How high can the bidding go?

Sandra Head, Barbara Reid, Lois James, Jenny Smith and Angus Macdonald relax during the afternoon tea break.

Dealer: W Vul: E/W


♠ AJ65

♥ J

♦ KQ654

♣ J82


♠ 4 ♠ K103

♥ AQ96543 ♥ K2

♦ — ♦ A9873

♣ AQ543 ♣ K107


♠ Q9872

♥ 1087

♦ J102

♣ 96

There are times in bridge when you have to forget the time-honoured point-count method of bidding and just trust your instincts. As every West sorted their cards, the West hand must have looked better and better. Just how high could the bidding go? Carla Hall opened the bidding with a sensible 1H. (Let’s see what else is out there before the fireworks begin.) North overcalled 2D, followed by a cautious 2NT by East. This was enough for Carla to bid 4NT, which asked partner to report how many Aces were held. 5D showed one, but not which one. This left room for East to hold a few other high cards. East needed only the Kings of hearts and clubs for 6H to have a reasonable chance. Even one Ace and one King could be enough. Without hesitation, Carla raised the bidding to 6H.

Experts are divided on whether or not to lead an Ace against a small slam, which requires twelve tricks to be won. At Carla’s table, North was dissuaded against a diamond lead because of East’s bid of no trumps and held the Ace of spades in reserve. It was the passive choice of the Jack of hearts that hit the table. That was the end of the defence. Carla won in dummy and played two more rounds of hearts, leaving the defenders without trumps and ran the clubs. As with trumps, the distribution of the clubs was friendly. Carla was rewarded with a top score on the board when no one else bid the slam. The small slam bonus was worth an extra 750 trickpoints.

Noela Collins and Lois James were the only defenders to lead the Ace of spades. This prevented declarer from making thirteen tricks.

Results: Monday, 06/11/23 (4 & ½-table Mitchell): P. Campbell T. Hinde (66.7) 1; J. Nankervis P. Kelly (64.6) 2; Jenny Smith L. Munson (59.7) 3; N. Bonnell J. Mobbs (57.6) 4. Friday, 10/11/23 (6-table Mitchell): N/S N. Collins M. Simpson (60.3) 1; L. James S. Head (59.3) 2; N. Bonnell B. Bonnell (49.7) 3. E/W D. Moran N. McGinness (61.3) 1; C. Duggan L. Don (56.0) 2; H. Price C. Hall (52.7) 3.