6NT looks pretty good for East and West
Or does it?

It looks like West can make 12 tricks in No-trumps. 5 spade tricks, 4 heart tricks, 1 diamond and 2 clubs. If West makes 12 tricks does that mean they should have bid 6NT?

The main question is what would be needed to make 12 tricks?
  • The Spade suit needs to break 3-3 in order to get 5 Spade tricks. This will happen less than 50% of the time. A 4-2 Spade break is more likely than a 3-3 break.
  • There are only 3 sure Heart tricks and it takes a finesse to get 4.

With the above in mind, if you did bid 6NT in the West and made it you’d have to say you we were in the wrong contract but got lucky!

This comes up a lot, just because you make 12 tricks, doesn’t mean that good bidding should get you to the slam. In this case, only bad bidding would get you to the slam of 6NT. It’s only lucky distribution that would allow you to make 6NT.

A very good way to practice your declarer play and help keep your blood pressure in check is to look at all four hands and ask yourself what are the chance of each contract making. The question isn’t did the contract make; it’s what are the chances of it making when you don’t know the distribution of the remaining cards?

You don’t need to know a whole lot of maths; just these four things will be enough information most of the time.
  • If you need a finesse for the contract to make it’s a 50% chance.
  • If you’re missing an odd number of cards in a suit, that suit will probably break the way you want. For example, missing 5 cards the suit will probably break 3 in one hand and 2 in the other. Yippee!
  • If you’re missing an even number of cards in a suit it probably won’t break. Missing 4 cards? The suit will probably break 3-1, not 2-2. Missing 6 cards in a suit? That suit will probably break 4-2, not 3-3.
  • If a contract needs two GOOD things to happen it’s probably a bad contract. For example, if you need a finesse and a good break, or two good breaks, it most likely will not happen.

Take another look at the East West cards above. Hopefully you can see that 6NT isn’t a good contract even though it may make on this hand.

What are other possible contracts for East and West. What about 6H? Does 6H have a better chance of making than 6NT? Remember, you’re just looking at the East and West cards for this exercise.

Here now are all four hands: