Zar Points

This file is extracted from Zar Points Fundaments by Zar Petkov,
so that we could reference to entry numbers in the BidBase Hand
Evaluation database. These references and other comments by us
are in red.

Zar's initial evaluation is simple. Rather than the Goren 4-3-2-1 honor count, Zar uses 6-4-2-1. [BB entries Z1490-1520]

To the honor count is added distribution count -- the sum of the length of the two longest suits [Z1580], plus the difference between the length of the longest and shortest suits [Z1590].

So QTxx-Axx-x-KJxxx has

    10 -- honor points
     9 -- longest (5) plus 2nd-longest (4)
     4 -- longest minus shortest (1)
    23 -- total Zar points

Other Zar specifications (quoted from Zar's web page unless in red):

  • Certainly, all "disability-combinations" like KQ, QJ, singleton honor etc. discount the standard way. [Z1530-1570 -- We are just guessing at what these "standard disability-combinations" adjustments are supposed to be. Also, since he mentions KQ and QJ doubletons plus later, any Q-doubleton, we just have one entry for any Q-doubleton.]

  • You get 1 "upgrade point" if all your points are concentrated within...

    • 3 suits (if you have a strong hand of 15+ HCP) [Z1660] or

    • 2 suits (if you have a "normal" opening of 11-14 HCP) [Z1670].

    In "light" opening you never get this 1-point upgrade.

    This upgrade actually takes care of the value added by having your honors "in combinations" rather than being scattered around the 4 suits.

  • In border-cases, when you have 25 Zar Points, you add 1 point for holding the Spade suit. ONLY when you are at the border of opening, holding the spade suit gives you the right to add 1 Zar Point and get to the 26-Zars opening. [Z9999]


In addition to the point count above, add:

  • An additional point for trump honors (trump 10 counts for 1, trump A counts for 5) up to MAX 2. [Z1680-1690 -- Why say that J=2, Q=3, K=4, and A=5 when the max is 2? Are we missing something? Also note that in the next section, for Location of honors in partner's suits, he says to simply add a point for each honor. We are going to assume that's what he meant here as well. Also, later comments indicate that MAX 2 means "add no more than 2 points in total for this adjustment.]

  • An additional point for the Invitational-second-suit honors (10 counts for 1, A counts for 5), MAX 2. [Z1700-1710] -- An "invitational second suit" implies that you have already raised the first suit. On the other hand, if pard has honors in his second suit and you have, say, QJx, you should upgrade your honors, so we are going to make the adjustment even when we have not raised.

Revaluing Honors

During the initial hand valuation when you pick up your cards, it's a standard procedure to depreciate short-suit honors by a point. [Actually, we thought that most people depreciate short-suit honors by the full value of the honor; however, since this is Zar's system, we go with what he says: Z1530-1570. But note that below, Zar further adjusts short-suit honors for the bidding.]

Location of your honors in partner's suits - add a point for each honor (T including) to a maximum of 2 (if you have KQT add only 2, rather than 3). [Z1680-1710 -- Note that Zar doesn't require a fit to take these points. In the next paragraph, he talks about upgrading a doubleton QJ in partner's suit.]

Location of your honors in opponents' suits - subtract/add a point for the honors in the suits bid by the opponents depending on location of the opponent (chances are you don't have many of these, so no limit here): an AQ or Kx behind (offside) the bidder can be upgraded [Z1600-1610] while QJx - downgraded [We don't get the reason for this one.] respectively. The same AQ or Kx should be downgraded if you are in front of (onside) the bidding opponent. [Z1620-1640 -- Zar already depreciates doubleton and singleton Q by 1, so Z1640 deducts the other 1 (of the Q's value of 2) for short suits while Z1630 deducts the full 2 for longer suits. We could have specified suit length rather than use flags, but the flags make it clearer what is going on just by looking.]

Location of your "depreciated" honors in short suits - add the honors bonus points for the partner's suits [Already done, above.] while further discount the honors in short suits bid by your opponents. Doubleton QJ in the opponents' suit can be dropped to zero while in the partners suit it gets to 4 points [the original 3 HCPs minus 1 in Z1560 plus 2 in Z1680-1690], since the 1-point discount for 'blank honors' stays due to the inflexibility it presents in playing the suit by blocking the communications.

As the bidding progresses, you continue re-evaluating the hand in the light of both Partner's bids and the opponents bids. A suit of AQx can be upgraded to AKx if the suit is bid in front of you, while a KJx can be dropped to 1 pt if the suit is bid behind you. You use your head constantly. [Zar is repeating himself here. This was already covered above in Z1600-1650.]

Fit Re-evaluation

Points for shortness when a fit has been found: [Zar does not say that this is only for raiser, but that's what we assume, and it is implied in the paragraphs below.]

  • Assign 3 points for every trump above the combined length of 8 if your shortest suit is void. [Z1720]

  • Assign 2 points for every trump above the combined length of 8 if your shortest suit is singleton. [Z1730]

  • Assign 1 point for every trump above the combined length of 8 if your shortest suit is doubleton. [Z1740]

You can add the points for a single additional trump even if you have just the regular fit that your bid shows (no superfit), provided there is a difference of at least 2 between your trump length and your shortest suit. [Z1725,1735,1745 -- Note that these entries do not specify that suits must only be 8-card fits, but if they were longer, they would match the previous entries, and we use flags to screen out the longer fits.]

So if you have 4 trumps and a side singleton and you have raised your partner's 4-card suit, you still can count 2 points (that's 3-1); same with 3 trumps if you have raised your partner's 5-card major - you count (3-1) = 2 points for the singleton.

However, with 3 trumps and a doubleton you do not get the 1 point since the difference in lengths is only 1.

We have tested these intensively and so could you. This adjusted calculation takes care of many competitive bidding situations where you have to judge what to do.

Applying Zar Points

Open with 26+
Respond with 16+

Total points with trump fit:

    Invite game with 46-51
    Bid game on 4-level with 52-56
    Bid game on 5-level with 57-61
    Explore slam with 62+

Petkov Zar shows the following comparative bidding performance:

Slam Game Part
Zar Basic41%66%96%22-25
Zar Fit67%88%85%

Notice that in this chart, Zar Basic points are better for bidding part-scores than Zar Fit points.

Zar Basic points are 6-4-2-1 points plus (longest minus shortest) suit length plus (longest plus 2nd-longest) suit lengths.

Zar and Notrump:

NOTE: Counting Zar Points with a balanced hand will NOT help you... Zar Points are geared towards aggressive bidding with distributional power rather than hands with brute HCP force and balanced hands ...

KQx-KQxx-QJx-Qxx opens 1N and partner has

    Jxx-Jxx-AKxx-KJx -- play will be in NT and both players should use NT hand valuations.

    AJxxx-Axxxx-Kxx-void -- responder will be pushing the majors, so opener should upgrade her KQ holdings in both majors and proceed towards slam.

...Open these [12+ HCP, but sub-26 Zar point, balanced] hands because of the brute HCP power of 12+ HCP, but open them "carefully, with caution", meaning that:

    1) you would pass at the first chance presented, and second,

    2) you would push the hand toward NT.