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Hands with Hidden Extra Chances
#1
The basic method of estimating tricks for declarer is:

a) Count 1 trick for each non-trump ace.
b) Take your trump length, and subtract 1 for each missing ace. Note that this assumes at least a 7 card trump suit. If you're forced to play a shorter suit (usually this means you're saving) count 1 trick for each ace, and 1 trick for *2* tens.

This is the starting point. Once you get comfortable with this, there are adjustments. Adjustments up are based on extra tricks. Any trick your side wins, that is NOT won by the tricks you counted above, plus your partner's aces, is an extra trick. Some hands have clear potential for extra tricks:

Hand 1
ASASTSTSKSQSJSADADTDTDQDJDACXCXCXCXHXHXH

It's not hard to see that the diamonds may provide more than 2 tricks. The diamond suit is giving you extra chances. Compare against this hand:

Hand 2
ASASTSTSKSQSJSADTDTDQDJDACXCXCXCAHXHXHXH

Same aces count, same trump suit, but this hand has only 1 possible extra trick...and it won't materialize very often. Hand 2 is the kind of hand where the trick estimation probably comes close to representing the maximum number of tricks (8) your hand is worth, and there's always the risk of something ugly that leads to losing some tricks you wouldn't expect. Hand 1 counts as 8 tricks, but will often take 9 and sometimes 10.

Hand 1's potential is clear. Hand 3 shows hidden potential:
ASASTSTSKSQSJSADADKDQDQDJDACXCXCXCXHXHXH

Same 8 tricks. Doesn't look like the diamonds have any real chance of a 9th trick...but...

1) If partner has 2 or 3 diamonds, there are tricks from diamond ruffs.

2) If partner has longer, weak diamonds, one or both opponents may be forced to ruff. Your trump losers may be reduced. An aggressive tactic here: when you know both opponents are out of diamonds, play your trump aces to try to eliminate low trumps, then play a diamond. An opponent can often be forced to ruff with a trump ace. Now you get another trick from your trump suit.

3) Any time partner has long diamonds, the opponents must fear you'll gain a locked side suit. That makes attacking the trump suit a risky play: if their trumps are gone, you'll win several diamond tricks. This may induce them to attack hearts and clubs. That's largely OK with you; these are tricks you were going to lose anyway. While this may not result in any additional tricks, it should mean that you have an easy time maintaining control of the hand. And there's some chance that partner will have, we can hope, 3 clubs, so maybe he'll ruff a club for you.

YES, this is all wishy-washy, maybe, maybe not. The point is to recognize that there's potential for your side to win some extra tricks. When you have a borderline decision, the *absence* of any extra trick potential suggests caution. The more potential is present, the more an aggressive position is in order.
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#2
Hand 3 is something I never thought of when counting possible tricks in my hand. Excellent perspective.

As an addition, there is a big difference counting tricks between a seven card trump suit or an eight card trump suit.

With a 7 card trump suit, 77% of the time, your will have the longest trump suit (which makes it easier to get the trump out and make a side suit into extra chances at extra tricks), 23% of the time, another player will have 7 or more of your trump suit in their hand.

But when you have an 8 card trump suit, you will have the longest trump suit 97% of the time. That is something you can count on!! That makes some of the wishy-washy, maybe, maybe not scenarios become a little more certain.
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#3
The mild downside of the 8 card suit is, partner's going to be short-ish a bit more often, so actually getting the ruff may be harder. There's also somewhat less value in the case where you can force both opponents to ruff...but you can more easily switch gears, cashing your top trumps then forcing them to ruff with their top trumps.

A side point: make the trump suit weaker, and having that long side suit becomes even more valuable. 2 more hands:

Hand S
ASTSKSKSQSQSJSADTDKDQDJDACKCQCJCAHKHQHQH

Hand EC
ASTSKSKSQSQSJSADADKDKDQDJDJDACXCXCXCXHXH

Hand S is the Sterile hand...no extra tricks to speak of. Playable, sure, but I'm starting with an aces bid or a meld bid. I can always bid again to show this kind of hand, and feel I've described it accurately.

Hand EC is loaded with extra chances. Same aces count, same trump suit. The trump suit isn't attractive; it's just about minimum. But here, the diamond plays are that much more likely to work. You anticipate ruffing hearts with your KSs; you hope that diamonds draws multiple ruffs...ergo TSs or ASs. Certainly, this hand can fall apart on you; but that's most likely when YOUR trumps get shortened first. AC followed by 3 rounds of diamonds, advances your tempo in attacking opponents' trumps, or getting partner to ruff, and the defense's attack in hearts hasn't started.

Hand EC also points out why dummy *rarely* wants to force declarer to ruff. Assume declarer's been forced to ruff hearts, so dummy knows that. Another heart ruff continues to shorten declarer, and the diamond attack may become moot...declarer will lose control of the trump suit. If dummy has diamonds locked, he'll be averse to playing them...but fine, lead a club, or maybe a trump. A club gets rid of a loser; a trump helps maneuver to a point where the diamonds are cashable safely.
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#4
(03-14-2013, 01:30 PM)ToreadorElder Wrote:  The basic method of estimating tricks for declarer is:

a) Count 1 trick for each non-trump ace.
b) Take your trump length, and subtract 1 for each missing ace. Note that this assumes at least a 7 card trump suit. If you're forced to play a shorter suit (usually this means you're saving) count 1 trick for each ace, and 1 trick for *2* tens.

This is the starting point. Once you get comfortable with this, there are adjustments. Adjustments up are based on extra tricks. Any trick your side wins, that is NOT won by the tricks you counted above, plus your partner's aces, is an extra trick. Some hands have clear potential for extra tricks:

Hand 1
ASASTSTSKSQSJSADADTDTDQDJDACXCXCXCXHXHXH

It's not hard to see that the diamonds may provide more than 2 tricks. The diamond suit is giving you extra chances. Compare against this hand:

Hand 2
ASASTSTSKSQSJSADTDTDQDJDACXCXCXCAHXHXHXH

Same aces count, same trump suit, but this hand has only 1 possible extra trick...and it won't materialize very often. Hand 2 is the kind of hand where the trick estimation probably comes close to representing the maximum number of tricks (8) your hand is worth, and there's always the risk of something ugly that leads to losing some tricks you wouldn't expect. Hand 1 counts as 8 tricks, but will often take 9 and sometimes 10.

Hand 1's potential is clear. Hand 3 shows hidden potential:
ASASTSTSKSQSJSADADKDQDQDJDACXCXCXCXHXHXH

Same 8 tricks. Doesn't look like the diamonds have any real chance of a 9th trick...but...

1) If partner has 2 or 3 diamonds, there are tricks from diamond ruffs.

2) If partner has longer, weak diamonds, one or both opponents may be forced to ruff. Your trump losers may be reduced. An aggressive tactic here: when you know both opponents are out of diamonds, play your trump aces to try to eliminate low trumps, then play a diamond. An opponent can often be forced to ruff with a trump ace. Now you get another trick from your trump suit.

3) Any time partner has long diamonds, the opponents must fear you'll gain a locked side suit. That makes attacking the trump suit a risky play: if their trumps are gone, you'll win several diamond tricks. This may induce them to attack hearts and clubs. That's largely OK with you; these are tricks you were going to lose anyway. While this may not result in any additional tricks, it should mean that you have an easy time maintaining control of the hand. And there's some chance that partner will have, we can hope, 3 clubs, so maybe he'll ruff a club for you.

YES, this is all wishy-washy, maybe, maybe not. The point is to recognize that there's potential for your side to win some extra tricks. When you have a borderline decision, the *absence* of any extra trick potential suggests caution. The more potential is present, the more an aggressive position is in order.

Are you saying do not open with out a 7 card (when not saving partner)?
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#5
Quote:Are you saying do not open with out a 7 card (when not saving partner)?

Under most circumstances, yep. Your options are to show meld or pass in that situation.

The *score* might say, OK, I gotta bid. Game to 500, score's 470-460, so it's double bidder out. Your hand:

AHAHTHKHQHJHASASKSQSJSADADJDJDTCKCQCQCQC

You're in first seat. UGH. What are your options? Pass, 50, 51, and 52. 51 says aces around...but you do have 10 meld, and you do have 6 aces. 52 says 20 meld; you have 10 in diamonds, 12 in spades or clubs, and 23 in hearts. Other than hearts, you're lying a bit. Pass is a give-up bid. 50 would be fine...with 1 more trump. You should have 7 tricks...the 4 pointed aces, and 3 heart tricks. (With short trump like this, you have to be more conservative in the trump suit.)

So, ALL your actions have flaws. It's a matter of picking the least flaw here. Pass risks giving up the hand too much, so that's out *because of the score.* I hate 51 that doesn't have aces, but it does do the best job of showing your hand overall. This is best when partner has a weak-ish hand in terms of aces, but has a reasonable trump suit (say, TTKxxxxx). 50 caters to partner having a hand with meld (you can't compete unless he has this), probably not a lot of tricks, and/or especially lacking a trump suit. 52 isn't *too* much of a lie...if partner can name spades, the trump marriage gives you 12 with 6 aces, and GREAT trump support...and of course no lie at all if partner names hearts. In diamonds...well, you are giving him 2 trump aces. That can be a BIG help. But the meld's short. In clubs, your trump support's bad.

The secondary advantage of 51 and 52 is, you stay in the bidding; you can bid again, auction permitting, to show the run, or if partner gives meld back. (That's a huge reason why Pass is SO badly flawed.) So I'd probably say...51 is best, 50, 52, and then pass.

Mmm...Pass is potentially right in one situation here: when partner is going to bid out his...<bleep>. Smile One sees it. And, partner is at liberty to take more risks. When you pass in first seat, partner should read you for about 15 points total. In a double bidder out scenario, that has to go up to about 20, maybe 22. You have that; IF all your aces can cash (and as dummy, that's somewhat less likely), you have 6 tricks for 15 points, and 10-12 meld. Passing fails when partner wants to give meld, tho...so passing is in order with a gung-ho suicide-bidding kind of partner only.
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