Saturday, November 6, 2010

Slams in Lake Geneva Part 1

I spent last weekend at the regional in Lake Geneva, WI. It was my first time off from work since the summer national and the more relaxed bridge setting provided some much needed r&r. I played the Thursday-Friday knockout with Dan Zagorin, Joe Stokes and Cheri Bjerken. Dan and I had a couple of interesting slam-type hands come up. On the first I held:
x AQxx Jxxx Axxx

I heard Dan open 1 Club--I responded 1 Heart and was raised to 4. How do you approach the bidding from here?

It seems that slam will usually be pretty good. Opposite the wrong hand, we could suffer a diamond ruff and go down in 5...on balance I figured that this hand was at least worth one move so I cuebid 5 Clubs. Partner cooperated with 5 Diamonds and I bid the slam. Actually the play was much more amusing.

LHO led a low trump and I saw:
Kxxx KJxx AK KQ9

There are a few options but it seems right to win in hand to lead a spade up--with the ace onside we can make 12 tricks with the help of 2 spade ruffs in hand. I tried this line but RHO won the king of spades with the ace and returned a spade after some consideration. This presented the extra option of trying to ruff 3 spades in my hand after which I wouldn't have to rely on 3-3 clubs. I decided to trust my opponent to have played back a trump if it was necessary, so I ruffed, crossed to dummy with a diamond and ruffed another spade. When I cashed the queen of hearts, both followed and I winced slightly. Fortunately all was still well--I returned to dummy with a club, drew the last trump, cashed the other high diamond and then the final trump--this would catch RHO in a minor suit squeeze if she happened to hold the queen of diamonds along with club length (remember to play the high diamond first, though, so that you can see your opponent's discard before you have to make a critical one of your own). Clubs were 3-3 all along so we chalked up our slam.

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