September 23, 2003 5:22 PM
Serious 3NT - Holes
Assuming a major fit , serious 3NT is an integral part of the slam bidding structure . There is also a Q bidding inference with the serious 3NT when hearts are the agreed trump . Bidding 3NT denies a spade control. Therefore partner still may have serious slam interest with a 3S Q bid so she must Q bid on that basis.
There are some holes in this “serious 3NT” Q bidding structure that must be filled with a Q bidding understanding . This hole comes from the simple Bridge fact that the order of Q bidding can result in higher ranking suits shutting out lower ranking suits and you have reached game level. You do not want to go to the 5 level to Q bid as in the American style of Q bidding but you are still interested. Q bidding at the 5 level kills Blackwood and the Italian style of Q bidding 2nd round controls first. You need a way of telling partner you have that control but not go beyond game or Blackwood. This understanding is called “Last Train to Clarksville” and means a bid in a suit just below your major suit game is a serious slam interest and shows the control in a lower ranking suit but not the suit bid.
This understanding is a message to partner. Partner has two inferences on what you did not do . You did not sign off in your major suit game and you did not take further control by bidding Blackwood . Therefore you are lacking a key control to bid Blackwood but you making one last attempt at slam. Last Train
Is not that hard a concept. Why is partner not bidding 4NT ? Review the Q bidding and you have your answer.
Some sample auctions to further describe the concept:
You have serious slam interest via your 3NT bid . Partner has denied a club control and you have it or you would have signed off in 4S . You are telling partner that you have a club control by still trying for slam …
You have denied a spade control by bidding 3NT . I have a spade control but I can not bid it below game . I do not have a club control or I would have bid it so I am making a last try at slam with the spade control.
The 4 heart bid is a last try for slam saying I do not have a diamond control but I am still interested via overall strength.
4C was a courtesy Q bid so 4H is an “asking” last slam try attempt. It says I do not have a diamond control but I am still interested in slam .
Since the 4D bidder denies a club control , 4H must say I still have interest and the club control but I still do not have enough to take control by bidding 4NT. Over to you ..
4D This is simply a diamond control showing no spade or club control and no serious slam interest.
This “Last Train” Q bidding style is a part of serious 3NT theory. Interestingly , Bridge World standard has adopted “Last Train” Q bidding with any slam strain but not serious 3NT . Here is the definition from Bridge World Standard .
“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).”