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Void Suit Is Key to Grand Slam

  by Richard Pavlicek

After a trump fit is found, a void in a side suit can be extremely valuable or almost useless — it all depends on the cards held by partner in that suit. Therefore, it is desirable to indicate the location of a void suit so that partner can bid accurately. Such a problem often arises when responding to the Blackwood convention.

Today’s deal was reported by Raymond Stultz, Jr. of Boynton Beach and occurred in a local club game. After North’s jump raise to four diamonds, South felt justified in using Blackwood and North faced the task of showing his void.

7 D South
None Vul
S K Q 3
H J 10 9 7 4
D A K 9 8 7

1 H
4 D
6 D
2 D
4 NT
7 D
S 10 8 5
H Q 6 2
D 6 5
C K 10 7 5 2
TableS J 9 7 6 4
H 8 3
D 10
C A 9 8 4 3

Lead: D 5
S A 2
H A K 5
D Q J 4 3 2
C Q J 6

This partnership used the popular method of jumping one level to show the number of aces held plus a void (i.e., six clubs shows no ace and void; six diamonds shows one ace and a void; etc.). Unfortunately, this method did not pinpoint the void (spades or clubs). South correctly reasoned that a club void was more likely and bid the cold grand slam; but North might instead have held: S H Q-J-10-x-x D A-K-9-8-7 C K-x-x, in which case the result would have been less gratifying.

A superior method of indicating a void suit, preferred by many experts, is the following: In response to Blackwood (1) with one ace and a void, bid six of the void suit or six of the trump suit if the void suit is higher ranking than the trump suit, or (2) with two aces and a void, always bid 5 NT. In this method a void is not shown with an aceless hand (slam is too doubtful) or with three aces (partner rates to hold the missing ace opposite your void). And with four aces and a void…

On this deal North would bid six clubs to indicate one ace and a void in clubs. (With a void in spades, North would bid six diamonds because his void is higher ranking than the trump suit.) This way the void is pinpointed and the grand slam can be bid with confidence.

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© 1985 Richard Pavlicek