Writers’ weekly 19 | Relay vs Natural slambidding

The bidding has changed a lot since the early days of bridge. The rise of the relay-based systems came in full strength during the 70’s and is still superior to natural methods in some situations. Today we see the most complexed natural bidding systems use a lot of relays in given positions.  

The writers weekly came across this hand from a match at the top level. This time the relay-bidding came out as a winner, could the naturalists have done better?

South stretched his cards bidding 3 spades. The rest of the bidding was understandable bringing south as declarer in a though, but promising slam.

The relay-bidding let the strong hand ask for distribution and strength. After a few relays south knew north had exactly 5-3-3-2 distribution with 8-11 hcp. South next put up a slamtry in spades, north only held 2 controls so he signed off with 3 NT. South could still see the chance of slam so he went on with a cue-bid.

This gave north a good chance of showing his hand. He had maximum for his bidding but no cue-bids. He therefore jumped to 5 spades to show a semi-solid suit without side controls!

South knew it had to be a good chance for slam and raised to 6 spades without much worries. The play was even faster after west led a trump, declarer just ruffed the diamonds and discarded a heart on the clubs.

In the other room NS were naturalist. They bid the hand like this


 Who is to blame?

South gave it a good try with his splinter, when north signed-off he really couldn’t go on with his 4414 distribution, there was just too much holes needed to be filled.

North on the other hand had a decent 5-card spades, but without any other values he had a hard time. He could have jumped to 5 spades, but was this hand strong enough? Maybe 4 hearts as “last-train” could be better.

Anyhow, the scientific methods gained 13 imps.