Home Hand Evaluation in Bridge C Programming Keyboard Layout

The Initial Winning Trick Count


This document is about hand evaluation in bridge, before and during the bidding. By using statistical methods on about 40.000 recorded plays from the best and most prestigious bridge tournaments in the world, we are able to find exactly how a hand should be evaluated, and how much each property (such as an ace) is really worth. The simplicity of the Initial Winning Trick Count makes it easy to adopt.

The Initial Winning Trick Count

The Initial Winning Trick Count evaluates the hands before any bidding has taken place. This trick count may well be used as it is now, and typical limits during the bidding are easily expressed in this trick count.

The Counting Scheme

The major result of the IWTC is listed in Table 22: Initial WTC and are as follows:

Tricks Property
1.5 A
1.0 K, Vo
0.5 Q, Si, Ba
0.25 J, Do, 7+cs

In singleton, devaluate A by 0.25, and degrade K, Q, J to Q, J, T respectively.

If you are on a boarder descision, start with two plus features and find the sum of the plus/minus features according to
Plus features
Si and (T except in doubleton)
Minus features
A, K and (doubleton containing the queen or two honors)


  • The 'Ba' or 'Basis' property refers to a value you should add once to your hand. The '7+cs' property refers to a value you should add for each suit longer than 6.
  • Because the T is a plus feature except in doubleton, both singleton T and singleton J is a plus feature.
  • All factors are cumulative, for instance a holding of AK (doubleton) is three minus features.

The IWTC Limits

To translate between your familiar Goren Point Count method or Losing Trick Count to the IWTC, use the following table:

0-2 0-5 10-- Nothing
3 6-9 9 Weak
4 10-12 8 Invitational
5 12-15 6-7 Minimum opening
6 16-18 5-6 Average opening
7 19-21 4-5 Strong opening
8-- 22-- --3 Forcing

For the IWTC intervalls, you should round off your tricks to the nearest number of tricks. This means that when you get experienced with the counting, you will recognise when the fine tuning will place the IWTC between two intervalls, and you will recognise when the fine tuning definitely will place you in one or the other interval. This means you will seldom go through the process of counting the plus/minus features.

As a beginner you may decide not to include the fine tuning at all. That is fine, because the counting is quite accurate without it too.

Though no-trump is not included in the above analysis, a good measure on the number of tricks you will take in no-trump is one level lower. Use the Counting Scheme also for no-trump hands, as the 15-17 no-trump opening fits excatly with the "Average Opening".

The reason no-trump is not included is that about 70% of all games end in trump, and that an exact evaluation of no-trump games are quite different than in trump games. We still get a reasonable estimation from the IWTC with the adjustment factor of -1 tricks. This issue will be resolved in the final WTC.

I am working on how to include the bidding in the counting.

Home Hand Evaluation in Bridge C Programming Keyboard Layout
Håkon Hallingstad MyEmailAddress Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Last modified: Thu Jun 19 12:22:54 CEST 2003