Main     Study 9X42 by Richard Pavlicek    

Point Count Summary

How many high-card points (HCP) are needed for 3 NT to be a winning venture? This study of 65 major events from 1996 to 2012 will attempt to provide an answer, based not only on HCP but also on the declaring side’s longest suit. Source data consists of 66,652 results (33,326 deals) from vugraph archives of the Vanderbilt, Spingold, U.S. Championship and World Team Championship.

For each comparison, only one team bid 3 NT while the other played in a partscore. Results are shown in four time spans: past four years, past eight years, past 12 years, and all data (17 years). Click the button at the right of each table to view the actual deals.

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3 NT with No Five-Card Suit

25 HCP, no 5+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT1869-58 = 54.338-10-0 = 44.44
2005-20123NT2481-77 = 51.2710-13-1 = 43.75
2001-20123NT29104-87 = 54.4513-15-1 = 46.55
1996-20123NT41140-119 = 54.0517-21-3 = 45.12

24 HCP, no 5+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT39171-103 = 62.4118-18-3 = 50.00
2005-20123NT69270-202 = 57.2030-35-4 = 46.38
2001-20123NT80270-263 = 50.6630-46-4 = 40.00
1996-20123NT92323-295 = 52.2735-51-6 = 41.30

Evidence is pretty strong that this is the dividing line. Bidding 3 NT with 24 HCP, even without a long suit, is a winning venture; but not with 23 or less. Note that this applies to IMPs — not win-loss scoring, which always favors stopping below game (even with 25 HCP).

23 HCP, no 5+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT1032-30 = 51.614-5-1 = 45.00
2005-2012Partial2384-55 = 60.4314-7-2 = 65.22
2001-2012Partial27103-65 = 61.3117-8-2 = 66.67
1996-2012Partial31108-78 = 58.0618-10-3 = 62.90

22 HCP, no 5+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-2012Partial15-0 = 100.001-0-0 = 100.00
2005-2012Partial315-0 = 100.002-0-1 = 83.33
2001-2012Partial424-0 = 100.003-0-1 = 87.50
1996-2012Partial534-0 = 100.004-0-1 = 90.00

Thankfully there is little evidence in the 22-HCP camp, if only to reassure us that few experts are lunatics.

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3 NT with Five-Card Suit

25 HCP, 5 card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT27193-29 = 86.9422-5-0 = 81.48
2005-20123NT43286-62 = 82.1833-10-0 = 76.74
2001-20123NT62363-116 = 75.7842-19-1 = 68.55
1996-20123NT69418-121 = 77.5548-20-1 = 70.29

24 HCP, 5 card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT63269-176 = 60.4531-28-4 = 52.38
2005-20123NT109461-312 = 59.6454-50-5 = 51.83
2001-20123NT138578-379 = 60.4068-62-8 = 52.17
1996-20123NT163712-433 = 62.1883-72-8 = 53.37

23 HCP, 5 card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT65234-189 = 55.3229-32-4 = 47.69
2005-2012Partial105347-337 = 50.7360-40-5 = 59.52
2001-20123NT128454-399 = 53.2254-68-6 = 44.53
1996-20123NT158527-494 = 51.6263-86-9 = 42.72

Evidence suggests that with a five-card suit only 23 HCP are needed for 3 NT, but the longterm advantage (if true) is small. Therefore, aiming for 23 HCP may be counterproductive, because the inexactness of point-count bidding will result in some 22-HCP games.

22 HCP, 5 card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT28121-68 = 64.0215-12-1 = 55.36
2005-2012Partial46165-134 = 55.1826-17-3 = 59.78
2001-2012Partial53185-146 = 55.8930-19-4 = 60.38
1996-2012Partial61216-183 = 54.1435-22-4 = 60.66

The substantial gain for 3 NT with 22 HCP from 2009-2012 is quite an eye-opener. Could this be the inauguration of Meckwell on steroids? More likely it’s just a fluke.

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3 NT with Six-Card or Longer Suit

25 HCP, 6+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT731-27 = 53.453-4-0 = 42.86
2005-20123NT1161-27 = 69.327-4-0 = 63.64
2001-20123NT17100-37 = 72.9911-6-0 = 64.71
1996-20123NT22114-47 = 70.8113-8-1 = 61.36

24 HCP, 6+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT1975-55 = 57.699-10-0 = 47.37
2005-20123NT28123-66 = 65.0815-13-0 = 53.57
2001-20123NT37147-88 = 62.5518-18-1 = 50.00
1996-20123NT42165-110 = 60.0020-21-1 = 48.81

23 HCP, 6+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-20123NT39173-105 = 62.2320-18-1 = 52.56
2005-20123NT63261-172 = 60.2831-30-2 = 50.79
2001-20123NT68268-201 = 57.1432-34-2 = 48.53
1996-20123NT79297-247 = 54.6035-41-3 = 46.20

As with a five-card suit, only 23 HCP make 3 NT a winning venture, but having a sixth card increases the advantage considerably. Aiming for this mark seems productive.

22 HCP, 6+ card suit: One team bid 3NT, other a partscore

YearWinnerBoardsIMP PercentWLT Percent
2009-2012Partial18100-29 = 77.5214-4-0 = 77.78
2005-2012Partial34131-112 = 53.9119-13-2 = 58.82
2001-2012Partial48175-166 = 51.3226-20-2 = 56.25
1996-20123NT57210-186 = 53.0325-29-3 = 46.49

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© 2012 Richard Pavlicek