Book looks at Hand Evaluation

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In 1996, Marty Bergen wrote the popular bridge book Points Schmoints, which is considered a classic. The Rule of 20, Bergen Raises, and the DONT convention are some of his contributions to modern bridge.

By Marty Bergen
On 16 November, 2015 At 14:37

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Source: Toledo Blade – 12 Dic 1999 by Gene Benedict

In 1996, Marty Bergen wrote the popular bridge book Points Schmoints, which is considered a classic. The Rule of 20, Bergen Raises, and the DONT convention are some of his contributions to modern bridge. While Bergen has won 10 national championships, he now devotes most of his time to teaching bridge and writing bridge books. Another Bergen’s book is called More Points Schmoints. He talks in depth about hand evaluation. For example, he feels aces and kings are undervalued by the 4-3-2-1 point count, while queens and jacks are overrated. He stresses that honor cards in partner’s long suit are worth their weight in gold. For example, the bidding proceeds:

aaxx

You hold: aaxx

On both hands, you have 11 high-card points. Bergen suggests that you bid two no trump with the first hand, but jump to three no trump with the second hand. Having the king in your partner’s longest suit makes a big difference. Bergen introduces the concept of proven honors. Aces and kings are assumed to be proven. Queens and jacks are considered unproven unless partner has promised length in that suit. Proven honors make your hand better. For example, the bidding goes:

aaxx

3 is a long suit game try.

You hold: aaxx

With the first hand, you have only one proven value, the ace of clubs. You should sign off in three hearts. With the second hand, you should accept the game try by bidding four hearts. All three honors are proven. Bergen emphasizes that while 10s and nines are given no value in the Goren Point Count, they can often make a dra-matic difference.

For example, you hold: aaxx

Both hands have 19 high-card points. With the first hand, you should open one diamond with the intention of later rebidding two no trump to show a balanced 18 or 19 points. With the second hand, open two no trump (showing 20 or 21 points). The 10s and nines make your hand worth an extra point. The following hand appeared previously in a November column. South was the dealer, no one was vulnerable at imp scoring.

aaxx

*Limit raise with four trump.

Opening lead was the jack of diamonds. South won the king of diamonds at both tables. The first declarer pulled trump and took the club finesse. He lost a second club trick and went down one trick. The second declarer stripped the hand of hearts and diamonds and cashed the ace of clubs. When he led a club to the queen, West won the king, but had to give South a ruff and sluff. While that line of play worked on this hand, South would have gone down if West would have started with either K-J-x or K-J-x-x of clubs. Bill Hale of Haskins spotted a better lute of play. After pulling trump and stripping the hand of hearts and diamonds, he suggests leading a club front dummy and simply covering whatever card East plays. On this hand, the eight of clubs forces West to win the king. Suppose West would have started with K-J-x of clubs. West wins the eight of clubs with the jack, but he is endplayed. He must either give South a ruff and sluff or lead away from his king of clubs into South’s ace-queen,

 

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