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Bridge 8/29

Points don't always generate tricks

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    This week, we are studying pre-emptive opening bids. First, look only at the North hand. Your partner opens a disciplined weak two hearts, showing a decent six-card suit (one headed by at least two of the top three or three of the top five honors), 5-10 high-card points, and no side four-card major or void. After West passes, what would you do?
    Responder's first job is to calculate the combined point-count. Here, you have 14 points, giving a partnership total of 19-24. That is not enough for game unless you have a good trump fit (or a running long suit for no-trump purposes). And here you have only a singleton heart opposite partner's long suit. Misfits are miserable. You must pass — even thinking of doing anything else is an overbid!
    Now move into the South seat. Against your two-heart contract, West leads the diamond jack. East takes dummy's queen with his ace and returns the diamond six. After winning West's eight with dummy's king, how would you continue?
    The Law of Total Tricks is a good guideline in this situation. When you do not have the high-card power for game, bid as high as your combined number of trumps. Your side has only seven hearts, so the Law recommends bidding one heart. That, of course, is tough to do after partner opens two hearts. Pass and pray.
    You have four losers in the side suits: one spade, two diamonds and one club. You can afford one trump loser but not two. The correct percentage play in this suit is low to your queen on the first round. Here, that works perfectly — as you knew it would.
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