With a really strong hand, should I just overcall?
January 8, 2017
Don’t forget this important step before you start playing!
January 8, 2017

Should you ask for aces? No!!! Pass or invite to slam

We noticed this hand from the fantastic comments and questions left by our Royals.

What a lovely hand!  You have a great hand and have made it to 3NT in the auction. You could pass, but you think there is a chance you should go to slam.

We frequently discuss the idea that Gerber and Blackwood might be overused.

So many players think the best thing to do is ask for aces. Is it?

Play the hand, watch the video, and let us know what you think about asking for aces here?

53 Comments

  1. Profile photo of putty putty says:

    Shouldn’t talk on the phone and play bridge!!! Only made 10 🙁

    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P P
    P

  2. Profile photo of drroflstomp drroflstomp says:

    Well I suppose I was foolish to try for slam — if the daring and bold @lynng didn’t go for it, I must have been truly delusional to think that it was there 🙂
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 4N
    P 5♦ P 6N
    P P P

  3. Profile photo of drroflstomp drroflstomp says:

    Nevermind…I played it again and made the 12. It was totally there with the help of heart discard from West. Seems you need to promote the JH’s to make it.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 4N
    P 5♦ P 6N
    P P P

  4. Profile photo of joden joden says:

    My partner didn’t give me a choice!
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 6N P P
    P

  5. Profile photo of waxing2 waxing2 says:

    Bid 3NT. Looking at partner’s hand I don’t feel that I would have gained that much more information to encourage me to bid slam since I was still missing an Ace. But was then saved by clubs not being led (opposition confused by 2C opening bid???) and by opposition’s play. So I ended up making 13!
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P P
    P

  6. Profile photo of newtz2001 newtz2001 says:

    Bidding a bit strange as I had intended my 4♣ bid to be Gerber thinking Blackwood wouldn’t be possible with NT already bid. Anyway partner for us where I had intended so all was well.

    A♣ was led by East before switching to a low heart. I decided that if I was going to make my contract I was going to have to take the heart finesse and there was a good chance the low lead from East was indicating the Q♥ was there where I needed it. Sure enough the finesse worked and the 3-3 split in hearts also meant I fourth trick was there for taking. The rest were sure winners.

    The other place to pick up tricks is the spade suit where the 3-3 split there means five tricks can be picked up but four of the spades were certain winners anyway so that only gives one extra trick where we need to find two extra winners over and above our certain 10 (after the A♣ lead there are two certain club tricks). This is why the heart finesse must be taken when East gives us the opportunity

    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4♣
    P 6N P P
    P

  7. Profile photo of BidagainLove BidagainLove says:

    Even though I made 3NT I think I should turn the TV off when playing. Assumed the 2D bid by partner was a waiting bid for me to show my 5 card major, thats my excuse and I’m sticking with it.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P P
    P

  8. Profile photo of stevewehrle stevewehrle says:

    6NT pretty much there for the taking. Opened 2C; after negative response pard still felt ve enough to raise my slam suggestion of 4NT to 6. AC lead from E. After that a H from E, won in hand. Took KD and AS before crossing to KS, to be able to cash AD. Came back over to AH, ran S’s. Both E and W ditched a C under the squeeze and was therefore able to run the remaining C’s for the 12th trick.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  9. Profile photo of loulla loulla says:

    4nt and made 10.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 1♠
    P 2♦ P 3♣
    P 3N P 4N
    P P P

  10. Profile photo of moespence moespence says:

    I,m a beginner……..went 6 NT and got them. ( Had to have a skite !!! )
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2N
    P 3♣ P 5♣
    P 5♦ P 6N
    P P P

  11. Profile photo of johna johna says:

    Asked for Aces, well partner didn’t muck around with that, so played 6NT. Generally try to avoid early finesses these days, but after losing first trick decided to finesse the QH from the H lead by East which worked. Thought I’d made an error for a second when I ran the spades and had to cover the KD with the AD but it all dropped out nicely for 12 tricks.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  12. Profile photo of johna johna says:

    Having now seen the video, I was unaware that 4NT after 3NT is purely invitational. I’ve always played it as Blackwood asking for Aces.

  13. Profile photo of meganf meganf says:

    Thanks for the video @Graeme @ Bajir. I enjoyed this hand. Bidding was strange as my partner went straight to 6NT after my 2c bid. My strategy was to hopefully get opposition to throw out clubs on my run of spades. Worked well making my 9c a winner. Made 6NT.
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 6N P P
    P

  14. Profile photo of barnaby barnaby says:

    Made 6NT, The bidding was as per Graeme’s example.
    When East after the AC win, led 3H. I took this to be he had the QH. So my strategy was risky but did not see an alternative.
    Another possible option was the diamonds. But few leads into Dummy made it a problem to use the diamonds after A and K played, so I thought finesse the JH and it worked! The strategy I used had to made early, on the second round.
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  15. Profile photo of verona verona says:

    I made 6NT in the end. However my first effort was to go 3NT after partners 3D bid. My next replay however I decided to find out a bit more about partner’s hand so kept the spades open until partner bid 6S so I then went to 6NT. Mind you it was tricky as I had to make the two diamond tricks. Also by holding off my NT call it altered their leading. After the A of clubs opener east turned to hearts. I was able to finesse the J in norths hand. I then led a small D from partners hand to my K. Then go back a small S in my hand to the K. Then I had to take the A of diamonds. Going back to the spades after making the 2 diamond tricks made the rest easy and I ended up making 6NTs. Verona 23 Jan 17
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4♠
    P 6♠ P 6N
    P P P

  16. Profile photo of heath heath says:

    Made 6NT but I almost always ask for aces as I did here, suicide slam they had two aces, as it was, I was fortunate to pull the QH second round of hearts to make the JH count..
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 4N
    P 5♦ P 5N
    P 6♦ P 6N
    P P P

  17. Profile photo of icecracked icecracked says:

    Bid 6NT and got them 🙂


    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 1♠
    P 2♦ P 2N
    P 3♦ P 4N
    P 5♦ P 6N
    P P P

    • Profile photo of graeme graeme says:

      Nice one, @icecracked. Making a slam always feels special no matter how many times you do it. Hmmmm. How many slams do you reckon you’ve bid and made in your entire life? I wish I had a dollar for every slam I’d bid and gone down in. 🙂

      • Profile photo of icecracked icecracked says:

        Not too many I was taught to play Auction Bridge and must admit I am struggling to understand the bidding where I find that the hands are overbid too many times.

        Having said that I will persist in trying to understand the counting of the points etc. it is so different to what I was taught.

        What my father would have said standing behind me when teaching myself and friends to play bidding 6NT with a singleton in Diamonds a slap around the ear hole and a berating of what are you doing would have been sure to follow 🙂

        • Profile photo of graeme graeme says:

          Yeah, the scoring in contract bridge really has a big effect on tactics, @icecracked. Hang in there and feel free to ask about anything.

          Don’t feel bad about singletons and notrumps! If it works, it’s the right thing to do and if you go down a few times it doesn’t matter. You just have to make more than you go down in and you’re going to end up ahead.

  18. Profile photo of teneka teneka says:

    I made it by being very careful with my discards. Yippee!
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2N
    P 3♣ P 4N
    P 5♦ P 5N
    P 6♦ P 6N
    P P P

  19. Profile photo of normie616 normie616 says:

    I have not watched the video but perhaps I should :as only made 10 tricks with my” modest “3N/T contract cheers normie sa
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2N
    P 3♣ P 3♠
    P 3N P P
    P

  20. Profile photo of hujar hujar says:

    same as teneka
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, weak notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 6N P P
    P

  21. Profile photo of normie616 normie616 says:

    Oh well played it correctly 2nd time around and made my 6N/T.Should not have opened 2 N/T ist attempt with the Singleton K Still have not watched the video cheers normie sa
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 4N
    P 5♦ P 6N
    P P P

  22. Profile photo of triciacallow triciacallow says:

    @newtz2001, @ graeme I tried to use Gerber too – see previous discussions about whether the computer plays Gerber! – and it really doesn’t appear to. Or is my bidding sequence incorrect?

    Still puzzled as to why it ISN’T a good idea to ask for aces. It doesn’t stop you getting to 6NT, it just stops you going to 6NT with only 2 aces or lets you try 7NT with all 4.

    P.S. Made 6NT first try by finessing the QH. East could have got me off by putting the QH on the JH, promoting West’s TH.
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 1♠
    P 2♦ P 2N
    P 3N P 4♣
    P 5♦ P 6N
    P P P

    • Profile photo of graeme graeme says:

      Hi @triciacallow,

      This is a case where you really shouldn’t be asking for aces because your partner is in control. As soon as you bid 2NT you are making a limit bid which should describe your strength accurately. After that it’s partner’s choice as to how hight to go and if partner says 3NT is where you should be then that’s where you should be.

      So, if you feel that you should be higher because you’ve got something extra then the problem is that you’ve got something extra that you shouldn’t have!

      Gotta tell ya, this is really important stuff and it confuses a lot of people so very happy to be discussing it. Maybe North should treat 4C in that auction as Gerber anyway but it really doesn’t make sense that it is Gerber and the computer isn’t human enough to recognise when something has gone wrong and compensate for it.

      Anyway, try these questions and we’ll take it from there.
      What does 2NT show?
      Have you got more than you’ve shown?

  23. Profile photo of triciacallow triciacallow says:

    @graeme Oh bother, I’m still failing to find an example where Gerber WOULD apply. No, of course, I understand what you say, 2NT doesn’t show enough points. I only lied second time around to make my partner bid 3NT so I could use Gerber, without realising the subtlety that you point out.

    ?? So Gerber asks for aces when:
    – I HAVEN’T made a limit-bid like NTs
    – My partner HAS bid NTs and I bid 4C next.
    Is there any chance of a hand-of the-day showing an example? Or are you really saying that nobody who’s anybody ever uses it? @bajir

    • Profile photo of graeme graeme says:

      It’s like getting rid of an old pair of favourite jeans, @triciacallow. But sometime you just have to let them go, along with Gerber.

      Well, that’s not quite true. There are times when Gerber is useful but just not that often. It’s easy to roll it out at all sorts of inappropriate times because it’s such an easy convention to use. Pretty useless, but easy to use. Plain old everyday good basic bidding, on the other hand, is really hard! Bridge is such a subtle game. But you’ll find that the better your basic bidding gets the less you’ll find a place for Gerber.

      I harp on about it quite a lot and not everyone agrees. 🙂

      So, yes:
      1. Use any ace asking convention when you haven’t made a limit bid. If you’ve made a limit bid then your partner is in control, not you.
      2. Partner has bid notrumps. But, you’re very unlikely to come across a hand on which you’ll want to use 4C when partner’s last bid was 3NT. 1NT and 2NT sometimes. 3NT almost never. With good bidding it just won’t happen.

      If I can’t find a hand over the next week when Gerber really would be a good way to go then maybe I can construct a hand to demonstrate.

      In the meantime, I grabbed this from wikipedia. I had nothing to do with this article, just copying and pasting:
      Gerber is used primarily after notrump openings, responses, and rebids, making it a complement to Blackwood rather than a replacement. Some club players also use it after suit bidding, but most experts do not recommend this.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerber_convention

      Most experts? I’ve never met an expert who suggests using Gerber in suit bidding but maybe there are some somewhere.

      I’m going to duck for cover now. See y’all tomorrow.

  24. Profile photo of triciacallow triciacallow says:

    Thanks, @graeme, for that lucid explanation. Verdict on Gerber: the jury’s out …

  25. Profile photo of onofre onofre says:

    Onofre
    Glad partner didn’t let us die at 3NT; we made 6NT.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3N
    P 6N P P
    P

  26. Profile photo of judyjunkin judyjunkin says:

    I opened the bid with 2 C with my count and when N bid 3 D, I bid 3 NT. N went to 6 NT. So I bit the bullet and played trying to be careful of discards. I played the high Clubs first, my K of Diamonds and then went to N hand with the K of S and played my A of Diamonds, back to my hand to play off the Spades, then Hearts and the 9 of Clubs won the last trick.So happy!
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3N
    P 6N P P
    P

  27. Profile photo of nyrock nyrock says:

    Bid and made 6NT. Only lost opening lead of Ace of Clubs.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  28. Profile photo of rocky25 rocky25 says:

    Rocky25 Sez
    Opened 2 CL, because I was unbalanced; if balanced I’d have bid 2NT
    Ptnr resp 3DMND, I then showed my SPDS, and PTNR resp 3NT
    I then went to 4NT asking and PTNR resp 6NT..
    6NT bid and made…
    I think BLWD was appropriate here as there is more than 3NT..
    PTNR showed me
    So there!!!
    later..
    Rocky25

  29. Profile photo of jan2bridge jan2bridge says:

    I played this hand every which way I could think.
    My best score was 11 tricks.
    How did you get 12?
    Partner expected more than I could deliver.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  30. Profile photo of jan2bridge jan2bridge says:

    Well after posting that last comment, I played the hand again. This time when East led with a heart I discarded the low heart, (that was the only thing I did not try before) sure enough west was unable to beat my Jack. Persistence led to victory.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  31. Profile photo of maureenie maureenie says:

    Your advice made me think about getting 2 tricks from A and K of diamonds. I figured it out and made my twelfth trick to make my 6 NT hand Thanks
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  32. Profile photo of janetru janetru says:

    I followed the advice on video re the bidding and on the third try, I finally made 6 NT. It helped that I played low on heart lead won w/the Jack on the board and the hearts broke 3/3. I’m wondering if I played it one more time, if I would be able to do it again — hmmmmm.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  33. Profile photo of danachandler danachandler says:

    You do such a good job of explaining the analysis of the hand before play begins. It is really helping me learn to plan play.

  34. Profile photo of sbc49506742 sbc49506742 says:

    I finally made the contract, (on the 4th try)! Initially, I didn’t play low on the first heart lead to allow it round to the heart Jack,which made my 12th trick.
    I found the discussion about using the quantitative 4 NT or passing the 3NTvery interesting. As Graeme pointed out, the opener has bid his hand perfectly, 22HCP and 5Spades. What urges him to explore further by bidding 4NT?
    Bidding System: Standard, 5 card majors, 1 NT 15-17, weak twos, Stayman and/ or transfers
    Auction
    W N E S
    – p p 2C

    p 3D p 3S

    p 3NT p 4NT

    p 6NT p p

    p
    Bidding System: 4 card majors, weak notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  35. Profile photo of mayroses mayroses says:

    Wow ended up in 6spades and took 12
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2N
    P 3♣ P 4N
    P 5♦ P 5N
    P 6♦ P 6♠
    P P P

  36. Profile photo of maggiec maggiec says:

    Thanks for the video guys. Bid and made 6NT.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  37. Profile photo of debdaniels debdaniels says:

    NT makes! Slam. Go for it. Mine was a replay! First time played 3NT.
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, weak twos, transfers.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3♠
    P 3N P 4N
    P 6N P P
    P

  38. Profile photo of evereece evereece says:

    I made 6 NT and cannot recall how I did it! I do remember playing the ace heart/ king heart at the very end and throwing my little 2 Hearts out there to be killed…and it made it through! I was in shock! Lol I did lose a trick early on, I can’t remember, maybe a club. I freeze up and play by instinct…not memory. I start counting and get caught in the fray, forgetting everything! I am hoping, one day, to remember the cards that have been played!! This was a fun, somewhat painful …I so appreciate the excellent videos and suggestions! 🙂
    Bidding System: 5 card majors, strong notrump, strong twos.
    Auction
    W N E S
    – P P 2♣
    P 3♦ P 3N
    P 6N P P
    P

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