Ross Taylor

Have you ever cue bid a jack?

Turns out Dave Colbert is a closet blogger. He recently unearthed this gem he wrote a few years ago, and apparently did not publish anywhere. I asked him if he would mind if I share with you,  and here we are. The hand revolves around probing for a grand slam where the key card sought is a jack. The story ends with the bridge equivalent of a poker bad beat.

“It was the final round of a knockout in Reno, in the recently concluded Nationals.  I was playing with Keith Balcombe and the opponents were quite strong.  The effort to get here and the ubiquitous Daily Bulletins have increased my motivation and concentration levels appropriately, when this hand comes out of the pocket :

                                                xx  KQ8xx  Q   KQJ109

I open 1 heart, Keith bids 1 spade, I bid 2 clubs and he bids 2 diamonds. This is a game force. We open 4 card  majors so I bid 2 hearts to show 5. He bid  2NT and I bid 3 clubs so now he knows I’m 5-5.

So far then, the bidding has gone 


East Dave West Keith
 Pass 1 H  Pass 1S
 Pass 2C  Pass 2D
 Pass 2H  Pass 2NT
 Pass 3C  Pass   ?


Now he bids 3 hearts.  Well, he’s setting trumps but he doesn’t have much in hearts or he wouldn’t have bid 2NT. I will bid 4 clubs.  This is a cue bid showing an honor concentration (KQ here) in our system.

Now I hear 4NT from him so I show my one keycard with 5 clubs. He bids 5 diamonds, which is looking for the heart queen.  I have it and can show it by not signing off with 5 hearts.

Why not 6 clubs? This shows the heart queen and more than previously shown in clubs. It must be the Jack or even Jack-ten.  He thinks for about a minute and bids 7 hearts.

They lead a spade. Keith’s hand is splendid : 

Keith Balcombe
Dave Colbert


Are you happy? Looks like 13 tricks : 1 spade, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds and 5 clubs. And you must be in hearts in order to get back to your hand after unblocking. This is great !  This is why you play.

You win the spade, cash the AJ of hearts and… RHO shows out.  I was down with the 5-1 split.  Fate intervened. Also part of the game.  Lose 14 imps to 6NT making at the other table. You lose the match.

Are you ready to play again tomorrow?”

Thanks Dave – yes we’re ready – we live for stories like this.


Dave Memphis MOJOFebruary 2nd, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Ouch, that is a bad beat.

Alex AlonFebruary 11th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

This is why we love bridge, and I don’t say it from a winner’s perspective.

We were defending in the Semi Finals of the Israeli Federation Cup, leading by a few imps.

The auction went, with us passing all the time: 1H:2D:3H:3S:4NT:7NT

I doubled, holding in diamonds AQX ( our CC says we are playing Lightner ) and my partner led a SPADE!

Dummy had in diamonds KJ10xx

They made their 7NT without the diamond suit…

So I know the feeling 🙂

Ross TaylorFebruary 14th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Yes, it’s always a rare feeling when you get to glue the setting tricks to your forehead, instead of grabbing them during the hand.

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