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A Slam Played with No Points

  by Richard Pavlicek

Today’s deal produced much discussion when it occurred in the Open Pairs at the Mid-Atlantic Regional held Labor Day weekend in Columbia, S.C. I picked up the blockbusting North hand and opened two clubs, the all-purpose, forcing bid played in conjunction with weak two-bids.

6 D South
E-W Vul
H A K Q J 4
D A K 9 8 5
2 C
2 H
3 D
4 C
6 D
2 D
3 C
3 H
4 D
S A K 10 7 5
H 7 6 5
D J 7
C 9 7 3
TableS Q J 6 2
H 9 8 3
D Q 10 3
C K 6 5

Lead: S K
S 9 8 4 3
H 10 2
D 6 4 2
C 10 8 4 2

South made the negative response of two diamonds, then North showed his real suit with two hearts. South was obliged to bid again and three clubs was dictated by our methods to show a very weak hand. This is known as “cheaper minor, second negative” and it avoids the necessity of bidding notrump with a worthless hand.

North continued with three diamonds (forcing) to show his two-suiter and South offered a preference to three hearts. North’s four clubs was ace-showing, and South indicated his meager diamond support, no doubt wondering if the auction would ever end. This inspired North to jump to six diamonds, as South wanted to crawl under the table — he had made four bids with no points and was now in a slam. (Note that South is declarer because of the two-diamond bid.)

West led the spade king, ruffed in dummy, and declarer drew two rounds of trumps with the ace and king. When both opponents followed, the slam depended only on the club finesse. South came to his hand with the heart 10 and led a club to the jack — too bad, down one.

My partner’s play was reasonable and would have worked if West held the club king. But it was also possible to take the club finesse through East — run the hearts and discard three clubs from the South hand (it makes no difference if East ruffs), then play the ace and queen of clubs for a ruffing finesse. The choice between these two plays is nearly a toss-up; but I prefer the latter because West has already indicated spade strength with his opening lead. Hence, the club king is more likely to be with East… or at least that’s easy to say now.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek