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Alternative point counting systems

by Christopher J. Monsour, Chicago, Illinois, USA

with a note by David Stevenson


Henrik Hansen asked
Some time ago I heard about different point counting systems that, compared to the standard system, gave a higher value to voids, singletons, aces and kings, a lower value to doubletons, queens and jacks, but still counted some point to the 10īs and 9īs. Perhaps even 8īs. I would appreciate if you could give me some descriptions of such a system, with how many points needed to bid NT-, major-, minorgames and slams, or some links to good websites about such systems.



Christopher J. Monsour replied

My favorite alternative is the old [Aces?] 6-4-2-1-0.5 count that can be made to add up to a 40 point deck by rescaling to 4.5-3.0-1.5-.75-.25. However, I should inject a note of caution that is too often ignored when this method is discussed: When you are looking at a lot more than 10 HCP in your 13 card hand, you tend to have more aces than queens. When you are looking at a lot fewer than 10 HCP you tend to have more queens than aces. Thus, you have to be careful, especially when evaluating very strong hands. If you play a 20-21 (I assume this really means 19.6-21.5) 2NT opening in normal high card points, you should expect the point count to go up in the new system for an "ordinary" 20-21 count. Thus, in order to keep your 2NT opening at the same average strength, you probably need to use a range of something like 20.2-22.1 (a tad over half a point higher) in the 4.5-3-1.5-.75-.25 count.

And the opposite with weak hands: I would not suggest downgrading Kxxx QJx xxx xxx to a non-response, even though it is 5.25 points--I would treat it as more like 5.7, since it is much easier for a 6 point hand to be downgraded than upgraded.


David Stevenson notes:

I have tried a simpler version. I count 4.5 for an ace, 3 for a king, 1.5 for a queen, and 1 for a jack. This adds up to the same total. I find it better than standard.

If I am intending to bid no-trumps with a balanced hand then I change it slightly: I replace jack=1 with jack=0.5 and ten=0.5. This may not be as accurate as Christopher's version, but it is simple and reflects well that the number of honours is useful in such hands.


Gopher Editor's note:

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