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can both partners count shortage?

#1 User is offline   Wainfleet 

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Posted 2021-June-20, 03:32

A relative novice (no LTC) has asked whether opener can count shortage ( 5-3-1 :void-singleton-doubleton) after something like 1H-3H -?, or is it just opener, who has discovered the fit, who does so. Responder may already have counted shortage.
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#2 User is offline   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2021-June-20, 03:46

I count shortage to open and would add 1 point for the 5 card suit, but wouldnt't upgrade further.

I no longer play 1-3 as a limit raise, but as preemptive. For me any limit plus raise now goes through 2 for with subsequent bids defining the Modified Loosing Trick count and hence the final contract. I find this a more straightforward approach as the MLT broadly covers the revaluation decision.
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#3 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-June-20, 05:20

Counting shortness (or length, or features, or losing tricks, or Milton Work points, or ZAR points, or Bergen points, or KR evaluation, or what have you) are all just tools and approximations to help guide you on bidding decisions. Both opener and responder should evaluate their hand. Responder is aware of the fit as soon as opener makes the first bid, and should immediately reevaluate for a trump contract. After showing the fit opener can also reevaluate their hand. One of the weaknesses of the shortness-adjustments is that you may end up double counting (shortness in one hand opposite soft values in the same suit in the other hand). However, like all the other tools I mentioned, it still has uses and can be a valuable, if somewhat simple, tool in your arsenal.
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#4 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2021-June-20, 05:21

Both count for shortage. Shortage is a bit more valuable in the hand with the fewest trumps.
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#5 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-June-20, 06:59

I believe when learning any new endeavor it is important not only to understand what to do but why you are doing it. Points evaluations are only an estimate of trick-taking potential. The reason to add "points" for a short suit when you have a fit with partner is that your partner can potentially ruff losers, thus gaining an extra trick or tricks.

Opener, on the other hand, does not gain tricks from shortness. Shortness in that hand can stop the opponents from running a suit. In opener's hand, length is of greater value as to trick-taking potential.

My advice is not to go overboard with point counting.
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#6 User is offline   morecharac 

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Posted 2021-June-20, 11:25

View PostWainfleet, on 2021-June-20, 03:32, said:

A relative novice (no LTC) has asked whether opener can count shortage ( 5-3-1 :void-singleton-doubleton) after something like 1H-3H -?, or is it just opener, who has discovered the fit, who does so. Responder may already have counted shortage.

The aphorism I've read is count length to open, count shortness instead once you've got a fit. Simple enough for beginners to remember.

Simple is generally better when learning which hands/situations are common and which are rare.
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#7 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 09:57

Not everyone is going to get good enough at bridge to evaluate beyond point count, and that's okay.

If you are interested in what on average will be the trick taking potential of the hands, then you should count 5-3-1 shortness only in responder's hand, though you should also count 3-2-1 shortness (which is almost equivalent to adding points for long suits) in opener's hand.

There will be hands that do much better than one-hand-shortness point count suggests, but very few hands will do better than both-hands-shortness point count, so both-hands-531-shortness gives an estimate of the maximum trick taking potential if there are no wasted values.

However, if you're able to judge if there are wasted values or not, you can probably do better than point count already anyway.
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#8 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 13:15

View Postakwoo, on 2021-June-21, 09:57, said:

Not everyone is going to get good enough at bridge to evaluate beyond point count, and that's okay.

If you are interested in what on average will be the trick taking potential of the hands, then you should count 5-3-1 shortness only in responder's hand, though you should also count 3-2-1 shortness (which is almost equivalent to adding points for long suits) in opener's hand.

There will be hands that do much better than one-hand-shortness point count suggests, but very few hands will do better than both-hands-shortness point count, so both-hands-531-shortness gives an estimate of the maximum trick taking potential if there are no wasted values.

However, if you're able to judge if there are wasted values or not, you can probably do better than point count already anyway.


I think that 5-3-1 is very generous indeed. If I were counting shortness, I would add, for a void, the number of trumps I had and go down from there.

With, say, three trumps I wouldn’t add anything for a worthless doubleton. Think of it as the opponents leading a trump. How many times will you have to lose the lead in the suit before you are able to ruff? Twice? then you are out of luck.
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#9 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 22:41

View PostVampyr, on 2021-June-21, 13:15, said:

I think that 5-3-1 is very generous indeed. If I were counting shortness, I would add, for a void, the number of trumps I had and go down from there.

With, say, three trumps I wouldn’t add anything for a worthless doubleton. Think of it as the opponents leading a trump. How many times will you have to lose the lead in the suit before you are able to ruff? Twice? then you are out of luck.


I'm assuming no counting for length, so counting 1 for the doubleton is really counting 1 for having 2 4 card side suits or 1 5 card side suit in that case. It's reasonably likely that one of them will come in for a trick. Besides, 1 point is only about a third of a trick.
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#10 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 08:23

View PostWainfleet, on 2021-June-20, 03:32, said:

A relative novice (no LTC) has asked whether opener can count shortage ( 5-3-1 :void-singleton-doubleton) after something like 1H-3H -?, or is it just opener, who has discovered the fit, who does so. Responder may already have counted shortage.

In my first bridge book, the suggestion was for Bidder (Opener in this case) to count 3-2-1 and Supporter (Responder) to count 5-3-1. I think most modern thinking is that 5-3-1 is generally slightly more accurate than 3-2-1 for the suit bidder. There are some other methods around as well - Vampyr has already mentioned "Trump Length - Shortest Suit Length" and you brought up LTC (which vastly overvalues shortages). There is also Zar Points, which works out very similarly to 5-3-1. Whichever method you use, you will need to adjust dynamically based on the hand itself. My suggestion is to start with 5-3-1 for both hands and go from there but do what works for you.
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#11 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 15:13

There is synergy between number of trumps and shortness. If both hands are balanced, it doesn't matter so much whether you have 8 or 9 trumps, and quite possibly a 6-3 fit will play better in notrumps. But if one or both hands have a singleton somewhere, the 9th trump make a big difference.

In other words, the value of the singleton is higher when you have a 9-card fit.
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#12 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 01:31

Maybe its why I'm still on this forum but I find most complex counting systems too much for my brain to handle.

I can cope with HCPs, maybe occasionally a bit of adjustment based on shortages or some other attribute of a hand, then I started counting losers and guestimating what partner's losers were (LTC)

Its all too much for me :)

Maybe teach beginners how to work out Kaplan Rubens in their heads

EDIT. Boring personal stuff. When I was first taught how to play (a long time ago) I remember opening bids being something like 13 points, we had a weak no trump (occasionally strong). Then responder decided whether they had an opening bid too (enough for game), checked whether they had a trump fit, a suit of their own etc etc

Then things started getting more complicated. I read in a book or a newspaper article about adding points for shape, and started bidding lighter etc

What do you need to open these days, 10 points? with some shape, maybe 9 sometimes

Regarding responses I still get into trouble with 2/1 and am stuck in the old, if you have opening bid opposite partner do a jump, and get into trouble with Soloways

What else did beginner Possum learn. Limit bids. Strong twos and strong 2C, basic Blackwood, transfers, Stayman, not much else

EDIT 2 But my philosophy on the world and how it has changed is informed somewhat by changes in Bridge. Someone will ask you a simple question (a direction perhaps) and rely on a very complex model and piece of technology and direct you to the wrong side of the city due to a small error. I had to ring emergency once. I was rather concerned when they had to check which country, state and city I was in :)
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#13 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 11:57

I think teaching beginners a quantitative hand valuation method like HCP and points for shortage is a good start, but that is all it is, a start. Once they have got used to that, they should be taught what influences trick taking potential between a pair of hands. Double fits have high trick taking potential, misfits don't. High cards work best in long suits. High cards are good if they are in a suit partner has bid, less so in an opponent's suit. In a suit contract, a void opposite four rag is good, a void opposite KQxxx isn't. Get them to play constructed hands so they can appreciate why some hands are easy to play and others are horrible. Once they have understood the principles of how hands fit together and trick taking potential, they should be taught how to infer the presence or absence of these principles during the auction, based on what partner's bids are telling them about their hand and how that hand likely fits with their own. If you can understand the fundamental theory, a point counting system is basically a simplified quantitative approximation to those fundamental principles. With experience one learns how to apply these principles to investigate and place the final contract.
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#14 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 13:36

View PostWainfleet, on 2021-June-20, 03:32, said:

A relative novice (no LTC) has asked whether opener can count shortage ( 5-3-1 :void-singleton-doubleton) after something like 1H-3H -?, or is it just opener, who has discovered the fit, who does so. Responder may already have counted shortage.
With a trump-fit, IMO, both partners can count shortage. Be wary of duplication. e.g. when you hold shortage or intermediate honours opposite partner's shortage, in the same plain-suit.
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#15 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 14:40

A quick Google Translate-based translation of the excerpt I quoted in this post:

"
Distribution points (dp)

Doubleton = 1 dp
Singleton = 2 dp
Void = 3 dp

Unguarded honours lose 1 dp in the following combinations:

A-J, K-Q, K-J, K, Q-J, Q-x, Q, J-x, J

When notrump is bid, you do not count on any distribution points.

Support points
When you support your partner's suit, you reevaluate your hand like this

Doubleton = 1 dp
Singleton = 3 dp
Void = 5 dp

In return, you deduct 1 dp for:

a) 4-3-3-3 distribution
b) Support with only 3 trumps

Finally, you upgrade the following trump combinations with 1 dp:

K, Q, J, Q-J

When your partner has supported your suit --- or when you have your own solid trump suit (no more than 1 loser) --- you add 1 dp for the suit's fifth card and 2 dp for each following card in the suit."
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#16 User is offline   Douglas43 

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Posted 2021-June-25, 02:11

View PostWainfleet, on 2021-June-20, 03:32, said:

A relative novice (no LTC) has asked whether opener can count shortage ( 5-3-1 :void-singleton-doubleton) after something like 1H-3H -?, or is it just opener, who has discovered the fit, who does so. Responder may already have counted shortage.


The LTC is easier than counting points for length or shortage. I learned it as a beginner and have played for 40 years to evaluate trump fit hands without counting points for length or shortage. Points were designed mainly for no-trump bidding.
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#17 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-June-29, 15:49

View PostDouglas43, on 2021-June-25, 02:11, said:

The LTC is easier than counting points for length or shortage. I learned it as a beginner and have played for 40 years to evaluate trump fit hands without counting points for length or shortage. Points were designed mainly for no-trump bidding.

One of the things I have learned from lurking this forum for a while is that the LTC is counting points, just doing so in a particularly unsophisticated way. Point count systems are designed for hand evaluation generally. Some point count systems, such as Zar Points, are specifically designed for optimal use with distributional hands.
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