Well Played Hands, Part I: A Perfectly Timed Slam


Bill Nutting, bridge player and San Francisco Giants fan

By Ray Adams

Well Played Hands, Part I:  A Perfectly Timed Slam


Bridge buffs frequently talk about timing when discussing the play of a hand.  Successfully declaring bridge hands depends on being  in the right place at the right time and that means good timing.  Everything must be done at the precise moment.  This includes cashing high cards, ruffing, and drawing trumps – if they are drawn at all.  The bridge buffs at Stockton’s Oak Park Bridge Club in Stockton, California, were recently able to witness a perfectly timed slam by local player, Bill Nutting.  This was the interesting hand:


Bill was playing with his wife, Ann, and arrived in 6♠ on the auction shown.  4♣ was a splinter bid, showing 4 card spade support, 19+ points, and a singleton in clubs.  5♣ showed zero or three aces, the king of trumps being counted as one ace.  5♦ was an inquiry for the queen of trumps, and Ann denied having it when she bid 5♠.  Bill undoubtedly would have bid the grand slam had she held this card.  Even so, when West led the queen of hearts, Bill realized as he surveyed the dummy that he could only make this bold slam with careful and accurate timing.

He won the ace of hearts, cashed the king, and ruffed a heart, with all following.  Since West had not played the jack on these heart leads, Bill was quite certain that this player still held that card.  The worry was that East might be short in diamonds and able to discard one if Bill prematurely ruffed dummy’s last heart.  Therefore, Bill cashed the diamond queen and went to dummy with a small diamond to the ace.  He now ruffed dummy’s last heart, with East throwing a club and West following with the jack.  So far, so good.

Next came the ace of clubs, all following.  As Bill ruffed a club in dummy, West threw a diamond and Bill was now glad he had taken care to ruff out the hearts before West tossed one.  When he played the king of diamonds, East ruffed and Bill overruffed.  He trumped another club in dummy to lead the last diamond, ruffing with the ace of trumps.  Bill now had eleven tricks laid out in front of him and dummy remained with the ♠KJ.  When he led a club, West gave up.  If he ruffed low, Bill would overruff, and if he ruffed with the queen, Bill would play the king.  Either way, he had made all the tricks with his perfect timing.

Making seven was quite exceptional on this hand, as no other South players made more than five, and several went down in six.  This hand was declared towards the end of 2014, and I feel certain Stockton players will see many more well-played hands by Bill in 2015.

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