By Danny Kleinman
There are many different point-counts. Besides the familiar 4-3-2-1 count invented by Bryant McCampbell in 1915 (and unwittingly by me 30 years later) and associated with both Milton Work and Charles Goren, the Official Encyclopedia of Bridge mentions the Four Aces (3-2-1-½), Reith (6-4-3-2-1) and Robertson (7-5-3-2-1) counts. Those are not the only ones. Richard Cowan invented the Bonzai count (popularized recently by Ron Klinger and David Jackson) and Doug Bennion invented LJP (6½-4½-2½-1). Edgar Kaplan first invented a 4.3 - 3.1 - 1.7 - 0.9 count and then a Four C's count (purportedly correct to the nearest 20th of a point!) that I used for nearly two decades but is too complicated for anyone else and that I won't attempt to explain here (though it was explained in October 1982 issue of The Bridge World). For the last decade-and-a-half, I have used my own modification of LJP (which, like Marty Bergen's "Adjust-3" modification to the 4-3-2-1 count, makes several kinds of "adjustments").
You are free to use any consistent point-count that you like, "consistent" meaning that for hands of similar shape, no hand that you consider "weaker" than another contains more high-card points (HCP). However, you are not free to communicate with your opponents in any way that you like, no more than you are free to explain to a traffic cop in a country that uses kilometers rather than miles that you were not violating a posted "104" speed limit because you were driving only 93 miles per hour. Though you may honestly believe that the Bonzai count is optimal, you must translate your Bonzai points into HCP so that your opponents can understand you. Ten must be the number of points available in each suit and the HCP in an "average" hand. If God had intended for you to be able to count 15 points in a suit, He would have given you seven-and-a-half fingers on each hand.
How can human beings with only five fingers on each hand (a total of 10) count and communicate their Bonzai points and LJP, and apply Bergen's "Adjust-3" to the 4-3-2-1 point count?
I devised a simple mathematical trick for this purpose. If you double the Bonzai point counts, you get 10-8-6-4-2, whose sum is 30. If you double the LJP point counts, you get 13-9-5-2, whose sum is 29, not quite as round a number as 30, but by adding 1 for a ten, you get 13-9-5-2-1, which does total 30.
Not coincidentally, if you triple the 4-3-2-1 point count to get 12-9-6-3 and then add 1 for each ace or ten while subtracting 1 for each queen or jack or queen, you get the same 13-9-5-2-1 count and have applied Bergen's "Adjust-3" in effect. For reasons I need not explain here, I call the units in which I count sticks, defined by 3 sticks = 1 HCP. I use different notrump ranges with different partners. With most, my range for a 1NT opening is 46 or 47 to 56 sticks; with others, 45 to 53 sticks. Of course, it would be wrong for me to announce my partner's 1NT openings in "sticks," so to convert to HCP, the scale my opponents can understand readily, I divide by 3. When the remainder is 2, as for 53 sticks, I deem the result a "good 17" HCP. When there is no remainder, as for 45 sticks, I deem the result a "bad 15" HCP (to answer the question some opponents ask sarcastically, "What's a bad 15 high-card points?"). When the remainder is 1, as for 46 sticks, I deem the result a "decent 15" HCP and might consider it either just, or not quite, enough for 1NT with most partners (I might open 1NT on Monday but 1♦ on Tuesday).