What good came out of this accursèd winter? Only indoor activities. I had my all-time favorite dessert at Northampton’s Eastside Grill: chocolate pecan pie with vanilla ice cream and fudge sauce. And my all-time favorite auction at the Hartford Bridge Club.

What kind of hand opens the artificial and forcing 2♣ ? Board Two highlighted the question on April 4 at HBC. Perry Miller and I were sitting North-South, with North dealing and East-West vulnerable:

NORTH (Miller)
♠ A K Q 9 8 3 2
♥ A 10
♦ A 8 6 5
♣ —

WEST                                                EAST
♠ 7 6 5                                                ♠ 10 4
♥ 8 6 4 3 2                                          ♥ K 9 7
♦ 7 4                                                   ♦ 9 2
♣ 8 7 5                                                ♣ 10 9 6 4 3 2

SOUTH (Kaplan)
♠ J
♥ Q J 5
♦ K Q J 10 3
♣ A K Q J

The bidding proceeded as follows:

North               East               South                West
2 ♣                   Pass               7NT!                All Pass

NORTH (Miller)
♠ A K Q 9 8 3 2
♥ A 10
♦ A 8 6 5
♣ —

WEST                    EAST
♠ 7 6 5                    ♠ 10 4
♥ 8 6 4 3 2              ♥ K 9 7
♦ 7 4                       ♦ 9 2
♣ 8 7 5                    ♣ 10 9 6 4 3 2

SOUTH (Kaplan)
♠ J
♥ Q J 5
♦ K Q J 10 3
♣ A K Q J

North            East            South            West
2 ♣                Pass            7NT!            All Pass

Never before had I participated in an auction like that. I went up with the ♥ A on Trick One and cashed the ♠ J. At that point I could count 17 sure tricks, so I claimed.

Oddly, only five of nine North-South pairs bid a grand slam. The confusion, I believe, stems from the misconception that a player needs 22 high-card points to open 2 ♣ . Other Norths probably opened 1 ♠ , leading to a 6 ♠ , 6NT or, incredibly, 3NT contract. Here’s where the confusion lay. Holding 22 HCP is only one criterion for opening 2 ♣ . It’s also possibly to open 2 ♣ with a point-heavy hand that appears to hold nine tricks. Or a high-point hand with at least four quick tricks and no more than four losers. Miller’s hand qualified on both counts.

With a 20-point hand myself, I realized Miller obviously had fewer than 22 HCP but surely held at least 17 HCP and a long-running suit. That was plenty for me to bid the grand salami.

P.S.: Just to be clear, here’s a hand I would NOT open 2 ♣ :

♠ A K Q J 10 9 6 3 2
♥ 3
♦ 10 2
♣ 4

Yes, there are nine quick tricks. To open 2 ♣ , however, could mislead partner about my overall strength and lead to an improvident slam. I’d open 1 ♠ and rebid 4 ♠ in most auctions.