Main     Bidding Guide 2Z17 by Richard Pavlicek    

Slam Bidding

How to proceed when considering a slam contract

Trying for a Suit Slam after a Raise

West
1 D
3 S
East
1 S
 ? 

General procedure
Add Declarer Points (see Point Count) if applicable and determine the partnership point range. If the total is or might be 33+ points (or if you think you can win 12 tricks) bid an unbid suit 1 or an enemy bid suit. This is a control-bid.
A control-bid shows
First-round control (ace or void) in the suit bid.
A second control-bid in the same suit shows
Second-round control (king or singleton).

1 If the raised suit is a minor this must be at the 4 level or higher; a bid below 3 NT shows a real suit or a stopper.

Bidding after a Control-Bid

West
1 H
4 C
East
3 H
 ? 

Basic principle
Once a control-bid has been made, the bidding can end only in a raised suit (or rarely in 3 NT or 6 NT). Any other bid is forcing.
To discourage slam
Return to the raised suit at the cheapest possible level (or in rare cases, 3 NT). This warns partner that your strength is minimum for your previous bid, or that you dislike your hand.
To encourage slam
Do anything else! You may make a control-bid of your own, bid 4 NT (Blackwood) to ask for aces if appropriate, or just bid the slam.

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Trying for a Suit Slam with No Raised Suit

West
1 S
2 H
East
2 C
 ? 

General guidelines
You cannot make a control-bid because partner will not know which suit is to be trumps. One solution is to make a forcing bid (such as 3 S in the example) and postpone the slam try until your next turn. If this is not feasible in the desired suit (such as hearts in the example) you may bid 5 in a major to invite slam; else you must make the slam decision yourself.

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Trying for a Notrump Slam if Notrump Is Bid

West
1 NT
2 S
East
2 C
 ? 

Determine the partnership point range
Add your points to the minimum and maximum shown by partner to reveal the partnership point range, then make a quantitative notrump bid:
If the total might be
33+ pointsbid 4 NTI 2
If the total is sure to be
33+ pointsbid 5 NTF 3
33-36 pointsbid 6 NTS
37+ pointsbid 7 NTS

2 Partner should pass with a minimum; else bid 6 NT (or a suit to suggest an alternate slam).

3 Allows partner to choose an alternate slam in six of a suit, but he cannot pass. If no natural suit has been bid, this also invites a grand slam.

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Trying for a Notrump Slam if Notrump Is Not Bid

West
1 H
3 C
East
1 S
 ? 

General guidelines
You cannot make a quantitative bid of 4 NT (it would be Blackwood). One solution is to manufacture a forcing bid (3 D in the example) and postpone the slam try until next turn. If this is not feasible, you will have to make the slam decision yourself.

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When To Ask for Aces

Sometimes your slam decision will depend on the number of aces held by partner. This usually can be determined with Blackwood or Gerber, however, you should go through the following checklist before asking for aces:

All of the following should be true
you know which suit (if any) will be trumps
your side has 33+ points or can win 12 tricks
you are prepared for any response
you have no void suit
you have control in the one unbid suit 4

4 Or the enemy suit if an opponent has bid. Note that if there are two or more unbid suits (with no enemy bid) this restriction does not apply. That is, you may ask for aces if the information about aces seems more useful than seeking specific controls.

When is Four Notrump Blackwood?

West
1 S
2 S
East
2 H
 ? 

If your side has bid notrump
4 NT is Blackwood only if a suit has been raised
If your side has not bid notrump
4 NT is always Blackwood 5

5 Except as an overcall of an enemy bid of 4 H or 4 S (then 4 NT is takeout for the minors or unbid suits).

When is Four Clubs Gerber?

West
1 NT
2 H
East
2 C
 ? 

Your side must have bid notrump, then
4 C is Gerber only if a jump bid

Note that the conditions for Blackwood and Gerber do not allow ace-asking on all auctions, e.g., if no suit has been raised, there is no way to ask for aces over partner’s bid of 3 NT.

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Responses to Blackwood

West
1 S
4 NT
East
3 S
 ? 

Show the number of aces held
0 or 4 aces 6bid 5 CN 7
1 acebid 5 DN 7
2 acesbid 5 HN 7
3 acesbid 5 SF
With a useful void suit 8
1 acebid 6 of void suit 9F
2 acesbid 5 NTF

6 Partner should always be able to tell whether 0 or 4, based on his own hand and your previous bidding.

7 Partner may pass only if this happens to be the trump suit.

8 Do not show a void if you have 0 or 3 aces.

9 Except if your void suit is higher ranking than the trump suit, then bid 6 of the trump suit.

Responses to Gerber

West
1 S
4 C
East
2 NT
 ? 

Show the number of aces held
0 or 4 aces 6bid 4 DF
1 acebid 4 HN 7
2 acesbid 4 SN 7
3 acesbid 4 NTF

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Follow-ups after Blackwood or Gerber

After asking for aces, it is asker’s responsibility to place the final contract. This usually means bidding the appropriate slam if at least three aces are held, or stopping short if two aces are missing.

If you determine that all four aces are held, and you have interest in a grand slam, you should ask for kings by bidding 5 NT after Blackwood, or 5 C after Gerber. Kings are shown by the same steps as aces (0-4, 1, 2 or 3) except one level higher.

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© 2013 Richard Pavlicek