X-Files 74

How many of our club players do not appreciate the difference between a 5-3 and a 4-4 fit? And how many don’t know the great advantages of playing in the 4-4 fit when there is a 5-3 fit in another suit, rather than just settling for the 5-3? Here is one very good example.

Board 6 from Monday 27/07/20
Dealer E EW Vul


All Wests opened 1S. But not all Easts made the correct bid in response. In fact most Easts must have bid 3S, from what I can tell. Then, most Wests must have bid 4S, because that was the final contract at nearly all tables. So, what’s wrong with being in 4S, you may well ask. Well, what’s wrong with 4S is that it makes an overtrick, whereas 4H makes two overtricks. Isn’t a top board better than an average?

All improving bridge players should be taught that a 4-4 fit with a 5-3 side suit will almost certainly make one more trick. Just work through this one. Apart from the declarers who lost their way in 4S, there were eleven tricks available, all declarer had to do is play both spades and hearts from the top and take the eleven tricks. But if East responds with the text book bid of 2C, West would bid 2H and East raise to 3H which West would happily bid on to game, in HEARTS. The response of 2C or 2D in a 3 card suit is common with advanced players because a response of 2H guarantees a 5+ card heart suit.

Even if East raised 1S to 3S, a limit bid if EW are playing ‘five card spade’ openings, West should now bid 4H.

Now you can see for yourself why the 4-4 heart fit is so much better. When the heart queen drops in two rounds, the outstanding trump can be removed and spades now run. A club is discarded from dummy on the fourth spade, and after losing a diamond, declarer cross ruffs the last two tricks and makes two very easy overtricks. With spades as trumps, there can be no extra tricks in a 4-4 side suit.

Don’t, of course, go to these lengths when your 4-4 fit is in a minor suit, unless you bid a slam, when once more it becomes hugely important to find the 4-4 fit. But more on that another time. I am thrilled to report that two of my current X-File readers scored over 70% two sessions in a row. Makes the effort of writing this stuff worth while.