Join Bridge Winners
They Add Up
(Page of 13)

In a Round of 16 match in the Open Trials, you face an immediate evaluation problem.

Both vul, South deals. As South, you hold:

South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
?

Your opening 1NT range vulnerable is 14-16. 1 followed by 1NT shows 11-13.

Your call?

South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
?

It is true that this hand contains 14 Goren points. However, there are several downgradable factors.

1) You are 4-3-3-3. This is almost always worse than any other distribution, both for suit play and notrump play.

2) You have an excess of queens and jacks. These cards are overvalued in the 4-3-2-1 point count, while aces are undervalued.

3) You have no 10's, only one 9, and no spots at all in your 4-card suit. While a 10 might or might not make a difference, they are certainly of potential value and should be figured in when evaluating a hand.

Any one of these factors makes a small difference. Combine them all, and it makes a big difference. This hand is easily a one point downgrade, if not more. Compare with a hand such as: Q109x Ax K10xx A10x. This hand contains only 13 HCP, but all your bridge experience tells you that it is a considerably stronger hand than your actual hand.

It could be argued that you should open 1NT anyway if close, due to the better description and preemptive value. There is some merit to that, but these factors aren't as important as many think. The Precision 1 opening is assumed to be 11-13 balanced until proven otherwise, so partner won't be playing you for anything other than what you have. It is true that opening 1NT shuts out a 1 of a major overcall, but it also shuts out a 1 of a major response.

You choose to open 1NT. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
?

2: Asks for a 5-card major

2: No 5-card major

2: 4 hearts, fewer than 4 spades, invite+

Not holding 4 hearts, your only options are to bid 2NT with a minimum, or 3 with a non-minimum.

Your call?

South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
?

Clearly you bid 2NT. This hand is a dead minimum, if that.

You bid 2NT ending the auction.

W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

West leads the 9, Rusinow vs. notrump.

North
J
AQ73
Q7652
963
South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

East wins the ace of spades and returns the queen. Do you win or duck?

North
AQ73
Q7652
963
South
K64
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

It is clear to duck. East might have started with AQ doubleton of spades, and ducking could prevent the run of the spade suit.

If you think about it, East figures to have AQ doubleton. If he had AQx he would have played the queen at trick 1. You would be forced to win the king since you wouldn't know where the ace was, and now East would have spade communication with his partner. If East had AQxx, he would have returned a small spade after winning the ace.

You play small. West plays the 3. What do you discard from dummy?

North
AQ73
Q7652
963
South
K64
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

While you probably don't need all of dummy's diamonds to come to 8 tricks, there doesn't appear to be any need to keep all of dummy's clubs. Retaining two of them is sufficient for two leads up to your QJx if necessary.

You discard a club. East shifts to the 2. Which club do you play?

North
AQ73
Q7652
96
South
K6
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

While it isn't likely to matter, it is probably better to play the jack. If you play the queen that is an indication that you have another high honor to back it up, since with Q10x you probably would have played small. The jack might have been played from J10x.

You choose to play the queen of clubs. West wins the king, and leads the 10. What do you discard from dummy?

North
AQ73
Q7652
9
South
K6
K94
AJ8
J8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

It is now clear that West started with 6 spades. East would certainly have continued spades if he had another spade.

If your plan is to take a diamond finesse, you might as well discard another club. That card won't help you. You might as well keep all dummy's diamonds in order to maximize your number of diamond tricks.

If your plan is to lead a club to your jack, you need to keep the club in dummy.

You don't need all of dummy's diamonds. If East has Kx, 4 diamonds tricks is enough. If East has Kxx of diamonds you will need him to have the ace of clubs anyway, in which case you will have 3 diamond tricks, 1 club trick, 3 heart tricks, and 1 spade trick.

If all that mattered were making the contract, you would have to assume that the king of diamonds is onside. However, undertricks make a difference. At 100 per trick, they add up quickly. Also, this isn't a question of making or going down in a game, where one virtually ignores extra undertricks in order to maximize the chances of making. This is a part-score, so the difference between making and going down is 6 IMPs, only twice the value of each undertrick.

All the evidence points to East having the ace of clubs and West the king of diamonds. East returned his smallest club, indicating strength in the suit. While West played the 3 on the second round of spades, suit-preference low, he then led the 10, suit-preference high. Also, if West had no entries he would have returned a club rather than a spade, since setting up the spades would appear to him to be futile. It is true that defenders don't always signal honestly, but in this sort of position where partner may be involved, they tend to give honest signals. Finally, simple restricted choice says that East is a favorite to hold the ace of clubs.

If you take the diamond finesse and it loses, you will be down 3, as the defense can take 5 spades, 2 clubs, and 1 diamond. By setting up a club trick you will be down 2, or down only 1 if the hearts are 3-3. Of course when East wins his ace of clubs and returns a diamond you will have to make the decision to refuse the finesse, but as we have seen West is likely to have the king of diamonds from his defense. Also, East would be nervous about underleading his king of diamonds, particularly since he can set up his clubs with a club continuation.

All things considered, it looks like the best plan is to discard a diamond, win the king of spades, cross to dummy with a heart, and lead a club up, planning on refusing the diamond finesse.

You choose to discard dummy's last club. East discards the 4. Do you win or duck?

North
AQ73
Q7652
9
South
K6
K94
AJ8
J8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

There can't be any gain from ducking. West will continue spades, and dummy is under more pressure than East is under. You don't want to give the defense a spade trick they might not have coming.

You win the king of spades. What next?

North
AQ73
Q7652
South
6
K94
AJ8
J8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

Clearly you are going to cross to dummy to take a diamond finesse. The question is whether or not to test the hearts first.

If you test the hearts and they are 3-3 you will probably save an undertrick when the king of diamonds is offside. When you cash the thirteenth heart West won't dare blank his king of diamonds, which means he will have to either discard a good spade or his last club. You will wind up with a trick at the end for down 2.

On the other hand, if the hearts are 4-2 you will do worse. West can come down to Kx of diamonds, a club, and his good spades. When you take the losing diamond finesse, West runs his spades. East comes down to the ace of clubs and a good heart, and you will be down 4.

In addition, you want to have the hearts for a dummy entry when East has Kxx of diamonds. It is clear not to test the hearts.

Might it be right to bang down the ace of diamonds in case West has a singleton king? Perhaps. However this still needs East to have the ace of clubs, so if you were going to play for that you should have kept the club in dummy all along.

You cross to dummy with a heart, and lead a diamond to your jack. West wins the king, and runs his spades. What four cards do you come down to in your hand and dummy?

North
A73
Q765
South
6
K9
A8
J8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P

Clearly you must keep your clubs to prevent the defense from taking more than 1 club trick. There is also a potential problem if you come down to 1-1 in the red suits in your hand, since the suits are blocked and you might get end-played into giving up an extra trick.

Best is to discard all of the hearts from your hand, and retain the singleton ace of hearts and 3 diamonds in dummy. This guarantees that you can't lose more than the ace of clubs, and gives you maximum chance to take the rest if West doesn't play a club.

You come down to 2-2 in the minors in your hand, and 2-2 in the red suits in dummy. West leads a club to East's ace, and you are down 3. The full hand is:

West
1098753
8
K1043
K5
North
J
AQ73
Q7652
963
East
AQ
J10652
9
A10742
South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P
D
2NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
J
A
2
2
0
1
Q
4
3
3
2
0
2
2
Q
K
6
0
0
3
10
9
4
K
3
1
3
4
8
Q
2
1
2
3
2
9
J
K
0
2
4
8
5
5
6
0
2
5
7
3
6
9
0
2
6
5
6
10
K
0
2
7
5
10

How was the defense?

West
1098753
8
K1043
K5
North
J
AQ73
Q7652
963
East
AQ
J10652
9
A10742
South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P
D
2NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
J
A
2
2
0
1
Q
4
3
3
2
0
2
2
Q
K
6
0
0
3
10
9
4
K
3
1
3
4
8
Q
2
1
2
3
2
9
J
K
0
2
4
8
5
5
6
0
2
5
7
3
6
9
0
2
6
5
6
10
K
0
2
7
5
10

It looks fine. West might have been more deceptive with his spade play on the third round of spades, but straightforward is often best.

Should E-W have been in the bidding?

West
1098753
8
K1043
K5
North
J
AQ73
Q7652
963
East
AQ
J10652
9
A10742
South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P
D
2NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
J
A
2
2
0
1
Q
4
3
3
2
0
2
2
Q
K
6
0
0
3
10
9
4
K
3
1
3
4
8
Q
2
1
2
3
2
9
J
K
0
2
4
8
5
5
6
0
2
5
7
3
6
9
0
2
6
5
6
10
K
0
2
7
5
10

West might have overcalled 2. While the hand is a bit under-strength, West's hand looks a lot better for declaring spades than defending notrump. It is interesting to see the problems this overcall might have created for North. What does North do? A negative double risks partner wrongly passing with a 4-card spade holding, since North would be expected to have a doubleton spade for the double. North will want to be in 4 if South has 4 hearts, and maybe 3NT will make otherwise. North might choose a Lebensohl sequence which shows 4 hearts and a singleton spade. South won't like that, and N-S could wind up far overboard in 3NT.

East could consider doubling 2. From his point of view clubs is likely to be the best lead. The danger of South having a redouble and scoring overtricks in 2 is tiny. However, East won't mind either a spade lead or a heart lead, and either of these leads may be the killer vs. 3NT. Thus, it looks right for East to not double.

How was North's auction?

West
1098753
8
K1043
K5
North
J
AQ73
Q7652
963
East
AQ
J10652
9
A10742
South
K642
K94
AJ8
QJ8
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
P
P
D
2NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
J
A
2
2
0
1
Q
4
3
3
2
0
2
2
Q
K
6
0
0
3
10
9
4
K
3
1
3
4
8
Q
2
1
2
3
2
9
J
K
0
2
4
8
5
5
6
0
2
5
7
3
6
9
0
2
6
5
6
10
K
0
2
7
5
10

North is strong enough that he probably wants to be in game if South has 4 hearts, so North pretty much had to do what he did. In addition, 3NT might make on a good day if South has a non-minimum. North had to make a try. Clearly North was right to pass 2NT, since game prospects look dismal opposite a minimum and even 2NT could be in some jeopardy as proven on the actual hand.

It is worth noting the difference if South had opened 1. If West doesn't enter North would bid 1, and then after South's 1NT North would get out in 2, a comfortable contract. If West did enter North would have to take the push to 3, and that will probably come home. -300 vs. +110 is quite costly.

At the other table, South opened a standard 1 and West chose to overcall 1. North made a negative double but didn't compete over 2, and that contract made 9 tricks comfortably. Thus, there was a 10-IMP difference between playing in a diamond partial and playing in 2NT.

It is well known that the Goren point count under-values aces and over-values queens and jacks. Its main advantage is simplicity. Perhaps the most accurate common point count is the 6-4-2-1 count, which has aces and kings about in line. However, while the Goren point count over-values the queen in relation to the king, the 6-4-2-1 count undervalues the queen in relation to the king. Also, the 6-4-2-1 count has the disadvantage of having 13 HCP per suit, which means that if you use it you have to change the point ranges of all of your bids.

I came up with the Woolsey point count, which I believe is both more accurate than the 6-4-2-1 count and considerably easier to use. It is as follows:

A = 4 1/2 points

K = 3 points

Q = 1 3/4 points

J = 3/4 point

This keeps the ace-king relationship of the 6-4-2-1 count the same, and puts the king-queen relationship in between the Goren count relationship and the 6-4-2-1 count relationship, which is where it should be. It also has the advantage of totaling to 10 points in a suit, so no range changes are needed. It is very easy to use. Simply take your normal count, and then add 1/2 for each ace and subtract 1/4 for each queen and jack. You can do a lot of cancellation. For example, on the hand in this article South has one ace and 3 queens/jacks. The ace cancels two of the quacks, so the adjustment is -1/4 or 13 3/4.

Of course this count does not take into account other factors such as interior spots, minor honors working together, and distribution. But at least it gets the high-card count in line with what it should be. I have been using this count for several years, and am pleased with the results.

49 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top