"Shortness in the dummy, shortness in the dummy" is my mantra for evaluating your hand when you and partner have a fit. How important is this concept when you are evaluating your hand? Incredibly important.
For example, if your partner opens 1 Heart and you have 967 K987 7 98765, what is your bid?
Most players who learned how to play bridge in the 1960s would say they have only 3 points (for the K of hearts) and would pass their partner's opening bid.
With dummy points, however, you actually have 6 points - 3 points for the King of hearts and 3 points for the singleton diamond; therefore, your correct bid is 2 H.
Now, if your partner, who opened 1 heart, has 19 points, he can bid game. He certainly could not have bid game if you had passed his opening bid, right?
Let us say that you have an opening hand such as AJ6 AKQ87 A108 74. It is worth 19 points - 18 high card points and one point for the extra heart.
You would, according to the bidding guidelines, open this hand 1 heart, showing at least 5 hearts and at least 12 high card points (you plan to show the 19 points on your rebid).
Your partner has this hand: K954 9652 7 9863.
Let's go over the play of this hand.
The opening lead was the Queen of diamonds.
Trick 1: A of diamonds wins the trick. Trick 2: trump a diamond from your hand to get rid of a loser. Trick 3: dummy heart to the Ace. Trick 4: trump your other diamond loser in dummy. Trick 5: dummy heart to the King.
You have taken five tricks so far. Look at your hand and the dummy's hand. You have three more trump tricks and two spade tricks for a total of 10 tricks or a contract of 4 hearts, which is 420 or 620. Yet most partners would have passed 1 heart for a score of 170.
Hand evaluation is a two-part process. You take the high cards and add distribution. Opener adds length points (which is why opener above has 19 points) and dummy, when he has a good fit for partner's bid suit, adds short suit distribution: 1 point for a doubleton; three for a singleton; and five for a void.
Short suit points have a special name - dummy points - because the only person who uses them is the one who is going to be the dummy.
Try a few: Your partner opens 1H; what is your response?
1. K962 KJ72 K982 2
2. AQ32 K973 K103 54
3. 4 K742 J976 9732
4. KQ852 KJ6 void J9876
Dr. Kathie Walsh, an ABTA teacher of the year, teaches all levels of bridge at Hilton Head Island Bridge Club. kbwalsh@road runner.com