Hand of the Month - September 2006


It's the first board of the evening. You are West, North is the dealer, and only your side is vulnerable. Your chair is barely warm but you have to deal with this monster:

♠ A 9
♥ A 7
♦ A K Q 9 7 3
♣ A K Q

Ho, hum, just your typical 26 HCP hand. You might open 3NT but unless the sky falls in on the diamond suit, you're looking at 11 tricks in your own hand. Maybe you should go a little slower. Although your hand certainly qualifies for a S.A. 2♣ opening bid, you're playing a Strong Club system, so you open 1♣.
The auction proceeds:

West North East South

Pass Pass Pass
1♣ (1) Pass 1♦ (2) Pass
3♦ (3) Pass 3NT (4) Pass
4♣ (5) Pass 4♦ (6) Pass
5♣ (7) Pass 5♦ (8) Pass
(1) 17+ HCP
(2) 0 - 7 HCP
(3) "I have a really good hand with a powerful diamond suit."
(4) "I have 13 cards."
(5) "Any aces?"
(6) "Get real."
(7) "How about kings?"
(8) "Nothing there, either."

And it's back over to you. Now what?

Well, you certainly have a lot of options. You could pass 5♦. Since you're playing matchpoints, though, 5NT would be better; or you could shoot a slam and pray that partner has something useful. Note, of course, that due to your bidding methods, pard is playing the hand no matter what you do. Nice.

After some thought, you decide to take the sure plus score in 5NT. Too bad. Here's the whole hand:


♠ K 8 6
♥ 10 8 5 3 2
♦ 10 5 2
♣ J 4

♠ A 9
♥ A 7
♦ A K Q 9 7 3
♣ A K Q

♠ J 10 7 2
♥ Q 6
♦ J 6
♣ 10 9 8 6 5

♠ Q 5 4 3
♥ K J 9 4
♦ 8 4
♣ 7 3 2

The opening lead was the ♦8 but the lead makes no difference, as 13 tricks roll home. Partner's major suit honors are waste paper but the ♦J plus the club suit are pure gold. Could you find the cold grand? Only one pair in the room managed even a small slam (6NT) although no one failed to make all the tricks. So how DO you find the slam? Any ideas?


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