Chuck Arthur

No Blackwood 2

There was another potential slam hand that we had dealt to us. The dealer was West with nobody vulnerable.


West: Jan East: Chuck
62 A9853
AQJ87 952
K AQ103
AK852 4


West North East South
1 Pass 1 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
5 Pass Pass Pass


My 3 hearfs was stronger than had I bid 4 hearts. since 3 clubs created a GF. Jan might have bid 4 clubs instead of 4 hearts, but she thought that she may have overbid the hand already, so opted for a simple 4 hearts. I owed my partner a further move towards slam: I bid 5 diamonds, thinking (in my foggy brain) that I was patterning out. This was a clear cut error. We have set trumps, so we are in cuebidding mode here. Look at the hand from Jan’s perspective: with 2 small spades, she has nowhere to go, so checked out at 5 hearts. I need to bid 4 spades, my cheapest first cound control, since we are past game. The complete auction would then be


West North East South
1 Pass 1 Pass
3 Pass 3  Pass
4 Pass   4 Pass 
5 Pass 5 Pass
6 Pass Pass Pass


It is very important to cuebid first round controls up the line. Bidding slams without going through Blackwood is so much more fun.

For the complete hand record and virtual traveller, click here, then select board 8. Slam is not cold, but I think that we want to be there. It will not tolerate any ugly breaks. Any reasonable line of play works; the best line is not obvious, certainly not to me. Only 12 tricks are available, even double dummy. Kxx are in the pocket, but if we use both dummy’s trumps to pick up the K, we will not be able to ruff out the club suit.

Bidding slams without Blackwood is so much more fun.


BlairApril 20th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Make the diamond Q the K of hearts and you probably have missed a pretty sweet grand. I like a straight and confident, let them find the lead, most probably a diamond and not a trump, bid of 6 hearts over 4. With the K of hearts I can see a play for 7, so I would have bid 4 spades over 4 hearts. But I don’t have the K so I bid the small slam…….THANKS AGAIN


john cunninghamApril 21st, 2010 at 7:54 am

Rules, rules. Comforting, perhaps. But one cannot be unilaterally bound by them.

For simplicity’s sake one can agree to cue bid up the line, and that will work adequately,

particularly if that is expected. BUT. Here. Would one venture 5 diamonds with the heart king, the diamond ace, and no spades control? (Certainly the heart king is a given, if missing the spade ace.)

Anyway, if East, I would have the quality of the heart suit as my concern, and, even though I advocate against Blackwood, wield it here. The worse that’s going to happen to you is find partner with solid clubs and doggy hearts, and even that will have a chance. Partner did bid THREE clubs, after all.

Bruce GowdyApril 21st, 2010 at 9:04 am

After 3 clubs, 3 hearts is simply a preference over clubs, it has nothing to do with strength at this point. Now W should pattern out with 4 clubs(3 clubs could have been artificial simply to create a game force with a different type of hand). Now E can cue dia, W must sign off at 4 hearts not knowing yet about spades-E now cues 4 spades and W can launch into keycard blackwood. E could hold Kxx in hearts and this would not have changed the auction. If that were the case then keycard would reveal all the controls and a grand could reasonably be bid

Ross AndersonApril 21st, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I agree with Bruce’s comments whoeheartedly. If you are not prepared to bid the hand like this then one should not bid 3 clubs ( game force) in the first place. I don’t like trying to slow things down when you feel you may have overbid with a partner who is an unpassed hand and may have a rock instead of just a real good 10HCP with a useful singleton. Tell partner what you have at each turn;after all this is a partnership game.

BlairApril 21st, 2010 at 11:00 pm

The stated condition was that the responder’s 3 heart bid is a better hand than a 4 heart call. 4 clubs should be considered an overbid, as you are not 6-5 and as Bruce pointed out, you do NOT you have extras ( 3 clubs is a lot of bid for this hand ), but match points is still a game of bad bids getting swing results, so fire away but try not to make it sound like ( by bidding 4 clubs ) that it’s more than it is…Thanks

Bruce GowdyApril 22nd, 2010 at 6:25 am

To Blair, The confusing point on this hand is the stated condition that 3 hearts is stronger than a 4 heart call. This is a totally wrong supposition in my opinion. After 1H-1S-3C both hands are of unlimited strength except that E is at least 16-18 and a shape that he has decided will be in game. W 3H call is simply a preference setting hearts as trump for whatever sequence ensues. If E does not bid 4 clubs now and backpedals for fear that he has already overbid-it is like a paddler crossing a stream-go half way and then turning back.

Chuck ArthurApril 22nd, 2010 at 9:33 am

You are right, Bruce. When I made that statement, I neglected to consider that three clubs may not be an offer to play the hand in some number of clubs. This may be bid on various hands that do not have real clubs. It is incumbent upon opener to clarify his or her hand type on the next bid. Four clubs gets this job done. This allows for an easy cue bidding sequence, ending in six hearts.

BlairApril 22nd, 2010 at 8:45 pm

The problem now is the change in conditions. I try, when answering these polls not to bring any one of the dozens of partnership agreements into play. So, now that three hearts is not the bid, what will responder bid? Still 3 hearts or a forward going 3 diamonds? Yes, I would also bid four clubs over 3 hearts or 3 diamonds.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 28th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

After 5D from you, your partners King of diamonds looks immense, as does his AK of clubs. Surely, your diamond Ace offers a guaranteed resting place for one of his spades, providing that you hold the Ace in that suit ( not unreasonable on the bidding). As for me I’m cue bidding 6D which I expect you to convert to 6H without a top heart honour ….or 7 if you do, because you know you have the spade Ace !

Hopefully 12 tricks will be there courtesy of 2C, 3D, 2 club ruffs, 1S, and 4 hearts ( praying for a 3 -2 break.

kenrexfordMay 12th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I expect this to be a controversial position, but I think everyone has this problem and the solution way off. Auctions work better when you support with support. I think the critical mistake was the 1S call.

I am firmly of the opinion that with this hand and similar ones, auctions are way easier if Responder bids 2D, which I’m assuming to be GF. First, as someone noted, notice how 3H did not even conclusively agree trumps, necessarily, let alone establish strength. Bidding 2D allows the partnership to re-focus spades if Opener rebids 2S, such that a possible 5-4 spade fit will not be lost. But, with heart support, GF strength, and two top diamond honors, 2D seems to stand out, especially with Ace-empty in spades.

In practice, this yields the exact same 3C-P-3H sequence, but now Responder has establish VALUES and has established where his CARDS will be, making the cuebidding sequence cleaner and more effective. Plus, Responder knows that clubs are REAL and not manufactured, even if the strength for opener is unknown, temporarily.

Opener, hearing 3D, can now bypass 3S (denying a spade control, 1st or 2nd, honor or length), which is good for INFERENCE later. As Responder has Ace-empty, this is fine, as it further bolsters why 2D makes sense. Ace-empty side suit work well opposite FIT or SHORTNESS. AQxx suits need FIT.

Opener, having denied a spade control, cues 3NT, Serious. This is a better statement of values, anyway, as 3C was quite the aggressive call. Opener is clearly serious when looking at the diamond King, and he wants to hear about a spade control and the diamond Queen, which is all enabled.

Responder can now show the spade control by not signing off. He also denies a club top card by not cuebidding 4C. Instead, he cues 4D, showing two top diamonds, at least as I play. For others, the 4D call at least shows the Ace, since opener is looking at the King.

What does Opener need, now? If Responder’s spade control is the Ace, he can fairly easily count tricks and see that the slam is very likely making. He could use RKCB at this point, or perhaps in the methods a 5C call makes sense. But, this is an easy auction, with everyone comfortable.

So, whereas there may be unwind methods and logic after the 1H-1S-3C-3H start, it seems that the 1H-2D-3C-3H start is much better and much easier.

Blair FedderMay 13th, 2010 at 12:24 am

Hi Ken,

Not to bid a spade versus two diamonds is a sin. I suspect that every responder to this column would agree. It’s called double dummy reasoning…Thank you

You will notice that a better call than 2 diamonds over 1 heart is 4 clubs, a splinter, and NO ONE made that call

kenrexfordMay 13th, 2010 at 7:33 am

But, Blair. It would only be “double dummy reasoning” if I did this because of what I am seeing in Opener’s hand. In reality, for years, on advice of an extremely talented player, I have been routinely bidding a 2/1 minor over the other major when I have support for Opener’s major, with repeated success. I have over the years seen repeated “problem hands” provided where the solution was that the person’s problem evaporates if they do this.

I won’t try to convince with argument. I’ll just place a small challenge out there. Every time you have three-card support for opener’s major and 4-5 cards ion the other major, with a GF hand, if the auction gets complicated for you, using your bid-the-obvious approach, check back and see whether the auction would have been easier, and the problem averted, had you done what I suggest. If you are up to it, if no problem arises, check nonetheless to see how the auction would have developed with my approach. And, as I feel so strongly about it, even include situations where the minor you would be forced to bid would be a bad one, like Kxx or even Kx.

You may be surprised.

Blair FedderMay 13th, 2010 at 11:59 am

Do you alert it?

kenrexfordMay 13th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I would suggest alerting it, but it may be unclear whether it actually is alertable.

When I played canape routinely, the TD’s told me not to alert, for example, the 1H opening because 4-card majors was normal and because the “might have a longer suit” was not yet ripe, somehow. Instead, we were supposed to alert the canape call.

Well, 1H-P-2D is fairly “normal” as 4+, and probably not that unusual with 3+ either, especially 1H-P-2C. The “weird part” is the possible undisclosed other major, but that seems to parallel the possible canape, or Walsh for that matter. It MIGHT be the case, but it is certainly anti-percentage that Responder has a short minor, a fit, and length in the other major.

So, I’m not really sure whether it requires an alert, but alerting unnecessarily is rarely chasitised.

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