Gambling Grand Slam

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I play Bridge occasionally so I thought I’d put some interesting hands up here when they occur and I remember enough about them for it to be worthwhile. This one involves making a grand slamat a duplicate event which no-one else even bid.

I was sitting South and picked up:-

♠3
AKJ9
953
♣AKQ32

Quite a nice hand. Then my partner opened 3NT. This opening meant a long solid minor including the top four honours and an honour card in another suit. From my holding, his minor suit had to be diamonds. Given his likely holding, I could see 11 tricks straight off and my singleton spade meant we had to be in with a chance for a slam, so after East’s pass I bid 6D.

West passed and partner bid 7D which was passed round.

West led K♠ – from KQ it turned out.

Partner laid down:

♠A
xxx
AKQJxx
♣xxx

x represents a card the value of which I don’t remember. They’re not important anyway.

Partner explained that since I thought I could make a small slam without knowing about the A♠, I ought to be able to make a grand with it. At least I could now see 12 tricks. The heart finesse could generate the 13th but there was only a 50% chance the queen lay with East. A favourable club distribution might be a better bet.

I won the opening lead with the Ace, then drew trumps in three rounds. I then led a club to my Ace, East and West followed suit. I then played the King. West followed but East showed out, meaning West had started with Jxxx. I played the Queen then the three, drawing West’s Jack which I ruffed in dummy. I then played a heart to the Ace, then played 2♣ from my hand, discarding the losing heart from dummy. I then lay down the K and claimed the contract. If the clubs had been divided 5 – 0 against me, I would have had to ruff the 2♣ and take the heart finesse. As it happened, it would have worked as East did in fact hold the Queen.

It turned out we were the only pair to bid the grand. A couple of pairs had bid the small slam and one pair had bid and made 6NT. One pair was in 3NT making 4 overtricks.

I don’t think there was anything West could have led that would have defeated the contract. He fully expected his king to be beheaded but that would establish his queen so if I had to play spades again the contract goes down. A club or diamond lead would have allowed me to proceed as above – with the A♠ as an extra entry in dummy should I need it. A heart lead would have been the worst. If East went up with the queen I take the trick with my king, establishing the jack. If he ducks I win the trick with the jack. Either way my heart loser problem is solved for me.

If it had not been for my partner’s opening bid, I’m not sure we could have found the grand slam. The natural opening bid (we played Acol) would have been 1D (he had neither the points nor the playing tricks to bid 2D). I would have responded 2C. His best rebid would have been 3D, which technically means 15+ HCP but his solid six card diamond suit would justify the stretch.

I would have taken this bid as 15 – 19 HCP (If partner had 20+ he would have opened 2D), giving us a combined total of 32 -36, definitely in slam territory so I would have bid 4NT (Blackwood). On completing the sequence, I would have realised that we were missing a king and given that we were missing as many as 8 points, the grand would have been too risky so I would have left it in 6D. I presume the 6NT bidder had taken out 6D on the basis that the NT slam would score more points. My partner was not averse to this kind of bid himself – fortunately he opted for the diamond grand instead as it was worth even more – giving us a top on the hand.

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