This is in response to your question: Was this good bidding?
1H - 4N
5D - 6H
H A Q x x x
D A x
C K J 9 x x
First, you were perceptive enough to realize a Slam was quite likely.
Skilled bidders prefer descriptive methods using "slow shows" methods to
enhance communications and learn more about partner's hand before jumping
into Slam - perhaps 13 tricks are possible!
Bidding Slams requires partnership agreement with a firm understanding of
various bidding scenarios. Not knowing your partnership agreements, your
approach may have been best at the time.
However, I'm delighted to see that you are seeking better methods to bid
Slam -- I'll share some of the strategies better Bridge players use to bid
Slam in your situation.
First, the general rule of thumb is that our partnership should have 33
points to make Slam an 37 points to make a Grandslam. Of course, we
must also have the necessary winning tricks (controls) -- the Aces,
sometimes referred as first round of controls. And the second round of
controls, Kings, are important, too.
In your case, when partner opens 1 Heart, we can bracket a range of 12-21
points. Now let's evaluate your hand. You have 14 High Card Points.
However, your hand has two wonderful features based on your partner's bid:
A 5-card Heart suit -- a 10-card fit or better!
Shortages in the "pointy suits" -- Spades and Diamonds. These will provide
excellent ruffing opportunities for your partner to get rid of losers from
your Dummy hand!
While counting Dummy shortage
distribution points has several approaches,
when you have good support it's safe to use a 5-3-1 method:
5 points = Void, 3 points = Singleton, 1 point = Doubleton
So, you have 4 extra points for distribution, giving you a
total of 14 HCP + 4 distribution = 17 playing (Dummy) points.
Whenever your partnership has 30+ playing points and a trump
fit, your side should investigate Slam. Why? Even though your side may not
have 33 points, you have enough points to make a 5-level bid (29 points), so
there is little risk of asking partner for Aces (controls). If the
Aces aren't there, you can still "signoff" at 5 Hearts and make the
To find Aces, we use Blackwood or its variants (1430 or RKC).
I'll assume your partner used regular Blackwood, which works fine based on
the auction at hand. Generally, when you are missing an Ace control using
regular Blackwood, it's wise to consider signing off at the 5-level.
However, let's look a bit deeper.
Let's look at your bidding style to look for areas of improvement. In your
auction, the consequence of your immediate jump to 4 Notrump Blackwood meant
you didn't want to find out any more about your partners hand. In
retrospect, wouldn't it have been nice to know whether your partner had 12
or 21 points? If it was only 12, you might not make Slam. But
if your partner made a rebids showing extra values, a Grandslam might be
possible assuming partner had missing controls.
So I recommend that you use intermediate forcing bids, sometimes called
"temporizing bids" that will allow you to get more information from your
partner before making the 4 Notrump Blackwood bid.
With your hand, you could have made a 2 Club bid which would be forcing just
to see what partner does next. If partner bids 3 Clubs, then you are
fairly certain your partner has some of the Honors you are missing (tenaces).
Conversely, partner might make a jump bid to 3 Hearts or 4 Hearts, showing a
strong hand. Knowing that would also have giving you additional
information before you make your Slam bid and certainly allow you to
consider bidding Grandslam.
A modern approach to slam bidding when partner opens a major suit and
responder has a good trump fit with an opening hand or better is the
Jacoby 2 Notrump convention.
Perhaps you have heard of, or use the "Jacoby Transfer" convention, used
when partner opens 1 Notrump and you have a 5-card or longer suit. Well,
Oswald Jacoby also gave us another very useful convention, his
Jacoby 2 Notrump method.
In essence, Jacoby 2 Notrump is
used when your partner opens
1-Major and you have an opening hand as well as 4+ trump. Oswald
reasoned these hands have a strong possibility of making Slam. The bidding
1N - 2N
The opener then makes conventional (artificial) rebids to show a
maximum/medium/minimum openers hand and can even show a short suit
(singleton/void) in opener's response. Please see
BridgeHands website for details on
Jacoby 2 Notrump.
As you become a more advanced player, you will discover other specialized
bids are helpful when you have less than an opening hand with good trump
support. For instance, the "Splinter
bid" can be used to find Slams when you hold a side suit singleton or void,
a long trump fit (4 or more in major suits) and the partnership only has 26 - 32 points. While this is an advanced
discussion, suffice it to say that if you and your partner agreed to play
Splinters, if you held a weaker hand (perhaps without the Club honors), you could bid 3 Spades with your hand to show a singleton
Spade as well as a long trump suit and interest in exploring Slam. If
partner found your short Spade suit capable of ruff losers, partner might
explore Slam. However,
such cuebids require considerable study so I wouldn't recommend it for
Finally, I entered your hand in a Bridge simulator to determine how your
hand plays opposite a 1 Heart opener:
In conclusion, I recommend you work with your partner to learn effective
bidding methods, including Slam bidding. After all, Bridge is a
lifetime of learning. Good luck on your journey.