Grand for All

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 05/16/2007
Level: Intermediate

More than 1 million dollars was in the prize pool for the 2007 Cavendish Invitational Pairs in Las Vegas. The winners (for the 3rd time) were Bobby Levin & Steve Weinstein. To read more, see the Cavendish website.

There were some good "technical" deals, but for me, the most fun was this exhibit:

Vul: East-West
Dlr: East
?10 9 8 5 4 3 2
?J 7 3
?J 3 2
?A 7
?6 4
?A K Q
?A K Q 10 9 8
?A K Q 10 8 2
?J 9 8 6 5 4
  ?K J 6
?9 5
?10 7 3 2
?7 6 5 4

Obviously, East-West have a grand slam in either red suit. The best contract is 7NT, which is 100% on any lead and any lie of the cards. 7? could go down on a bad day if the defense can ruff the opening heart lead, and 7? could also go down if there was a heart loser.

I was curious to see if all 28 tables would reach this grand slam. Some Easts opened the bidding 4? and their partner used RKC and drove to 7NT upon learning of the 2 keycards and the ?Q.

At other tables, East opened 1? and West responded 2?. Most Norths took advantage of the favorable vulnerability to jump to 3? . East, with 6-6 now took another call (some 4? and some 4?). South raised to 4? and West was checking the back of the cards. That's a lot of bidding when West has a prime 22-count! Most Wests at this point just bid 7NT. They knew the opponents must have the top spade pictures, so that meant partner had everything else.

I wondered, would everyone bid the grand? I looked at the scores after the session. Out of 28 tables, how many would you guess reached seven?

Did you guess all 28? You are right. Not all played in notrump, but since this was IMP scoring, it didn't make a big difference.

At your local duplicate, do you think it would have been a flat board in 7NT? I doubt it!