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The following hand came up recently in the Common Game. I would like my gentle reader let me know how you would have bid in order to reach the optimal contract (6 clubs). I know that a small slam really is possible because a few partnerships, admittedly rare, actually bid and made 6 clubs. I suspect those partnerships used the Precision Club system, or some variation thereof; but any insights that you can provide would be much appreciated.

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    At matchpoints in the typical club, given just the N/S hands, I would much rather be in 3N; I would figure to get most of the matchpoints at little risk, whereas 6C, even if it's more than 50%, can go down in a variety of ways. It is not good matchpoint play to risk a 75% score for a 60% chance of a 100% score (and 40% chance of a 0). At a good club, calculations change because I can't expect a 75% for 3N. – Alexander Woo Mar 13 at 20:11
  • Thank you for your response, Alexander; but I think you miss the point of my question.The safety players in our club bid and made 3NT. For that they got 400 masterpoints, which is far less than the few partnerships that bid and made 6 clubs, who were rewarded with 920 masterpoints. – Stefanovitch Mar 14 at 22:48
  • But you should make at least 10 tricks for 430 in 3N, and a good player will probably make 11 for 460. Making 11 tricks puts you ahead of the players making 9 or 10, and gets you around 75% on the board. – Alexander Woo Mar 15 at 2:35
  • Stefanovitch, is your club using total scoring? Highly unusual I must say. @Alexander assumed that matchpoint scoring is used. So he wants to be sure that he scores better than the average player holding these cards. Saying that he expects a 75% score declaring this hand radiates a degree of confidence in his own (and/or his partners) declarer play! But the logic is that in a matchpoint tournament 3NT is often a good enough contract with these cards. Partner and I might probe for a slam (when the MP logic would more or less force us to also bid it). – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 2 at 14:23
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I propose the following sequence playing a standard approach, with EW passing throughout:

1C 1D
1S     4 Spades, denying a hand suitable to rebid 1NT
   2H  4th Suit Forcing to game, suggesting dislike for NT
3C     5-card Club suit, dislikes NT also, often denies Heart control
   4C  agreeing clubs, still forcing, extras
4D     1st or 2nd round control in Diamonds
   4H  1st or 2nd round control in Hearts
6C     We have the controls, and 5C is almost always a bad result

Another possibility using Single Raise Forcing (10+ Pts) is:

1C  2C  forcing raise, 4+ support and 13+ support points
2S      4 Spades, two suited with longer Clubs than Spades
    3H  Denies Diamond A or K, shows Heart A or K, Game Force
3S      Spade A or K and Diamond A or K or singleton denied by partner
    4H  Holding both A and K, or singleton A, of Hearts; and
        likes the Diamond and Spade controls from Opener
6C      Looks like a super fit

It is also faulty analysis to claim that NS have less than 30 points combined. The South hand is worth 16 to 17 points in a Club contract (15 HCP and either 1 point for the fifth Club or two points for the two doubletons) and the North hand is worth 16 Dummy points in a Club contract (14 HCP - 1 for the unsupported QS + 3 for the singleton Spade). This is a combined partnership strength of 32-33 points, and as the auctions above indicate that it is quite reasonable, using standard methods, to find the Club slam.

If finding reasonable slams were easy, they wouldn't be worth so much. Bridge is designed to reward those who can accurately reassess hand strength during the auction, in light of bidding by partner and the opponents.

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    Many thanks for your comments and proposals, which I found most helpful, especially the second bidding sequence. Am I right in thinking that Single Raise Forcing is also known as Inverted Minors ? – Stefanovitch Mar 14 at 22:52
  • @Stefanovitch: One can (at least theoretically) play Single Raise Forcing without the second aspect of Inverted Minors, namely the Jump Raise Preemptive. As the sequence above did not require any inference in regards the Jump Raise I used only the most specific agreement. – Forget I was ever here Mar 14 at 22:56
  • @Stefanovitch: Note that not all partnerships use the cue-bid style I have exemplified here - but as you can see it is very informative. – Forget I was ever here Mar 14 at 22:58
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It's possible that those partnerships used Splinter Bids, which are artificial bids that promise High Card Points a bit short of a guaranteed slam but also show shortness in the bid suit to compensate. With a bit of distribution luck it's possible to get extra tricks via ruffs.

As discussed in the article above, specifics like splinter bids after minor openings and other slam bidding conventions come into play. But I suspect that a splinter bid first alerted South of a favorable card distribution, with an Ace opposite a singleton spade.

  • An Ace is always more valuable opposite a long suit than opposite a singleton - as in the former case it assists in setting up additional length and honour tricks, while the latter case it is a duplicate control. Thus your answer is incorrect analysis - the determination of that duplication should slow the auction, not accelerate it. – Forget I was ever here Aug 2 at 14:13

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