||World Champion & Master Teacher
Tips with Donna
When we first start to play the game, our focus is on counting high-card points and learning the ranges of 13-16, 17-18, 19-21, 0-5, 6-10, 11-12, and 13+. Then there is the challenge of remembering which ranges belong to the opener and which belong to the responder...not to mention the intervenor and the advancer...
I want to add a new twist to your hand evaluation this week. Shape. There are bad shapes, good shapes and even better shapes. Oftentimes, you do the math and find yourself at 24 or 25 points and wonder if you should bid game. Or you find yourself at 32 or 33 points and wonder if you should bid slam. The answer is in the shape!
First, the bad shapes ~ 4-3-3-3 (Ugly Duckling Shape) and 5-3-3-2 (The Death Shape). These are so bad they are considered a downgrade. When you find yourself in an invitations situation, subtract a point from your hand. If you would still accept partner's invitation, then bid game or slam depending on your total points.
- Example #1: When you open 1NT and partner bids 2NT (inviting to 3NT). With 17 points, bid game. With 15 points, pass 2NT. With 16 points ~ look at your shape! Pass with one of these shapes and if you are 4-4-3-2, then bid game!
- Example #2: When partner opens 1NT and you hold 8 points with a 4-3-3-3 shape, then pass...don't bid 2NT to invite partner to 3NT.
Next, the good shapes ~ 4-3-3-2 (Thumbs Up Shape). This shape holds it's own in invitations situations.
Finally, the best shapes ~ Unbalanced hands. Now you are already counting extra points for each additional card after the first four cards. So you are naturally evaluating for shape. When deciding whether or not it is a good unbalanced hand or bad unbalanced hand, look to your shortness. Singleton and Voids are upgrades...Doubletons are downgrades. Of course, the exception to this statement is when you are going to be dummy in a major suit fit. Then shortness has its own evaluation.
- Example #1: 7-2-2-2 is not as good as 7-3-2-1 or 7-3-3-0
- Example #2: 5-4-2-2 is not as good as 5-4-3-1 or 5-4-4-0
Let this soak in...give it a try and let me hear your questions!
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