The Strong Two opening bids indicate a hand worth more than 19 points. With such powerful hands opener must show this on his first bid as follows:
|Strong two opening bids||Valuation|
|Points||Bid||See section on:|
|20+||2♠, 2♥ or 2♦||Acol Strong Two||Playing Tricks|
|23+||2♣||The Two Club opening bid||Quick Tricks|
|20-22||2NT||The Two NT opening bid||High card points|
Once the point count has been established advanced players proceed to assess powerful hands using the Playing Trick count for the Acol Strong Two, and the Quick Trick count for the Two-Club opening bid. Of course, neither are used for the No Trump call, which is valued strictly on high card points.
Incidentally Playing Tricks are also used for pre-emptive bids.
Playing Tricks are tricks that you can reasonably expect to make if your side is playing the contract. It assumes the suit will break reasonably unless something in the auction suggests otherwise. It is used to assess the trick-taking power of a very long suit (seven cards or more).
For example, with:
♥ A K Q J 8 5 4
♦ 7 6 2
♣ A 6
Assuming a reasonable division of cards you can count seven playing tricks in ♥s plus the A♣, for a total of eight playing tricks.
|Playing tricks table||Count|
|1] For the first three cards of any suit:|
|A-K-J and A-Q-J||2½|
|K-Q-J and A-K||2|
|A-Q and K-Q-10||1½|
|A, K-Q, Q-J-10, and K-J-10||1|
|K-J-x and Q-J-x||¾|
|2] For every card over the three in the long suit only add:||1|
|3] For a fourth card in a side suit add:||½|
|4] For a fifth card in a side suit add:||1|
So, for example a 7-carder headed by A-K-Q-J should provide 7 playing tricks: 3 for the A-K-Q and 1 each for every card over the three in your long suit. If headed by the A-Q-J then the 7-carder should manage 6½ playing tricks. Finally, for the rare 8-carder, say, headed by Q-J-10 you can assume 6 playing tricks. The top three-card combinations in any side suit can also be counted. An outside Ace, for example, will add another playing trick to your armoury. But take note that you only add points for the extra cards above three in the designated long suit.
You may also use this if you are 5-5 in shape, treating the stronger 5-carder as your long suit in which you therefore count the playing tricks as above, plus side suit strength in the other 5-carder.
As responder you can also count playing tricks instead of points for high cards and distribution. You use the side suit strength count as above, plus 1 point for either the King or the Queen should you be so lucky as to have one of partner’s honours in his bid suit.
Pre-emptive bids are described in Chapter Eighteen Pre-emptive bids.
Last updated: Monday, 21st June 2021