Questions and Answers


Question 29

I just read your book last week and I thought it contained some really good ideas, but when I tried to apply them last evening at the our club, I came across the following hand:

S A 10 9 x x x
H x x
D J 10 x x x
C
 
Table
 
S Q
H K Q J 9 x x
D x
C A 8 x x x

East opened 1NT. I bid 4H, thinking that my SST was 2 and I had 10 WP. If my partner contributed some hearts and a few WP, I had a good takeout or possibly even could make it. West doubled and that was it.
   West led the King of Clubs and I admired the dummy: We actually had a SST of -1 and 14 WP, so your rule suggests 12 tricks. I made only nine. After a club trumped, the Ace of spades, a spade trumped and another club trumped, I was in dummy and since West held only a doubleton spade and 10xx in hearts his trump ten was promoted after a spade continuation (fortunately for me, he also discarded his fifth club, so I ended up with 9 tricks).
   So even without a trump lead, which would be disasterous (I would make only 7 tricks), I can be held at 8 tricks, so your estimate is off 4, which I consider a lot. Do you have an explanation?
   I really thought you were on to something, but now I am in doubt again whether your estimate is better than the law.
   The full deal:

S A 10 9 x x x
H x x
D J 10 x x x
C
S x x Table S K J x x
H 10 x x H A x
D Q x x D A K x x
C K Q J 9 x C 10 x x
S Q
H K Q J 9 x x
D x
C A 8 x x x

Roel Willems,
the Netherlands


Answer

We have a section called 'What's important? -> Errors' on our site. There we show some factors which may cause the formula to come up with the wrong answer. The second entry 'Not enough potential' starts like this:

When your side has a very low SST, say 0 or 1, you may overestimate your tricks if you neither have lots of trumps nor a long side-suit. Even if you have few losers it doesn't automatically follow that you have lots of winners.
That is exactly what happens in your case. Your SST is very low, but you only take seven tricks against best defense. The reason? That you had neither enough trumps nor enough side-suit winners to make up for your great distribution. The same thing is said in our book, on page 258:
... when one side has a low SST with few WP ... you need extra trumps to take full advantage of your distribution...

Had West led a trump, NS's SST will be the same as South's SST (i.e. 2), but since the club suit can't produce any tricks, your SST is in fact no better than if your distribution had been, say, 1-6-3-3 (when you have an SST of 4). So, NS's 'effective' SST was 4 (after the trump lead). Add to that their 14 WP and the formula suggests 7 tricks.
   All this means that when your side is clearly outgunned in high-card points, but has a very low SST, you often take fewer tricks than suggested, if the defense can lead trumps and destroy some of that distributional value. The stronger your side is, the better the formula will function.


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