The Law of Total Tricks
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The Law of Total Tricks

Jean-René Vernes first 'invented' the Law of Total Tricks in 1968. The Law states "The Total Number of tricks available on any deal is approximately equal to the Total Number of trumps"
Where 'Total Number of tricks' is the addition of the tricks that can be made by N-S and those that can be made by E-W when both are playing in their best trump suit. The 'Total Number of trumps' is the sum of the trumps held by N-S in their suit and the number held by E-W in their suit.

Although known about for more that twenty years, The Law of Total Tricks was not widely recognized until it was much publicized by Marty Bergen and Larry Cohen in the early 1990's.

A popular, but not quite so accurate, version of the LAW is that in a competitive situation, where the points are roughly equal between the two sides, it is correct to compete to the level of the combined number of trumps held by your side.

Let's have a look at a typical ‘LAW' deal with everybody vulnerable: -

East A West North East South You hold this East hand A, should you compete with 3 or not?
852 1 1 2 2 The answer is (probably) no.
QJ8 pass pass ??  

You appear to have only 8 combined trumps and 3 will probably go down, likely doubled.

East B West North East South

Now let's change the hand slightly so that you have an extra trump. This time you know that your side has 9 combined trumps and you should compete to 3.

852 1 1 2 2
QJ84 pass pass ??    
Dealer: AQ763     Here is the complete deal (with East A).
West 76    

Note that each side has 8 trumps and that N-S can make 2 and E-W can make 2.

Both vul KQJ    

If you exchange South's 4 with East's 2 East then has hand E and E-W can make 3 but N-S can still only make 2.

104 852
AK932 QJ8                
A976 532            
K3 QJ106                

This is a very simple example of The Law of Total Tricks. There are dozens of examples of The Law of Total Tricks in the new-sheets; try searching for ‘Law total tricks' in the site's search engine for numerous examples.

  The ultimate reference books about the Law of Total Tricks are undoubtedly Larry Cohen’s “To bid or not to bid” and its sequel “Following the Law”.  
  Now not every deal conforms with the Law of total tricks and when you look into it deeper there are a number of adjustments that need to be made. These are all described in detail in Larry’s 2nd book.  




  Other books on the LAW: -  
  Introduction to the LAW : The Law of Total Tricks Simplified  
  Pattaya Bridge Club -
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