Polling You # 80: Strong Jump Shifts with 6-5: Suit Quality, Self-Sustaining Suits, LTC

Strong Jump Shifts with 6-5: Suit Quality, Self-Sustaining Suits, Losing Trick Count


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Greetings Bridge Friends,

Welcome to BridgeHands lesson #80 where you will again have an opportunity to demonstrate your Strong Jump Shift bidding skills as well as some play skills from our prior lessons.

In these exercises, South will hold very distributional hands with a 6-5 shape in the major suits.  As the Bridge cliché goes, when holding six-five, “come alive.”  True, some would rather not spend much time thinking about “freak hands” considering that the six-five combinations only come up 1.4 percent of the time (6-5-1-1 and 6-5-2-0 are each .7 percent). Yet as we’ve seen in our prior lessons, even with so-called freak hands, wise players always consider Suit Quality, Self or Semi Self-Sustaining-Suits, Losing Trick Count and partner’s receptivity considering fit, Cover Cards and honors.   In fact, in our next lesson we will give special consideration when both our long suits are in the minors where we must choose between an 11 trick minor suit game, slam or risking a 3 Notrump game contract.  But for now, let’s focus on 6-5 hand in the major suit.  In both lessons we will evaluate the worth of singleton honors, a side suit doubleton with a primary honor as well as a worthless doubleton.  And as always, we will move around a card here and there, measuring the impact on the bidding, line of declarer play and available tricks.  In fact, most of these hands will require careful declarer and defender play to find the best contract so be forewarned, alert and put on your thinking cap!  Finally, be sure to view our entire video lessons along with the concluding remarks for additional details.

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Recall in our prior lessons the criteria for our advanced hand evaluation methods:

Highlights – 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 (except Q x x in a side suit)
– 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

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

Please refer to our Lessons 76 – 79 for more on LTC and Cover Card hand evaluation.

 Hand 1 (variation of Eddie Kantar hand 10)

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul
♠ K 10
9 8 4
A 10 6 5 3 2
♣ Q 8
♠ 9 2
K 3 2
9 4
♣ A K 9 4 3 2
♠ 7 6 5
A 10
Q J 8 7
♣ J 10 7 5
♠ A Q J 8 4 3
Q J 7 6 5
♣ 6
West North East South
1 ♠
Pass 1 N Pass 3
Pass 3 ♠ Pass 4 ♠
All pass
Trick West North East South
1. W ♣ A ♣ 8 ♣ 5 ♣ 6
2. W ♣ K ♣ Q ♣ 7 ♠ 3
3. S 9 2 8 K
4. S ♠ 9 ♠ K ♠ 5 ♠ 4
5. N 4 A 7 5
6. N K 9 10 J
7. W ♠ 2 ♠ 10 ♠ 6 ♠ J
8. S 2 4 A Q
9. E ♣ 2 3 ♣ J ♠ 8
10. S ♣ 3 5 ♠ 7 ♠ A
11. S 3 8 ♣ 10 ♠ Q
12. S ♣ 4 6 J 7
13. S ♣ 9 10 Q 6



 Initially South’s hand appears to have questionable values with 13 High Card Points and a singleton Diamond King.  Now let’s check out South’s Suit Quality – 6 long plus 3 good honors equals 9, a Semi Self-Sustaining suit that often will not have more than 1 loser even when partner holds a singleton (assuming a simple finesse works).  So despite not knowing if the partnership have a trump fit, with a Semi Self-Sustaining Suit South can begin counting Losing Trick Count: Spades 1, Hearts 2-3, Diamonds 0-1, Clubs 1.  Thus South begins bidding 1 Spade, planning to make a forcing Strong Jump Shift if partner makes a bid.  With adverse vulnerability, despite a good 6 card Club suit holding a meager 10 HCP it’s too much of a stretch for West to make a 2 Club overcall.  North is willing to signoff in 1 Notrump call with 9 HCP, not quite enough to make a 2 Diamond call – also a stretch to count distribution points with Ace and 5 mediocre others.  Next South makes a 3 Heart SJS with a 5 Losing Trick Count.  Unsure of whether partner South holds 4 or 5 Hearts, North accepts a 4 Spade game.
West leads from the protected Club Ace to survey the dummy and without much thought, East plays the 5.  Unclear of a better continuance and noting the dummy’s Queen doubleton, West proceeds with the Club King which declarer ruffs.  South wins the singleton Diamond King and plays a low Spade to dummy’s King.  While unnecessary, South could not resist the urge to win the Diamond Ace and pitch a Heart – regardless, South can only lose two Hearts so a pitch is irrelevant.   Questionably switching to a Heart 9 to try a finesse in declarer’s closed hand, East innocently covers with the 10, to South’s Jack and West’s King (an error by East as we shall later see).   West returns a Spade to North’s 10 with South overtaking with the trump Jack, pulling trump and winning the remainder of the tricks to make game.  Let’s try again – both sides have made some play errors on this time.


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In our next “EXTRA” lesson for Premium and ULTRA members, we will discuss 6-5 in the minor suits.

Thank you for attending our online Bridge virtual training class. We appreciate your support and look forward to supporting your Bridge instructional needs.

Happy Bridge Trails,







  1. jazzzbo says:

    I think that the current way that jump shifts and reverses is taught is flawed.

    1. Reverses should ONLY be made over an excellent first suit.

    2. HCP are not a consideration (don’t bother to count them!) Tricks are…

    3. You must have at least 2 aces to make a reverse or a JS

    4. The second suit does not have to have four or more cards, although it is desirable.

    5.The second suit must have at least one TRICK!

    6. There is no necessary distinction between Reverses & Jump Shifts

    This Means:
    a. Partner can easily raise to game with as little as singleton honor or any doubleton in your suit
    b. Partner should be considering slam with any reasonable hand with tricks.
    c. If partner has real trump support and shortness in partners second suit, (and tricks), slam should be investigated.

    I’ve prepared a Powerpoint lesson on the subject. If anyone is interested, I’ll be pleased to send them a free copy.

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