Monday, June 10, 2013

A tale of three slams – or: better lucky than good

Like most bridge players, I love slams. They take some skill in bidding but are generally easy to play. Since the opponents will be on lead a maximum of twice (if all goes well), their options for complicating your plan are limited. If you are going down, it usually happens fast.

A recent 12-board robot tournament gave me three possible slam auctions! On the first board, I decided that partner's 2♣ call, when he wasn't obliged to bid at all, was worth a slam try. But how to go about it? I settled on the obvious: 4NT.

On the lead of ♠Q, the dummy that came down was a slight disappointment in terms of high card points. But fit-wise it's a magnificent dummy. Life would have been a lot easier on a diamond lead as there would have been 11 top tricks and some, admittedly remote, squeeze possibilities. But even now there were good chances – if I could bring the hearts in. If lefty had Qxxx, I would have to get back to my hand twice after running the clubs so I kept the ♠A intact. Once RHO pitched two hearts on the clubs [discarding isn't the robots' strong suit], I was pretty sure I was making (even if he'd kept Qxx I'd have him, as it happens, in a red-suit squeeze after cashing the top spade). Perhaps cashing the ♠A earlier and tightening the position would have been better, I'm not sure.

Surprisingly perhaps, most of the other pairs were in slam and this was worth only 3 IMPs.

On board 3, I hadn't any thoughts of slam myself but apparently my 4 call showed a rather better hand than I had. Well, as they say in bridge, it's better to be lucky than good. The lead of the ♠A would have scuppered my contract right away. But, I had some possibilities in the heart suit which fortunately got me to twelve tricks.

This was worth 12.5 IMPs. There were plenty of other pairs in 6, but I was the only one to make it, despite all getting the ♣K lead.

The third slam was a relatively normal (and sane) contract and only produced a 6 IMP swing. Even so, there are two possible trump losers. I wonder what he would have done if I had been so incautious as to advance the J?

Despite some significant losses on four other boards, I managed to finish with almost 29 IMPs, largely due to these three slams. That was good enough for first place.

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