Never miss a game again – Zar Points Bidding  Source: [button link=»» size=»small» window=»yes»]BridgeGuys[/button] Read [ilink url=»″]Part 4[/ilink]

Fit Re-evaluation

So for the time being we are quite happy with the 52-count for game – it works in a vast majority of hands. The fact that we have a 6-card trump suit, for example (a good surprise to the partner who has raised the suit expecting only 5 cards) is already factored in via the Distributional Zar Points, calculated on the basis of our 6-card suit. Or is it?

The fact that you have a 6-card suit IS indeed factored in – what is NOT factored in is the fact that partner has raised that suit, believing that we have a 5-card suit, which means that we have an extended fit.

Besides the «real estate», your distribution points also get adjusted depending on the way the two hands of the partnership match. Your initial Zar Points of 13 for a 5431 distribution are worth 13 in the beginning when NO information from the bidding is available, and may stay there if the partner has 1345 and also gets 13 points for distribution.
We have to be able to “calculate” the fact that we have extra lengths in “our” suits and the numbers that fit the calculations are:

– 3 additional HC points for any trump over the promised length, i.e. 3 additional for 5 trumps, 6 for 6 trumps.

– 3 additional HC point for any Invitational Second suit card over the length of 4 (secondary fit).

You know already that the calculations that led us to these point-assignments are based on the overdetermined system of equations with “X_superfit” additional variable, so let’s only notice that these reevaluations are in line with the “Law of Total Tricks”, besides being actually calculated as coefficients in series of equations.

You may ask “How does it fit The Law when you say that 5 Zar Points constitute 1 level and you assign only 3 points for extra length?” And that would be a reasonable question. The answer is that 2 points have already been factored in by the fact that you have a 6-card suit, 1 from the (a + b) and 1 from the (a – d).

And you might say “But The Law is only applicable when the HCP power is relatively-equally divided between the opponents” – and that’s true. In aggressive game-bidding situations, though, the HCP is also divided – it’s the distribution and location that makes the aggressive games, so there is no controversy here either.

The second question often asked is “Since we add a lot of points for super-fits, don’t we have to change the minimum limits of 52 for a Game and 62 for a Slam?” The answer is “No”, you simply will be able to arrive at more subtle (or “aggressive” if you like this word better) games and slams, while still getting at the more normal “every-day” ones.

The two good things that may happen when evaluating how well the hands match together are:

1) you have one fit, but it is a super-fit, i.e. around 10+ cards in the suit.

2) you don’t have a super-fit, but you have double fits, one 8+ cards, and another 7+ cards.

Here is how you re-evaluate the hands in terms of additional Zar Points for the main fit:

9th card – 3 pt;
10th card – 6 pt, i.e. a 10-card fit brings you 3+3 = 6 points total just from the length.
11th card – 9 pt, i.e. an 11-card fit brings you 3×3 = 9 additional points from length.

The same scheme is used for the Secondary Fit, if you have one. For additional information on The Law of Total Tricks see Larry Cohen’s excellent books on that subject.

How much is your 6-card suit worth

Having discussed the value of double-fit and super-fit, let’s pick the following common hand with a 5-card Major suit:


You open 1 and partner raises to 2, opponents pass carelessly. What do you do? And how would your decision change if you hold a 6-card Heart suit? Pretty common question, you would agree. We hold 13 HCP with 3 controls for a total of 16 points, plus the 11 from distribution (3+8) for a total of 27. An opening hand, as we have already opened it, but nothing more than that – so we PASS.

Let’s get ONLY one non-trump card and move it to the hearts, making the Hearts a 6-card suit. How does that change the situation?

Here is how. You guessed it – it depends 🙂

Depends on where you get this 6th card from. If you get from the doubleton, you make the hand 6-3-3-1 and the distributional Zars jump from 11 to 14, plus the 3 points for a 6-th trump (1 more than promised by the bid) for a total of 33 points – enough for Game Try since you support the level 3 alone. So you bid 2 (invitation), asking partner for help in this suit.

If you move the card from the Jxx, the distribution would be 6-3-2-2 for a jump from 11 to 13. Plus you add 3 pt for the 6th suit and drop a point for the resulting Jx which gets your total from 27 to 31 – still most probably PASS, unless pushed in a competitive bidding.

Same if you get the 6-th card from the AQx – you’ll need to make 1 point deduction for the AQ blank, adding 3 for the 6th suit, leaving you again with a total of 31 – PASS, unless in competition.

How easy and simple it is – if you can count to 32 – Game try. If you can count to 36 – Game. If you have only a point of two extra – just let it go. You can see how things change if you move 2 cards around and make the hand 6-4-2-1 or 7-3-2-1 and you would act accordingly.

Just one more hand on the 6-card major suit theme:


Again you open 1 and partner raises to 2. The hand is from the exceptional book of Jeff Meckstroth «Win the Bermuda Bowl with Me» – this book should be your choice if you are under the severe financial restriction to buy only one bridge book 🙂

Jeff’s view is that this hand is only worth a game try. Let’s see what «the calculator» would tell us. We have 13 HCP and 4 controls, for a total of 17 points, plus the 9 + 4 = 13 distributive Zars (the 1 point for holding the Spades suit only counts when you make a borderline decision «to open or not to open») for a total of 30. When you add the 3 for the 6th suit you reach a total of 33 – enough for game try (5 Zars are 1 level of bidding). To jump directly to 4-level you need 36+, as already discussed.