Count the Hand


frs1016@centurylink.net

Many pairs treat a 2NT response to a major-suit opening bid as an artificial forcing raise, so today’s North had to temporize with a 2♣ response. (In my view, a natural, forcing 2NT is too valuable to give up.)

Dlr: South ♠ Q J 7
Vul: All Q 10 3
A 10 7
♣ K J 9 4
♠ 9 5 3 ♠ 6
K 8 7 5 2 9 4
K Q 9 6 J 8 4 3 2
♣ 2 ♣ Q 8 7 6 5
♠ A K 10 8 4 2
A J 6
5
♣ A 10 3
South West North East
1♠ Pass 2♣ Pass
3♠ Pass 4♠ Pass
6♠ All Pass

Opening lead — K

South’s leap to 6♠ was speculative, but he found the right cards in dummy and handled the play well. He took the A and set out to get a count of the defenders’ distribution: He ruffed a diamond, led a trump to dummy, ruffed a diamond and drew trumps with the ace and jack.

Declarer next let the Q ride. West won and returned a heart, and South took the jack and ace.

Information

When East discarded, declarer had the information he needed. He knew West had held three spades, five hearts and at least four diamonds (West had obligingly kept his queen), so one club at most. So South led a club to the king and confidently returned a club to his 10.

“Counting the hand” is a simple process. It takes focus and practice, but anyone can do it.

Daily Question

You hold:
♠ Q J 7
Q 10 3
A 10 7
♣ K J 9 4
Your partner opens 1. The next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER
Over a minor-suit opening bid, most pairs treat a 2NT response as natural and game-forcing. If that is your agreement, bid 2NT. Some pairs use the bid as invitational, showing about 11 points. I dislike that treatment and avoid it because a continuation of the auction is often undefined and awkward.
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