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Anyway, the reason I am mentioning all of this is because a hand came up last week where knowledge of game tries would have got to the correct contract. Before I get onto the
actual hand, consider this one. You open 1♥ and get a 2♥ response
♥ AQ974 would be too optimistic. So you invite game. Traditionally, 3♥ is the bid.
♦ 76 But if you play (help suit) game tries, then bid 2♠. It says “please bid
♣ AK game if you can help me in ♠’s”. So, that is the general concept of the
help suit game try, we need help in the suit bid. The ace, king or often
queen are enough. With adequate trump support, even a small doubleton is good. Got the general idea? Use the game try to establish if partner can help in a specific suit.
Now let’s get on to Hand 16 from last week. First of all, what do you open?
♥ AQ974 like it for two reasons. Firstly the hand is not balanced and secondly
♦ A because the ♥ suit is quite respectable. So how about a strong 2♥? Even if
♣ AK9 you play strong twos (either directly or Benjamin), this hand does not
qualify. The ♥ suit is not good enough and the hand has insufficient
playing strength. That just leaves 1♥ as the only acceptable opening bid. Now some people may cry out ‘but it may be passed out!’ True, but if partner cannot respond, I would certainly prefer to play the hand in 1♥ rather than 2NT! So, we open a heavyweight 1♥ and partner responds 2♥, what now? Partner’s support has improved our already powerful hand, and we are (at least I am) certainly looking for slam.
Remember last week when I said that you should not even try for slam on that flat combined 32 count? The situation here is completely different. We are not flat and we have a fit. And remember what I said about re-evaluation. This hand can only open 1♥; but once partner supports, it becomes enormous.
A bid of 4♥ now would show a relatively balanced 19 count. We are too strong. A cue bid or a splinter is pointless, as partner has nothing to cue in return! Standard Blackwood is useless, we have all the aces and if we ask for kings we have no idea if partner has the useful ♠K or the ‘less useful’ ♦K. We could use Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB) to establish that partner has the ♥K, but that does not really help, we need to know about his ♠ holding. Having used RKCB, there are methods to ask for a specific king, but that will get us too high – they are designed for situations when looking for the grand. So none of the slam conventions help. How do we find out if partner has help in ♠’s?
Simple. We just use a game try! After 1♥ - 2♥, we bid 2♠; a game try, asking for help in ♠’s. Now partner will think that we are just trying for game, but that does not matter (we are the Captain, he is the crew). If he signs off in 3♥, then we simply bid 4♥. But if he accepts the ‘game try’ then we use RKCB to check that he has the king of trumps and bid 6♥ (or you could just bid 6♥ anyway). What happened in real life last week? Partner had an eight count including the ♥K and ♠K (doubleton) and would (should) certainly accept a game try. The hand was played 5 times. 13 tricks were made twice and 12 on the other 3 occasions. Unfortunately, nobody bid slam. It does not come up that often, but game tries can be used when looking for slam.