SI Vault
A New Quiz
Charles Goren
October 31, 1960
If certain defects become apparent in the slam-bidding practices of the casual player, it is usually because he is weighed down by an excess of conventions. It is well to remember that Blackwood and its kinfolk were designed not solely for the purpose of bidding slams but also of avoiding them. Too often a slam convention is employed before an accurate assessment of strength has been made. This is a ticket to disaster.
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October 31, 1960

A New Quiz

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You have the equivalent of an opening bid and partner has opened and jumped. This suggests a slam. Among ways of communicating this to partner, one of the most common is a cue bid. Your three-heart bid will be recognized as ace-showing when later you vigorously support partner's diamonds.

A jump shift announcing interest in slam. Later you will cue bid in hearts, announcing control of that suit (either the ace or a void). Then support for clubs may be shown depending upon how the bidding develops. On the first round you were faced with the choice of an immediate cue bid in hearts or the jump shift in spades. I prefer the latter, because if the cue bid is made first you may find it difficult to portray the quality of your splendid spade suit. The spade bid followed by a re-bid of that suit should convince partner of the excellence of your own trump suit.

Thus far you have done nothing but respond to the opening bid. Your rebid of three hearts was not aggressive action; it was in response to partner's jump shift of two spades, an absolute force.

This action will fix the trump suit. Partner is expected to show an ace if he has one. If, over your four-club bid, he should bid four hearts, a grand slam in clubs ought to be a cinch. If partner does not have the ace of hearts you will have to settle for a small slam. Blackwood would not be helpful, for if partner should show one ace, it would be impossible for you to tell which it was. The Blackwood four no-trump bid should be bypassed where you hold a void.

Partner has opened the bidding and jumped so you should prepare for big things by showing support for his suit. Partner should recognize this as a slam try, otherwise you would hardly let the opponents know of your diamond support. If a mere game were your concern, you could simply proceed to four hearts.

A bid of three no trump is not recommended for you have more than a minimum and partner has put up strong bidding. He must be interested in the king of diamonds, and this is the ideal place to impart that information.

Your hand is better than an opening bid, and partner has opened the bidding and jumped. This normally suggests a slam. A mathematical calculation runs something like this: you have 13 points in high cards and partner has promised about 19. Two five-card suits enhance your high-card count. Over your five no-trump bid partner can contract for slam in either of your suits or in no trump.

This hand, including distribution, counts 23 points and merits a jump-shift forcing rebid to insure reaching at least a game. A direct raise from one to four spades would show a powerful hand but would not do justice to your holding. Such a bid is frequently based on distribution; the jump shift definitely promises high-card strength.

This is not Blackwood when it is a direct raise of no trump, but it is a slam invitation. You have 18 points and a good five-card suit. If partner has a minimum two no-trump response (13 points), he should pass; if he has 15 points (the maximum for a two no-trump response) he should bid slam.

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