This hand was played in the life master pair event at the
Chicago North American Bridge Championships that was contested
earlier this summer. Martin Baff of Beachwood held the South
cards and his partner was Phil Becker of Cleveland. These are
two of the very best players in the Northeast Ohio area and they
easily qualify as experts.
The auction requires some explanation. 2NT is conventional
showing at least a game forcing hand with good spade support. 3C
is artificial. It shows that the opening hand is a minimum. 3D
asks the opener if he has a singleton or void. 3H says that
there is club shortness. 4NT is Roman keycard Blackwood. 5D
shows one ace. 5NT asks for the lowest ranking king. 6D shows
the king of diamonds. 6H asks responder to bid the grand slam if
he also holds the king of hearts.
The grand slam in spades is a 98% contract. The only way it
can be defeated is if West has all five hearts and leads one for
East to trump at trick one. Other than that, it is a laydown.
You would expect to get an above average matchpoint score
for bidding and making a grand slam. The life master pairs is
not your everyday duplicate event. In the first place, the
boards are scored across four sections so that a top score is 51
matchpoints. Bidding and making seven spades was worth 21
matchpoints which is a 40% score. On a twelve top you would get
a five. In the second place, the best pairs in the world are the
competition. By comparison, think of the Masters at golf or the
U.S. Open at tennis.
The top award went to those pairs bidding and making seven
no trump. This contract specifically requires hearts to divide
3-2, a 68% possibility. This is not a bad slam, but it is
significantly inferior to seven spades.