Poor Bridge of the Week
Supporting Partner in the Slam Zone
By Paul Huggins

It's always a nice feeling when you hold a good 19 count, open the bidding and get some responses from partner that suggest he has a few values and an opening or near-opening bid. It gets even better when you have support for his suit — surely slam is just around the corner?

Consider the following hand:

H10 9
DA Q 7 6
CA K 4 3

Your RHO deals and passes (it's love all) so you make the normal opening bid of 1C (playing four card majors). LHO pre-empts and partner bids 4D. Looks pretty good doesn't it? What now?

Blackwood would be a little agricultural but not unreasonable — partner must have values somewhere so two losing hearts aren't such a worry — else perhaps a 4S cue bid if partner will read it as such. Otherwise you could just disregard subtleties and jump straight to 6D? The latter action was selected by my partner after a moment's thought. After all, with such good support for partner, why hide it and ignore the risk of missing a grand slam?

So far, so good — or so it seems. From the other side of the table things looked a little different to me. Unlike my partner, you see, I had paid attention to which suit our opponents had pre-empted in.

The auction had actually started:


(1)Intended as a good raise of clubs

Holding SA 7 5 HA 8 6 D5 CQ J 10 9 8 6 I decided that 4D was my best choice of bid — if partner takes it as a general strong raise of clubs then I have that, but I also have a diamond shortage so he can take it as a splinter too. The raise to 6D took me slightly by surprise as I failed to see what it could mean ("bid 6NT if you have a diamond stop" being the least ridiculous meaning I could assign to it) and, not wishing to play at the six level in my singleton or a three card major picked at random and not having a diamond stop worthy of the name, I decided to cut our losses by bidding 7C — hey, I have two aces and a singleton in their suit — if partner has a wacky distributional hand maybe we can make this!

The full deal was as below:

SA 7 5
HA 8 6
CQ J 10 9 8 6
S10 8
H7 3 2
DK J 8 4 3 2
C7 5
S9 6 4 3 2
HK Q J 5 4
D10 9
H10 9
DA Q 7 6
CA K 4 3

The opening lead was a trump — not that it matters much, you have twelve tricks in clubs and no more (giving up a heart and ruffing one in hand). Partner failed to distinguish himself in the play too, though, taking a diamond finesse into the diamond pre-emptor (despite the fact that even if it held he would still have a heart loser) and finding probably the only way to go two down. Still, at least the bidding and declarer play were consistent and both happened on the same board. In addition my partner has not yet appeared on poorbridge.com so now is his chance!