Two hands from Gryphons II, on Saturday, April 7, 2001.

             Jim Plank, with commentary by Kevin Wilson

This one is a little long, but I had a bunch of plane rides this
week and was bored.

Here are two more slam hands from last weekend's game.  Both are from
the north/south side.

First is board #1.  There are bidding decisions on both sides of the
table, but we'll first look at it from the perspective of the south
hand.  You have:

         S A
         H KQJ54
         D AQT54
         C A9

North is dealer and no one is vulnerable.  Partner opens 2S -- not
particularly the bid you'd like to hear.  No doubt you'll be in game,
but you're thinking slam, and it's too bad that you don't have enough
room to fish around for your best fit and still keep the bidding

You have a few options for bidding -- bid 2n, however you play it
(Ogust, feature ask), and go from there, or bid 3h, forcing, and go
from there.

My partners and I play Ogust, and I'm not sure if I like my options
after Ogust.  Our Ogust responses are:

     3c: 5-7 points, bad suit (don't have two of the top three honors)
     3d: 5-7 points, good suit
     3h: 8-10 points, bad suit
     3s: 8-10 points, good suit

Certainly, if I knew partner would respond 3s, I would drive toward
6s.  But do I like my options over 3h, 3d and 3c?  Would 3h be
forcing over 3d and 3c?  Can I explore hearts and make any reasonable
slam/game decision over 3h?  For that reason, I don't like Ogust with
my hand.

If 2n is feature asking, it's a nice bid because I can find out about
the ace of hearts or the minor suit kings.  I'm not sure we'll find
the right slam, although I think with the actual south hand, it will
work fine.

Since we don't play feature asking, I'd bid 3h, which has flaws, but
at least it is forcing, and it can get us to a heart contract.
Partner raises to 4h, and we should be exploring slam.  I'll bid 4n,
and regardless of whether we're playing Blackwood or Key Card,
partner will show one.  Now, you can fish for seven, depending on how
you do that, or sign off in six.  Since there are too many options,
here's what I think my sequence would be with Suzy or Brad:

     North  South
     2s     3h
     4h     4n
     5c     5d
     5h     5s
     5n     6d

     4n is key card for hearts
     5c shows one or four
     5d asks for the queen of hearts.  I know partner isn't going
        to have it and is going to bid 5h, but it makes my next bids
        clear.  If I skip this bid, partner may misinterpret my next
        bid because we haven't talked about it enough.  I'm planning
        to ask partner for specific kings -- with Kxxxxx,Ax,Kx,xxx,
        we have lots of potential ways to bring the grand slam home.
     5h says that partner doesn't have the QH.  Duh.
     5s now confirms that we have all the key cards plus the queen
        of hearts, and we're looking for seven.  It asks partner to
        bid kings up the line.  Partner will bid 5n with the KS, or
        6c/6d with that king and no KS, or 6h with no kings.
     5n Shows the KS -- we're halfway there.
     6d says go to 7h if you have the KD.  Otherwise bid 6h.

If I didn't have specific king asking conventions, I'd just bid 6h
over 5c.

Now here's the fun part -- you have the following north hand:

         S KQJT54
         H A2
         D 973
         C 53

And you're faced with either auction -- partner bidding 6h after your
5c bid, or partner fishing for a grand, and you are left with having
to act over 6d.  What should you do?

    Kevin: Your analysis has been very good up to this point.  I'd
           like to discuss the 2S opening in a minute, but I'll wait.

I'm guessing I would have passed 6h, and bid 6h over 6d.  But after a
small conversation with Kevin, I see that I should take action over
both bids.  Over 6h, I should bid 6s.  The reason is that partner's
only entry to my spade suit might be the AH, which she cannot use
after she's drawn trump.  And given the bidding, it is very likely
that partner has the stiff ace of spades.  Partner has no idea how
good my spade suit is, and that is a huge source of tricks.

If partner is fishing for a grand and bids 6d, I think 7s is the
right action.  Partner has guaranteed all the controls, and needs
a source of tricks -- I have it, but again, partner likely has the
stiff ace of spades, so the grand should be in spades and not
hearts.  The only worry is if partner has a spade void.  From the
bidding, I don't think so -- partner would be leery about fishing
for a grand when she doesn't know if I have the AH or the AS.
As you see from the whole hand, seven spades is cold:

         S KQJT54
         H A2
         D 973
         C 53

S 862           S 973
H T863          H 97
D K2            D J86
C QJ87          C KT642

         S A
         H KQJ54
         D AQT54
         C A9

    Kevin: I think this is so close to an opening 1s bid as the
           dealer.  I would have looked at the vulnerbility if I
           didn't already know it.  And I should have known it when I
           picked up my cards.  But anyway I know its board 1 so I
           know neither side is vulnerable.  I would open 2s in first
           or second position only if the vulnerability were equal
           (Red-Red or White-White) or UN-favorable (I'm Red & they
           are White).  I would open 1s white against red as the
           dealer and I would open 1s in 3rd position with any

Yes, so is 7N, but we're not finding that, and who cares -- if we
find 7S, we're chalking up a major top.  In last saturday's game,
only one pair bid and made slam (Earlene and Anna bidding 6n).
Most others were in 6H going down.

    Kevin: Wait a second now.  Lets consider 7n.  7n is the only
           grand slam to bid!  What hands are we going to score 13
           tricks with where we need to ruff a heart out?  Let me
           slow down... The whole point of our thinking gram slam was
           that our hearts or diamonds were solid.  You said that 5
           spades showed the KQ of hearts.  Would partner try for a
           grand with A KQxxx AQTxx Ax or even A KQxxxx AQTxx A? (If
           I had this, then I would be more worried about a diamond
           loser then Jim was apparently).  He's trying for the grand
           not thinking ANY spade tricks but 1 or 2. His Diamonds &
           his hearts must be solid.  Its MY solid spades that is the
           reason I know 7 nt will be there.  I don't guarantee 3
           trumps with 4 hearts and he's inquiring about a grand?  He
           isn't thinking he will be able to ruff something out or
           that there might be a problem with trumps.  He's showing
           solid suits...

Ok, I'll answer.  Maybe it's not right to play partner for the right
gold mine, but if partner has Kxxxxx,Ax,Kxx,xx, our chances for 7 are
excellent.  Ditto Kxxxxx,Axx,Kx,xxx.  Since I have a bid to ask
specifically for those cards after 5n from partner, why not?  If
partner goes quietly into the night, so be it, but if partner does
show up with Kxxxxx,Ax,Kxx,xx and we're not in 7H, I'm going to kick

The scores:

        1 - +1020 (Earlene and Anna)
        1 -   420
        3 -   -50
        1 -  -200

    Kevin:  Kudos to Anna or Earlene for bidding 6n.


The next hand was board 2.  East dealer, N/S vulnerable.

East passes, and once again you have the south hand:

         S JT92
         H AQ98632
         D J5

What do you open?  I don't have the experience to answer this
question well, but I'll give you my opinion.  I think your choices
are 1h, 2h, 3h, 4h and pass.  As usual, they all have flaws.  You
don't have enough for the rule of twenty, so 1h is a lie.  You have 7
hearts and 4 spades, so 2h may be unappealing, and your spade suit is
also unappealing for bidding 3h or 4h.  Were I in 3rd or 4th seat,
I'd open 3h without hesitation.  In 2nd seat, I lean more toward 1h,
2h or pass.  I'm guessing at the table, I'd probably open 2h without
thinking too much.  Kevin will say it's disgusting with four spades,
but every time I pass up making a weak bid with four of a major, I
never get back in the auction.

    Kevin: Opening 4h rates to get you a bad score but any of the
           other 3 or pass might be right.

With this hand, I've had more time to think about it (and of course,
I can't help but have seen partner's hand), and I think getting back
into the auction is not nearly so much of a problem.  Chances are,
I'll be able to get in with a 3H bid, and if west passes and partner
opens, I'm much more flexible.   So I think pass is the right action.

    Kevin: Good partners get the right inferences.  If you do pass
           and then come back in partner will wonder why you didn't
           open and might reach the conclusion that you must have 4

Let's look at the north hand and see how the auction proceeds with
each opening bid (assuming the opponents are quiet).  Here's north:

         S KQ86
         H 7
         D AK974
         C AQ9

Start with three passes.  North will open 1d, south bids 1h and north
jump-shifts to 2s.  Wow.  Playing Wilson-style, this is forcing to
game, so I think 5c by south as exclusion key card is a a great bid.
(If I really wanted to show a club suit, I could start with 3c, and
then bid them again).  North bids 5n to show two (not counting the
AC) and the QS and you happily settle in your best contract of 6s.
No lead should be dangerous from the east hand, and you should be
able to establish the heart suit with two ruffs.  Note with this
hand, exclusion key card is much more valuable than regular key card,
which is in turn much more valuable than regular Blackwood.  Chalk
one up to junky conventions...

After 1H, I would bid 2d as north.  Clearly north is thinking slam.
I would not bid 1s, since south is allowed to bid 2s with four spades
and a minimum (it's not a reverse after a 2-level response).  If
south bids 2s, north will probably be the one to drive to slam, and
it should still make (see below).  If south rebids 2h, north can
still bid 2s, and I'm not sure if you find your slam or not -- will
south's raise to 3s promise 4 spades?

After 2h, I don't think north has any option except 4h.  Maybe
3d in an effort to find a potential diamond slam.  3N is a
loser because of communications, and I don't think Ogust really
gives you any information.  Give this one data point in the camp
of not preempting with a 4-card major.

After 3h, ditto.  I think 4d is still a decent bid because it's
forcing, but partner might think you have a heart void, and you
may end up in an unmakable 5d when 4h was cold.

Here's the entire hand:

Board: 2   Dealer: E    Vul: N-S

         S KQ86
         H 7
         D AK974
         C AQ9

S A754          S 3
H J4            H KT5
D T2            D Q863
C KT876         C J5432

         S JT92
         H AQ98632
         D J5

Double-dummy, 6s is icy.  However, at the table it may be different.
Initially, my line would probably be to try to ruff two hearts, draw
trumps and claim.  If trumps are 3-2, I think this line should work.
Take the opening lead (assume they don't lead a trump), cash the AH
and ruff a heart high.  Lead a low spade.  If the defenders duck,
ruff the second heart high, draw trump and claim.  If the defenders
take a trump, then you can still manage the hand by getting back to
the south hand with a trump (that may be when they lead another),
ruffing a heart high again, ruffing a club, drawing trump and

If they lead the ace and out of trump, then this line doesn't work
even if trumps are 3-2, because you don't have enough entries to ruff
a second heart and draw trumps.

A second line might be to try to cross-ruff the hand.  However, do to
this, you need 8 ruffs to go along with your 4 top tricks, and this
is not happening off the ace of spades.  If you get a club lead, you
only need 7 ruffs, but so long as the defender with the AS overtakes
a ruff and leads a spade, you're not getting those.

So, this leaves a different, although riskier choice -- finesse the
HQ, cash the HA, ruff a heart high, draw trump and claim.  This will
work so long as the HK is onside.

What is the better percentage play?  The 3-2 trump split (65%).  So
if they don't lead a trump, I would try line one -- ruffing two
hearts, and then drawing trump.  If they went ace and out of trumps,
I'd hook the HQ, cash the HA and ruff a heart high.  Or if they led a
trump and ducked it, I'd do the same thing.

    Kevin: Wait a second!  That's fuzzy math Jim.  Even if spades are
           3-2 then you also need hearts to be 3-2. That's 65% of 65%
           isn't it?  

Yes -- 42%

    Kevin: I think the percentage line is heart to the Q, ruff a
           heart high and then trump.  But that makes the slam <50%.
           So I don't want to be there... This way you can make the
           slam many times when either s or h are 4-1 and the other
           is 3-2. You have such a communication issue, but then we
           knew there were problems, so that's why we didn't open it.
           This is just a very difficult hand to describe.

           Hey Jim, maybe we should ask Ben how his system would bid

Note, that line goes down here unless they go ace and out of spades.
I still think it's the best play.

The scores were all over the place:

         1 - 1430 (Pat and Paul wrapped it) 
         1 - 800 (Hitting and murdering clubs) 
         1 - 500 (Hitting and only maiming clubs) 
         2 - -100 (Going down in 6s)

    Kevin: I would have preferred being in 4 and depending on how
           well I thought about the hand, made 5 or 6. Score 3 out of
           5 matchpoints either way... That's 60%. Another slam not
           bid and another vote against precariously close slams.
           When there is 1 sure loser (like the A of spades on this
           hand) then there is less often 12 tricks then sometimes
           appears due to potential bad breaks.