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Trivial - NO, something worse than trivial

This BW entry has nothing to do with bridge. So, please - please, stop reading.

This entry has something to do with a compulsive obsession. So, if you know what that is, please - please, stop reading.

OK, so you’re still reading. Your problem, not mine.

The issue is: about 40 years ago, I was writing my Ph.D in mathematical statistics (basically probability theory) and my professor gave my a “practical challenge”: Calculate, he said in his strict German voice, the exact probability of picking up a hand of 13 cards (out of 52) in four suits where the lowest card tells how many cards you have in that suit. Example of a hand with four “hits”:

AK54 - 32 - Q984 - K43

Pretty normal hand, right? The probability calculation isn’t complicated but lengthy and tedious. The combined probability of a zero or one hit is nearly 90%, of two hits about 10%, three hits less than 1% and the full four hits is something like 0.02% (if memory has served me right). This means that the professional player should expect (in the long run) to see three hits about once a week, and four hits once a year.

And here’s my problem: I played a lot of bridge from the mid 1980s until early 1990s. Never four hits. And after I began to play again four years ago, playing on average 6000 boards a year, never four hits. When a new board is opened, I grab the cards to count the “hits”. Who cares about HCPs or distribution when four hits are possible - albeit unlikely? Madam Fate is probably laughing at my probabilities. But I find a certain beauty in this seemingly trivial exercise.

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