What is the most exciting part of bridge? Bidding and making slams, of course!

Let’s add some spark to our games and learn to bid those slams.

Slam bidding is not easy. Your mission is to take 12 or 13 tricks and that is a tall order. But that does not mean you should throw your destiny to the gods and just bid slams.

There is a scientific way of determining when you should be in slam, and, even more important, when you shouldn’t be in a slam contract.

We already know the points suggested for bidding slam- 33 for a small slam and 37 points for a grand slam. Your points can include high cards and distribution. Points don’t tell the whole story, however.

Sometimes you make slam with fewer than 33 points and sometimes you cannot make a slam even with 34 points. You could, for example, have a missing Ace and King in the same suit, and if the opponents cash them, your slam will go down.

As well as being interested in points, you are interested in controls. Aces are first-round controls. If you are playing with a trump suit, a void is a first-round control. Kings and singletons (in trump contracts) are considered second-round controls.

Let’s look at a few possible slam auctions. How do you interpret your partner’s bids in these three situations?

1: You open 1 NT and partner bids 4 NT.

2: You open 1 NT and partner bids 5 NT.

3: You open 2 NT and partner bids 5 spades.

In the first auction, your partner’s 4 NT is NOT asking for Aces – she would bid 4 clubs to ask for Aces. There is no point in going one beyond game, so there has to be a message in her 4 NT bid. Partner is inviting you to go to 6 NT.

In the second auction, partner is inviting you to 7 NT.

And in the third auction, partner is in inviting you to go to 6 spades.

What do you need as the partner in the above auctions to accept the invitations? What do you do if you cannot accept the invitations?

When do you use Blackwood? Answer: When you and partner are in a suit contract and you want to check for Aces.

When do you use Gerber? Answer: When you and partner are in a no trump contract and want to ascertain if you have missing aces.

Are these conventions the only way to show Aces? Answer: No. You can also use control bidding.

Put some sizzle into your bridge game by learning to bid and make those slams.

Dr. Kathie Walsh, an ABTA teacher of the year, teaches all levels of bridge at Hilton Head Island Bridge Club. kbwalsh@road runner.com