Deal No. 4

Here is a hand from the book Matchpoint Defense, by Jim Priebe (Masterpoint Press, 2006), that you might be interested in (page 36):

S J 4
H K 8 6
D K Q 10 2
C Q 4 3 2
S K 9 7 5 3TableS A Q 10 8 2
H J 10 7H A Q 9 2
D 9 6 5 3D 8 6 4
C 7C 8
S 6
H 5 4 3
C A K J 10 9 7 5

Priebe's main point is that if West leads the SK against 5C on the auction (East deals) 1S – 2C – 4S – 5C – all pass, then East can give a suit preference signal for hearts, thus allowing EW to score the first 4 tricks.
   From a Law of Total Tricks standpoint, one would expect 11 + 10 = 21 tricks, and yet best defense allows both NS and EW to score 9 tricks = 18 total tricks, a 3-trick over-estimation by the Law. Switch the SK for the HA, however, and NS score 2 extra tricks for a total of 20, because the HK represents a control and allows NS to pitch the remaining heart loser on diamonds. Swith the HA and the HK and NS score 3 extra tricks for a total of 21.
   Curiously, the SST + WP formula works exceptionally well with the EW hands (EW have 20 effective HCPs and a SS count of 4 = 9 tricks), but I don't think, in real life, the value of the HA in the N hand, or the HK with the HA onside (modification #1) will be accounted for on this auction.


Henry Sun
Benicia, CA


The SST + WP formula works fine for NS too. On the actual deal, the spade jack, the heart king and queen-jack of diamonds are wasted, so they have only 17 WP and an SST of 3. That is four losers, or nine tricks.
   If the heart king is onside, NS gain 5 WP, since both the heart king and the diamond queen become useful. In that scenario, they have 22 WP. Deduct one from your SST, and we have two losers, or 11 tricks.
   If North has the heart ace, NS gain 9 WP, because now the jack of diamonds is also useful (we value all trick-taking cards lower than the queen to 3 WP each, so the precious jack isn't 1 WP, but 3 WP). With 26 WP and an SST of 3, the formula says '12 tricks'. And so it is.
   The difficulty with the deal is for North to know the value of his red honors. With four-card club support and fair values, most people would bid 5C over 4S. But the doubleton spade is a warning sign (a duplication when you know that South can't have more than two spades), just like the fact that most of North's strength is outside clubs. For that reason, you could easily sell us a card-showing double over 4S with that hand. But on the actual deal, it probably wouldn't matter, since South is likely to take out to 5C. And if NS choose to defend 4S, who are we to say it can't make? Give West one of East's diamonds in exchange for his club, and they even score an overtrick!

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