Bridge By The Lake

By Ken Masson

 juegos de cartas

This month we have a guest columnist, the highly regarded bridge writer, teacher and administrator Barbara Seagram.  Barbara and her husband Alex Kornel will be in Lakeside for all of March and will be giving lessons at the Lake Chapala Duplicate Bridge Club on the 17th and 19th.


Many students have great difficulty with the concept of hand evaluation. I believe that it is right to count distribution even as an opening bidder. Most people now count long suits (1 point for 5th card in long suit and 1 extra point for 6th etc.) That is counting distribution.

You need 13 points including distribution to open the bidding in 1st or 2nd seat. Some books say 12 only but then they are not including distribution. You need to know the Rule of 20 when you are in 1st or 2nd seat and only have 11 or 12 points. If you find yourself close to an opening bid but feel you don’t have enough points to open, use the Rule of 20. Count your HCP and then add the length of the two longest suits. If this totals 20, then you have permission to open the bidding. For example, if you have:

AxxxAxxxAxxxx = 12 HCP plus two four card suits = 20. Now you have permission to open the bidding.

Let’s call points including distribution: TOTAL POINTS.

The value of your hand is in a constant state of flux. Once partner starts bidding, your hand is like a flower: it either blossoms and grows or it wilts and dies. e.g. If you have a short suit in your hand and partner now names that suit, you are depressed. Your hand has wilted. It is NEVER good to have a shortage in partner’s suit. We are constantly searching for FITS, not MISFITS. If partner bids spades and you have a shortage of spades in your hand: 2 or fewer, subtract:

up to three length points from your hand, if you have a void in partner’s suit

up to two length points from your hand, if you have a singleton in partner’s suit

up to one length point from your hand if you have a doubleton in partner’s suit

If you had not added any length points because you had no long suit, you will not subtract at all.

But you need to realize that your hand has gone downhill. It is devalued.


3                 AJ65432         AK4                  76

Counting TOTAL points on this hand, it totals 15. If we open with 1H and partner bids 1S, this hand has now dropped in value and we only have 13. We should now bid 2H as our rebid as this is now a minimum hand.


If instead (see hand above again) partner has bid 2H after our 1H opener, then our hand now grows up. We must add 1 extra point for the 5th card in the suit which has been supported and TWO extra points for each remaining card. (Yes, you might call this double dipping.) YOUR hand has INCREASED in value, now that you know you are going to be declarer. If you do not do this, then you remain with the same old 15 points and will have to pass partner’s 2H bid that showed 6-9 points. How can this be right?

In the above example, we now have 20 points (after adding the extra 5 points) and after partner has raised us to 2H (showing 6-9 points) we should now bid 4H. If the opponents have bid a suit in which you have a singleton K or Q, or even a doubleton Qx or Jx, count nothing for these cards because they are most unlikely to win any tricks.


When you are going to become dummy, if you have THREE card support for partner, then use the 3-2-1- dummy points method. Short suit points will be worth 3-2-1 (3 for a void, 2 for a singleton and 1 for a doubleton).

When you are going to become dummy, if you have FOUR (or more) card support for partner, then use the 5-3-1 dummy points method. Short suit points will be worth 5-3-1 (5 for a void, 3 for a singleton and 1 for a doubleton).

When you are going to become dummy (because you have three card or better support for partner’s major suit or five or more of partner’s minor suit), then long suit points go away and short suit points come in.

ALWAYS REMEMBER to revalue your hand.

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Column: Bridge by the Lake




Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge for more than 40 years. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ken has been living in the Toronto area since 1967. He and his wife and bridge partner Rosemarie have been wintering in Lakeside since 2006. Even after all these years of playing they find bridge to be a constant challenge and enjoy sharing some of their triumphs and mishaps with Ojo readers in each column.


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