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In backgammon, for instance, sequences of "points" are more valuable than the same number of points out of sequence. That is the 6-5, or 6-5-4 points, are more valuable than the 6-4, or 6-4-2 points respectively. In "hold 'em" (poker), a T-9 is more valuable than a J-9, even though the J is higher than the T (because of the greater potential of the T-9 to make a "two-sided" straight.

Similarly, are sequences of cards considered more valuable in bridge than non-sequences with similar higher HCP? That is, could KQJxx of a suit be more valuable than AQxxx of a suit, even though they both amount to 6 HCP? And could QJTxx be worth more than KJxxx (x being seven or less in both cases), even though QJT is nominally 1 HCP less than KJ?

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1 Answer 1

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Yes, it is possible, but it might vary when you are considering the offensive/defensive potential.

Consider your example KQJxx vs AQxxx

Suppose this was the trump suit and say partner has Txx.

With KQJxx, you likely have only one loser. But with AQxxx it is quite possible that you will have 2 losers.

offensively (i.e if that suit is trumps) KQJxx can probably said to be "better" than AQxxx.

Defensively (i.e when you are defending and this is a side suit), AQxxx tends to be more valuable. This is worth an almost sure trick, and is a reasonable chance that you can make 2 tricks.

With KQJxx, you might make one trick, but the second one might be unlikely.

So defensively, AQxxx is "better" than KQJxx.

Of course, I am yet to come across a hand where this difference seems relevant (perhaps we can construct an artificial hand where there is a choice of trump between two suits).

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Very good answer. (I'm going to wait a day or two before making a decision on acceptance.) Would you then agree that connected sequences KQJXX are better for offense and "broken" sequences AQxxx are better for defense, and be more inclined to overcall with the former than the latter (all other things being equal of course)? –  Tom Au Mar 10 '13 at 13:55
    
I find the distinction arises most often when choosing between offense and defense -- e.g., do I bid 3 spades in a competitive auction or do I let the opponents have it at 3 hearts? It does affect overcalls too, but overcalls can also serve to direct leads if you end up on defense, so for me the distinction is less important there. –  Daniel Gottesman Mar 11 '13 at 15:29
    
@DanielGottesman: I usually rely on length (law of total tricks) rather the suit strength when determining to push one level further, in competition, but you are right it might make a difference. Of course, what I was talking in the last paragraph was about comparing KQJxx to AQxxx on the same hand. –  Aryabhata Mar 11 '13 at 20:31
    
@Aryabhata, I agree suit length is more important, so this is mainly a consideration for borderline cases. In fact, honor holdings like the ones we're discussing can result in a 1-trick adjustment of the law of total tricks precisely because they differ on offense and defense. –  Daniel Gottesman Mar 12 '13 at 16:29
    
@DanielGottesman: I see, you might be right. Never went that deep into LOTT. Too much effort :-) –  Aryabhata Mar 16 '13 at 5:37

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