Poll #27, Jerry Helms – Special Guest: Bidding Slam/Grandslam and Promotion Play, 01/14/2011

Jerry Helms - Worldclass Bridge Teacher: Bidding Slam/Grandslam, Promotion Play

We are delighted to offer you a special treat for today’s lesson.  Jerry Helms, World-class Bridge Teacher and playing professional with 18,000+ Masterpoints, teaches students a lesson on slam/grandslam bidding and play!   If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of Jerry’s class, right away we offer you this warning:

See our online video commentary of bidding with card animation.

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 After watching one of Jerry’s awesome lessons with rapid-paced and insightful out-of-the-box commentary, you will soon be scanning his website for a Bridge seminar or festival near you!   See JerryHelm.com for more information – and don’t miss reading 100 of his monthly “Ask Jerry” ACBL Bridge Bulletin columns.

In today’s poll, we echo a few of the many key points from Jerry’s lesson.  When you hold a 16 HCP monster hand with a great 7 card Heart suit and partner opens 1 Notrump, now what?  This isn’t your everyday situation, right?   Are you a traditionalist, stick to tried and true methods or does your creative side give rise to consider alternative bidding methods with such an unusual holding?

♠ A Q
J 9 2
A J 2
♣ A 6 5 4 2

♠ —
    6

♣ —

N

W

E

S

♠ —


♣ —

♠ K J
A K Q 10 8 7 3
K 5 4
♣ 3

 

North opens 1 Notrump.  What, wonder’s South – how can that be? South counts 16 High Card Points plus at least 3 distribution points.  Well, counting 1 extra point for a self-sustaining 7 card suit hardly reflects the strength of this terrific hand.  Even if North only holds a doubleton Heart suit, 95 percent of the time the declarer should be able to bring home 7 Heart tricks (a 4-0 split is 10 percent, with half of time the Jack can be finessed.

With partner holding 2 Aces, slam is a reality and if partner hold 3 Aces, making a grandslam contract should be a worthwhile adventure.  On these hands the auction proceeds:

West

North

East

South

1 N

Pass

4 ♣

Pass

4 N

Pass

5 ♣

Pass

5

Pass

7

Pass

Pass

Pass

Oops, did you begin by transferring North to Hearts so “play goes up to the strong hand?” Mind you a 1 Notrump opener had around 4-5 playing tricks. And South’s hand – almost twice as many playing tricks. Better yet, responder would prefer to have the lead coming right into the South hand with the Kings and associated Jack. So the bidding proceeds: 4 Club (Gerber) Ace-ask, 4 Notrump response showing 3 Aces, 5 Club King-ask 5 Diamond showing none, 7 Hearts – okay partner, let me play the grandslam contract.

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Warm Regards,

Michael
BridgeHands

Comments

  1. Jeff Holst says:

    On the hand that you present in poll #27, you argue against transfering, as your hand is the “big hand”. This is certainly true, but I always thought the point of transfering is to force the lead into opener’s tenaces. What tenaces does responder have on this hand? Maybe spades, but partner is likely to have a spade honor (or two).
    Not hearts or clubs. Diamonds only if partner has neither the Ace or Queen, which is unlikely based upon his 1NT opening. Opener is likely to have at least one, and possibly two tenaces in the minors. (all the more reason for a passive lead.) If the opening leader gets aggresssive and leads into a minor suit tenace against 7H, you can claim.

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Jeff,
      Yes, you are correct that one of the fundamental advantages of transfers is that opponents lead (and third seat play) can often enjoy an extra trick when falling into the 1 Notrump opener’s tenaces as: AQx, KJx AJ10, etc. Another secondary benefit is to hide the opener’s strong honor assets to complicate the defender’s play tactics.
      .
      That said, with South’s holding Jerry Helms makes a valid argument not to transfer with some holdings and arguably South’s hand meets this criteria. With about 33 High Card Points between the hands and a self-sustaining Heart suit the only real concern is PRIMARY honors, not Queens and Jacks. So with the lead coming to South’s side suit King’s, having West on lead makes a lot of sense. Certainly if West held an Ace-Queen, we would not want East to be on lead.
      .
      That said, hopefully everyone will appreciate the spirit of this lesson. With unusual hands, we should not always be bound to follow conventional wisdom and be forced to follow so-called “rules” that serve us better as guidelines. A more classic example is when a player automatically initiates an Ace-asking sequence when missing both the Ace and King in a side suit. Earlier this week we discussed the importance of making forcing cuebids in this situation in order to avoid the opponents quickly playing thier Ace-King to set the declarer with 33 combined HCP.
      Warm Regards, Michael
  2. BridgeHands says:
    Today’s poll offers a unique perspective not found in the Bridge books. In Jerry Helms lessons, he rebukes the notion that the partner of 1 Notrump opener is not ALWAYS obligated to transfer to a long suit. But judging by our polling results, this radical idea hasn’t found favor with all of our pollsters. Here’s the findings after the first day:
    .
    28 percent – Transfer, Blackwood Ace/King ask. Aggressive lead
    27 percent – Gerber Ace/King ask. Agressive lead
    20 percent – Transfer, Blackwood Ace/King ask. Passive lead
    16 percent – Gerber Ace/King ask. Passive lead
    10 percent – Something else (different bidding and/or lead)
    .
    While the feedback is mixed, one area where most of our polling responders rightly or wrongly seem to agree is that the defenders should make an agressive lead.
    .
    It turns out that generally the safest defense is a passive lead when the declarer bid to the 7 Heart level like Jerry’s lesson. On a 6 Heart contract, yes the defenders would be more inclined to lead more aggressively. The notion is that in a 7 level suit contract, it’s far safer for defenders to make a passive lead since only one trick is needed to set the contract. However in a 6 Heart contract, then yes, it’s often right to immediately pursue attacking a suit to win an eventual trick (perhaps after knocking out the declarer’s Ace with a Queen or King).
    .
    Second, as discussed above, with 7 Heart winners, 2 Kings, and a singleton, Jerry advocates avoiding transfers on this unique hand. The idea that that if partner is missing an Ace in Spades or Diamonds, we want the lead to come to South’s hand. Otherwise when West holds an Ace-Queen behind our unprotected King the hand immediately goes done.
    .
    Yet aside from these provocative notions, the main focus on Friday’s lesson is all about a promotion play. When you have a 5-1 fit in a suit contract with plenty of transportation to the dummy, consider ruffing the suit out to promote the fifth card in the suit, a 62 percent chance of success with the opponents 4-3 suit distribution. And when the suit breaks badly (5-2), you can still try the 50 percent chance on the finesse.
    .
    Good bidding, good play and good luck,
    Michael
  3. Haarwuchs says:

    My partner and I stumbled over here from a different website and thought I might check things out.
    I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking into your web page repeatedly.

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello Haarwuchs,
      .
      Also, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Jerry’s website at:
      http://www.jerryhelms.com
      His “Ask Jerry” column has hundreds of thought-provoking lessons with dramatic stories, the type we like to offer here at BridgeHands.
      Warm Regards,
      Michael

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