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Acol Lesson 1

Hand Evaluation

To evaluate the value of your hand there are three factors to consider: the high card points (HCP); the distributional points (DP) and the total points (TP's).

High Card Points (HCP)

When you are playing bridge you must count up the value of the top (honor or picture cards) cards in each suit.
The purpose of bidding is

  • to secure the best contract for you and your partner at a level that it can succeed
  • and get pointsand to accurately communicate the strength and distribution of the suits so that when you bid you are describing your hand to your partner.
  • These are called high card points (HCP or HCP's)

    Ace    =  4 HCP
    King   =  3 HCP
    Queen = 2 HCP
    Jack   = 1 HCP

    This is how bridge hands are written. The hand below on the left is the same hand as the one above.

    A K 9 8 7
    A K 10 8 6
    5 2
    (4 + 3 HCP) in = 7 HCP
    (4 + 3 HCP) in = 7 HCP
    0 HCP in
    0 HCP in
    There are 14 HCP in this hand

    Distribution Points

    In bridge, the points total of your hand is calculated by two different methods. Firstly we count HCP's and then you can add more points for the length (distribution) of cards in each suit in your hand. The longer your suit the more value it has. For this process you need add an additional 1 point for each 5-card suit and an extra 1 point for each additional card in the same suit.

    Total Points (TP)

    Total points are the most important consideration when deciding whether to open the bidding or not. Add your high-card points to your distributional points (long suit) strength and you will have a total point count (TP ).

    The hand below has 16 TP, as you can add 1 extra point for both 5-card suits.

    A K 9 8 7
    A K 10 8 6
    5 2
    14 HCP + 2 distributional points for the 2 x 5-card major suits

    This hand has 16 Total Points (TP)

    NEXT LESSON - Opener's First Bid in a Suit

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