Ross Taylor

slam bidding problem

Please take a second to contemplate the following auction, and then answer this very simple question.

Is this a grand slam try or a choice of slams bid by partner?


You hold J32  K3   A432   AJ32


You are dealer and they are red and you are white


You open the bidding one club


LHO  bids 3 hearts. Partner bids 3S. You respond 4S, partner bids 4NT and you bid 5H. Partner bids 6 clubs now. What do you bid if


  • You are playing with your regular expert partner


  • You are playing for the first time with an expert partner


  •  You were asked to fill in for this hand and you don’t know your partner

Assume this is imps in the early stages of a KO match

After a day or two I will publish the actual hand and my own views on this sequence.


LuiseDecember 10th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I know nothing from nothing. I am a beginning player, and I do not know the rules of bidding, and probaby not much more in play and defense.

Having said that, I think it’s fairly obvious that, under all of your three criteria above, I would almost always prefer to play in Partner’s suit rather than in my own since I do not trust my abilities to play the hand correctly. Therefore, I would be bidding 6S.

However, I’m wondering if there’s anything else that I could say on the way to bidding 6S. There are still two bids between where we are now and 6S. What would a bid of 6D or 6H say? If I knew the answer, then I would probably make one of those two bids instead of just out-right bidding 6S. Since I don’t know what 6D or 6H would say to partner, then I would just bid 6S.

Bobby WolffDecember 10th, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Hi Ross,

When ambiguity exists (which the bid of 6 clubs can cause) it should be a partnership rule that the most simple meaning available will determine.

Let us briefly examine the circumstances:

1. When the bidding gets so high so fast, that partnership has no alternative but to give up some checkpoints often used in obstructive (slow) auctions.

2. Trying to seek reason out of possible chaotic bidding choices one should ask himself which possibilities could occur.

A. As you have so helpfully pointed out, one choice would be to treat 6 clubs as a grand slam try in spades and the other as a choice of small slam strains.

B. If partner was interested in a grand slam try, why wouldn’t he just bid 6 hearts, which could never be misintrepeted, at the very least never be passed.

C. Would it ever be practical for partner to offer a choice of slams, with the backdrop being the bidding up to now? What about partner having: A9xxx, A, KQ, KQxxx? There are, of course, other hands which would want to ask the same question, but since all of them are contrived, I do not think others are necessary to be listed.

Presto changeo, we have received an answer to your query. However, do not ever bet the farm on anything so subject to discussion and judgment. Whatever happens, use it as a means of discussing intelligently partnership preferences and future hands. The result will lead to partnership growth and expertise.

Great Problem!

Bobby WolffDecember 10th, 2009 at 7:57 pm


I initially thought partner had the Jack of diamonds making the club slam laydown, but my human error comes into play. However, 6 clubs is still much better than 6 spades since we can strip the hand and play Ace and another spade hoping there is a doubeton honor in spades somewhere.

Sorry for this diversion.

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