Deal No. 5

North dealer, East-West vulnerable

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

2 Hpass
pass3 Cpasspass
3 Hpasspass4 C

Playing the hand above, partner and I set the opponents' 4C 2 times, while we had a cold 4H contract.
   My partner complained about me not bidding 4H, and I said I did not have the distribution to do so, square hand, no ruffing power, needed too much luck (which most sorrowfully was there).
   My calculation was that even if partner had a singleton and all our points were working, we had an SST of 4, and since the WP we had could at the best be 20, we should not be in 4H.
   I asked quite a few people, almost everyone said I needed to bid 4H. So, where did I go wrong?
   By the way, even before I read you book, when I used to rely more on the LAW, I would probably have either passed 2H or bid 3H as an extended preempt, but never consider 4H because of my shape.

Thank you,
Sara Bilgoray


We have nothing to complain about your bidding. And your calculation is correct. You expect an SST of 4, and if your partner has a maximum weak two-bid (9-10 WP and 6331/6322), you will take nine tricks, no more, no less. Opposite KQJ sixth of hearts, out, you won't even make 3H. Those who said you should have bid 4H were wrong.
   But we do NOT like your partner's bidding. Her hand is simply too strong for a weak 2H – not because of her high-card points but because of her shape. A hand with 6-4 distribution and a strong four-card side suit is almost one trick better than the ordinary 6331 or 6322 distribution, which is the norm for a weak two-bid. Had you known your side's SST was 3, you would have at least invited game. But you shall expect an SST of 4, and proceed on that basis.
   When you competed with 3H over 3C, we think your partner could have made up for her previous underbid by going on to 4H all by her own. The extra distribution is the key, not some number of high-card points or trumps.
   Since your side can win eleven tricks in hearts, it means 4H is on even if we move one diamond to spades (or clubs). Why? The explanation is that with the HK onside, North's 9 HCP are the eqivalent of 12 WP. So, in effect you have 23 HCP and an SST of 4 in that scenario, which equals ten tricks. Sometimes things are like that, but there is no way for us to know when a suit like HAQJ10xx is just as good as HAKQJxx. Had North known that, she would have opened the bidding with 1H, not 2H.

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