The development of bidding judgment seems tricky. You are taught all about point count and then a plethora of corrections for shortages, for length, for holding no aces and for being 4333. Then someone tells you losing trick count is better. What is one to do? How do you get to bid like an expert? For that matter how do experts judge things? The answer is simple and hard at the same time. The expert tries to look ahead to the play to judge how many tricks the hand is likely to make and chooses bids on that basis. Today’s hand came up when I was playing a club game with my sister from Ballarat. We could have bid it well but we were EW and had to watch NS botching the bidding horribly. The first three bids were fine. North’s leap to 4H is not good since this hand is strong but the auction sounds weaker in high cards and more based on long suits. South just has to take a moment to think now. North has bid 4H on their own and has either six solid hearts or seven of them. The KH tells us it is the latter.
South has to look at the play. In particular, how is the diamond suit going to be used? If North has two diamonds, the suit will provide five tricks after one ruff and four tricks after two ruffs if they are 3- 2 or 4- 1 ( 96%). If North has one diamond, one or two ruffs will provide five tricks if they split 3- 3 and four tricks if they are 4- 2 ( 84%). If North has no diamonds, the suit will provide four tricks if they split 4- 3 ( 62%). Thus, the diamond suit is likely to provide four tricks to go with seven hearts and the AS. So South can see 12 tricks and could bid 6H now but it costs nothing to check on the AC and then bid 7H. So you see the line of play is identified during the auction. Sis led the QD and North continued to under- impress by not ruffing the diamonds. After taking the spade finesse, declarer discarded two spades on the AKD. More than half of the field failed to bid slam and half of them couldn’t find a 13th trick so we only got a 60% score. This hand is an easy example of how one can plan the play during the auction and bid on that basis.