Polling You #48:Slam Bidding – Quantitative Slam Try, Day 8, March 4, 2011

Quantitative Slam Try in Contract Bridge

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Everyone loves a slam and cool tools to find it.  First we learned Blackwood 4 Notrump, then came Gerber 4 Clubs.  Perhaps later we got the hang of cuebidding controls.  Yet sometimes the bidding has revealed our aggregate points are in slam territory if partner has an extra point or two.

Enter the Quantitative Slam Try.  Just like in the inviting auction 1N – 2N, the sequence 1N – 4N ask partner to bid slam when holding a good 1 Notrump opener.  In our Bridge blog and video commentary, we will dig deeper to explore this seemingly trivial bid.  As always, partnership agreements can make a big difference when we are bidding some peculiar treatments.

Is it Quantitative 4 Notrump or Blackwood 4 Notrump?

1. Notrump Raise = Quantitative

2. 1N – 2C; 2H – 4N = Quantitative

3. No suit agreement = Quantitative

4. Suit agreement = Blackwood-ish

5. Self-sustaining suit = Blackwood (strong jump bids)

Quantitative Notrump Considerations

1. Strength Asking – Not Aces, per se

2. Quantitative Factors

3. Qualitative Factors

4. Play of the Hand: Analysis

Quantitative – Hand Evaluation

1. High Card Points: High / Medium / Low

2. Primary Honors: Aces / Kings/ Queens


Dangerous Opponents: Unguarded Kings
Qualitative Factors – Hand Evaluation

1. Length / Shape

2. Promotion – Suit Quality
3. Entries – Transportation
4. Working Honors – Finesse
5. Fits and Misfits

6. Environmental Factors

Play of the Hand

1. Finesse – Odds

2. Promotion – Odds

3. Counting

4. Lead, Play, Discards

5. Safety Play – Dangerous Opponents

6. Table Feel
Quantitative Examples

1N – 4N

2N – 4N

3N – 4N

1S – 2H;

3C – 3N;


1N – 2C;
2H – 4N      Quantitative Slam Try (by definition for serious Duplicate Players)

1H – 2C;
2D – 2S;
2N – 4N

2C – 2D;

1N – 2C;
2D – 5N     Slam force, Grandslam Try

Slam Conventional Agreements

1N – 4N;
5D – ?

Aces ?

4 Diamonds “up the line” seeking 4-4 slam fit ?

5 card suit?  A better treatment is to respond 6D “Pass or correct”

Non-Quantitative Examples

(1H) – P – (1S) – 4N!     Unusual Notrump for the minors (likely 6-5 shape here)

2C – 2D;
3H – 3S;     Self-sustaining suit
4N                Probably Blackwood

1D – 2H;     Self-sustaining suit
3N – 4N      Probably Blackwood

1N – 2C;
2D – 5N!     Slam force, Grandslam try
Slam Conventional Agreements
1N – 2D;
2H – 4N    “Probably” Blackwood (unless also playing Texas Transfers)
1C – 1S;
2N – 4N    “Probably” Quantitative slam try
1N – 4S / 4N   Weak / Good Quantitative slam try

5 Notrump – “Pick a slam”

4 Notrump Ask Without Suit Control

Partner may have bid distributional points – Possible misfit

Missing Ace and King – Possibly two quick tricks outstanding

Opponents may or may not find setting suit – Feel lucky ?
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Warm Regards,



  1. nekthen says:

    1N 2C
    2H 4N quantative?

    I have always played that as Blackwood with Hearts as trumps and therefore 4c as a cue bid also agreeing hearts

    • BridgeHands says:
      Hello March,
      Good to hear your perspective. Actually, without specifically being told that in your sequence that 4 Notrump is Quantitative, I’m sure most everyone would agree that:
      – If it looks like a duck
      – If it quacks like a duck
      – If it waddles like a duck
      – And it swims like a duck
      Then indeed, it must be a Blackwood duck! Unfortunately, way way back, it was probably John Gerber or Charles Goren who decided otherwise. And once their “approved” conventional methods caught on, the rest of us who play their methods more or less had to fall into compliance to avoid problems with other “trained” Bridge partners. My sense is that when a convention-loving Duplicate Bridge player reaches Life Master to Bronze Life Master (300 – 500 Masterpoints), they learn the methods approved by the “big boys.”
      However, I’d guess that at least nine of of ten social Bridge players or those who don’t spend significant time to study fringe conventional methods will all agree with your perspective. So many methods could be used depending on your partnership style. And that’s exactly why we bring up some of these seemingly straight forward agreements here so we won’t go wayward with new partners at the table when bidding an important slam. (aren’t they all?)
      Or as Mark Twain aptly said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
      Warm Regards, Michael
      • nekthen says:

        This may also be a transatlantic thing. I will poll some of my local star players, if I can find any 🙂

  2. BridgeHands says:
    Hello Pollsters,
    On our Quantitative slam try poll, it looks like we have varying viewpoints identifying which of the following is Quantitative.
    25 percent – Responder passes with a minimum, bids 6 Notrump with a maximum
    3 percent – Without a suit fit, a jump to 4 Notrump is a Quantitative slam try
    48 percent – Both of the above
    1 percent – 2H – 4N is a Quantitative slam try
    23 percent – All of the above
    Both of the first two statements was the front runner at 48 percent, passing the 4N Quantitative ask with a minimum and responding 6N with a maximum, provided the partnership does not have a fit. Another 23 percent liked the idea including 2H – 4N as a Quantitative slam try. After partner begins with either a preemptive weak 2 bid or opens a strong 2 Hearts, a jump to 4 Notrump is considered a Blackwood Ace ask by most players. Then again, perhaps some of our readers misread the question – on a computer monitor both 2H and 2N look very close and the auction 2N – 6N certainly is Quantitative.
    Happy Bridging,

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