Main     Column 7C63 by Richard Pavlicek    

Small Slam Fails but Grand Makes

Today’s deal provided a huge swing in the Knockout Teams at the Jacksonville Regional. North-South bid to six spades at one table and were defeated — note that West cannot be prevented from winning two trump tricks. At the other table Michael Seamon of Miami and Bill Passell of Coral Springs avoided the ill-fated small slam. Instead they bid to a grand slam, but in the proper suit.

7 C S K 6 4 3
H
D A K Q J
C K Q 7 5 4
Both Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass


North

1 D
3 H
4 C
4 NT
7 C


East

Pass
Dbl
Pass
Pass
All Pass


South
1 C
1 S
Pass
4 S
5 H
S Q 9 7 5
H K 9 7 2
D 10 9 3
C 8 2
Table S 10
H A 10 8 6 4 3
D 8 7 6 2
C 9 3
Lead: H 2 S A J 8 2
H Q J 5
D 5 4
C A J 10 6

After three routine bids, Passell, North, appears to have lost his mind when he jumped to three hearts. No, this was “splinter bid,” an expert gadget which shows a trump fit with partner’s last bid suit (here, spades) and a singleton or void in the suit bid. East doubled (a silly double) and Seamon, South, bided his time by passing it around to North, who showed his club support. South then retreated to four spades.

North, of course, intended to bid a slam all along, but there was method to his devious route: He needed to know which specific aces his partner held. If North had used the Blackwood convention directly over one club or one spade, the two-ace response would leave North in a quandary. (One of the aces might be the heart ace.) This is the reason that Blackwood is not recommended with a void suit.

But now the situation was different. On an expert plateau, South had two opportunities to show the heart ace: He could have redoubled when East doubled, or he could have cue-bid four hearts over four clubs. South did neither. Therefore, when South showed two aces, they had to be the black aces. North chose the grand slam in clubs as a precaution against a possible spade loser. How right he was!

Seamon played accurately. He ruffed the heart lead, crossed to the club 10, ruffed a heart (high), club to the jack, and ruffed his last heart. He then claimed the balance since his two spade losers could be discarded on dummy’s diamonds.

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© 10-25-1987 Richard Pavlicek