Bridge Around the World – Canada

Submitted by English Bridge Union on Wed, 05/01/2022 - 12:13

It is hard to find a silver lining in the dark cloud that has been the pandemic afflicting the world over the past two years. However, there is a small one: the proliferation of on-line bridge. Not only have the established platforms and several new ones been a blessing to clubs in our local areas but they have also enabled players to visit clubs in other parts of the UK and abroad.

The following reminiscences come from games in my virtual travels around the UK and overseas.

Let us start “across the pond”.

Canadian Club

It’s the afternoon, comfortably in your home. You are in a six-table pairs game in a club not far from Toronto. The club runs many sessions including starts at 10am eastern Canada time. The time difference is conveniently 5 hours. Your coffee is at hand; perfect.

The first board is routine then, sitting North, you pick up something more interesting:

 2  A98432  AKQ832 

Your partner, South, deals and passes and so does West.

Opening a forcing 2-bid on a two-suited hand tends not to work out very well so you settle for 1H. Besides, it seems unlikely that the bidding will stop there so no worries about missing an easy game. The vulnerability is favourable and you mentally note this may discourage a high-level sacrifice by your opponents.

East bids 1S and your partner bids 2S showing at least a good raise to 3H with four card trump support. West bids 3S. So, how do you evaluate this hand and how are you going to proceed?

Clearly, game is not a problem but there is a real chance of a slam, the question is, how to make the most of the situation?

All you need from partner is the King of Hearts (she has already promised four-card support) and the Ace of Spades for 7H to be long odds-on. Luckily, in your slam-bidding tool box, you have the perfect solution to find out if partner has the crucial cards; namely Exclusion Key-Card Blackwood (EKCB). A jump to 5C

now asks partner to respond as if it were Roman KCB but ignoring the Ace of Clubs. Partner responds 5S showing two key cards (without the Queen of trumps) which must be the Ace of Spades and the King of Hearts. You can therefore bid 7H with confidence. Only a 3-0 trump split may defeat you but one should not be shy about bidding a 78% grand slam. You will play there as minus 1510 is the par score for your opponents; against a 7S sacrifice, best defence will score you plus 1700.

On lead, East tries the Ace of Clubs, in spite of being assured you are void.

Here’s the full deal. Dummy is just what you wanted.

                                        2
                                        A98432
                                       AKQ832
                                       Void
               86543                                        KJT97
               T5                                              Q
               T94                                           J6
                KJ7                                           AQ853
                                        AQ
                                        KJ76
                                       75
                                       T9642

Perhaps we should not be surprised that the grand slam was missed at all six tables. One NS pair did reach 6H. At my table we got our wires crossed somewhat but took 1100 against 5S doubled. Neat defence from partner; I led

the Heart 2, partner won, cashed AK Diamonds then the Diamond 2, indicating a switch to Clubs. I over-ruffed declarer and gave partner a Club ruff for four down.

Still, can’t help regretting not bidding the grand. Followers of the Law of Total Tricks will observe that West should raise his partner’s overcall to 4S straightaway; there being at least a ten-card fit. Even vulnerable this can be a winning tactic. This will inconvenience North who cannot now be sure that partner will read 5C as EKCB. How would you cope with this?

Ian Moss. December 2021.