I could have titled this article “The Art of Playing a Hopeless Contract — Part 3” but I decided on the above more optimistic title.
Playing the 2nd qualifying session of the Silidor Pairs in the Spring Nationals in Philadelphia, I picked up the following hand.
My right-hand opponent opened the bidding with a pass. Opponents are vulnerable; we are not. What do I do with this hand?
While this hand is well short of high card points typically deemed necessary for an opening bid, it does have several attractive features — a heart suit with great intermediates; a void; and 3 possible suits to choose from. Particularly given the favorable vulnerability, I did not hesitate to open this 1♥.
The next player passed. My partner, Zach Brescoll, bid a semi-forcing 1NT which shows 6 to 12 high card points, and typically denies 3-card heart support. My right-hand opponent then came in with a bid of (you guessed it) 2♠. What would you bid if you were me now?
First-time low level doubles should almost always be deemed take-out doubles and so if I am going to bid anything, a take-out double is my best choice. Normally, such a double should show at least a sound opening bid. Does this hand qualify? Probably not but given the void in the opponent’s suit, the certainty of having a fit in the minors (partner’s 1NT bid denied having 3 hearts or 4 spades, so we must have a minor suit fit), I am going to venture a bid and hope things work out okay. So I made a take-out double.
My left-hand opponent raised to 3♠. I will now show you Zach’s hand:
Zach then bid once more. Can you guess Zach’s next bid? Here are your choices:
A. 4♣ B. 4♦ C. 4NT
E. 5♣ F. 5♦ G. 5NT
If you guessed 5NT, you picked the winner! Sudden jumps to 5NT like this are now typically played among experienced players as a so-called “pick-a-slam” bid. It asks your partner to choose a preferred slam on the 6-level. Whether Zach had the values to justify such an action I will leave it to you to decide — obviously, everyone at the table was shocked that a player who did not think his hand good enough for a forcing bid of some sort suddenly decided to commit the partnership to a small slam.
Having better clubs than diamonds, I bid 6♣. I breathed a sign of relief when Zach passed. Here are our hands and the bidding:
West, not surprisingly, led the ♠Q. Is there play for the contract? And if so, what is the best way to play the hand? Click “more” to see the answer. Continue reading ““Gotta Start Bidding Those Grands, Pard!””