Re-assessing losers

How good is this North hand below? Some would describe it as a “four loser” hand (it has two diamond losers and is missing one of the top three honours in each major).


What if South opens 1H?

North then knows that the partnership has at least ten hearts, so it is unlikely that a trick need be lost to the HQ. Also the spades can probably be set up for no loser, even if partner did not have the SQ.

Over South’s 1H opening, West bids 2NT, unusual for the minors. What action would you take as North?

This deal arose in a past Trumps Easter Teams. Over the Unusual 2NT, Peter Gill bid 4C with the North cards. This is best played as a splinter bid, showing slam interest with a singleton or void in the suit, and good support for hearts.

With a good fit, East tried sacrificing in 5C. Peter Livesey, sitting South, had strength in the minors so cheerfully doubled. Gill had other ideas, bidding 6C to show first round control. As he hoped, this elicited a control bid of 6D from South, and grand slam was bid.

Dealer South, NS vul.

WEST                EAST
 4                  97632
 73                 9
 KT873              94
 AQ932              JT875

     Gill       Livesey
2NT  4C    5C   X
Pass 6C    Pass 6D
Pass 7H  All pass

John Newman and Andrew Markovics at the other table bid to the same spot so it was a flat board.

This equally freaky hand comes from a club duplicate:

Dealer South, NS vul.

WEST                EAST
 KQJT4              763
 —                  J3
 K943               QJT8
 Q932               KJT6

1S   3S    Pass 4NT
Pass 5H    Pass 7H
All pass

Again, the jump in the enemy suit (3S) is a splinter, showing a singleton or void in that suit as well as a good fit and at least game points. If there had been no interpose from West, North would still have made the same bid with the same meaning.

North’s spade shortage tells South there is no loser there, and any missing hearts would fall so there is no loser there either. South has only one card in each minor so when Blackwood reveals that partner has aces to cover each of those, it is time for grand slam. Pairs playing Roman Keycard Blackwood would respond 5S with the North cards, showing the HQ as well.

The SK is led and taken by the SA; how should the hand be played from here?

Declarer must start by drawing only one round of trumps (with the HA or HK), keeping three trumps in dummy to ruff the three spade losers from hand. The final round of spades must be ruffed with the HQ to prevent an overruff by East who (assuming West had five spades for the overcall) will be out of spades by then. Grand slam bid and made with 21 HCP!

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