Saturday, May 22, 2004 10:08 PM

Last Train Slam Try




          The Vinnies had a very tough auction in Calgary compliments of Mr. Willard & Mr. Fowlie doing their dirty work . Osama held Axxxx Qxxx Jxx ♣A and heard his partner open 1 everybody vul . Mr. Willard paid his card fees so he overcalls 2♣ and Osama bid 4♣ and RHO bids 5♣ and around to Mr. Nowlan . This is an obvious forcing pass scenario so Vince chooses the pass option which shows a better hand then doubling or bidding 5in their system . Around to Osama for the decision . He does not have much extra then he has already shown from his previous bidding but with partners pass , slam is possible .  The Bridge World has a bid for these sequences which Q bid purists would not like . Even at the 5 level , 5 which is a bid under the trump suit , is a last train slam try. At this rarified level , he can not Q bid his black aces nor does he want to give up.  I quote from Bridge World standard 2001


 Last Train: Any time there is only one call that indicates slam interest or further slam interest without raising the partnership’s level of commitment, it is a “Last Train” slam-try, unrelated to the strain named (unless followed by an uninvited further action like a try for seven).”


         A  “last train” slam try is not a Q bid . It is a bid below the trump suit level without forcing the partnership past the level they are already at to show further slam interest. A last desperate attempt at slam so to speak ,  without showing any control in the suit bid.  It usually means I have a Q bid or two but I can not show them without raising the level. Mr. Nowlan had  x AKJxx KQ10xx ♣xx  and definitely would accept the slam try. Should Mr. Nowlan have bid 5 over 5♣ ? Not really unless you wanted to be in 7 off the diamond ace , as Osama was still unlimited.  He had a choice between a 5 bid which says I can make 5 based on the bidding or the stronger bid of passing show mild slam interest. If Osama had made the “last train” slam try , Vince should bid 6 saying I have no Aces outside the trump suit so 7 needs everything from your end.


          In my opinion Osama could bid 5 as a “last train” slam try. It does not commit the level any higher , it just says I can not bid slam on my own but I am damn close . He had a spade Q bid but could not do it as that forced the partnership to slam.  It is also a ”blame transfer” as the ball goes back to Mr. Nowlans court. Partner should have hidden  Aces for this type of bid so the strong trump & the two suiter should be enough to bid slam. You would be surprised how often splinters and “last train” complement each other. The opponents had an easier ride at our table as we were not in the auction. Most tables got to 6 without the Willard factor.


          In a recent match Maurice held A10xx AKQJx x ♣Axx and opened 1 and Klimo his partner bid 1. This brought about a splinter to 4 and Klimo bid 4 . This brought about the dangerous bid of Blackwood which forced the auction to the 5 level which went down. When partner signs off in 4♠ in these auctions he means it as he has horrible duplication of value in diamonds. Why ? because he could have made the “Last Train” slam try by bidding 4 if he did not have duplication of value in diamonds. Once you have found a fit , it is useless to find another fit , therefore 4 has a meaning attached to it. It also happens to be one level below the trump suit.


          Tom Gandolfo gave a hand where he used partners splinter suit as the “last train” slam try at the 5 level. He opened 1 , they overcalled 1 so partner leapt to 4. Tom could not take control via KCB as he lacked a club control. He bid 5 as the last train slam try. Partners should always ask themselves , “why did partner not use KCB” instead of a Q bid ?  Partner was looking at the club Ace so he bid 6 and that made.


          The “last train” concept was invented by Rodwell/Meckstroth to compliment their “serious 3NT” theory. The Bridge World does not endorse serious 3NT in the Bridge World 2001 system but they included their “last train” concept as part of Bridge World Standard. Obviously this understanding is for very fine tuned expert partnerships only.


          Comments ??