Polling You # 77, Preempts and Suit Quality, Losing Trick Count, Cover Cards

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In our continuing series on Losing Trick Count/Cover Cards and Self-Sustaining Suits/Suit Quality, we will take a look at everyone’s favorite bid, the beloved preempt.  After all, what’s not to love about making an obstructive bid with a long suit with less than an opening hand, right?   Well, like everything in our Bridge bidding arsenal there’s a time and a place for every bid under heaven.  Unfortunately, without partnership agreements and following a disciplined approach, you and your partner’s care and feeding of preemptive bids may or may not work in your favor.   So let’s see how the above mentioned tools can improve our Bridge prowess.
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Review – Losing Trick Count and Cover Cards

-         Prerequisite: 8+ card trump fit or self-sustaining suit

-         Ace-King-Queen are not losers in 3+ card suits

-         Generally, fourth card and beyond are not losers

-         LTC – CC equals losers, as 6 LTC – 3 CC = 3 losers (major suit game)

-         Extras: 5+4 trump, working Queens and Jacks, shortness

Review of LTC and Cover Card (prior lesson) – Help Suit Game Try

A 2
K Q 4 3 2
K 2
9 8 3 2

K 5
6 5 4
6 5 4
A Q 10 5 4

1H – 2H;
3C – 4H;

Despite responder signing off with around 2 cover cards, opener counts 6 losing trick count and makes a game try in Clubs with 3 losers.  With 1-2 Club losers, responder accepts partner’s game try.

 

Review – Counter Suit Game Try

A
A K Q 4 3
4 3 2
9 8 3 2

6 5 4 3
J 6 5 4
A K
6 5 4

1H – 2H;
3C – 3D;
4H;

Responder shows a Heart fit with minimum values, generally 2 cover card.  Opener re-evaluates, counting 6 LTC and bids 3 Clubs with 3 losers.  Responder cannot help in Clubs yet certainly has the Diamond suit covered with 2.5+ covers in that suit.  With 3 Diamond losers as well, opener is happy to accept the counter suit game try.

 

Trump Fit or Self-Sustaining Suit

  1. LTC is normally a 5-3 or longer major suit fit
  2. Occasionally one player has a long, strong suit
  3. We need an independent method to determine the suit quality and LTC when one player has a long, strong suit
  4. When evaluating Suit Quality, we generally assume partner may hold a singleton to ascertain the losers (LTC) in a long suit
  5. Adjust the above when partner bids Notrump, indicating 2+ card support

 

Self-Sustaining Suit and Suit Quality

  1. Limited to 1 loser when partner holds a singleton
  2. Reserved for situations when a player holds a long, strong suit
  3. Suit Quality equals the number of useful honors plus the suit length
  4. Self-Sustaining Suit usually equals a Suit Quality of 10 or more, lose 0-1 tricks
  5. Semi Self-Sustaining Suit equals a Suit Quality of 9, lose 1-2 tricks

 

Self-Sustaining Suits – Examples where SQ = 10

A K Q x x x x  =    3+ honors + 7 length = 10+
A Q x x x x x x =  2 honors = 8 length = 10
A K Q J x =           4+ honors + 5 length = 9+
K Q J 10 x x =      4 honors (without Ace) + 6 length = 10
Q J 10 9 x x x =   3 honors + 7 length = 10ish (discount 1 missing Ace and King)
J 10 9 8 x x x x = No! Inadequate with primary honors and Queen


Semi Self-Sustaining Suits – Examples where SQ = 9

A Q x x x x x = 2 honors + 7 length = 9
K Q J x x x = 3 honors + 6 length = 9
Q J 10 9 x x = 3 honors + 6 length = 9ish (body card 9 is helpful)
A K Q x x x = 3+ honors + 6 length = 9+ (count extra for top 3 honors in long suit)


Self-Sustaining Suit Scenarios:

2
K Q J 5 4 3 2
3 2
6 5 4

The Heart Suit Quality = 3 honors + 7 cards length = 10, a self-sustaining suit that should not lose more than 1 trick (even when partner holds a singleton).

3 2
A 6 5 4 3
3 2
6 5 4 3

After partner opens 1 Heart, according to “The Law Of Total Tricks” with a combined length of 10 trump responder jumps to 4 Heart (10 cards = 4 level major suit game), according to the principle “slow shows extras, fast denies”.

A K Q J 5 4 3 2
2
2
6 5 4

After Right Hand Opponent opens 1 Diamond, jump to 4 Spades with a solid 8 card self-sustaining suit and little else.  Here the Suit Quality = 4 ++ 8 = 12+, more than the 10 required for run the suit.

Q J 9 8 5 4 3 2

2
J 5 4 3

Partner opens 1 Club.  With less than 6 High Card Points and less than a King in responder’s long suit, responder makes a 4 Spade shutout bid with a reasonable 8 card suit including a supporting intermediate body cards (9-8 spots).  While the Suit Quality = 2 honors + 8 long, missing the Ace and King downgrade around 1 trick to consider the suit a semi self-sustaining holding.

Hand 1 – East

A 5
K Q J 6 5 4
5
7 6 5 4

SQ = 3 + 6 = 9, semi self-sustaining suit
LTC = 1 + 1 + 1 + 3 = 6

 

Hand 1 – South

8 7 6
9 8 7
A K Q 7 6 4
9

SQ = 3 ++ 6 = 9+, consider 10 and self-sustaining with 3 toppers
LTC = 3 + 3 + 1 = 7

 

Hand 1 – West

10 9
10
J 10 9 8
A K Q J 10 8

SQ = 5 ++ 6 = 11+, beyond self-sustaining
LTC = 1 + 2 + 3 = 6

 

Hand 1 – North

K Q J 4 3 2
A 3 2
3 2
3 2

SQ = 3 + 6 = 9, semi self-sustaining suit
LTC = 1 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 7

 

 

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul

♠ K Q J 4 3 2
A 3 2
3 2
♣ 3 2

♠ 10 9
10
J 10 9 8
♣ A K Q J 10 8

N

W

E

S

♠ A 5
K Q J 6 5 4
5
♣ 7 6 5 4

♠ 8 7 6
9 8 7
A K Q 7 6 4
♣ 9

 

West

North

East

South

2

Pass

3 ♣

Pass

4 ♣

Pass

4

All pass

Polling You #77-78, Hand 1

East preemptively opens 2 Hearts – favorable vulnerability, 6412 shape in first seat; some would prefer to open 1 Heart with 10 High Card Points plus 2 distribution points for the great 6 card Heart suit.  Indeed, East has a fine Heart suit with a Suit Quality of 9 (3 honors + 6 long = semi self-sustaining suit).  South has an even better Diamond suit and was previously considering making a preempt.  But not now since preempts never mix.  Surprisingly, West has the best suit honors of all – too bad it’s the “paupers” Club suit.  Still, with 150 honors and 6 cards (SQ = 5 + 6 = 11) West bids 3 Clubs, forcing.  North’s hand comes close to mirroring East but should not enter the auction at the 3 level with 7 losers.  East has an easy 4 Club rebid, leaving West with a tough choice.  Bidding 5 Clubs is not reasonable with 6 losers – certainly East cannot have 4 cover cards.  Yet an honor is an honor so hopefully the Heart 10 will help make a major suit game on a good day.  So prudent contract Bridge players will settle for a 4 Club contract, with aggressive duplicate players shooting to make a 4 Heart vulnerable game for 620 points.

It’s all up to a lucky lead by South to set the contract!  Only a Spade lead sets the contract – not a likely suspect with South’s Diamond holding.  Ah, the thrills of Bridge, sometimes a science, often an art.  For those who logically choose to lead the opposite major rather than play the protected Diamond Ace and peek at the dummy, this time you have made a wise choice.

 

 

Board 1
North Deals
None Vul

♠ K Q J 4 3 2
A 3 2
3 2
♣ 3 2

♠ 10 9
10
J 10 9 8
♣ A K Q J 10 8

N

W

E

S

♠ A 5
K Q J 6 5 4
5
♣ 7 6 5 4

♠ 8 7 6
9 8 7
A K Q 7 6 4
♣ 9

 

West

North

East

South

2 ♠

Pass

2 N

3 ♣

3

Pass

4 ♠

All pass

 

Trick

East

South

West

North

1. E

K

7

10

A

2. N

♠ 5

♠ 6

♠ 9

♠ J

3. N

♠ A

♠ 7

♠ 10

♠ K

4. E

Q

8

♣ A

2

5. E

J

9

♣ 8

3

6. E

♣ 4

♣ 9

♣ 10

♣ 2

Polling You #77-78, Hand 1b

With the same hands as 1a, this time North deals and preemptively opens 2 Spades (some might open 1 Spade with 7 LTC based on the Spade SQ = 9).  South queries partner bidding 2 Notrump with 3 card Spade support and not wanting to disclose the long Diamond suit to the opponents.  Some might consider responding with a 3 Diamond query yet our only interest in a 4 Spade game so avoid “advertising” the long Diamond suit to the opponents.  North cooperates with partner, responding 3 Hearts to show an outside Ace.  With North showing extras, South jumps to 4 Spades.

On lead, East begins with the Heart King, immediately won by declarer North holding 6 combined Hearts, reducing risk of ruffing (leading a Heart or Club sets contract).  North deceptively leads the Spade Jack, inhibiting East from playing an Ace that might crash with a singleton King from partner West.  East wins the second Spade and returns a second Heart, West loudly discarding an encouraging Club Ace.  “Not yet” figures East, knowing to first leading the Heart Jack (holding 6, partner 1 and 3 in dummy, North must also hold 3).  East comes through with flying colors, next switching to a Club to avoid a ruff-and-sluff by declarer.  With the correct defense, declarer North comes up one trick short.

 

 

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul

♠ A Q 5
A 3 2
8 3 2
♣ A 7 3 2

♠ K J 10 9
10
J 10 9
♣ K Q J 10 8

N

W

E

S

♠ 4 3 2
K Q J 6 5 4
5
♣ 6 5 4

♠ 8 7 6
9 8 7
A K Q 7 6 4
♣ 9

 

West

North

East

South

2

Pass

2 N

Pass

3 N

All pass

 

Trick

East

South

West

North

1. E

K

7

10

2

2. E

Q

8

♣ K

A

3. N

5

A

9

2

4. S

♠ 2

K

10

3

5. S

♣ 4

Q

J

8

6. S

♠ 3

7

♣ 8

3

7. S

4

6

♠ 9

♠ 5

8. S

5

4

♣ 10

♣ 2

9. S

♠ 4

♠ 6

♠ 10

♠ Q

10. N

♣ 5

♠ 7

♠ J

♠ A

11. N

♣ 6

♣ 9

♣ J

♣ A

12. N

6

9

♣ Q

♣ 3

13. W

J

♠ 8

♠ K

♣ 7

Polling You #77-78, Hand 1c

Moving several cards from hand 1a/b, this time South bids first making a preemptive 2 Diamond call on a great suit.  North queries 2 Notrump (forcing) with South responding 3 Notrump – promising a solid suit heading by Ace-King-Queen that closes the contract. 

East leads the Heart King and North ducks one time with 6 combined Hearts (Rule of 7, 7 – 6 = duck 1 time to possibly disrupt communications).  Declarer North wins the second Heart and runs 6 Diamond tricks.  Carefully watching opponent discards, North notices East eventually pitches 2 Hearts (down to 2 Heart in hand).  So rather than cashing out 2 black Aces to eke out 9 tricks, North finesses up to Spade Queen that holds.  Now winning the Spade and Club Ace, North makes an overtrick taking home 10 tricks.

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In our continuing preemptive bidding quest, in Polling You #78 will get into the nitty-gritty of weak 2 bids along with many other shapely scenarios, including how to cope with the opponents preemptive bids.   BridgeHands members may download the entire Polling You #77-78 combined documentation (Day 3, Parts 1-4) either here (above) on Part #77, or from our follow-up episode #78.

We hope you are enjoying our Bridge instruction videos, online write-ups and downloadable documents plus hand diagrams and more.   Warm wishes improving your Bridge acumen and many thanks for your continued support!

Happy Bridge Trails,  

BridgeHands

 

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