Questions and Answers

Question 15

I have read with interest your book, I Fought the Law of Total Tricks. I have found your approach quite interesting, stimulating and a good addition to bridge bidding theory.
   In your book you do not rigorously define what comprises a short suit. In your 2 short suit case it is implied that the third shortest suit, which is usually a 3 card suit, takes on a value of zero while a value of 3 if the shortest or next shortest suit. In the 3 short suit case you rigorously define what a short suit is (void, singleton or doubleton) and you describe this as a special case.
   To clarify this in my and my wife's mind I have generalized your approach where a short suit is now rigorously defined and where there is now no distinction between the methodology in handling the two and three short suit case. Also my approach emphasizes that each of the three non-trump suits have a distinct short suit value and that your SST is the sum of those three distinct values.
   I still have difficulty with quantifying WP in hand evaluation. I hope that in due course you will provide more guidance in this area. Good luck in this work and I look forward to seeing any advances in this technique.

John Doolittle


If you find it easier to view SST as the sum of all three side-suits, we suggest you do so. Other readers have suggested similar solutions (see questions 6, 7 and 13). Most of the time, though, you will have one side-suit with three or more cards in both hands, so looking at only the two shortest suits will be enough. Another reason why we prefer our approach is that even if we have, say, three side-suit doubletons, it is possible that one of them does not reduce our losers. If we have, say, KJx opposite Qx in diamonds, the doubleton doesn't reduce our losers, and we could just as well view our diamonds as KJx opposite Qxx.
   To estimate how many WP a hand has can be tricky, but the auction gives you many clues. A good guide is that stray jacks and queens, sometimes even kings, opposite suits where your partner has not advertised length often isn't working, so such honors should be downgraded. The same goes for honors, which are wrongly placed for your side (like when you have king third in a suit your LHO has bid strongly). And strong suits opposite partner's known shortness is also bad, unless you have the time to use your honors for discards. On the plus side, we have chunky suits like AJ109, which opposite three small may produce two tricks by power and give you one discard. If the discard is useful, these 5 HCP are as much as 9 WP (6 WP for two tricks with both hands following, an extra 3 WP for the discard).

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