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Hand Evaluation - the power of ten

When Mr. Milton Work invented the point-count method, ace = 4, king = 3, queen = 2 and jack = 1, he did the ten no favours.
Contrast these two hands: 

Hand a)   Hand b)
♠ A 6 3
Q 7
Q 6 4 2
♣ K J 7 4
  ♠ A 10 4
Q 10
♦ Q 10 9 3
♣ K J 10 9

Both contain the same shape and the same jacks, queens kings and aces to make up 12 points. But what a difference!

You would open 1NT with the first, but with huge trepidation. If partner raises to 2NT, a response that invites you to bid again – to go on to 3NT with an upper range hand and pass with a lower range hand – you couldn’t pass quick enough. You’ll probably not make 2NT, let alone 3NT.

The second is a completely different kettle of fish. Your hand is replete with tens – those minor-suit nines are pretty good too. You’d raise 2NT to 3NT quick as a flash, as your hand is worth (at least) 14 points. Examine the diamond suit and give partner, say J5. Q642 facing J5 will probably generate no tricks at all; Q1093 facing J5 will generate two tricks: for sure. What a difference!

Milton really should have given the ten half a point (or perhaps 0.4) and the nine about a quarter (or perhaps 0.2), but that’d be way too complicated. However don’t forget how useful these intermediate cards can be.

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