Bidding Judgment by Andrew Kambites
Evaluating Balanced Hands
WHICH OF these two hands would you ®A-K-Q. Note that the fourth club in
prefer to have for a 1NT opening? Layout 2 Hand B is far more effective than the
´ 43 ´ AJ6 fourth spade in Hand A, because the
™ 762 N ™ A53 ®A-K-Q make it much easier to promote
Hand A Hand B t QJ43 W
E t K752 the length card as a winner.
´ 7543 ´ 43 ® AKQ2 ® J65
™ J76 ™ 762
t Q43 t QJ43 PRINCIPLE: A hand has greater
® AKQ ® AKQ2 Now you have excellent chances of nine trick-taking potential if the high
tricks: one spade, one heart, three dia- cards are concentrated in the long
monds (provided the missing cards break suits. Beware of holdings like A-K-Q
I find that inexperienced players can look 3-2) and four clubs. Of course opponents or A-Q-J. A-Q-J might look quite
at it from a negative point of view. They might just set up five tricks before you can attractive (if you are missing the
can point to the fact that in Hand A they make nine, but still you would want to be king and the finesse works) but there
have at least one honour in every suit in 3NT. is too much of a chance that partner
except spades, and even in spades the four- There may be danger suits in Layout 2; similarly likes K-10-9. Huge dupli-
card suit offers some security against however, there are excellent opportunities. cation of values and only three tricks!
opponents running too many tricks. Any danger hardly matters in Layout 1.
Of course. if partner has Hand C he will There are few opportunities because you
raise to 3NT: have nowhere to go for tricks. Whatever Length tricks 2: A length trick in dia-
they lead, you are going down. Players monds is far more likely in Layout 2 than
Hand C who worry first about the dangers are in Layout 1. The 3-2 break required in
´ AJ6 getting their priorities wrong. If you are in Layout 2 is 68%. The 3-3 break required in
™ A53 a contract for nine tricks you have to have Layout 1 is only 36%. To make a length
t K752 realistic prospects of nine tricks. trick you need length in a suit (a fourth
® J65 Many players would count 12 points card.) Note that there is far more trick-
with Hand A or Hand B and just regard taking potential in a hand with two four-
the inevitable minus score with Layout 1 card suits (4-4-3-2 shape) than with only
How do you fancy your chances in 3NT with a shrug of the shoulders. ‘Partner, we one four-card suit (4-3-3-3 shape). Of
with Hand A opposite Hand C in Layout 1? had 25 points, we had to be in game’. The course 5-3-3-2 gives even greater trick-
purpose of this article is to examine taking potential.
precisely why Hand B is so much more
Layout 1 effective than Hand A, and to see if we can
´ 7543 ´ AJ6 recognise desirable and undesirable fea- PRINCIPLE: 4-3-3-3 shape has the
™ J76 N ™ A53 tures. To do so, I will look at one feature at least potential of all balanced hands.
t Q43 W
t K752 a time.
® AKQ ® J65
Length tricks 1: The clubs in Hand B Isolated Honours
become worth a whole extra trick in
You could be held to as few as six tricks: comparison to Hand A! The reason is the What purpose does the jack of hearts serve
three clubs and one in each other suit. fourth card in the suit which enables the in Layout 1? Very little! Comparing
Now evaluate Hand B opposite Hand C jack of clubs in Hand C to become a honour cards, the jack of hearts in Layout
in Layout 2. winner rather than be squashed under the 1 has been replaced by the jack of
diamonds in Layout 2. It serves a vital
purpose, backing up the king and the
When you have finished reading this magazine, queen of diamonds. So how could you tell
that the red-suit honour holdings in Hand
if you don’t want to keep it please recycle it.
B were likely to be more useful than in
40 English Bridge August 2012 www.ebu.co.uk