Source: The Montreal Gazette – 23 Abr 1981 by Ted Horning

The point count system of hand evaluation was developed by Milton Work. Everyone uses it. An ace is worth four points, a king three . . . . It is, however, overused. The basic premise of point count does not take unusual distribution into account. Even the distributional points do not give an accurate correlation between point count and trick taking ability. Today’s hand is an illustration of this.

Opening Lead : club suitK


I might have captioned this “The Unlucky Preempt” since North jumped quickly to four hearts in an attempt to shut the vulnerable opponents out of the bidding.

North succeeded in his purpose and got doubled in the process, not surprising considering the 26 high card points held by East-West. With the spade finesse working and hearts dividing 2-2, South lost five tricks and the final tally was 300 points to East-West.

This would have been a fine sacrifice except for one key element. East-West could do no better with their 26 high card points and the nine card club fit than make a lowly three club contract. On the same hand with only 14 points and a nine card heart fit, North-South can take eight tricks. The point to all of this is that one must not be too enthused about the validity of point count.

The distribution of the cards in this deal was not that unusual. There was only one singleton in all four hands. Yet, for North-South the points/ tricks correlation was 14-8 while for East-West it was 26-9.

In English, it took less than 2 points for each trick for North-South and almost three points per trick for East-West. Looking at the hand from a defensive perspective, the ratios are even more profound. North-South could take four defensive tricks with only 14 points. East-West can win five tricks with 26 points. That is one defensive trick for every 31/2 points for North-South but one trick for every 5 1/5 points for East-West. The purpose of this entire column is to re-mind everyone.

Be very careful when stating, “But we had 10 points. We had to double the slam!”

Of course, there can be hundreds of paraphrases that will fit. So much for the validity of points.