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Think twice before you pick a slam – by Milan Macura

Once again over one thousand players (1,063) participated in the IMP tournament and 779 players joined the MP one.

MPs results

IMPs results

Think twice before you pick a slam

Videos

MPs results

When I played the tournament, it seemed that no one would score over 80% this week, but in the end San2 finished with 82.07% and won by a big margin. This player has played over 100,000 boards on Funbridge.

Silver goes to Tom (SE) with 76.21% and bronze to Klaus (DE) with 75.82%. The rest of the field scored below 73%, which indicates quite a flat session.

Peter (SE) and Michael (CZ) reached 70% and topped my friends’ list. I was aiming for 60% but a wrong lead on board 7 cost me a good position and I finished with 52.21% in the 312th place.

General ranking
Milan’s friends ranking

IMPs results

The IMP tournament had a couple of swing boards and who made them right could score over 40 IMPs. All the top players finished the boards before my live stream and Fabio (IT) was in the end the best with +42 IMPs, followed by Yves (FR) and Yusuf (TR) with +41 IMPs. Ivan (HR) and GoduLL (FR) got to the main screen and topped my friends’ list.

I ended up with +1 IMP because I made a terrible mistake in card play on board 6.

General ranking
Milan’s friends ranking

What is the best approach to reach the right slam?

On board 5 of the IMP tournament, you get a beautiful hand and partner opens 1♦.

What is your approach?

With 18 HCP and a solid heart suit, you are surely thinking about slam. But what is the best slam and how to find the missing honors?

When you have a semi-balanced hand or better, you should stop thinking in HCP. Losers can help you estimate the final contract much better and searching for the missing honors should be your mission.

If you consider your heart suit solid and choose it as trumps, you are missing only the ♠A, ♦AK and ♣Q. A club loser can be discarded on diamonds or the missing honor(s) can be finessed. It means that your hand is close to 3 losers only.

The natural 1♥ response is better than strong 2♥ because you get an honest answer from partner. That is also the reason why I play 1m-2♥ as invitational with 6♥. On this board, North rebids 2♦ to show 12-16 HCP and a 6-card diamond suit.

At this point, you should put your heart suit aside because you have a 9-card fit guaranteed. If you support diamonds, you can ask for all 3 missing honors using RKCB. Be careful, 4NT in this sequence is quantitative and partner can pass it or jump to 6NT. 4♦ shows a slam interest in diamonds. North shows a spade control with 4♠ and now you can use 4NT as RKCB for diamonds. North shows 3 key cards.

Which grand slam do you choose?

You can count 6 tricks in diamonds, 3 in hearts, 2 in clubs and 1 in spades. That is 12 tricks in total and you have a chance to score extra heart tricks, a club trick or a spade trick if partner holds the King.

For 7♥, you need partner to have the ♥J or hearts splitting well. Since partner showed 6♦, it is very likely that he has a singleton heart. I decided to ask for the ♠K which will be the 13th trick to make 7NT. Since partner denied the ♠K, I decided to bid safely in 7♦ and was rewarded by +12 IMPs.

Here are the most played contracts:

And the full board:

7NT is the best contract with the actual layout. But if partner does not have the ♥J, even 6♥ will go down. 7♦ depends on diamonds breaking 2-2 or 3-1 and the probability is 90 %.

Against NT, lead your longest and best suit

This is an easy rule to follow and it works very well. But in bridge, no rule works in all cases.

What do you lead with this hand in MPs?

East’s 2♣ followed by 3♦ shows 12+ HCP with a diamond fit and does not necessarily mean long clubs. 3♥ shows values and usually a missing spade stopper. In IMPs, you should always try to beat the contract and scoring 4 heart tricks seems to be the easiest way.

But this hand comes from the MP tournament. Here every trick counts and I can give you a heads-up: picking the wrong lead results into a 5% score, a good lead but bad discards into a 31% score and a good lead and good discards secure 72%.

Opponents have minimum 25 HCP together. You have 6 HCP, which leaves partner with maximum 9 HCP. That can be translated as maximum 3 honors. West promised minimum one heart honor and denied a spade honor.

It means that partner should have at least one spade honor. A club honor in North is three times more likely than the ♥Q or ♥A. That is why I have decided to lead a club with the hope of not giving away a heart trick if East holds the ♥Q. If partner holds a club honor, we can possibly establish 2 club tricks and I can use ♥KJ as an entry.

Here is the whole deal:

My analyses were right but the layout unfavorable so I had the bottom. Declarer played the ♣8 from dummy and finessed ♣J later on to score 11 tricks.

A spade lead can be good but when declarer cashes diamonds, you have to keep all 4 clubs and discard the hearts. Declarer will get scared to finesse the ♣J and cash his 9 tricks.

After the ♥J lead, partner plays the ♥9 and wins the second heart with the ♥Q. Now she [Note: On Funbridge, your partner is a robot called “Argine” and named after the club queen that can be found in French card games, hence the use of “she”.] switches to a small spade. Declarer can still guess the clubs right to take 10 tricks but he is under pressure if you keep the hearts and discard the spades or three clubs.

When declarer sees the ♣9, he can play the finesse the other way around and you can score the ♣J as the 4th trick and get a 72% score.

Videos of Milan Macura’s tournaments

MPs tournament video

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