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Last Train Leaving

Have you ever been stuck at a train station or airport having missed your scheduled trip home, standing at the ticket counter asking, "Is there any way for me to get home tonight? I don't mind going out of the way!"

West
K73
AKJ105
Q843
Q
W
N
E
S
1
3
4
P

Here we have a hand which is much stronger than our minimum.  Partner's 4 bid has told us they have too strong of a hand to just jump to 4.  We would like to tell our partner "I have interest too, but I'm not quite strong enough to take us beyond 4"  Much like our situation at the train station, when we only have one option available to us, no matter how indirect it is, we will take it.  The correct bid with this hand is 4 "Last Train".

 

Despite not having a control in ,  you really need to show slam interest to partner, but you do not want to push your partnership beyond 4.  Partner will recognize your limited space and not put any weight on the fact that your only bid available happened to be .

The concept of "Last Train" can apply in many different situations, not just slam auctions.  It is important for you and your partner to decide how often you use this treatment.  It is very commonly used when deciding if you want to play in 3NT.  Once your partnership is headed for game and have ruled out the possibility of an 8 card major suit fit, your bids below 3NT, should be used to determine whether or not 3NT will be a playable spot.  Sometimes, when you are not sure whether 3NT is the right spot, you might choose to make a "last train bid".  Here is an example:

W
N
E
S
1
2
3
P
3

In this auction, the 3 bidder has denied 4 (due to the failure to make a negative double).  Typically will be unplayable unless opener has 6 and 5.   The 3 bid here would say to partner, I want to keep 3NT in play however I am not sure it is the right contract (they would bid it themselves if it was a sure thing).   If opener bids 3 then at their next turn bids 4, you can take it to the bank that they have 6 and 5. This will rarely happen.

I'd love to hear about other peoples unique last train agreements and if you have found any auctions where it has been particularly profitable.

Questions?  Comments? Please post here...

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