Tip #18 - More on Hand Evaluation

More on Hand Evaluation

The bidding goes N pass, S 1D, N 1H, S 1NT, all pass. Making 4! Was it just one of those things where all the cards were nicely placed, or less than ideal bidding? There was some “discussion” about North’s bidding, which didn’t reflect well on North. Here are the hands.



Board 12
Dlr: W
Vul: N-S







N/S can actually make 5 spades,
as long as a D or S is not led, by
setting up a C for a D discard



North’s (faulty) reasoning for bidding hearts before the spades was they didn’t have 10 high card points and therefore couldn’t rebid to the 2 level. They were concerned that if they bid 1 spades then a possible heart fit would be missed. However, as it happened, a spade fit was missed. This is as a result of faulty hand evaluation by North.

The first point is that in modern times bidding to the 2 level is often done with hands down to 8 points. Particularly, as in this case, where North has not opened, so South knows that North has less than an opening hand and any North bids are not forcing.
Secondly, if a heart or spade fit is found then North can revalue their hand to 10 points, adding a distributional point for each doubleton. Or if using losing trick count, there are eight losers, which warrants a bid to the 2 level.

Thirdly, the value of intermediary cards, such as 10’s, 9’s & 8’s are often under estimated. These provide some “guts” to suits and can become winners in their own right. In this case holding 8 to J in the spade suit means there is only one loser in the suit. The 10C and 9D are also useful foils, particularly if in a No Trump contract. This is a useful consideration in close call situations such as this case.
So, how should the bidding have gone? In my opinion something like this (E/W passing throughout):

      N        S

      P        1D
     1S      1NT
     2H     3S
     4S      P

South’s 1NT shows 15 or 16 points, balanced or semi balanced hand. North’s 2H bid is relatively safe because even if a fit is not found then 2NT from South, with combined 23 or 24 points, should usually make. Once North bids 2 hearts then South knows that North has at least 5 spades and 4 hearts. South’s 3S bid shows a maximum hand (16 points) and 3 card support. North can now revalue their hand and with a combined 26 points, and some good intermediaries, happily go onto game.
However the play is the thing! How do you ensure making four tricks from the spade suit, either South playing No Trumps or North playing Spades? Work it through and see! Also see how you might play the hand with different leads from East or West.

Happy bridging