By Prof Tony Campbell

WE have seen on several occasions how difficult it can be to bid a slam.

So, here is an interesting hand played against me on Bridge Club Live last week. Our opponents failed to bid the slam. Here is a suggestion on how to bid it.

The auction

North has a very strong hand with eighteen points, but simply opens one spade. South has an opening bid, and shows his good diamond suit, promising at least eight points to have bid at the two level.

North is tempted to bid three no trumps, as he knows they must have at least twenty six points between them. But surely four spades will be a better contract. Three spades is forcing, and South encourages with a cue bid of four diamonds, showing his ace and better than the minimum of eight points for his two diamond bid. North is very interested now and asks how many key cards his partner has, by bidding four no trumps, Roman Key Card Blackwood, where the key cards are the four aces and the king of spades. But after South shows only one key card, North drops out and bids five spades.

However, after some thought, South realised he has not shown his opening bid, nor how strong his diamond suit is. And he has three spades to the jack. North must have two aces, and a strong six card spade suit. So, slam must be on. South confidently bids six spades.

The play

East began with the four of clubs, his fourth highest. North can see six spades is cold, but wishes now he had bid six no trumps, which also makes. Declarer won the first trick with his ace of clubs, and then led a small spade, which he won with dummy’s jack.

After drawing the two more rounds of trumps, North played the ace, king and queen of diamonds from dummy. He then played dummy’s king of clubs, conceding the next trick, the king of hearts to West’s ace, and claiming the rest of the tricks, making twelve in all – six spades, one heart, three diamonds and two clubs. Well bid!

What have we learnt?

1. Great judgement is needed if you are to bid a successful slam.

2. Roman Key card Blackwood is superior to the old conventional Blackwood. It enables your partner to reveal the king of trumps, and even the queen. A response of five spades showstwo key cards and the queen of trumps. Sometimes there is no apparent agreed trump suit. So usually the response to four no trumps by your partner is based on the last suit bid as a genuine suit, and not a cue bid. So here that means spades.

3. When your partner refuses to bid the slam after Roman Key card Blackwood, if you have a lot of undeclared good cards then it is incumbent on you to bid the slam, as here.

Club news

Good luck to those playing the Children in Need SIMS this week. Peter Sampson’s ladder competition continues to be a success, continuing for 26 weeks with 24 competing pairs. It adds an extra bit of excitement and fun to the games, and Peter sends out the results weekly.

Current leaders are Angela and Rod Hudson, followed by Phillip Bottrill and Carol Cochlin, with Jim Elder and Meryl Skipper in third place, and Carolyn Matthews and Jim Elder in fourth place. There will be a Christmas Competition, so Peter is not taking in anymore pairs until after Christmas. The prizes are sponsored by The Pen & Paper Stationary Co Ltd and are for the top pair, the pair having the most wins during the period before Christmas, and the pair playing the highest number of different pairs.

Further information

Several SIMS events are running the week beginning Monday 9th November in aid of Children in Need. You can join Cardiff Bridge Club sessions by registering on their web site. Good luck. Real Bridge looks really good, as you can see everyone live, and talk. But it seems still experimental. If you have any views, experiences and information you would like to share, please email me, Meanwhile, good luck with your online bridge. You can always find my articles online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up. So maybe at last it is going to be Real Table up!