hrothgar, on Mar 17 2004, 12:28 PM, said:
I had the chance to look over Zar's article. while I found the article interesting, however, as of yet I am still unable to make an informed decision regarding its technical merit.
From my perspective, the true “value” of any system of hand evaluation is the ability to create boundary conditions between different types of events. Ideally, I would want to see hand evaluation systems “judged” using the following type of approach:
Use a hand generator to create 1 million hands.
Use a double dummy engine to identify all hands that “make” precisely “X” tricks in a major suit contract. [10 tricks in a major suit contract or 9 tricks in NT are likely to be the most interest points of comparison]
Sum the Zar points for each hand. Plot a frequency distribution table, along with the mean and standard deviation.
Perform the same calculation for Goren Points, Bergen points, the Kaplan Rubens hand generator, or whatever other system that you want to compare.
Arguably, the system with the lowest standard deviation is the most accurate judge of trick taking potential.
Hi Ron, like you, I found the article intersting, and like you I am uncertain how much I like the evaluation system and rather or not I think it "works".
Let me address some of your issues...
1) Technical merit.
Well this is a huge area, and sort of what I was driving at with the question of total waste of time or worth the effort. Let me put the first ZAR point question into persepective...is a 26 point ZAR hand with 7 or 8 hcp worth an opening bid? Here I think from my study, the answer is an unqualified yes. I like opening light (by hcp standards), I have mentioned that many times well before I ever heard of ZAR points, and I have altered my bidding system to allow for these light opening bids. Going back over my light opening bids, the vast majority of hands where I did open light would also qualify under the ZAR point schedule. The ones that don't are some balanced 11/12 point hands that I use to like to open 1NT, but now, playing 14-16 NT, I can open and rebid 1NT without too much extra risk.
Bidding games. So far the vast majority of hands with 52 ZAR points and a fit have at least a play for game (needing a finessee or a friendly split). Similar for 62 points and slam. The first problem for slam, sort of glossed over in the article, is the need to pay attention to controls... you can get some very high ZAR values and yet be off two aces or a side suit AK. So it is not like bidding a 35 hcp small slam in NT.
2) Judging a million hands.. .way overkill, especially for me. The vast majority of hands I do not even count my hcp during the bidding. I just decide if my hand is good, bad or average for the bidding. On defense, I do count mine and dummy and try to guess about what is in the other hand. But the point is, I doubt I am going to become a zealot at counting ZAR points either. But who knows, if it works as well in real life as it should have in the hands in this thread, maybe counting them is not a bad idea. I will let you know that misho who pointed at the website (but maybe without interest in ZAR specifically), is not a believer in ZAR points. One thing for sure... if bridge devolves into accurate bidding with just "counting" some point scale that would be a sad day indeed. Much better to use your own judgement, enhanced perhaps, by your favorite evaluation tool...but table feel, opponent and partner's tendencies all should play a role in the decision process.