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All Vulnerable, what should I do when the bidding goes:

1S - (3H) - ?

Holding:  K x x x x   x   Q x x   x x x x
 

Based on your proficiency, perhaps you are viewing this hand in terms of the Law of Total Tricks, Losing Trick Count and associated cover cards (see Hand Evaluation Books).  Apparently your Right Hand Opponent has judged a score of 500 works better than your 620, or at least would like to give you that impression.

But looking at your hand, it's clear both you and Left Hand Opponent have surprises.   On a good day (like this one), LHO may even want to push their side to 5 Hearts.  Cuebidding 4H by you would be too forward going, showing extra values, first round control, and slam interest so we can immediately can rule it out. The only question is what level of Spades.

Considering your Heart singleton, you might anticipate LHO is can support Hearts.  Thus, if you bid 3S, I suspect LHOs will fire down their 4H response.   If partner doubles, what next?  Belatedly pulling to 4S would be anti-partnership - the worst evil. So with 11 trumps total and neutral vulnerability, it's important that you bid game right now.

Now then, let's look at the hand from another perspective. You have 8.5 Losing Trick Count.  But as responder, you should instead focus on controls:  2+ here (SK plus 1+ for singleton). Thus, slam appears distant.  Since partner didn't open with a strong 2C, partner has at most 5 LTC.  So your 2+ controls  stretches your side to a maximum 2-3 LTC: quite likely making game with
a bit of reserve left over.

Enough talk: let's look at the results of a simulation.

North: 5+ Spades, 12-21 points
East:   7-8 Hearts, 0-2 Spades, 5-11 points, 2+ Heart honors
South:  actual hand above
West:  any random deal
Run:    500,000 hands with 100 meeting criteria

Results:

Tricks 8 9 10 11 12 13
4S 97% 82% 54% 26% 8% 1%
4H 99% 92% 78% 55% 18% 2%

So the Law of Total Tricks again prevails (with neutral vulnerability,
bid to the level of your total aggregate tricks).  Taking a second
look at your hand, you can clearly see it has no defensive values.

Without looking at specific hands, note from the data above that
opponents' have twice the likelihood as your side making a given level contract.   Of course, our partner and LHO would make a better assessment on case by case basis.

In summary, I recommend bidding 4S. There is no reason to preemptively bid 5S, particularly when 4S has a good play. Fortunately, you didn't ask what to do if LHO bids 5H and partner passes!  But remember Larry Cohen's immortal words:

The 5 level belongs to the opponents'

If that doesn't work out, ask Larry for a refund!

 


 

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