What can be more regrettable than picking up a huge hand and landing in the wrong contract?
It happened to me recently in a Hubert Phillips match. I had a 3-3-5-2 twenty-four count, all Aces and Kings, and my left hand opponent opened 3♠ which was raised to game on my right. I gave it a proper think and emerged with 6NT. Wrong! 7 Diamonds was laydown but 6NT had no play. I still feel sick!
In the third division of the Norwegian premier league recently, a hand came up that was so extraordinary it provoked a global ‘what do you bid?’ contest. You are sitting South, and Partner, first in hand all vulnerable, opened 4♠. East passed and you hold:
Before you read on, what would you bid?
First of all, what are your ambitions for the hand and how do you find out the information you need? Almost everyone agreed that they wanted to try for Grandslam — but which one, and can it be bid with control?
Some took Blackwood, intending to find out if Partner’s Spades were solid, but how can you find out how many spades he has and whether he holds the ♠Jack? Some people punted 7♦ (me among them) but I dreaded a replay of my 6NT disaster. Someone else bid 5♦ on the grounds that it should be a cuebid agreeing Spades, and that when partner bids 5♠ he would jump to 7♣, hoping that got his hand across.
All these are possibilities, but the bid that everyone agreed was brilliant came from the Norwegian international Siv Thoresen. She bid 5♣ (again a cuebid) and waited to hear if partner could cue Diamonds (showing a singleton or void).
If he did, she would raise him to 6♦ and if he didn’t, she would know he had at least two and she could raise to 7♦.
On the actual hand no grandslam was making. 6♦ only makes from the North hand (!) and 6♠ is cold despite spades breaking 5–0 as North held ♠A Q J 10 9 x x x and was void in diamonds.