Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Bidding Grand Slams

I have this philosophy.  It is not worth bidding grand slams at teams unless you can count 13 tricks.  This all started when I lost a big match when we bid a grand slam and the opponents at the other table played in game.  Now the grand slam was actually cold on the hand but my partner succumbed to the pressure and went down.   SInce then quite a few times when I have bid a grand or might have bid a grand I have had a similar experience … no slam at the other table.  So now I am very cautious.  Of course when you are playing for fun you can be bolder.

On this hand on BBO John Cook put Pamela Nisbett into a grand slam and guess what, the opponents didn’t bid a slam at all. I don’t believe John and Pamela are an an experienced partnership so the auction had just a bit of hope in it. 





Pamela North East South
 1 Pass  1  Pass 
 2  Pass  3  Pass 
3NT Pass 5  Pass
5 Pass 7 All Pass


Parnela opened 1 and over Cook’s 1  reversed into hearts.  Knowing that partner had a good hand with 5 diamonds and 4 hearts Cook was pretty sure that there was a slam.  He set diamonds as trump with 3♦.  Now when Pamela bid 3NT he decided to try Exclusion Blackwood by bidding 5 .  When Pamela bid 5♦ Cook hoped she was with him and that she had 3 keycards.  If Pamela had five diamonds to the AK and the heart ace, slam looked pretty certain.  Bidding the grand slam  was worth 17 imps but bidding the small slam was worth 13 imps.  So the grand only brought in an extra 4 imps.  That is why you need to be cautious about bidding the grand slam.

But on this hand John could see 13 tricks so with a reliable partner he was pleased to bid and make the grand slam. 






David GoldfarbFebruary 18th, 2012 at 5:19 am

You often hear 56% as the breakeven point for a vulnerable slam at IMPs — but as you note, that assumes the other table is in a small slam.

It also assumes you’re playing knockouts. If you’re playing in a Swiss and the results are being turned into VP’s, you often need a really high percentage on the grand slam to be worth bidding at all. In the Houston Regional, my partner and I bid to a grand, and I worked out afterwards that we were wagering 6 victory points to gain 1. (The grand was nowhere near those odds, although we got lucky and did make it.)

RobinFebruary 21st, 2012 at 3:52 am

On the other hand, a grand may be worth it in a Swiss match if you judge from the other boards that you are down and also that the other team is a good one and likely to be in a small slam at least. Depending on how far in the hole you judge your side to be, you might in such a case have odds in your favor of 3:1 or even more, thus making a grand on two finesses worth bidding. You will need understanding teammates, though!

lindaFebruary 21st, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Thats all very well if you KNOW you are that much behind. I remember once having a huge session at our table and coming out to find out that it would have been enough to win if only our partners (who had a tough session) had not bid the grand.

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