Saturday, August 5, 2017

Jacoby 2NT (part 1)

When partner opens a major and we have an opening bid with four card support, a popular gadget is the Jacoby 2NT raise. This is aimed at discovering whether we may have slam. Two types of hands do not employ Jacoby: with only three card support, bid a suit before supporting partner -- the fourth trump can be crucial for slam. With a (small) side singleton and about 11-14 hip, make a splinter raise.

Over 2NT, opener typically shows a (small) singleton, if any; or rebids 4 of the major, 3NT, or 3 of the major with hands of increasing strength. The four bid suggest 11-13 hcp; 3NT suggests 14 to 15 or a good 13, and three of the major suggests 16+ or a good 15 with extra playing strength.


1H-2NT KQ6 KJ9754 83 K5 rebid 4H, minimum with no singleton
1H-2NT A106 KJ1097 3 K532 rebid 3D, showing the singleton
1S-2NT KQ9732 A63 86 A63 good 13, rebid 3NT
1S-2NT AQ985 AJ J872 A5 16+, rebid 3S

As responder, you have the following hands; after responding 2NT, what is your rebid? (You may want to cover the comments which follow while you select your bid.)

(A) 1H-2NT; 3D-?  985 AQ62 A10765 A 

(B) 1S-2NT; 3S-?   J742 K8 AKQ10 K103

(C) 1H-2NT; 3S-?  A6 Q763 KJ742 A3

(D) 1H-2NT; 4H-? K102 J873 K53 AK2


(A) Excellent singleton! Bid 3H, hoping partner can control-bid 3S. After that you can use 4NT.

(B) 16+16+big fit should be slam; 4NT will reveal all. But you actually have a poor hand to be asking; perhaps a better plan would be to control-bid 4D. You know partner has no control there; covering that suit might prompt 4NT from the proper side. If not, you can fall back on 4NT yourself.

(C) Partner's singleton only covers one loser, but you still have a fairly good hand. Keep the ball rolling with 3NT. Given the known 9 card major fit, this is not a suggestion to stop there, it merely suggests the singleton wasn't wonderful but if partner has extras you have some useful cards for slam.

(D) Pass.

Complete pairs of hands and possible auctions:

A106            985
KJ1097        AQ62
3                  A10765
K532           A 

1H               2NT
3D               3H
3S                4NT
5H*             6H       *2 key cards no queen; or 5D = 1 ace

AQ985       J742
AJ              K8
J872           AKQ10
A5              K103

1S               2NT
3S               4D
4NT            5D*   * 1 or 4 key cards; or 1 ace; 1430 bid 5C

5               A6
AJ8542     Q763
A65           KJ742
K54           A3

1H             2NT
3S              3NT
4H             pass

QJ9          K102
KQ964     J873
A92          K53
103           AK2

1H            2NT
4H            pass

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday, January 13th 2016

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Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
♠ 6 5 4
10 7 5 3
Q J 9 8 5 4
♠ K Q J 10 7 3
9 8
♣ A 8 4 3 2
♠ A 2
A K 4
K 7 6 3
♣ K 7 6 5
♠ 9 8
Q J 6 2
A 10 2
♣ Q J 10 9

East opens a maximum 1NT (15-17); South might throw in a DONT 2C bid (clubs + higher suit) but vulnerable against not I wouldn't with such minimal shape. West will force to game, obviously, but should attempt to invite slam. There are two basic methods available using transfers: transfer followed by 3C, showing the side suit (at least 5-4 shape, game values and some reason to be uncertain about 3NT, usually a side singleton and/or slam interest) or transfer followed by a jump in  a new suit, generally played as a "self-splinter", promising at least 6 spades, a singleton or void in the jumped suit (4D in this case) and slam interest. Since club cards are likely to be crucial I selected 2H followed by 3C. Lacking three-card spade support and with stopper in both red suits, opener rebids 3NT. Now responder continues with 4S, showing at least 6-4 shape and slam interest; without slam interest responder would simply have rebid 4S (or started with a Texas Transfer or, not playing Texas,  a direct 4S bid.)

So we have:
2H   2S
3C    3NT
4S     ?

Opener has a maximum with excellent controls, but at least one of the red Kings is wasted; the Queen of clubs would be a more valuable card. A reasonable continuation would be 4NT (of whatever variety) followed by 6S. Slam looks excellent when dummy comes down but the horrible 4-0 club split dooms it regardles of the opening lead. Well bid, tough luck! Three pairs bid slam, two making; I can only assume South made the mistake of pitching a club.

Board 7
South Deals
Both Vul
♠ A K J 10 8 6 5 2
9 8
♣ 9 4 3
♠ 9 3
K Q J 10 7 2
♣ K J 7 5
♠ Q
A 6
A K Q 8 7 3
♣ A 10 8 2
♠ 7 4
5 4 3
J 10 9 6 5 2
♣ Q 6
South passes; West must open some number of hearts. I dislike opening one on a 10-count with no Ace and the suit, of course, is excellent, so I favor 2H (but I can't remember what I did at the table.) One of my maxims is there should be no such thing as a hand too good for a weak two but not good enough for a one bid, if the suit is strong. North preempted 3S at our table but with a strong 8-bagger should go directly to 4S. Never mind, East pictures partner with KQxxxx in hearts and counts a likely 6 heart tricks, at least 5 diamonds and a club, so 6H with or without a 4NT inquiry is sensible (use RKCB if your second seat weak twos can be undisciplined.) Although on this hand 6S proves to be a worthwhile sacrifice, I can't really see either North or South bidding it. No one reached this excellent slam and several pairs played in diamonds, perhaps after 1H-(4S)-5D.

Board 9
North Deals
E-W Vul
♠ K 10 8 6 5 2
A Q J 7 6
♣ A 10
A J 9 7 5 3 2
♣ K J 9 6 2
♠ 9 7 4
K 8 6 4
10 9 8 5
♣ 8 4
♠ A Q J 3
Q 10
K 4 2
♣ Q 7 5 3
North opens 1S and South enjoys the rare opportunity to trot out the Jacoby 2NT convention. Despite the vulnerability, West crashes the party with a 3H or 4H bid, trusting N/S won't be eager to defend with a nine-card fit. I think I'd settle for 3H at this vulnerability. Nothing ought to stop North from driving to slam given the game-forcing raise; a leap to 5H, showing the void, looks best. South has a fairly junky hand and does not try for grand slam, but 6S looks right with the excellent trumps.

More than half the field reached slam; no E/W pair sacrificed (vul vs not!) at the seven level, which would carry the risk of driving N/S into a grand slam neither East nor West can be confident of defeating. (Imagine South with the KQ of hearts or North with the King of clubs.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wednesday, August 19th 2015

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Board 9
North Deals
E-W Vul
♠ Q 9 5 4
Q 10 8 6
6 4
♣ J 8 6
♠ K 3
A 5 4
K 10 7 3
♣ K Q 10 4
♠ A 10 8 7 2
J 2
A J 9 8
♣ A 9
♠ J 6
K 9 7 3
Q 5 2
♣ 7 5 3 2

After East opens 1S, many a West will leap to 3NT for a short auction. If this is defined as precisely 2-3-4-4 with 13-15 hcp, East will pass, but could probe for slam with a stronger hand: with AQxxx xx AQxx Ax, for example, 4D would announce the fit and suggest slam.

I prefer to play 3NT as a "pancake raise", any 4333 with 13-15 hcp, so I responded 2C as West. East rebid 2D and playing 2/1 Game Force, I raised to 3D. All roads lead to 3NT, however; West can imagine East's perfecto, but it seems too much to hope for. nine tricks are likely on the normal heart lead; West holds up twice but is then likely to finesse North for the Queen of diamonds rather than South, probably after testing the clubs and finding nine tricks to go. If West notes that only one heart other below the 6 is out and sees South play that card at trick two or three, he will know North started with only four hearts and might finesse either way.

Only one pair bid slam and made the mistake of trying 6NT rather than the high percentage 6D. In general, don't strain for notrump slams: bid them when you can count 12 tricks or have at least 33 hcp. When you or partner are or may be bidding partly on shape, bid slam in a suit. Many pairs will not reach slam at all, so don't worry about out-scoring other slams.

Board 19
South Deals
E-W Vul
♠ A 4 3
A Q 9 4 2
Q J 9 6
♣ 10
♠ Q J 8 7 6 5
J 8 7
♣ 8 7 5
♠ 2
6 3
10 8 5 3 2
♣ K J 6 4 2
♠ K 10 9
K 10 5
K 7 4
♣ A Q 9 3

South opens 1NT; a bold or foolhardy West will overcall 2S. I would be much less inclined to bid if playing DONT or regular Capalletti where I could not bid 2S immediately; such bidding gives the opponents too much room to sort out whether they should defend or play, and where. The ten of spade would add quite a bit of safety.

North should be able to bid a forcing 3H; a more high tech method would be to play transfers starting at 2NT. South raises 3H to game; should North try for slam? With 6 losers opposite 15-17, slam does seem plausible; opener might have Kx Kxxx AKx xxxx, for example, with an easy 12 tricks if the defense can't score a quick ruff. And that's only 13 hcp, so it does seem right to proceed. North would like to be sure South has a high diamond, but lacking bidding room 4NT looks like the practical continuation, to be sure South has at least one Ace or two key cards. After the 5D or 5H reply, North should bid the slam -- don't wimp out because there might be two quick diamond losers, odds don't favor that given South's overall strength.

West may cash the Ace of diamonds; there's not much chance of getting partner in for a ruff, but at matchpoints you hate to watch your trick disappear. The risk, of course, is that this hands declarer his twelfth trick, as it does here. If West leads a spade or trump, declarer should pull three rounds of trumps and then try the club finesse -- there's no practical way to avoid it, and when it wins you can guess West has the Ace of diamonds for his overcall and lead up to North's diamonds. Of course, +480 is apt to be a good score so on this layout bidding slam was probably not worth the risk.

Board 25
North Deals
E-W Vul
♠ J 9 8
J 10 8 3
♣ A K 8 3 2
♠ Q 7 4
Q 9 3
6 5
♣ Q 10 7 6 4
♠ 10 6 3 2
J 5
Q 9 7 4
♣ J 9 5
♠ A K 5
A K 10 8 7 6 2
A K 2

South opens 2C and North replies 2D (waiting or semi-positive), 3C (natural and positive) or 2S (steps, 7-9 hcp) according to the partnership's agreements. Our opponents used steps and there does not seem to be a good way for South to learn anything usefel, so here 6H rebid seems practical.

Where 2D is played as negative or waiting, 3C showing a good club suit and about 8+ hcp is best, otherwise the club suit may be lost thanks to 3C on the next round being defined as a second negative.  The 3C bid does little for South but any of 3 Queens would provide an entry so again South should land in 6H.

Where 2D promises at least an Ace or King (or perhaps two Queens in some partnerships) North may prefer that response to 3C, anticipating South's long heart suit; 3C won't be artificial in this style. South could leap to 3H to set trumps, but either spades or diamonds might be better so I think 2H is better. North continues with 3C and South rebids 3H. The 2D response creates a game force so no one should be in a hurry to leap anywhere. North continues with 3NT, mostly denying a stopper. South bids hearts yet again and North may well give up, but should not be surprised if slam makes.

Against the uninformative 2C-2S; 6H auction I led a low club, hoping to catch partner with any of the Ace, King or Jack. The operation was a success but the patient died, as declarer quickly pitched two losers on the clubs from the apparently entryless dummy. As it happens declarer can simply play two top trumps and end-play West on a third trump, so slam can be made on any lead. The ten of diamonds is a big card here!

Board 29
North Deals
Both Vul
♠ A K Q 10 7 4 2
J 4 2
Q 5
♣ K
♠ 8 5
K Q 10 9 5
8 4
♣ 10 8 7 5
♠ J 3
8 6
10 9 7 2
♣ A Q 9 6 4
♠ 9 6
A 7 3
A K J 6 3
♣ J 3 2

North opens 1S; opposite a partner who has not passed this is too strong for any preempt, unless you play Namyats (4D = strong 4S opening.) South responds 2D and now North can leap to 4S. Some 2/1 Game Force authorities define a jump rebid in opener's suit as solid or semi-solid, in which case 3S would be the proper rebid -- broken suits can proceed more slowly.

Over 4S, South should assume the spades are good enough for slam; does North have a club control? In this case a 5H control bid looks more useful than 4NT. While this appears to skip over diamonds as well as clubs, North should reason that South must have control of two suits to be thinking of slam, so 6S is justified.

Over the strong-suit 3S rebid, South control-bids 4D -- it can be assumed that 3S set the trump suit. North may be tempted to sign off for lack of a heart control, but should instead realize he has not shown the full strength of this hand. Better, then, to continue with a 5C control bid, over which South should bid 6S. I'm a little surprised that no pairs bid this excellent slam.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunday, August 2nd 2015

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Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
♠ 4 3
Q 8 7 4
K Q 9 7
♣ 8 3 2
♠ Q 9 8 6
A K 2
A J 6 5 2
♣ K
♠ A K 10 5 2
6 5
4 3
♣ A Q 10 6
♠ J 7
J 10 9 3
10 8
♣ J 9 7 5 4

West opens 1D -- some might suggest 1NT, but it does not appear to be legal under ACBL's General Convention Card to agree to do this or to do so more than once with the same partner. East responds 1S and West jumps to 3S, invitational. Move the stiff King into one of the other suits and the hand would be worth a game raise, such as a 4C splinter. West's jump promises four trumps and suggests a hand worth 17 to 19 (including distributional assets); East adds 13 hcp and one or two for shape, so the combined assets are in the 30 to 34 range. Visualizing, East has 6 losers (the big fit should take care of the fourth club) and can expect 5 or 6 cover cards for West's jump, with the actual hand being a good example. East lacks red-suit controls, so 4NT could lead to a slam off a cashing AK, or guessing to stop at the five level when slam is actually cold. Much better is 4C, suggesting slam and showing a club control.

West has excellent cards, especially if the style is for control bids to generally be made on Aces or Kings rather than singleton or voids. In any case I think West should drive to slam after any suggestion from partner. A complete auction might be 1D-1S; 3S-4C; 4NT-5D (three key cards); 5NT (we've got everything)-6C (nothing else to say); 6S. When trumps split 2-2 East has tricks to burn but cannot avoid one diamond loser. Four pairs out of nine bid this excellent slam.

Board 8
West Deals
None Vul
♠ A K 10 9 4
Q J 7 2
10 8 7
♣ K
♠ 7 5
Q 6 2
♣ J 9 7 6 5 4 3
♠ Q J 8 3
K 10 8 6 5
♣ Q 10 2
♠ 6 2
A 4 3
A K J 9 5 3
♣ A 8

West might open a pure garbage 3C, but I prefer to have something like a weak two for that bid and am not a fan of preempting on bad hands with bad suits in any case. If West passes North opens 1S The stiff King is a flaw, but it is very wrong to assume it is worthless and pass such hands -- the classic advice is to deduct one point, and I never pass a hand containing 12 hcp including an Ace at matchpoints. If a strong 3D is in the arsenal, that looks good on South's hand, planning to follow with 3NT. I'm sure most Souths bid just 2D, either game-forcing or at least game-invitational. North rebids 2H; now what? There may still be slam in diamonds or notrump, but South must be careful not to get passed out in a part-score. 3C is forcing in any style; anyone playing 2/1 game force or other modern methods should recognize that this Fourth Suit bid could be artificial. As such, South might not have a club stopper so North merely bids 3D and awaits developments. That encourages South (no misfit) but is there enough for slam? Losing Trick Count under-rates South's control-rich hand. Visualizing, South has six losers; a minimum opener rates to cover four of those, but a club ruff or long spade could dispose of another. A perfect minimum for North might be AKxxx Kxxx Qxxx x, so slam is certainly plausible, but partner may well have an imperfect minimum where slam has no play. Ideally South should invite slam with a chance to stop at game if partner does not have the right cards. Unfortunately, the proper game contract is almost certainly in notrump, not diamonds, especially at matchpoints; +400 or +420 will score badly against +430 at notrump.

I think any clever bid here is too risky -- 3H or 3S or 4D might well be passed or lead to confusion, and none is clearly a slam try. As a practical matter South should either bid 3NT or drive to slam. As partner's bidding does suggest 5431 shape I think 6D is worth the risk. 4NT doesn't accomplish much -- you should bid slam whether or not partner has an ace, and the non-solid diamonds make 6NT or 7D look too risky. As it happens the diamond drop or finesse fails and spades do not split evenly, so in practice I think 6D will go down. No one bid slam on this one.

Against 3NT, West probably leads a club. The obvious line is to cash the AK of diamonds, knock out the Queen and take 10 tricks after the club return. Swinging for a top or bottom, declarer might risk the heart finesse.

Playing 6D with a club lead, twelve tricks will be easy if the Queen of diamonds drops, a 52% chance; declarer takes six diamonds and two tricks in each other suit, losing one heart. If there is a diamond loser, declarer must set up at least one spade to succeed -- East can cover the Queen or Jack of hearts, stranding declarer with a loser. But the opening lead removes the only side suit entry and the only way to arrange two trump entries would be to drop a stiff Queen or concede a trump trick without playing any high trumps. And if spades aren't 3-3 declarer will also need the heart finesse.

Perhaps the best line would be King of clubs, Ace, King and low spade, ruffed with the Jack. If spades are 3-3 you can then cash the Ace of trumps and lead a low trump to dummy, insuring an entry to the spades for two heart discards. If spades are 4-2 and West overruffs, dummy's trumps will provide three more entries, but you will need the heart finesse as you can set up only one long spade. What if West refuses to overruff on today's layout? Declarer must guess what is going on -- he can force a heart entry to take the "marked" diamond finesse -- oops, wrong answer. Or he can assume a diamond loser and lead low trumps to dummy, relying on the heart finesse later. Tough hand.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sunday, May 31st 2015

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Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
♠ 8
K 10 9 7 6 4 3 2
5 2
♣ 7 4
♠ A 6
A 5
K Q J 10 8
♣ J 10 8 3
♠ K 4 3 2
A 7 6 3
♣ K Q 5 2
♠ Q J 10 9 7 5
9 4
♣ A 9 6

North deals and likely opens some number of hearts. 4H would be normal with an 8 card suit, but vulnerable against not 3H is reasonable. Technically this is unsound (a possible -800 or -1100 vs. a non-vulnerable game) so passing is also reasonable, hoping the wild distribution surprises East/West. I remember one time when partner passed repeatedly, until I doubled for takeout for the third time. The auction was something like pass-(1H)-double-(2H); pass-(pass)-double-(3H); pass-(pass)-double-(pass); 6S! Slam made easily in our 8-4 fit.

At our table North opened 3H, East had just enough to double, and South raised to 4H. I pictured partner with a singleton heart (based on the enemy bidding) and essentially her actual hand, a "perfect minimum" for slam. I could not think of a way to invite so I gambled 6D which made easily. Doubling 4H would have yielded +500 for the same top score; the other choice would be 5D.

Two pairs scored +460 at 3NT. A plausible auction:
pass-1C-1S-2D; pass-3D-pass-3NT. A heart lead defeats the contract but lacking a side entry it looks reasonable for North to lead partner's suit, giving West time to set up club tricks.

Board 25

North's hand qualifies as a "recurring headache" as August Boehm would say: 5 spades and 4 hearts when partner opens in a minor. After 1C-1S; 1NT, North can show the 5-4 shape by rebidding 2H, but what strength does that suggest? In fact, 2H has never been forcing in standard methods, and should be bid routinely even on much weaker hands. But isn't 2H a new suit by a responder who has never passed? Yes -- but the new suit forcing principle never applied over a notrump opening or rebid. With a game-going hand North can jump to 3H, so 2H suggests no more than 10 or 11 hcp and could be as weak as 4 or 5.

Since 2H could be quite weak, opener should never rebid 2NT. Opener must pass or correct to 2S, generally returning to 2S on any hand lacking four hearts but with at least two spades. A 5-2 trump fit can generally stand a forcing defense better than 4-3 where dummy's only short suit is opposite the long one. As it happens both North and South had extra values and 2NT was the top-scoring spot, but in general you should not want to volunteer for 2NT with less than 23 hip.

Gadget Alert! A 2D rebid by responder here is often played as New Minor Forcing, giving up the chance to bid diamonds naturally in order to check back on the majors. This is a useful convention but I recommend reading a complete writeup before adopting this or any other gadget. Here's a link to the ACBL's Bidding Toolkit.

Board 28
West Deals
N-S Vul
♠ Q J 8 5
10 8 5 4
K 6
♣ K Q 5
♠ A K 6 3
A Q J 8 7
♣ 8
♠ 4 2
6 2
10 9 5 4 3 2
♣ J 3 2
♠ 10 9 7
K 9 7 3
♣ A 10 9 7 6 4

West has a powerful hand, but opening 2C leaves no attractive rebid: too unbalanced for no-trump but no five card major or six card minor. I recommend opening the longer minor on such hands unless you have 24 or 25 hip. In other words, what do you expect partner to bid after, say, 2C-2D; 3D ? If you open 1D and partner passes, you probably haven't missed game.

North is too weak for a takeout double the way I learned the game; while double is attractive competitively partner is apt to overbid. East must either pass or preempt at a high level in diamonds -- either a standard 2D raise or an inverted 3D jump should be prepared for partner to bid 3NT on a balanced 18 or 19. Four diamonds would leave you wondering whether to sacrifice at five; I think the choice is between pass and 5D. I would pass for now, planning to compete in diamonds later as well as discuss with partner whether this was the right hand for 5D. At this vulnerability, it probably is.

If it goes 1D-pass-pass to South, the void screams "do something" while the high card weakness cautions "opener has a monster!" I would probably bid 2C. West doubles for takeout and North raises to 3C (bidding cautiously opposite a bid in the passout seat.) Now East can try 5D and with luck West gets the message and passes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Click here for results. Unfortunately the hand diagrams do not match the ones we played; they are labeled "Monday Morning." I edited the diagrams below.

Board 1
North Deals
None Vul
♠ Q 10 8
Q 10
K 9 5
♣ J 9732
♠ K 5 4
A J 8 6
Q J 3
♣ K Q 8
♠ A J 9 3
A 10 8 6 2
♣ A 6 4
♠ 7 6 2
9 7 5 4 3 2
7 4
♣ 10 5

I suspect the East/West auction began 1D-1H; 1S at virtually every table -- and that West tanked before rebidding 3NT. Lacking a known fit and with no (legal!) knowledge of West's extra values, East passes. Commonly used American methods are terrible when it comes to finding this sort of slam, because no one thinks about responder having 16 or 17 hip until they're staring at a hand like West's. What to do?

There is a standard treatment for responder having 4333 shape and 16 or 17 hip -- respond 3NT. But doesn't that show 13 to 15? Not according to most experts, as shown in almost any textbook as well as the consensus system "Bridge World Standard." With 13 to 15, responder makes a forcing bid and typically follows with a no-trump rebid (3NT or 2NT depending on the auction and partnership agreements.)

With that agreement, this hand is a snap -- 1D-3NT; 6NT would be quite reasonable with East's control-rich, three Ace beauty. While 1D-3NT on 13-15 will usually be the correct spot, I would guess one hand in four or five belongs somewhere else (5 of a minor, a 4-3 major fit or a slam) and you must resign yourself to missing those (or taking unfair advantage of body language) if you play 1D-3NT as a minimum game force.

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
♠ K 7 5
K 10 5 4 2
A 3
♣ Q 5 3
♠ J 10 2
J 3
Q 10 9 8 4 2
♣ K 2
♠ 9 8 6
7 6 5
♣ J 10 9 8 6 4
♠ A Q 4 3
A 9 8 7 6
♣ A 7

South opens 1H; an adventurous West might leap to 3D but with scattered values, a tepid 6-card suit and relatively balanced shape I'd pass. North makes a forcing raise; Jacoby 2NT is the popular treatment. In that style opener rebids a singleton, if any; lacking a singleton, opener rebids 4H, 3NT or 3H according to strength. A few write-ups define 3H as 18+, perfect for today's hand, but the most common agreement is 16+ (3NT would show about 14 or 15.) North likely signs off at 4H but South is strong enough to continue -- 6 extra hip generally means two extra tricks so South should not pass 4H. A 4NT inquiry produces a one-Ace or two-keycard "plus the Queen" reply from North. Queen? What Queen? With a known ten-card fit, odds heavily favor dropping the Queen or being able to take an obvious finesse half the time if the suit splits 3-0 so North should reply 5S in Key Card methods. All five key cards and the "Queen" are accounted for, but North's discouraging 4H argues against pursuing a grand slam. What about 6NT? With no expected top or trump losers, it will often pay at matchpoints to play in the suit, giving better chances for an overtrick, so 6H should be the end result. Four pairs bid slam, four settled for game, and one cashed in on a horrible 6C sacrifice.

Back to that 4H bid -- while North has nothing extra, South can have anything short of a 2C opener, so it would be good for North to leave opener some bidding room. A common expert treatment known as "Serious 3NT" calls for North to bid 3NT with serious slam interest and otherwise make a control bid on the way to game (3S or 4D on North's hand today.) I prefer the opposite style, where North bids 3NT to say "I don't see slam but I can cooperate if you have even more" while control bids would be considered Serious.