Had 2 more interesting slam hands this week. The first occurred at our weekly IMPS League match. I picked up the following hand with everyone VUL, QT97 --- AJ975 Q964 and heard partner open 1D, with RHO overcalling 1H. I wanted to get the Spades in along with the Diamond support, so I made a slightly offshape Fit Jump with 2S. This went Double on my left (alerted as showing a Heart Honour), and 4C by partner. We play most jumps like this as splinters, so that certainly improved my hand. However, even with the announced double fit and lack of quick losers, my hand was still pretty min. RHO doubled 4C, and I cue-bid 4H anyways, since nothing I had heard so far was too bad. LHO doubled this again, and partner bid 4S. RHO passed, and I attempted to sign off in 5D. LHO (who should have probably done this earlier), not bid 5H, and partner bid 5S over that. RHO passed, and with partner bidding freely again, I thought slam should have some play. However, forgetting the golden rule that you need lots of trumps if you are planning a cross-ruff, I bid 6C to allow partner to take a choice. He chose 6S, ending the auction.
N E S W
1D 1H 2S DBL
4C DBL 4H DBL
4S P 5D 5H
5S P 6C P
6S P P P
The opening lead was the K of Hearts and this dummy tracked.
AK73 943 KQT86 10
QT97 --- AJ975 Q964
The good news is I wasn’t down off the top, the bad news is I had a lot of work to do for that 12th trick. Even if I was able to ruff the 3 Hearts in my hand, I was not sure how I was going to get back to dummy to pull trumps, under the assumption that they were 3-2. Finally, deciding I needed some help from the opps on this, I led a Club towards the dummy at trick 2. LHO stepped up with the J of Clubs and obliged by leading a 2nd Heart back for me to ruff. Finally seeing some light, I ruffed this, played a Diamond to board as both followed, ruffed the last Heart, cashed the Q of Spades, ruffed a Club to board, and claimed as the Spades were 3-2.
They could not quite match this at the other table, so we won 12 IMPS. Would have been a lot easier if I had just bid 6D over 5S. That is pretty easy to make. My LHO was not thinking about my problem on defense though. If she just returns almost anything but a Heart after winning the J of Clubs, my timing is shot on the hand, and I am not sure there is much I can do at that point.
The next hand comes from the Sun Aft MP game at our local club. Playing with a regular partner, Vul vs NV opps, I picked up the following nice hand, AKJ42 --- AQ63 AK83, these Heart voids seem a common theme. My RHO started the proceedings with a 3H bid, and I bid 4H, not really wanting partner to pass 3H Doubled when I had no Heart to lead. LHO bid 5H, partner doubled, and P back to me. The Double here should show some values, but not enough to bid over 5H. We did not really play it as pure penalty. So I decided that we should play in a slam, and why should I guess wrong. I bid 5N, and partner converted this to 6D, ending the auction.
The opening lead was the A Hearts, and this is what partner saw.
AKJ42 --- AQ63 AK83
985 K95 KT52 J74
There is hope on the contract, and it looks like 6D is better than 6S, will just have to see if can be made and how it scores. The opening lead was ruffed and the AQ of Diamonds cashed. RHO played the 47 and LHO followed with the 9 before pitching a small Heart. So problems.
Talking about it after, we decided that the best line seemed to be to cash the AK of Spades now. Anytime they were 3-2, the hand was cold. And anytime the Q of Spades came down singleton or doubleton, the hand was cold or making 7. Also, on this line, you could afford to cash the K Hearts to pitch the Club losers, without having to worry.
Partner actually played the last 2 rounds of Diamonds then took the Spade hook, losing to the doubleton Q. Fortunately, that person led a Heart back, so the slam still make. It turns out it was always going to make, since the Q Clubs was also doubleton, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a scary moment or 2 when the Spade hook lost.