September 2020 - 51

Intermediate Players

Better Bridge with Bergen
BY MARTY BERGEN

martybergen.com

Secrets of accurate hand evaluation - part 14
"Players who count points and don't
take note of distribution are a menace."
- Terence Reese
Legendary bridge player and author
No sensible discussion of hand
evaluation (or any other bridge topic)
is even possible without a thorough
discussion of distribution.
In a suit contract, it is always bad if
your distribution in your three shortest suits is the flattest it could possibly
be. But it is also not good in a notrump
contract. Even in notrump, hands
where your two longest suits are 5-4
are worth more than those which are
5-3. The four-card suit will often give
you a chance to win an additional trick.

❶
❷

♠K 10 ♥A J 8 ♦K 4 3 ♣A 9 6 5 2
♠K 10 ♥A J 8 7 ♦K 4 ♣A 9 6 5 2

Examples 1 and 2 each contain 15
HCP and 1 length point, and both
should be opened with 1NT. If you
made the common error of not opening 1NT with example 2 because of the
two doubletons, and opened 1♣, when
partner responded 1♠, you'd be forced
to lie with your rebid. A 1NT rebid
would be too weak, and a 2♥ reverse
would be too strong. By having both
doubletons include a king, I hope that
even players who don't like to open
1NT with two doubletons would agree
that 1NT is the best opening bid. My
point in showing these is that after
opening 1NT with these two hands,
you should appreciate that because of
the four-card side suit, example 2 is
definitely stronger than No. 1.

With examples 1 and 2, at matchpoints, what would you do if partner
raised 1NT to 2NT? With example 1,
I'd be tempted to bid 3NT because of
the five-card suit and the fact that I
have few quacks - but I would pass. But
with No. 2, because the promising fourcard side suit would often produce
an additional trick, I'd definitely bid
3NT. Most players focus on high-card
points. Personally, I prefer to think
about tricks.
Let's now look at some common
distributions. When you have a fit, it's
obvious that the distributions that include a short suit are much better in a
suit contract. But as I indicated above,
having a second suit of four-plus cards
is also a plus in notrump.
As you know, 4-3-3-3 is the worst
distribution to pick up. 4-4-3-2 is better because it's not the flattest possible
shape in your three shortest suits. Of
course, 4-4-4-1 is better still.
With a five-card suit: As stated,
5-3-3-2 is the worst. 5-4-2-2 is better. 5-4-3-1 is better still. 5-4-4-0 is
wonderful, as are 5-5-2-1 and
5-5-3-0 ("5-5 come alive").
I'm delighted to pick up a six-card
suit. But, as always, I also consider my
distribution in my three other suits.
When I do, 6-3-2-2 is a big disappointment, 6-3-3-1 is better, and
6-4-2-1 is much better ("6-4 bid
more"). 6-4-3-0 is wonderful, and
although 6-5 and 6-6 are even better,
hoping for one of these extremely rare
hand types is wishful thinking.
As for seven-card suits, they are even

rarer than a hand with a void.
Although bridge is far more a game of
logic and arithmetic than higher math,
I find the following interesting and
thought you might as well. FYI: Several
of the following numbers are rounded.
Probability of distributions
Longest suit = 4 cards
Total frequency
35.1%
4-3-3-3
10.5 %
4-4-3-2
21.6 %
4-4-4-1
3.0%
Longest suit = 5 cards
Total frequency
44.3%
5-3-3-2
15.5%
5-4-2-2
12.9%
5-4-3-1
10.6%
5-4-4-0
1.2%
5-5-2-1
3.2%
5-5-3-0
0.9%
Longest suit = 6 cards
Total frequency
16.55%
6-3-2-2
5.6%
6-3-3-1
3.5%
6-4-2-1
4.7%
6-4-3-0
1.3%
6-5-1-1
0.71%
6-5-2-0
0.65%
6-6-1-0
0.09%
Rare seven-card suits: The sum of all
six possible distributions that include
a seven-card suit is a mere 3.9%.
Distributions with an eight-pluscard suit: far rarer than 1% of hands.
In conclusion: Your distribution is
more important than your number of
high-card points.
◾
September 2020 Bridge Bulletin

51


http://www.martybergen.com

September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September 2020

In First Seat - Paul Linxwiler
Inbox -Letters to the Editor
A Message from the President
The Recruiter King
The Rise and Fall of the Precision Team
Eyes on the Street
BBO Helpdesk
NABC Robot Individual
Play the Cards You're Dealt
Endless Summer Results
Defensive Maneuvers – part 4
Ruling the Game
The Bidding Box
It's Your Call
Card Play 101 - by Phillip Alder
Parrish the Thought - Adam Parrish
Reasoning with Robert - Robert Todd
Startup Bridge by Lynn Berg
Lessons Learned by Michael Berkowitz
Bidding Basics by Larry Cohen
Ask Jerry - by Jerry Helms
Mike's Bridge Lesson - Mike Lawrence
Chalk Talk- Eddie Kantar
Boehm on Bridge
Better Bridge with Bergen-Marty Bergen
Challenge of the Month
The Real Deal - by Larry Cohen
West Hands -Bidding Box
Bidding Matters - by Karen Walker
East Hands -Bidding Box
Test Your Play
Mike's Advice - by Mike Lawrence
Solutions to Test Your Play
My Bridge and Yours - by Frank Stewart
Dear Billy - by Billy Miller
Bridge with the Abbot - by David Bird
George's World - by George Jacobs
Life Master Milestones
New Life Masters
Puzzle Page
In Memoriam
Obituary - Sue Erwin (1943-2020)
Obituary - Clint Wright (1944-2020)
Obituary - Norma Sands (1938-2020)
Obituary - Carol Aitken (190-2020)
Obituary - Carol Linch (1935-2020)
Obituary - Barbara Hamman (1937-2020)
Obituary - Maria Teresa Lavazza (1937-2020)
Obituary - janet P. Breed (1935-2020)
Tournament Directory
September 2020 - 1
September 2020 - 2
September 2020 - 3
September 2020 - 4
September 2020 - 5
September 2020 - In First Seat - Paul Linxwiler
September 2020 - Inbox -Letters to the Editor
September 2020 - 8
September 2020 - A Message from the President
September 2020 - The Recruiter King
September 2020 - 11
September 2020 - The Rise and Fall of the Precision Team
September 2020 - 13
September 2020 - 14
September 2020 - 15
September 2020 - 16
September 2020 - 17
September 2020 - Eyes on the Street
September 2020 - 19
September 2020 - BBO Helpdesk
September 2020 - 21
September 2020 - NABC Robot Individual
September 2020 - Play the Cards You're Dealt
September 2020 - Endless Summer Results
September 2020 - 25
September 2020 - 26
September 2020 - 27
September 2020 - 28
September 2020 - Defensive Maneuvers – part 4
September 2020 - Ruling the Game
September 2020 - 31
September 2020 - The Bidding Box
September 2020 - 33
September 2020 - 34
September 2020 - 35
September 2020 - It's Your Call
September 2020 - 37
September 2020 - 38
September 2020 - 39
September 2020 - Card Play 101 - by Phillip Alder
September 2020 - Parrish the Thought - Adam Parrish
September 2020 - Reasoning with Robert - Robert Todd
September 2020 - Startup Bridge by Lynn Berg
September 2020 - Lessons Learned by Michael Berkowitz
September 2020 - Bidding Basics by Larry Cohen
September 2020 - 46
September 2020 - Ask Jerry - by Jerry Helms
September 2020 - Mike's Bridge Lesson - Mike Lawrence
September 2020 - Chalk Talk- Eddie Kantar
September 2020 - Boehm on Bridge
September 2020 - Better Bridge with Bergen-Marty Bergen
September 2020 - Challenge of the Month
September 2020 - West Hands -Bidding Box
September 2020 - Bidding Matters - by Karen Walker
September 2020 - Test Your Play
September 2020 - Mike's Advice - by Mike Lawrence
September 2020 - Solutions to Test Your Play
September 2020 - My Bridge and Yours - by Frank Stewart
September 2020 - Dear Billy - by Billy Miller
September 2020 - Bridge with the Abbot - by David Bird
September 2020 - George's World - by George Jacobs
September 2020 - Life Master Milestones
September 2020 - 63
September 2020 - New Life Masters
September 2020 - Puzzle Page
September 2020 - Obituary - Clint Wright (1944-2020)
September 2020 - Obituary - Barbara Hamman (1937-2020)
September 2020 - 68
September 2020 - Obituary - janet P. Breed (1935-2020)
September 2020 - 70
September 2020 - Tournament Directory
September 2020 - 72
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