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These articles have been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.

The Queen-Ask

Dealer South

Love All

North
AKJ84
K4
AKJ
A86
South
753
AQJ10532
84
9

West    North  East     South

                                         3

Pass     4NT*  Pass     5*

Pass     5*    Pass     6*

Pass     7      All Pass

North's 4NT bid was Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKB) with 1430 responses. 5 showed '1' keycard and 5, the next ranking suit, was the queen-ask. When replying to a queen-ask, the responses are:

(1) Without the queen, sign off in the five level of the only bid suit or the agreed suit.

(2) Holding the queen with a side suit king, bid the king suit. With two kings, bid the king that can be shown at the lower level.

(3) Holding the queen with no side suit king, jump to the six level of the only bid suit or the agreed suit.

(4) As a further refinement when holding the queen, but no side suit king, responder can bid 5NT to show some side suit third round control, a doubleton, a queen or even a singleton. If the asker needs a particular third round control to bid a grand slam, the asker can bid that suit and if responder has that third round control, responder bids the grand.

Notice that playing 3014 responses to RKB, the '1' response is 5 making it impossible to ask for the queen beneath the five level of the agreed suit as a bid of 5 would be to play. Most players who use 3014 response, play Kickback. Playing Kickback, 4 is RKB when hearts is the agreed suit avoid this problem. However, if spades is a bid suit, the partnership must be on firm footing to sort out a natural 4 bid from a RKB 4 bid. Enough of bidding theory.

The opening lead is the king of clubs. Plan the play.

Making this grand depends upon finding the queen of spades or the queen of diamonds. If either finesse works you can make the grand, but which finesse should you take? Neither! For the time being. When faced with a choice of taking one of two finesses for a queen to make your contract, but if you take the wrong one you go down, this is your best bet: Play the ace-king of the longer suit (spades), and if the queen doesn't drop, take a finesse in your shorter suit, diamonds.

You give yourself quite a bit of an extra chance if you do this. For example, the queen of spades figures to drop about 33% of the time, a good head start with the diamond finesse still in reserve.

The full deal:

North
AKJ84
K4
AKJ
A86
West
1096  
76  
1072  
KQ732  
East
Q2
98
Q9653
J1054
South
753
AQJ10532
84
9