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Grand play makes grand slam

This hand, submitted by Tim Bourke of Canberra, features insightful bidding and play.

Dealer South, EW vul
          NORTH
          
 A4
          
 KQ84
          
 J76542
          
 2
WEST               EAST
 T93               J875
 —                 J962
 KQT93             8
 KQJT9             8653
          SOUTH
          
 KQ62
          
♥ AT753
          
 A
          
 A74

WEST   NORTH  EAST   SOUTH
                     1H
2NT    4C     Pass   4NT
Pass   5S     Pass   7H
All pass

Over South's 1H opening, West bid the Unusual 2NT showing at least 5-5 in the minors. North's 4C was a "splinter bid", showing a singleton or void in the bid suit, a fit for partner and game values at least. Most "unnecessary jumps" such as this are used by top players nowadays as splinters. They help partner evaluate slam prospects – here, South knows that the 7-4 of clubs will not be losers because they can be ruffed.

South's 4NT was Roman Keycard Blackwood, and 5S showed two "keycards" (there are five keycards – the four aces and the king of trumps) as well as the queen of trumps. That seemed to plug South's gaps so 7H looked like the right bid.

How would you plan to play the hand on a club lead?

Read more: Grand play makes grand slam

Unusual hand

This deal comes from a past NSWBA Mixed Teams event, won by Nick Hughes, Nicoletta Giura, Nick Fahrer and Ed Barnes.

Fahrer held the South cards. How would you have bid?

Dealer South, nil vul
SOUTH
 AKJ8632
 —
 982
 876

Read more: Unusual hand

Squeezing the last trick

The hand below is a good basis for considering strategy in pairs events (such as regular duplicate games). Typically you are awarded two points (known as "matchpoints") for every pair you do better than on a hand, and one point for every pair you tie with. While bringing home marginal contracts can provide good scores, it is generally better to bid to normal spots and rely on careful play to score overtricks and thereby outscore your competitors.

Read more: Squeezing the last trick

IMP Pairs

Pairs or ordinary duplicate is normally scored at matchpoints, where scoring even 10 or 20 points more than the other players on the same board gives an absolute top. In contrast, playing for IMPs (normally used in teams scoring), it is the size of the score that is critical, rather than (say) paltry overtricks. IMP Pairs are gradually becoming more common, such as in our weekly Swiss Pairs on Wednesday evenings.

Consider this hand from the inaugural IMP Pairs World Champions in 2006:

Dealer North, Nil vul
          NORTH
          
 KT5
          
 —
          
 QJ93
          
 AQ9762
WEST                EAST
 Q872               J6
 QJ                 AK7432
 T72                854
 JT85               K4
          SOUTH
          
 A943
          
 T9865
          
 AK6
          
 3

Read more: IMP Pairs

Safe play wins the day

This hand comes from the South-West Pacific Teams, Australia's premiere bridge championship which is held in late January in Canberra.

Because you are playing teams, the scoring is at IMPs, meaning that overtricks are unimportant. The key is to play safely for your nine tricks.

You are West in a contract of 3NT, on the lead of the S5 from North. Plan the play.

WEST           EAST
 QJ2           A3
 AK87          432
 K72           AJT854
 J74           QT

 

Read more: Safe play wins the day

Splintering to slam

One of the most useful conventions for slam bidding is the splinter bid, whereby an "unnecessary jump" shows a singleton or void in the bid suit, a fit for partner, and values for game at least.

How should you bid these North cards after South opens the bidding 1D and the opponents are silent?

Dealer E, NS vulnerable

NORTH
 A743
 7
 963
 AQ942

Read more: Splintering to slam

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