Hand evaluation

In contract bridge, various bidding systems have been devised to enable partners to describe their hands to each other so that they may reach the optimum contract. Key to this process is that players evaluate and re-evaluate the trick-taking potential of their hands as the auction proceeds and additional information about partner's hand (and the opponent's hands) becomes available. Several methods have been devised to evaluate the various features of hands, including their strength, shape or distribution, controls, fit with partner and the quality of a suit or of the whole hand. The methods range from basic to complex. Regardless of which are used, all require the partners to have the same understandings and agreements about their application and meaning in their bidding system. Most bidding systems use a basic point-count system for hand evaluation using a combination of high card points and distributional points, as follows. [edit]High card points Main article: Honor point count Called the Milton Work Point Count in the Twenties when first publicized and then the Goren Point Count when popularized in the late Forties.[1] and now known simply as the high card point (HCP) count, this basic evaluation method a

signs values to the top four honour cards as follows: ace = 4 HCP king = 3 HCP queen = 2 HCP jack = 1 HCP Evaluating a hand on this basis takes due account of the fact that there are 10 HCP in each suit and therefore 40 in the complete deck of cards. An average hand contains one quarter of the total, i.e. 10 HCP. The method has the dual benefits of simplicity and practicality, especially in notrump contracts. Most bidding systems are based upon the premise that a better than average hand is required to open the bidding; 12 HCP is generally considered the minimum for most opening bids. [edit]Limitations The combined HCP count between two hands is generally considered to be a good indication, all else being equal, of the number of tricks likely to be made by the partnership. The rule of thumb[2] and [3] for games and slams in notrump is that: 25 HCP are necessary for game, i.e. 3 NT 33 HCP are necessary for a small slam, i.e. 6 NT 37 HCP are necessary for a grand slam, i.e. 7 NT A simple justification for 37 HCP being suitable for a grand slam is that it is the lowest number that guarantees the partnership holding all the aces. Similarly 33 HCP is the lowest number that guarantees at least three aces.[3]