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Motor City Grand Slams

Have you ever been dealt back-to-back ice-cold 7NT hands playing in a matchpoint game with two boards per round? This unusual layout happened on October 12, 2011, in a two-session matchpoint event at the Motor City Regional. For me and my partner, these were the first two boards we played!

On Board 11, I picked up:

East
J
A632
A987
AKQ3

With neither side vulnerable, South as dealer passed. My partner as West opened with 4 (we do not play Namyats). I was happy to be playing Roman Keycard Blackwood and bid 4NT, after which partner with a suit headed by the AKQ replied 5. I asked for kings with 5NT, and partner (who had already shown the spade king) replied 6 to show “none.” At matchpoints, we do not play asking for kings shows all the aces, since we may wish to ask for kings in deciding whether to play 6NT.

I decided that partner could not be counted on to have eight spades when holding the AKQ of her suit, especially if she had a four-card side suit.  However, 12 tricks at notrump were assured if the spades broke 3-2, and pard was a favorite to hold the spade ten anyway, so I settled for 6NT. After the opening lead, partner put down AKQ1087643 3 Q53 void, so I was able to face my hand claiming 14 tricks off the top. North gave me credit for only 13 tricks, but that's bridge.

On Board 12, with partner the dealer, I picked up:

East
AKJ95
Q10
Q983
AJ

As I mentally prepared to open 1NT on my 17 balanced HCP, my partner opened 2 in front of me! I dutifully replied with 2 and my partner rebid 2, which we play as a modified form of Kokish Relay that shows either a strong twobid in hearts or a notrump had of 22 or more HCP. I made the puppet bid of 2 and partner rebid 2NT, showing 22-23 HCP. Since we were assured of being off at most a solitary jack, I bid 7NT. My partner, a lady still in the final stages of working toward the Life Master title, apprehensively awaited the opening lead preparing to play a grandy. She held Q76 AK82 AKJ KQ8, and gave me a nice smile shortly after I put the dummy down. We had another hand with 14 top tricks, but were forced to get credit for only 13.

After the session, we got our matchpoint scores on these two boards. Our results on them were not flattering to the quality of a modern regional tournament field. Even though a concurrent knockout event took up a lot of the good players, our scores were still surprisingly good. On a 12 top, we received a score of 10.88 for 6NT on Board 11! Perhaps you were thinking that my partner should have gambled a bid of 7 or 7NT at some point after I asked for kings with 5NT. Evidently, her safely settling for 6NT was a reasonable matchpoint decision.

On Board 12, where I expected a flat board because the partnerships should have been assured of a grand slam in notrump on any bidding, we received 8.71 matchpoints.

There is a matchpoint lesson here. Consider following the command of Sidney Lenz, who in the Culbertson match told his players to never bid a grandy unless they could count 13 tricks!

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