By Val Rhead
“Sorry, partner. I only have three Aces. That’s just three tricks,” I often hear opponents exclaim. ARGH! And sometimes, they even say, “Sorry, partner. I only have four Aces. That’s just four tricks.” Double ARGH!! What would they rather have, I wonder, a hand with four Queens and four Jacks?
Our point-count system for assessing the value of hands was created by statisticians, often actuaries employed by Life Insurance companies, where they worked creating the probabilities of people living or dying. The values of honour cards for bidding purposes (Ace, King, Queen, and Jack) were calculated carefully by these mathematicians. The answers initially contained fractions, but these were then rounded off to the nearest whole number. After all, it wouldn’t be convenient to have to add point counts that contained fractions every time you tried to evaluate a new hand.
As a teenager at my first job, I worked for North American Life Assurance Company in Toronto. I knew little about Bridge, but I did know that Bill Anderson, an actuary, the company’s President, and later Chairman, was a top Bridge player. He actually created the point-count system for evaluating distribution such as voids (3 points), singletons (2 points) and doubletons (1 point) that was adopted by Charles Goren as part of his point-count system. (The Encyclopedia of Bridge, 7th Edition, Page 204)
Aces, actually, are worth more than four points (closer to four and a half). The three Aces alone are worth thirteen points! Always open such a hand. Now it’s true the three Aces will just take three tricks, but only if you plunk them onto the table one by one where they collect the opposition’s Twos and Threes. If you use Aces wisely, however, playing them only when they could catch your enemy’s Kings and Queens, some of the smaller cards, such as Eights and Nines in your and partner’s hands could become good.
The values of the other honour cards have been rounded off also. Kings are worth pretty much the three points that the system awards them, while Queens and Jacks are both over-valued at two points and one point each. Even the lowly Ten, which is also considered an honor card, but that hasn’t been officially assigned a point-count value, can be counted as one point if you have three of them.
I’ll give you an example of the fact that the point count of Three Aces is considered enough for a full opening hand. In a tournament, my partner had a 6-card Spade suit, Ten high. Not a good 6-card suit at all. He also held the three Aces from the other suits. Nothing else. We were novices at the time. He considered this a weak hand. He opened with a Weak-Two Bid of Two Spades. We began the play. He played one Ace. He played a second Ace. That was okay but then he played a third Ace. The opponent’s hands flew up into the air. “Director, Director.” I have a great deal of respect for Directors and generally find them to be quite tolerant of human frailties particularly among novice Bridge players. But, this man was not my favourite director ever. However, he did make it very clear to these trembling novice players that a hand with three Aces did not qualify as a weak opening bid. We’ve never forgotten it.
HUNTSVILLE DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB
Games at the Huntsville Club are Tuesday 7:15 start, Trinity United Church 33 Main Street. Please arrive 15 minutes before game time. For partners and information call Susan Marshall 705 787-5454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following winners are for Tuesday, Jun 20 with 15 pairs playing a Howell movement. 1. Liz Graham and Dorothy Russell; 2. Susan Marshall and Mary Whitehead; 3. Mary Simonett and Kel Andresen; 4. Donna Jensen and Bill Jensen; 5. Ann Cassie and Bruce Cassie; 6. Fay MacDonald and Yvonne Cox; 7. Jim Smith and Ralph Mitchell; 8. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst.
MUSKOKA DUPLICATE BRIDGE CLUB (Bracebridge)
Games for the Bracebridge Club are Mondays 7pm, Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Taylor Road. Please arrive 15 minutes before game time. For information or partnerships, call Brian at 705-645-5340 email@example.com.
The following winners are from Monday, Jun 19 with 23 pairs playing a Mitchell movement. North-South 1. Val Rhead and Joanne Garvey; 2. Pamela Jardine and Ralph Mitchell; 3. Gerry Flaherty and Ralph Hair; 4. Betty Fagin and Brian Brocklehurst; 5. Bev Parlett and Heather Ingram; 6. Mary Luke and Donna McIntosh; East-West 1. Beth Henderson and Tom Dyke; 2. Sandy Retter and David Scarlett; 3. Art Insley and Don Evans; 4. Debbie Scarlett and Michael Scarlett; 5. Liz Barnes and David Bryce; 6. Kel Andresen and Jim Smith.
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