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The Bidding Box #4 (ACBL Bulletin, June 2019)

Spoiler Alert: This concerns the scoring of a problem from the June Bidding Box.

I am often at a loss to understand the scoring of bidding contests, such as a Grand Slam which may well fail getting 12 out of 12. Or consider these hands (West deals, both vulnerable, matchpoints):


The scorer gave 5 a 10 (ACBL=style matchpoints, on a 12 top.) 4 7,  3 5, 2NT 3 and 4 2.

5 is a nearly unbeatable, of course, and will sometimes score an overtrick, especially on a heart lead.

6 is poor but will sometimes slip through, again most likely on a heart lead. The scoring always assumes the defense will cash two winners.

If South has the Ace of clubs and the opening lead is a not unlikely heart, 3NT will score +600 or +630. Zero looks rather harsh.

But my biggest puzzle is the scoring for 4. Of 64 cases of spade holdings (all fairly equally likely), there are 20 3-3 splits and 18 Qx, Jx or QJ doubletons, limiting trump losers to one if they don't manage a ruff. If diamonds are 2-2, what ruff? There will be other cases where no ruff appears, or where declarer is able to pitch a club on a heart. Just taking 40.7% of 38/64, I get about 24%. That would usually translate into +620 vs. +600 at 5, and the cases where the defense fails to get a club seem about as likely at either contract.

OK, looks like I answered my own question: I might give 4 a 3 or even 4; 2 seems a bit low, especially since I expect a lot of the field will be in 4. But it's not completely off the wall. I do think more discussion of the scoring would be useful, so I'll go ahead and publish this for commenting.

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