Don’t be put off if it sounds confusing! Some examples will shed some light.
Now count how many trumps each side has in their best fit. North South have 8 hearts and East West have 8 spades. The number of North South’s trumps plus the number of East West’s trumps = 16.
It is no coincidence that the number of trumps equals the number of tricks. On most hands you will find the same thing happens. This remarkable piece of information is known as “the Law of Total Tricks”.
There are some hands where the law does not work, but most do. Knowing this information can help you to decide how high to bid once you have found a fit.
In fact, the number of trumps you hold is more important than the number of points you hold. The key to determining how high to bid in a competitive auction is the probable length of your trump suit.
It is important to realise that this information is only useful in competitive auctions. It won’t help you to decide if a contract will make. It is used to determine whether it is worth bidding on, possibly to sacrifice, or whether it would be better to defend.
Each side has a 10-card fit. This means that it is a good idea to try for 10 tricks. Note that it doesn’t guarantee that you will make the contract, only that it is a good idea to bid it!
East West can make 4♥ and North South are only 1 down in 4♠. If you were North or South, which score would you want? Your opponents to have 620 (or 420) for their game, or for them to have 100 as you go down?
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