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Hand Shapes

Hand distributions fall into four categories. Here are three of them:

  1. Balanced. 4432, 4333, 5332.
  2. Single-suited. e.g. 6322, 7321.
  3. Two-suited. e.g. 5431, 5521.
  4. Three-suited.4441

Note that some shapes - 6-4s - belong to both (2) and (3).

The fourth category is a lone distribution, the only unbalanced shape without a five(+) card suit.

There is no right or wrong way to treat this awkward shape (mercifully only the tenth most frequent). One approach is to open using the normal rules (i.e. higher ranking, but choosing hearts before spades when 4-4). Another is to open the “suit below the singleton” (preparing yourself for partner’s most likely response); or even opening your lowest-ranked suit (to keep things cheap). I’ll make a more formal suggestion next deal.

One thing is for sure. A 4441 shape is more suited to defence than play - you know that no suit will split well for an opposing declarer. So why not pass a marginal opener?

South Deals
Both Vul
K J 9 6 3
J 7 4
10 9 7
Q 8
8 2
9 6 5 3
A K J 10 6
W   E
A 10 7 5 4
K 8
8 6 4 3
7 3
A Q 10 2
K J 5 2
9 5 4 2
West North East South
      1 1
2  2  All pass  
  1. Mistake. Devalue  Q and is it really
    right to open this defensive collection?

What happened
West cashed  A against 2 . East signalled encouragement with  7, so West continued with  K and  10. East overtrumped dummy’s  7 with  8 and switched to  8. West won  AQ and followed with  J. Declarer trumped with dummy’s  J (not best on the layout) and East overtrumped with  K. He led  6, trumped by West, received  8 return to his  A, then led  4. West trumped with  5 - too high for dummy - and the vulnerable part-score was down four.

What should have happened
E-W would have had tough decisions if South passes as dealer. West will likely open 1 ♣ and East will respond 1 ♠, all of West's rebids are compromised (1NT / 22  ) - You can see E-W getting in a mess..... They might escape if they stop low(1 NT, 2 ). More likely, they would get overboard.

If you remember just one thing...
Do not open a 12 point 4441.

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