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The Joy of Slams-Part 2

Source: Improve your Bridge with M. Bergen ( ACBL Monthly Bulletin 10/2010)

We want a lesson on slams… my students say. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that request, I would be one happy guy. When you think about it, no one should be surprised that players love slams. I also love to bid and make a slam. I usually encourage enthusiastic bidding but I do believe that although bidding good slams is important it is just as important to avoid bad ones.

You may be thinking, «I don’t bid many bad slams. I don’t allways make them, but that’s because of a bad split or they found a good lead or I didn’t play it well. But I don’t remember bidding bad slams».

Maybe you dont bid bad slams, but someone out there is getting too high. A teacher reported: ‘I’m always surprised at how many players think 30 points (including distribution) are enough for slam».

Is it posible that some players have a selective memory on this topic?

They forget bad slams that went down, but never forget successful slams whether well bid or just lucky. Is this one man’s opinion? Maybe so, but take a look at this: A colleague reviewed 100 online slam deals that his students participated in. The deals included slams bid by the opponents as well as his students. All of the players were experienced, and only a few of the opponents were experts. What were the results of the 100 deals?

Forty-four of the slams were good oontracts. A good contract means that more often than not, 12 tricks were likely to make. Definitely not a very impressive performance -less than half made. How can that be?

Only one answer is posible the joy of slams. At the end of a duplicate game, have you ever heard or participated in a discussion similar to the following: -How did you do today?- ‘Well, we only had a 47% game, but let me tell you about the board we bid 6NT, and how I made it!»

Ah, the joy of slams. Many inexperienced players shy away from slams because they are overwhelmed by the notion of taking 12 tricks. On the other hand, you and I know that because you need strong hands to bid slam, many slams are not difficult to play. In fact, sometimes the most difficult contract to make is a lowly partscore. When I open INT, everyone passes, and dummy has 1 hard point not only am I unlikely to take seven tricks, but I frequently don’t even know what suit to work on.

Most slams are not more difficult to make than partsoores or games. Most slams, however, are more difficult to bid accurately than other deals.

Consider this hand, AQJ104 63 K63 AQJ.

As soon as partner opens 1, you are thinking about slam. Your right hand opponent jumps to 3 You bid 3 (forcing) and await developments. Partner rebids 4, here is a review:

West     North      East     South
  1 3 3
Pass 4 Pass ?

Decisions, decisions. What would you do here? Because a diamond ruff is possible, prospects in 6 are difficult to Judge. Could 6NT be cold?

It might be. A 6NT contract is laydown opposite these hands:

1. K7 AKJ752 A2 K62,
2. K AKQJ 104 742 864.

But if opener has hand No. 1, he should cuebid 4 rather than bid 4. As for hand No. 2, does partner have to have solid hearts as well as the K. What’s the bottom line? The correct action is to pass. Making a game may not result in the joy of slams, but it is much more enjoyable than going down in one.

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