The Short-Suit Factor in Notrump Play
In Study #9 it was observed that possession of a
in notrump contracts is not as effective as is commonly believed. I contend
that the principal reason for that is the fact that a 5-card suit must
necessarily be accompanied by a short suit — that is, a doubleton if
the hand is balanced. Such shortness is a liability in notrump, because the extra
length in the defenders' hands provides the potential for long-suit tricks.
I conjecture that best results are obtained when every suit has at least
six cards between declarer and dummy. There are just two qualifying patterns:
Let us see whether I am right. The following simulations
1,000 hands each show how relatively important it is to have
every suit covered with as many cards as possible.
It appears that my "6-Plus Theory"
is valid! With combined holdings of up to 28
high-card points, having
at least five cards in every suit produces about .6 trick
or more per hand than those with opposing doubletons. Offensive holdings
with at least six cards in each suit are even more productive.
The pattern breaks down somewhat at 30 HCP, with the most balanced hands very
under-performing those with a short suit of five cards. A second
simulation with the same parameters produced similar results. Your guess is as
good as mine on that one.
The bottom line:
** Avoid opposing doubletons in notrump at any cost.
Don't you just hate those times when dummy comes down with a
doubleton that matches the one in your hand? And the
opponents lead that suit? Can your bidding system detect a
duplication of shortness in time to avoid such a potentially disastrous
higher-level notrump contract? Is said accommodation worth the effort?
We believe that it is; for our own notrump structure specifically caters
to detection of combined weakness in either major suit, and provides options
4-3 major contract or a bailout to four of a minor.
(There aren't enough available bids to accommodate flawed minors as well.)
The data appear to agree with us. Six Ever, Four Never!