Bridge column, August 21: The bidding reveals the distribution
Bridge players should collect and use distribution information. There are even a few deals, like today's, in which the bidding tells declarer exactly who has what.
West did not have a clear-cut opening with those two honors doubleton in spades, but everyone bids these days. East's response was hardly a thing of beauty, either. And not too long ago, many expert pairs treated South's sandwich no-trump as unusual, showing a weak 5-5 in the unbid suits. The argument against one no-trump as natural was that if North had a weak, balanced hand, it would be easy for the opening side to double and penalize South. But now, because players open and respond on used tram tickets, experts treat one no-trump as strong, promising a good 15 to 18 points.
West led the spade king, which South ducked. Then, when West continued with the spade queen, South knew the deal's distribution. How?
Since East had started with only four spades, West had to have four hearts. (If East had had 4-4 in the majors, she would have responded one heart, not one spade.) And therefore, the West hand had to be 2-4-3-4 and East's 4-3-3-3.
South took the second trick and played three rounds of diamonds. East shifted to a heart. South took that and played a club to the jack and king. Now East should have persevered with another heart, but she erred by returning a club, so declarer took nine tricks: two spades, two hearts, four diamonds and one club.
Use the bidding to place the unseen cards.
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