# Zar Points by Zar Petkov Part 2

#### ByZar Petkov

Feb 3, 2014

If Zar Points look a bit aggressive to you, let’s have a look at several opening hands from the just-passed First Open European Championship in Menton, France.

 QxAKxxxJxxxxx Menton Bulletin 11: «Chagas’ light distributional opening bid changed matters». In fact the hand has 4 + 10 = 14 distributional Zars, plus the 9 HCP (Qx) + 3 controls = 27 Zar Points, well into the Opening Hand range. Nothing special indeed. See the note about the implications of having two 5-card suits below. AxxxAJxxxxJxx Menton Bulletin 9:  9 HCP, after you discount the singleton J. Still Both Duboin and Ludewig opened the hand in the Open Teams. And indeed, the distribution Zars are 5 + 10 = 15 Plus the 4 controls and the 9 HCP(singl. J) = 28 Zars! Well above the opening minimum of 26. JxxxxKQxxxKQx Menton Bulletin 9:  11 HCP again, with only 2 controls … but rich on distribution Zars: 4 + 9 = 13 points! The total Zars are 11 + 2 + 13 = 26, an opening hand. And indeed, Both Benito Garozzo and Andrew Robson opened the hand in the Open Teams event.

Certainly, all “disability-combinations” like KQ, QJ, singleton honor etc. discount the standard way.

In the same time, you get 1 “upgrade point” if all your points are concentrated within 3 suits (if you have a strong hand of 15+ HCP) or within 2 suits (if you have a “normal” opening of 11-14 HCP). In “light” opening you never get this 1-point upgrade. This upgrade actually takes care of the value added by having you honors “in combinations” rather than being scattered around the 4 suits.

While we are on the wave of Menton, let’s give you one final “touch” in the Initial Hand Evaluation – it concerns holding the Spade suit – the so called “President’s Suit”. In border-cases, when you have 25 Zar Points, you add 1 point for holding the Spade suit. ONLY when you are at the border of opening, holding the spade suit gives you the right to add 1 Zar Point and get to the 26-Zars opening.

If you think that holding the Spade suit is of no importance, let me tell you – it may not be of any importance in cricket, but in bridge it IS “:-). Here is an example of such an opening coming again from Menton, with the To-Be-European-Champion Eric Rodwell being in action:

 AQxxJxAxxxxxx Rodwell opened 1 and as the commentator said «EW were talked out of their game by Rodwell’s light opening bid…». He actually has 11 HCP (depreciates the Jx but gets 1 pt back for 3-suits concentration of points) plus 4 controls for 15 points, plus the 2 + 8 = 10 DP for 25 Zars. When you upgrade the hand for holding the «president’s suit» of spades by 1 pt, you reach the 26.

And if you happen to actually open 1 with 5 cards in spades, not only you put the opponents on a defensive-bidding track, but you also cut the entire Level-one bidding space.

So we see that a well-distributed hand with 8-9 HCP and 3-4 controls may easily qualify for an opening. Let’s ask the more general question now: «WHY is it worth opening a «sub-opening» hand, and WHEN?”

We already mentioned that the total amount of hands you can have in bridge is 635,013,559,600. The more interesting thing to note is that all the hands with 12 HCP or more, all the way to 37 HCP, are  221,093,636,000  or 221 BILLION, while the number of hands in the short 8-11 HCP range is … BIGGER (!) :  232,403,610,336 or 232 BILLION.

You see now that chances are better for holding an 8-11 hand than to have ANY «normal-opening» hand. This «discovery» should persuade you to consider «light openings», even if you disregard the merits coming from the very fact that you have entered the bidding effectively putting the opponents in a defensive bidding track.

Let’s have a closer look at the Opening Hands with 8-11 HCP and determine some General Rules you need
to follow in case you hold an 8-11 hand, in the light of Zar Points evaluation.

Hand with 8 HCP
4333 = 8 needs10 controls = Pass
4432 = 10 needs 8 controls = Pass
5332 = 11 needs 7 controls = Pass
5422 = 12 needs 6 controls = Pass
5431 = 13 needs 5 controls = Pass
6322 = 13 needs 5 controls = Pass
5521 = 14 needs 4 controls = AA
5440 = 14 needs 4 controls = AA
6421 = 15 needs 3 controls = AA or AK

Hand with 9 HCP
4333 = 8 needs 9 controls = Pass
4432 = 10 needs 7 controls = Pass
5332 = 11 needs 6 controls = Pass
5422 = 12 needs 5 controls = Pass
5431 = 13 needs 4 controls = AA only
6322 = 13 needs 4 controls = AA only
5521 = 14 needs 3 controls = AK or AA or KKK
5440 = 14 needs 3 controls = AK or AA or KKK
6421 = 15 needs 2 controls = A or KK

Hand with 10 HCP
4333 = 8 needs 8 controls = Pass
4432 = 10 needs 6 controls = Pass
5332 = 11 needs 5 controls = Pass
5422 = 12 needs 4 controls = AA or AKK
5431 = 13 needs 3 controls = Any 3 controls
6322 = 13 needs 3 controls = Any 3 controls
5521 = 14 needs 2 controls = Any 2 controls
5440 = 14 needs 2 controls = Any 2 controls
6421 = 15 needs 1 control = K is enough

Hand with 11 HCP
4333 = 8 needs 7 controls = Pass
4432 = 10 needs 5 controls = AAK only
5332 = 11 needs 4 controls = AA or AKK
5422 = 12 needs 3 controls = AK or KKK
5431 = 13 needs 2 controls = ANY 3 controls
6322 = 13 needs 3 controls = Any 3 controls
5521 = 14 needs 1 control = one K is enough
5440 = 14 needs 1 control = one K is enough
6421 = 15 needs 0 control = any

In all PASS cases the decision is made on the fact that the point limitation cannot accommodate the needed controls, e.g. you cannot have 5 controls in 10 HCP since AAK are already 11 Milton points.

This leads us to the following summary, which is worth remembering as a general guideline, even if you are too lazy to count Zar Points because “you are playing for pleasure and fun” 😆

SUMMARY:

1) With 8 HCP – you need AT LEAST 5-5, 6-4 or 5-4-4-0 distribution with 2 Aces

2) With 9 HCP – you need AT LEAST 5-4-3-1 distribution with 2 Aces

3) With 10 HCP – you need AT LEAST 5-4 distribution

4) With 11 HCP – you need EITHER a 5-card suit OR 5 controls

Simple-enough guidelines, I hope.

How do you deal with “Normal” opening hands with balanced distribution? And how do Zar Points get involved after a balanced opening of 1 NT for example (at the very end of these discussions you’ll find some considerations regarding different standard systems like “Two over one”, “Standard American”, “Strong Club” etc., which will give you a general perspective about how Zar Points fit into “your” current system).

Let’s consider two boards in which the opener EAST has the same hand with balanced 15 HCP, but the responder WEST holds completely different hands, although with the same amount of 12 HCP:

1)

 West East J x xJ x x A K x xK J x K Q xK Q x x Q J x Q x x

Would East open the bidding to begin with? The answer is yes, because he has more than 12 HCP and it’s an opening hand by any system. If the HCP power warrants an opening by itself, you open the bidding the way you usually do with the system you are using – most people would open 1 NT with the East hand. NOTE, that counting Zar Points with a balanced hand will NOT help you – with these 15 HCP you collect only 25 Zar Points which “formally” means you should pass.

Zar Points are geared towards aggressive bidding with distributional power rather than hands with brute HCP force and balanced hands – every pair would bid and make 3 NT on this first board with a natural and simple sequence of 1NT – 3NT (not even a Stayman used 😆 .

Now, the second example:

2)

 West East A J x x xA x x x x K x x ___ K Q xK Q x x Q J x Q x x

Here the sequence is a bit different than 1NT – 3NT :-). Normally WEST would transfer in one of the majors and then re-bid the second major, allowing EAST to “upgrade” her K Q holdings in both majors and proceed towards the cold slam.