Source: Ludington Daily News – 9 May 2005

When we evaluate the strength of a hand, initially we count high-card points. If we have primarily aces and kings, we feel optimistic, but if our honors are mainly “quacks,” we become more cautious. Long suits are promising, but the key factor is how well our hand fits with partner’s.

If we have a big trump fit, we should overbid — fits are fantastic. But if we misfit with partner, we should underbid — misfits are miserable.

Start by looking only at the North hand.

Dealer South All Vul

7 5 2
A 9 5 4
A 7 6 3 2
6
K Q J 8
Q J 6
10 8 5
9 4 3
10 9 6 3
3
K Q J 9
J 10 8 7
A 4
K 10 8 7 2
4
A K Q 5 2
West North East South
1
Pass 3 Pass 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 6
Pass Pass Pass

Your partner opens one heart, promising at least a five-card suit. After West passes, what would you respond?

When you have decided, move into the South seat and plan the play in six hearts.

West leads the spade king.

There are two ways to evaluate that North hand. When you have at least a nine card fit, you add three points for a singleton (and one for a doubleton or five for a void). That brings your total to 11 — sufficient to make a limit race of three hearts. Alternativety, count losers. Look at only the first three cards in each suit and count a loser for any top honor measing. Here, you have eight, three Spades, two hearts, two diamonds and one club. An eight loser hand is textbook for a limit raise.

South, buoyed by the big fit, launches into Blackwood. The play is straightforward. Win trick one, draw two rounds of trumps (getting the bad news), and cash your top clubs, discarding dummy’s spades. You ruff your spade loser on the board and trump a club to stablish the last card in that suit. You lose only one heart trick.