Bridge Puzzle

19.12.2018

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 June, 2015, 3:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 6:47pm


Opening lead: queen of clubs

A delicate approach is required to arrive at the best contract in today’s hand.

At stake is a grand slam. It hinges on whether the final contract is seven hearts or seven spades.

If the right choice is made, North-South score 2,210 points, while the wrong choice results in a loss of 100 points. The enormous swing involved rests on selecting which suit should be trump: five spades opposite four, or five hearts opposite four.

Superficially, it appears not to matter which suit is trump in such a case. And, in most hands, this would be correct. But, in the present hand, all the chips ride on the final decision made.

South’s jump to four spades involves a principle of bidding that is sometimes misunderstood: namely, that this is a closeout bid. On the contrary, the jump to game by the opening bidder after a new-suit response is a strong bid suggesting slam possibilities. North’s subsequent bidding was based on this principle.

The critical point in the bidding is reached when North, through the use of Blackwood, learns that South has three aces and a king. Once North determines to bid a grand slam, the selection of the trump suit becomes the key issue. He knows South has four spades. He also knows South has more hearts than spades since he opened the bidding with one heart.

North sees that, if he bids seven spades, he will be able to discard one of his diamond losers on South’s fifth heart. But this, he notes, still leaves him with a second diamond loser.

North also notes that if the contract is seven hearts, dummy’s fifth spade will provide a parking space for one of South’s losers. This will become a critical factor if South’s distribution is 4-5-2-2. North therefore concludes that the discard that can be obtained in seven hearts might be far more valuable, and makes his decision accordingly.

For details about local bridge events, go to the HK Contract Bridge Association website.