How can I quickly check the playing strength of a hand
DefinitionThe total number of tricks available on a deal is equal to the total number of trump cards both sides hold in their respective best suits, where the total number of tricks is defined as the sum of the number of tricks available to each side if they could choose trumps. Players in a partnership should bid to the level of the total number of trumps held by their partnership combined. The total number of tricks available is equal to the total number of trump cards held in the suit suited to be trumps. It is especially useful when the HCP are reasonably evenly divided between the two sides, the number of trumps held by each side is a very good indicator of the potential tricks available to each side.
ProblemPartner has opened clubs and the opposition have overcalled hearts, but you hold the hand below and you think you have extra values not reflected in your point count, what level can you bid up to using the law of total tricks.
Partner Opens the bidding with 1♣ the opposition overcall 1♥, using the Rule of Total Tricks what Level can you safely bid up to in Clubs with these cards below in your hand?
The SolutionPartner has shown at least 4+ club cards with their opening bid, you have 7 club cards in your hand so you have 11 club suit cards between you. This means you can can bid up to the Level of 11 tricks.
ExplanationFor example, if North-South between them hold 8 cards in the spade suit and East-West hold 9 in the club suit - Total Tricks says that the total number of tricks available is 17 (8 + 9). Total Tricks does not say how many tricks each side will win; which depends on the split of the HCP as well as the number of trumps held altogether. This method works on the assumption that for shapely hands, the combined length of the trump suit is more significant than points or HCP in deciding on the level of the final contract. It is of most value in competitive bidding situations where the HCP are divided roughly equally between the partnerships.
In contract bridge, the rule of Total Tricks is used to help competitive bidders decide what level to bid up to in a competitive auction.