Theory and Conventions


M J Bridge



Bidding in the slam zone

I should stress that in this area of bidding, possibly more than any other, there are bidding agreements in existence which go far beyond my experience and expertise.

The methods and approach discussed in this section will help you to well beyond an intermediate level, but as you aspire to join the experts you will wish to extend beyond the present content either by researching elsewhere or (better) by observing the methods, style, and practice of other advanced players.


The following pages are filled with conventions,  but, please, do not feel that you have to use them.

It is a common beginner’s mistake to jump into one or other of these conventions as soon there is the slightest whiff of a possibility of a slam.

Such an approach does not constitute good bridge.

There are two underlying guidelines relating to slam bidding.

Guideline one

First of all, it is sometimes quickly apparent that you have more than enough for a slam between you.

If so, don’t mess about with conventions - just bid it.

Guideline two

Secondly, don’t mess about asking for or promising controls of one sort or another if it is not clear that are sufficient tricks available. First of all you should investigate the likelihood that you have the potential to make twelve tricks between you.  Only then do you need to make certain that you are not going to lose two quick tricks first.

It is instructive to realise that it is perfectly possible to hold twenty potential winners between the two hands whilst still having three top losers, but it is equally important to realise that you can hold all eight of the top controls between the two hands and still find yourself struggling to take a ninth or a tenth trick.

Ascertaining that there are enough winners is not the remit of this section.

The groundwork should have been laid much earlier in the auction.

Perhaps a suit will have been agreed at a lower level with a support bid such Jacoby, a splinter, or a fit-jump; perhaps a slam interest will have been expressed via some style of trial bid; or perhaps a game-forcing situation will have been created with a bid in the fourth suit so giving the space to make further enquiries at a low level.

There is some discussion of trial bids in the following pages, and a fuller investigation in the section on theory and conventions.

There is also some discussion of a bid of four of a minor which is used in different ways by different partnerships.

But in the main the present pages discuss ways of showing or asking for controls.

Cue-bids receive some attention, but they have been encountered many times already in the discussion of the early auction.

There are many variations on the Blackwood convention, all worthy of study and all extremely useful at the right time and in the right place.

The various conventions discussed on the following pages are frequently used at a relatively advanced stage in the auction.

Just don’t jump into them without thinking on each and every occasion when you want to look for a possible slam.

Beginner and above