Page 0036


August 2014 English Bridge

HAVING covered Exclusion Key-card

Blackwood (April issue, pages 2223)

I thought I should really

tackle the 'Josephine' 5NT

convention, more normally known

in modern times as the Grand Slam Force


It was initially published in the 1930s by

Josephine Culbertson, the wife of a top

bridge player of the time, Ely Culbertson,

to whom it is probably more correct to

attribute the real origination of the


Quite simply, when a trump suit has

been agreed and a possible grand slam is

in the offing, then a bid of 5NT (when not

preceded by 4NT - Blackwood, of course)

asks partner to jump to a grand slam if

two of the top three trump honours are

held (ace, king or queen).

While there are many different vari a tions,

a fairly standard treatment is as

follows. After the 5NT bid:

6® No top trump hon our

(A or K)

6 of the trump suit One top trump

honour (A or K)

7 of the trump suit Two of top three

trump honours (A,

K or Q)

A slight variation/amendment that I am

quite keen on is to play that with two of

the top three honours you should always

jump to 7® - irrespective of the agreed

trump suit. This actually allows the GSF

bidder to take control and sometimes

agree a suit with the GSF simply to

expedite finding out if a couple of critical

cards are held, whilst planning to actually

play in a different trump suit all the time.

The key to understanding GSF is to

appreciate when it does (or does not) apply:

1. If a trump suit is clearly established

and agreed upon. The GSF is often

but not exclusively used as a jump

bid; it can also occur in the middle of

cue-bidding, but not - remember -

once Blackwood has been used.

2. Never in no-trump auctions. 5NT

should be used in a classical manner

to ask partner to bid 7NT if max imum

for his no-trump bid or 6NT if

minimum. Thus with a balanced 23

high-card points you could raise

partner's opening 1NT to 5NT asking

him to bid 7NT if maximum.

3. Not to be confused with the modern

'pick-a-slam' convention which is only

used when a trump suit has not been

expressly agreed.

Let's see the convention in action -

remember that the reason behind using it

is that you are contemplating bidding a

grand slam, but want to check up on

trump solidity first.A nice, simple one to

start. If partner opens

1™ (unlikely, I know,

but possible!) then

res pond 5NT directly.

If partner has both

the ace and king of

trumps, he will now jump to the solid

grand slam. (Or jump to 7® by arrange ment).

With one of the ace or king he will

bid 6™ which you can happily pass. With

neither the ace nor king he will bid 6® and

you can faint with the shock . . .

Those of you who read my article on

Exclusion RKCB will know that you could

follow a different route by agreeing hearts

and then using a 5® Exclusion bid. But

this is only possible if using the Jacoby

Con ven tion to agree hearts immediately,

since a direct response of 5® is better

played as natural (in my opinion).

Another example hand:

by Neil Rosen

Stage 2 Conventions

The Grand Slam Force



´ A K

™ Q J 10 8 3

t A K Q 7 6 2

® Void





´ K 8 ´ Void

™ A Q J 7 6 ™ K 2

t 5 2 t A K Q 8 4

® A Q 9 4 ® K J 10 8 7 3

West East

1™ 2®

4® 4t

4™ 5NT

7® Pass

After an exchange of cue-bids, East knows

that a grand slam will be easy providing

the trump suit is OK. Jumping to 5NT is

GSF asking partner to bid 7® with two of

the top three trump honours - which on

this occasion he does.

The cold grand slam is easily reached

without the spade ace, so 7NT would not

be such a good idea!

As a parting note, I want to mention

again that there is a lot of room for indi vidual

partnerships to work on these

methods. Some people vary which bid is

GSF (not always using 5NT), others

include different steps to incorporate

showing the queen specifically or showing

extra trump length etc. I wish you all well

in discussing various options - there

simply isn't room to include them all here.

What I have tried to do is present a basic

summary of a fantastic convention used

for making sure that grand slams are

actually bid with an odds-on chance of


The odds

Just a quick reminder (those playing

RKCB probably already know these stats):

• With nine combined total trumps, do

not bid a grand slam missing the


• With ten or more combined total

trumps do bid a grand slam missing

the queen. r





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