What & Why (27)

My comments about Losing Trick Count and the quote about counting losers spurred some defensive reaction from one or two readers who had been converted to LTC. Fine with me if that is the way they like to convolute their bridge brain. One reader directed me to an article on LTC by a well known English bridge identity, so I thought the deals he used to illustrate the merits of LTC worth taking a look at. I will not reproduce his full article, just the two deals that he wrote about, and the bidding that he recommended using LTC.

Hand 1. Dealer S Nil Vul


The bidding was: 1H from South, PASS from West, 4H from North, all pass. I have no idea how LTC would have helped North to decide to bid 4H but that is what North did bid. Since it seemed logical that any North would bid 4H with just a gut feel and common sense to guide them, I applied my own “TNT” guide to the bidding: North knows that partner either has 5 hearts or only four if 15+ HCP. Therefore given that South has 12 HCP minimum, TNT says at least nine tricks, so this being teams, bid to make ten, which is game. Admittedly my simple version of TNT is best applied in competitive situations, but..... hold on.... this SHOULD have been a competitive situation.

To see how likely that was, I asked my panel of Open and Aspiring players what they would bid with the WEST hand when South opens 1H. Nearly all of the open players would have DOUBLED, the general attitude being: Why not? The difference between West’s hand and an opening bid is ONE point, and not only that, West can show the four card spade suit with the double, and as one panelist said: “What harm can it do? The double can only help, never hinder.” Now let’s see how it would have helped EW this time.

When South opens 1H, West doubles. North still bids 4H but East applies TNT and bids 4S. This may not even get doubled and if it does, even down two is worth the effort. I don’t see the double of 1S or 1H any differently to an overcall. In fact, our attitude is that the double is, to all intents, no different to a simple overcall, but with only four cards. If partner bids a minor suit, she will have good reason to do so. And even the very advanced opponents will probably have no way of extracting a penalty at such a low level, certainly not in any average level session of bridge.

Hand 2. Dealer S Nil Vul


South opens 1D and West overcalls 1S. I personally prefer ‘intermediate’ jump overcalls, which is what West would have, to 2S. That should not make any difference to the NS bidding, but let’s go with a 1S overcall. After West’s 1S overcall, North bid 5D. I wondered whether this was indeed a clever use of LTC or just what most normal players would automatically consider, so I asked my panel. Not everyone opted for 5D, but that was because some were looking for an unlikely 3NT and Dean was looking for a possible SLAM and would have bid 2S as a cue bid to show a great a fit and first round spade control. Why, you may ask, does the cue bid show that? Well, initially it could be read by South as looking for a spade stop, but, when North later bids 5D, the answer becomes clear. The cue bid also has another plus, not mentioned by Dean: if perchance South can bid No Trumps, North would be happy to go opt for the nine trick game instead of 5D, but apart from that, let’s see why North should bid 5D, which does not require any more thinking and maths expertise than the simple version of TNT. North has 9 HCP and knows that South has at least 11. If South has a balanced hand, South will have 15+ HCP. South’s minimum point count of 11 plus North’s 9 gives NS half the points, therefore 11 tricks. TNT. Total number of tricks or, in other words, TRUMPS (11) = TRICKS (11). QED

You can view these hands on BSOL by clicking here and here. Note the Optimum Scores in both cases.