Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

It’s Only a Board!

Waiting for my sister to go with me to the farmner’s market this Saturday I logged on to BBO to catch a couple of boards of the TGR auction pairs.  The first board I saw was quite a douzy.   I am not giving names to protect the protaganists who were very fine players, most of the time.

North held this hand vulnerable against not.


♠ 103
♥ Q8752
♦ 4
♣ J8432  

On his right he heard 1♦ and his partner bid 3♣  preemptive.  It went 3♥  to him.  What now?  Do you like 4♣ ?  Maybe 5♣  is better but you do hate the vulnerability.  Pass of course is possible too.  Anyway he bid 4♣ . 

Now it was East’s turn.  East held


 Partner obviously has a good hand for his “free” 3  bid and the J9 of hearts look like help.  East also has a spade suit that can play opposite a doubleton small and six diamonds.  There are certainly many slams possible.  North-South are vulnerable and they are bidding clubs so it seems likely they have the club honors.  Partner could easily have most of the top red cards.  BUT, what to bid? You do have some heart support but you don’t want to commit to hearts.  Besides 4  is an underbid.  You could bid 4 but that “loses” the spade suit (at least for now).  4  should show 6-5 but may not suggest slam.  I understand this is a problem but I personally do not like the bid East chose which was …….. 5NT which was passed to West.

 Now here is West’s hand.


♠  842
♥  AK1043 
♦  AKJ8
♣  K

Let’s think about the auction from West’s perspective.  Remember the earlier part of the auction


West North East South
    1♦ 3♣ 
3♥  4♣   5NT  Pass

What does partner have for 5NT?  What does 5NT mean?  Obviously it is some sort of grand slam try.   Surely it is not just a grand slam bid in hearts saying bid the grand slam in hearts with two of the top three honors since partner is known to be missing the AK of diamonds too.   Partner must mean this as showing a great hand.  I can think of two possible reasons for this bid.  Partner has excellent heart support and wants to try for a grand in hearts.  Partner has moderate hearts and diamonds and wants to go responder a choice of slams.

Partner must have a first round control in clubs and since he is missing all these red suit cards top spades and most of the missing red honors.  Let’s try to imagine a hand that makes sense of this auction. 

A) Partner is trying for the heart grand

♠  AKQ
♥  QJxx 
♦  Qxxx
♣ Ax  

B) Partner wants responder to pick a slam

 ♠  AKx
♥  QJx 
♦  Qxxxxx
♣ A  

What if partner had bid 5  over 4♣ or even 6♣ over 4  what would that have been?  Somehow I think that with good heart support partner might cuebid clubs.  So I think hand B) is more likely.  Maybe your partnerhsip has discussed this – good for you!

But does West have to figure it out.  Whatever type of hand partner has a grand seems likely so if West bids 7♣ over 5NT he lets partner pick the grand. 

North passed and it was up to East now to sort out what to do over 7♣.  It seems to me that partner is giving you a chose of red suits since if diamonds or hearts was clearcut from his hand he would have bid it.  I personally would have bid 7 now.  If partner’s hearts are good enough he would have already bid 7  I think.  But then again who knows.  I am sweating here.  East had a different vision and bid 7 . 

Do you like all of this so far?  7  was passed to North who now made a really awful call.   I remember an expression we had in the old days, “I stood on my chair and passed”.  The opponents have arrived in one of the few contracts North KNOWS he can beat.  But he didn’t pass, he doubled.  Is this the effect of playing pairs?

East decided correctly that North had a heart stack abnd so he bid 7 . Beating this one was not so clear for North.  South passed and it looked like North had changed a great board into a terrible one.  But now West started to think.   I imagine it went along these lines.  If East’s spades were that good why didn’t he bid them?  We could be on a 4-3.  Partner surely has a club control and gee I hope it’s the ace??!  Yes, West bid 7NT and this one South who had the ♣A could double and this one went 7 down.

 Here is the whole deal and the auction.



♠ 103
♥ Q8752
♦ 4
♣ J8432   
♠  842
♥  AK1043 
♦  AKJ8
♣  K
 ♠ AKQJ9
♥ J9 
♦ Q107652 
♣ – 



West North East South
    1♦ 3♣ 
3♥  4♣  5NT  Pass
 7♣  Pass  7♥  Pass 
Pass DBL 7  Pass
7NT Pass Pass DBL
All Pass      


The only good news for East-West was that since this was pairs it was “just one board”.


Jeff LehmanJanuary 14th, 2012 at 10:07 pm

There are many questionable calls:

I like 5C by North, even at the prevailing colors, which were presumably noticed by his partner, too.

As East, I would just have bid 4S over the actual 4C.

As West, I would have taken 5NT not as a grand slam try, but as a “pick a slam” call, with moderate heart support such as Hx and excellent diamonds and, of course, an extra value hand … maybe AKxx, Qx, AQJxxx, x. Of course, none of that makes sense what with West having all the top diamonds. And so it would take me awhile to guess what East had in mind. I would mentally shrug and guess to bid 6D … but I really do not understand what my partner is doing.

The rest of the calls are pretty much beyond comment.

Cam FrenchJanuary 23rd, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I can see why you omitted the names. 🙂
5NT jammed the auction unduly, and as for the rest, some things like Jeff said – are best left unsaid.

I saw on Bridge-o-Rama (but I won’t delete the names) Martel-Stansby (I forget which one did the doubling) double Paul Soloway in 6D with a trump stack. Soloway wisely retreated to the cold 6NT.

I love your expression – not heard that before.


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