2019 Blue Book 7C1 Note 1

I'm finding this a little confusing.

At first reading, the second sentence seems to be contradicting the first. But, after much thought, it seems to be allowing for a 2C opener to be described as:

2C: EITHER eight playing tricks and a strong hand OR a hand that isn't strong and doesn't have eight playing tricks but does have a 5 (or more) card suit that isn't clubs.

Am I anywhere close?

Or is note 1 just trying to allow clubs as the long suit: after all note 5 would suggest that with eight playing tricks you don't need a strong hand, so long as your long suit isn't clubs?


  • The two notes basically say:

    You can't have your 2C opening call with a partnership agreement of just: "8 playing tricks in an unspecified suit"

    I usually give the following explanation: "8 playing tricks in an unspecified suit. If the suit is not clubs then the hand may not be strong. OR 21-22 balanced".

    So I think you are pretty close.

  • The trouble is that "playing tricks" doesn't have a definition.

  • @AlanB said:
    The trouble is that "playing tricks" doesn't have a definition.

    No it doesn't - but that is mainly a problem for their partner. If they want to define a bid inaccurately so that they don't know how high to bid then that is their problem. Opponents only need be told what the partnership agreement is, not whether it is a good agreement or not. It should be further clarified if there are any other constraints of course: the fact that the hand might not be 'strong' is obviously a key one.

    The problem is: the EBU have to draw an arbitrary line in the sand, whilst they operate their policy of allowing greater leeway for "strong hands", to define what is a 'strong hand'. We previously had ER25 (16 HCP, rule of 25, 8 'clear cut' tricks + opening values) that needed university-level comprehension. Now we have a modified version to get away from working out WTH are 'clear cut tricks' on any suit distribution. Defining what 8PT are, would be equally difficult, since obviously HCP could be relatively low.

  • So it shouldn't be used since an opponent wont know what it means? Using losing trick count seems a better and clearer way of defining a hand.

  • edited August 2019

    @AlanB said:
    So it shouldn't be used since an opponent wont know what it means? Using losing trick count seems a better and clearer way of defining a hand.

    The appropriate EBU guidelines are in the Blue Book

    "5 A 3 A partnership may define the strength of a hand using any method of hand evaluation that will be understood easily by its opponents (High Card Points (HCP), Playing tricks, Losing Trick Count, etc). Regardless, understandings must meet the permitted minimums defined in terms of HCP, controls and ‘Rule of 18/19’ (see 7B1 and 7B3)."

    Although I agree that "playing tricks" is not defined by the EBU and is therefore ambiguous, it seems to be acceptable. (Although if called, I would probably ask how they worked out 'playing tricks' on the hand.)

    This is from Richard Pavlicek's website rpbridge.net/8j17.htm

    Playing tricks is a measurement of trick-taking potential with your longest suit trumps. This is typically used when you have a 6+ card suit, such as for a preemptive bid, but can be applied any time. The three highest cards in each suit are estimated for trick production (see chart) and 1 trick is added for each card over three in any suit; hence every hand has at least 1 playing trick. Common practice is to consider half-trick increments, implying that a full trick will materialize about half the time.

    0.5 :: K, Q-x, K-x, J-10-x, Q-x-x
    1.0 :: A, K-J, K-Q, A-x, Q-J-x, K-x-x, A-x-x
    1.5:: A-J, A-Q, K-J-10, K-Q-x, A-J-x, A-Q-x
    2.0:: A-K, K-Q-J, A-Q-10, A-K-x
    2.5:: A-Q-J, A-K-J
    3.0:: A-K-Q

    Refinements: In an 8-card suit each listed holding with an ‘x’ (except Q-J-x) is increased by half a trick, e.g., A-x-x-x-x-x-x-x = 6.5 tricks. In a 9 or 10-card suit, only the top two cards matter (each card over two is a trick), e.g., A-K-x-x-x-x-x-x-x = 9 tricks. And for the real dreamers, with 11+ cards only the ace matters; if you have it assume all winners, else all but one.

    Obviously this isn't fixed in stone - but seems a reasonable definition. (If only players would stick to it)

  • Every reasonable definition of playing tricks that I've seen is also a reasonable definition of losing trick count, and vice versa: just subtract from 13. (Another way to think about this is "the number of tricks you win is 13 minus the number of tricks you lose, and vice versa"; both playing tricks and losing trick count assume your partnership has dominance of the trump suit.)

    That said, both playing tricks and losing trick count have some variability in how they're defined. People who think in terms of playing tricks normally try to make some sort of adjustment for finesses and the like; people who think in terms of losing trick count sometimes do that, but sometimes use a simpler algorithm like "missing aces in 1+ card suits + missing kings in 2+ card suits + missing queens in 3+ card suits".

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