Bridge & other card games/Bridge


QUESTION: My partner opened with 1 spade, opposition passed. I had 18 points and 3 spades, and I said 4 spades.  Should I have said 4 NT to ask how many aces and, if so, and the answer had been say 2, how would I know if we had enough points to make a Slam.

As it turned out, my partner made a Grand Slam in spades.

Would very much appreciate your advice.

Stewart Fluney


A response of 4S to a 1S opening bid is a special bid. It basically shows a weak distributional hand, about 4-9 points, with 5 card spade support and an outside singleton or void (the same applies to 1H-4H). To show a strong spade raise in standard bidding you would respond 3S. This is forcing to game and may be interested in slam. This bid, however, requires 4 card spade support. In the case you gave, I would need to have more information about your hand, at least how many cards you held in each of the four suits and, even better, the honor cards in those suits, before suggesting any possible bidding auctions. In general, though, you should try to determine in the early bidding whether your side has enough points to be in the slam range before you bid 4NT to ask for aces.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Are you suggesting a response of 4S should only be used to stop the next person from bidding and that even if you don't make game and say go down by one, you have prevented a possible game by the opposition?  In other words, the combined points of the opener and partner in this case may not be more than 19 and the 4S response is not expected to accomplish more than preventing a bid from the opponents?


That is certainly a good analysis. The 4S bid places a lot of pressure on the opponent whose turn it is next to bid. If he has a weakish or a nondescript hand he should certainly pass. However, if he has a strong hand or a good suit he will now have to make a decision at the five level. If he passes his side could possibly miss a game or even a slam but if he bids and partner has the wrong hand he could go down quite a few tricks. Even top experts occasionally end up making the wrong decision. And, of course, 4S might even make. The following hand should make 4S with only a combined total of 15 high card points.

Spades    Axxxx      xxxxx
Hearts    Axx        Kx
Diamonds  x          xxxx
Clubs     Axxxx      x  

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I can answer questions on bidding and on cardplay with the caveat that the former may necessarily involve some subjectivity. I have been playing tournament bridge for over 20 years and I have won several regional tournaments.

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