The Bid Of One No-trump





The Dealer is justified in basing his declaration upon the assumption

that his partner has one-third of the high cards not in his own hand.

He may, therefore, bid one No-trump with any holding better than the

average whenever he has



(a) Four suits stopped.



(b) Three suits stopped and his hand contains an Ace.



(c) Three King suits, all of which contain in addition either

Queen or Knave.



(d) A solid five-card Club or Diamond suit and another Ace.



The first question to determine is what, from the standpoint of the

Declarer, constitutes a guarded or stopped suit.



That an Ace comes under that head is self-evident.



So also must a King, if accompanied by one small, because the lead

comes up to the Declarer, and the King must either be able to win the

trick or be made good.



A Queen and one other manifestly will not stop a suit, and a Queen and

two others is not apt to do so unless the leader hold both Ace and

King. Queen and three others is, however, comparatively safe, and

Queen, Knave, and one other is a most satisfactory guard.



Knave, Ten, and two others surely stops a suit, but Knave and three

small is about as unreliable as Queen and two small. It, therefore,

becomes evident that the Dealer, to count a suit as stopped, must have

in it one of the following holdings:--



Ace.

King and one other.

Queen and three others.

Queen, Knave, and one other.

Knave and four others.

Knave, Ten, and two others.



Some experts, with three suits stopped, bid No-trump with exactly an

average hand, but experience has shown that this is advisable only when

supported by exceptional skill, and cannot be recommended to most

players. The average holding of high cards is one Ace, one King, one

Queen, and one Knave. From the average standpoint it is immaterial

whether they are all in one suit or divided. Any hand containing a face

card or Ace above this average is a No-trumper, whenever it complies

with the other above-mentioned requirements. When the average is

exceeded by holding two Aces, instead of an Ace and King, a No-trump

should be called, but two Kings, instead of a King and Queen, or even a

King and Knave, is a very slight margin, and the declaration is

doubtful for any but the most expert. A hand with two Queens instead of

one Queen and one Knave, while technically above the average, cannot be

so considered when viewed from a trick-taking standpoint, and does not

warrant a No-trump call.



In bidding No-trump with three guarded suits, it does not matter which

is unprotected. For example, the minimum strength of a No-trumper

composed of one face card more than the average is an Ace in one suit;

King, Knave, in another; and Queen, Knave, in a third. This hand would

be a No-trumper, regardless of whether the suit void of strength

happened to be Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, or Spades.



The above-described method of determining when the hand sizes up to the

No-trump standard is generally known as the "average system," and has

been found more simple and much safer than any of the other tests

suggested. It avoids the necessity of taking the Ten into

consideration, and does not involve the problems in mental arithmetic

which become necessary when each honor is valued at a certain figure

and a total fixed as requisite for a No-trump bid.



The theory upon which a player with possibly only three tricks declares

to take seven, is that a hand containing three sure tricks, benefited

by the advantage derived from having twenty-six cards played in unison,

is apt to produce one more; and until the Dummy refuse to help, he may

be figured on for average assistance. The Dealer is expecting to take

four tricks with his own hand, and if the Dummy take three (one-third

of the remaining nine), he will fulfil his contract. Even if the Dummy

fail to render the amount of aid the doctrine of chances makes

probable, the declaration is not likely to prove disastrous, as one

No-trump is rarely doubled.



It is also conventional to declare one No-trump with a five-card or

longer Club or Diamond suit,[2] headed by Ace, King, Queen, and one

other Ace. This is the only hand containing strength in but two suits

with which a No-trump should be called.



[2] With a similar suit in either Spades or Hearts, Royals or

Hearts should be the bid.



As a rule a combination of high cards massed into two suits does not

produce a No-trumper, although the same cards, divided into three

suits, may do so. For example, a hand containing Ace, Queen, Knave, in

one suit; King, Queen, Knave, in another, and the two remaining suits

unguarded, should not be bid No-trump, although the high cards are

stronger than the example given above with strength in three suits.



Admitting all the advantage of the original No-trump, even the boldest

bidders do not consider it a sound declaration with two defenseless

suits, unless one of the strong suits be established and the other

headed by an Ace. The reason for this is easily understood. When the

adversaries have a long suit of which they have all the high cards, the

chances are that it will be opened; but if not, it will soon be found

unless the Declarer can at once run a suit of considerable length. When

a suit is established by the adversaries, the Declarer is put in an

embarrassing position, and would probably have been better off playing

a Trump declaration. It is a reasonable risk to trust the partner to

stop one suit, but it is being much too sanguine to expect him to

protect two. Should he fail to have either stopped, the Declarer's loss

is so heavy that only with a long and apparently established suit and

an additional Ace is the risk justified. It is realized that the case

cited, namely, Ace, King, Queen, and two others, may not prove to be an

established (or solid, as it is often called) suit. If however, the

division be at all even, as it is in the vast majority of cases, the

suit can be run, and it is cited as the minimum holding which may be

treated as established.



With the present value of Clubs and Diamonds, either suit presents an

effective original declaration. There is, therefore, much less excuse

than formerly for a reckless No-trump bid, based upon five or six Club

or Diamond tricks and one other suit stopped. When, however, an Ace of

another suit accompanies the unusual Club or Diamond strength, the

advantage of being the first to bid No-trump makes the chance worth

taking.



The hands above cited as containing the minimum strength to warrant the

call are all what are known as "weak No-trumpers." This kind of bidding

may not be conservative, but experience has shown it to be effective as

long as it is kept within the specified limits. A No-trump must,

however, justify the partner in acting upon the assumption that the

bidder has at least the stipulated strength, and it merely courts

disaster to venture such a declaration with less than the conventional

holding.



A few examples may possibly make the above somewhat more clear, as by

that means the various "minimum-strength" or "border-line" No-trumpers,

and also hands which fall just below the mark, can be accurately shown.

It will be understood that an effort is made to give the weakest

hands which justify the No-trump declaration, and also the hands which

fall short by the smallest possible margin. In other words, the hands

which puzzle the Declarer. With greater strength or greater weakness

the correct bid is plainly indicated.



The suits are numbered, not designated by their respective names, in

order to emphasize that it does not matter where the weakness is

located.





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