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Free Gravis and for Nothing

Have you ever been dealt a hand with 28 high card points? I bet you haven’t – unless you were sitting South last Thursday. Such huge hands are not always that easy to bid, though. In fact they are notoriously difficult to bid to the optimum contract, as we can see when we look at the combined results in all our X-Clubs Thursday evening sessions.

Board 6 from Thursday 29/03/2018
Dealer E EW Vul

Board#6 29/03/2018

Look at only the NS hands. Do you agree that SIX NO TRUMPS is an awful contract? Unless the queen of spades drops, South will make exactly nine tricks. However 6♠ is absolutely cast iron, and what an educated NS pair should bid. SEVEN No Trumps, though, is NOT a silly contract. That is because if the spade queen falls, there are thirteen tricks on top. So, if you make 6NT, it will be made with an overtrick, so why not be in the grand slam? 7♠, on the other hand, also requires the spade queen to drop, so is no better than 7NT, except that it won’t go four down. I suggest that those pairs who bid to 6♠ should justly feel proud of their bidding. Those pairs who bid to 6NT need to practice their bidding to ensure that they don’t have disasters like 6NT down three when 6♠ is stone cold.

As for bidding the grand slam, I can boast that we were the only pair in the country to bid 7NT on this hand, and it was based on logical and accurate bidding which could place North with six spades headed by an honour. If that honour was the queen, then there were thirteen sure tricks in No Trumps, if it was the jack, because North had shown at least six spades, then there were still six spade tricks if the queen dropped. Therefore, either 7NT made or went down four. And 6NT down three was not any better. 6♠ was the certain slam but would make seven more times than not.

While it should be possible to bid to 7NT playing a strong club system like Precision, it is also possible playing my “Evil Acol” version with a “Superclub” opening of 1♣. I won’t go into it now, but if any reader would like me to send them a copy of “Trick 8”, I can email it to them on request, free of charge (“Free Gravis and for Nothing” as the saying goes).

The first six “Tricks” of my new book “Thirteen Tricks” are now available in PDF format by email, for $20. If you would like to receive them, please let me know, at

My best wishes for a great Easter Holiday to all our readers.

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