Questions and Answers


Question 11

I have two questions for you. The first one is about double fits.
   You point out in your website that such fits help the opponents in the sense that they are assured of an SST of at most 4. On the other hand isn't there something very positive about double fits? Honors in the two suits in question are very likely to be working.
   Then I wonder about the three hands on page 244. You showed that Hand #3 produces about 2 tricks more than the others. To be consistent with your methods the North-South SST in this hand should therefore be 2 less than that of the others. However if East-West have a 9-card heart fit, it seem to me that the SST in Hand #3 is actually 3 less. Could you please enlighten me about this?

Regards,
Louis Brickman


Answer

When you have honor(s) in partner's suit, those honors are very often working, giving your side more WP than if your honors are in the other suits (where they may be useless). And length in partner's suit may also be positive, like when you need five tricks in his ace-king-queen fifth suit: you are more likely to get those tricks if you have three small than if you have two small. So having length in partner's side-suit can also be positive for offense.
   But quite often a doubleton in partner's suit is better than a tripleton, because now you can avoid a third-round loser, may ruff out the suit, and are less likely to run into a ruff. We think the negative and positive effects of our double fit even out each other, but if we look at the other side's double fit, it has only positive effects for us.

Your second question is important. Yes, hand #3 has an expected SST of 2, while the other hands have an expected SST of 5. The reason the difference is only 2 tricks, not 3 as you may think, has to do with two things. Firstly, when your distribution improves, the risk of partner's having wasted values in that suit increases. If he has, say, KJxx of diamonds, they represent 4 WP opposite Hand #2, but 0 WP opposite Hand #3. On average, you can expect more WP from partner when you have a balanced hand than when you have an unbalanced. Secondly, partner is more likely to have extra distribution opposite the two first hands. A singleton heart, or a singleton or doubleton in either minor, reduces your SST to 4; and if partner has even better distribution than that, you can come down to 3 (heart void, or minor suit singleton). But to better your SST is harder when you have hand #3 (partner needs a heart void or at most two clubs).


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