering why you took some silly blind shot at 7.

Playing online, I think you take the % play and ignore hesitations unless you know the people you’re playing against well. I think Izzy’s line was %. She picks up all hands where the Club Q isn’t with Club length, where the Diamond Q is with E, and where the Diamond Q is offside singleton/doubleton (assuming E has Club Q.)

Your teammate’s opening lead was horrible and is what led to the poor result.

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