Tip #19 - Yet More on Hand Evaluation

Dale’s Tips – Yet More on Hand Evaluation

The Babich NZ Wide Pairs was held on the 3 November where they provide a booklet giving tips on bidding and play of the hands. The booklet had a section on Session Tips, one of which I thought was excellent. This was to do with valuing a hand with KQJ tripleton in a suit. The tip was that this holding is rarely worth 6 hcp and that the hand should be devalued by one point. The hand in question was flat 15 points with the 4 card suit spades to the jack and clubs KQJ. Perforce, if counting the hand has 15 points, this is opened 1, and where partner has 10 points they are likely to bid 2NT. This will lead to 3NT, which in most cases will be unmakeable. If the hand is devalued by one point then the opening bid will be 1NT, and partner with 10 points can happily pass.

Continuing with the 1 opening theme, I had someone ask me if partner opens 1 and you have a flat 10 point hand with 4 diamonds, should the response be 2 or 2NT? Well, this depends on the quality of the points – not all 10 point hands are equal!
First, as responder let us consider what we know about partner’s hand.
We know it’s not balanced 10-14 points or 20-22 points, or unbalanced 19-21points, or 23+ points.
It could be 11-19 points unbalanced, 15-19 points balanced or 13-22 points 4,4,4,1 distribution where the singleton should be a club. What type of hand it is should become clearer with partner’s rebid. With any hand with more than 15 points we should be looking for game.
So back to the question. Generally speaking when responding with flat 4,3,3,3 distribution hands we should look at a no trump response as it is likely that there is the same number of tricks available in no trumps as is in a suit contract, unless opener is unbalanced. But, consider the following hands:





Q 4 3

K 10 6

9 8 7

Q 6 5

Q 8 4

10 9 2

Q J 7 2

A 10 6 4


Q J 4

J 3 2

6 4 2

Hand A is a very “poor” 10 point hand. All Q’s & J’s and no intermediary 10’s & 9’s. In fact it is so poor I would consider bidding 1 NT rather than bid at the 2 level. If I was to bid at the 2 level then it would be 2. This would give partner the chance to bid to 2♠ if they have five spades and less than 15 points (which was in fact the case).

Hand B is a “good” 10 point hand. An A, plus a K in partner’s suit and some intermediaries. I would tend to bid 2NT with this hand, trying not to give too much information to the opponents. You never know they may lead a diamond! However a case can be made for bidding 2. Then any rebid other than 2 or 3 (indicating a minimum opening hand) from partner should lead to a game contract.

Hand C is worth more than 10 points and a 2NT bid is standout. There are 4 guaranteed tricks in diamonds and a little bit of help in the majors. Where to from there depends on what partner rebids.

The main intention of this tip is to demonstrate what “poor” and “good” means in relation to points. Firstly KQJ tripleton is usually not worth 6 points. Secondly holdings mainly in Q’s & J’s are “poor” points and those with A’s & K’s and/or with good intermediaries are “good” points. So with a “poor” holding reduce the point count a bit and with a “good” holding increase it a bit.
Happy Bridging