Ross Taylor

Have you discussed this?

There’s nothing sweeter than a well bid pair of hands to a laydown grand slam. With today’s hand, my partner bid 5NT in a KCB auction, diamonds being the trump suit. Looking at the undisclosed spade king, I had to choose (a) revert back to 6 diamonds (I am not interested in a grand slam partner) or (b) go past the safety level of 6 diamonds and bid 6 spades (showing specific kings), or (c) decide my hand warranted a grand slam acceptance, and then I could simply jump to 7 diamonds. Here was the layout :





The auction unfolded thusly, with three clubs being a forcing raise in diamonds:

West     North          East      South
      1 diamond
pass 3 clubs pass 3 diamonds
pass 3 spades pass 4 hearts
pass 4 no trump pass 5 spades
pass 5 no trump pass your bid?


I chickened out. In a trusting, well oiled partnership, I think my hand should simply bid 6 spades and let partner decide if that is what he needs. Here, I was not playing with my regular partner, and I saw all kinds of reasons not to press forth. The dreaded 4441 shape; the apparent lack of tricks; etc. etc.

Naturally, the grand is ice cold. Partner had the right idea, but I lacked the cojones. Perhaps not surprisingly, 6 diamonds making 7 was a push, and the opportunity was lost at both tables.

So the question for all serious partnerships here is if you are allowed/expected to go past six of your trump suit when asked for specific kings. Are you allowed to exercise your own judgment or not?

If he wants better certainty, or share the blame if the grand is wrong (!), he could have bid 6 clubs over my 5 spades blackwood response. Would I then be up to bidding 7 diamonds? I should be, since that sequence, to my way of thinking, focuses my attention solely on my club holding.

Alternatively, the auction may have been more successful had North continued the cue bidding sequence. Over 4 hearts, had he bid 5 clubs, I would understand my hand is too good to sign off in 5 diamonds. I can give him a five spade cue bid.

At that point, he can try six clubs, or he can bid 5NT grand slam force. Neither sequence offers him the comfort his actual sequence did. Except however his sequence failed to consider we may have an unfillable hole in the club suit.


lewis richardsonApril 10th, 2010 at 5:17 pm

This hand was a total nightmare playing old fashioned standard american. I was south in another match. What should north bid over 1 diamond? If north opts for 2 clubs over 1 diamond, then what does south bid? This hand is clearly a tribute to 2 over 1 style; or inverted minors; leaves we old dinosaurs sadly lacking.

Bobby WolffApril 10th, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Hi again Ross,

Another excellent hand with several discussion points. First, I think it is almost always best to let both partner’s know what the trump suit is going to be (either a jump in the other minor which I like best and play with all my current and former partners or, of course inverted minors which will accomplish the same thing). After that start, there is no doubt, at least to me that North should take over and after hearing his partner cue bid the ace of hearts should head toward a grand slam unless partner pulls up lame by only responding 6 negative diamonds to his 5NT try. Since South has the KJ of spades, the queen of diamonds and the singleton queen of clubs extra as againist only having a four card diamond suit, he needs to go positive, even jumping to seven immediately over 5NT.

It is much too dangerous a position for North not to take over and for South to not accept. All of this may sound like playing results, but once North eschews other avenues and goes to BW it should be interpreted as him being ready to rumble.

kenrexfordApril 10th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

IMO, the key to problems like this one is to have a better bid for RKCB when a minor is in focus. A workable idea is for four of the cheapest out-of-focus major to be RKCb for the in-focus minor.

Take your auction and see what happens if this is added in.

After North bids 3S, South has two obvious options.

If he is ready to pounce, he bids 4H, the cheapest out-of-focus major. But, let’s assume that he decides to answer, or to pussy-foot forward with an invitational call like he made (4H). If 4D is out (as passable), then 4C becomes a sort of “Last Train” call — general slam interest but insufficient info to commit one’s self. The last such available call below the RKCB call of 4H.

North then asks, as he did, bidding 4H as RKCB. The answer drops down as well, to 5D. he King ask then drops down to 5H, and this allows 5S to be bid below 6D. Tada!

You may be wondering whether South would be able to show the HEART king below 6D. Sure — after 5H asking, 5NT shows the heart King. As you see, now, all Kings can be shown below 6D.

When clubs are trumps, or when spades is the out-of-focus major, one of the Kings cannot be shown (at least) below the small slam in the minor. No problem — 5NT (instead of five of the out-of-focus major) then asks for THAT HAND.

Dave CummingsApril 10th, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Just curious…why not bid 3H over 3C (4432) ? It may seem like a NT try initially but will

become clear after partner responds 3S. Seems that it saves a level of cue-bidding.

i.e 1D – 3C, 3H – 3S, 4C – 4D, 4S..grand should be easy now

or 1D- 3C, 3H – 3S, 4S – 4N, 5S – 5N, 7D.

Ross TaylorApril 11th, 2010 at 8:23 am

Two good comments, thanks guys. To be honest Ken, I would be closer to adopting Dave’s pragmatic approach than to learn all the nuances of a KCB system where both partners have to intuit that some other four level bid, is now RKCB. (Although in my regular partnerships we do use 4D is always KCB for clubs with great effect, and we also use last train in slam bidding at the four, five, and six level)

I was away from the game when creative minds came up with kickback et al, and have yet to invest the energy to learn and adopt it, though I can clearly see the merits when both partners are on the same page.

Regarding Dave’s innocent query, why not bid 3 hearts over 3 clubs? Actually at the table it did not occur to me – there’s something about 4441 hands that cause me to deviate. Certainly, as he says, the resultant auction should be child’s play in this instance.

Ken, holding south’s hand, I would be reluctant to take control of the auction (with any form of BW) just because my partner bid 3S over 3D.

BlairApril 12th, 2010 at 2:26 am

7 diamonds…partner used the tools given, went thru the steps and now 5nt allows you to bid 7 diamonds. The other reason to bid 7 diamonds is that you should not allow yourself to mastermind auctions that require the discipline to properly bid your small and large slams, games and part scores. It undermines partnership trust not to make the correcxt bid, no matter how wrong it might feel. You knew over 5nt that 7 diamonds was automatic, not up for debate. Good luck next time and thank you

Leave a comment

Your comment