Hand evaluation is the method to describe the strength of a hand.

High Card Points Edit

  • Aces - 4 points
  • Kings - 3 points
  • Queens - 2 points
  • Jacks - 1 point

However, this methods undervalues Aces, Kings and sometimes trump ten but overvalues unsupported Queens and Jacks, so adjustment is usually made by advanced players.

Points Required Edit

  • A normal opening hand - 12 points
  • A normal responding hand - 6 points
  • Major suit game, or 3NT - 25 points
  • Minor suit game - 29 points
  • Small slam - 33 points
  • Grand slam - 37 points

When playing suit contracts with a fit more than 8 cards, or useful voids/singleton, the points required will be lowered. Therefore, distribution points stated below may be used. The HCP count is useful when playing NT contracts with balanced hand, but not useful with extreme shape. Therefore, alternate methods such as quick tricks, losers, controls, trumps are used.

Distributional Points Edit

See also: Shape

There are two methods for counting distributional points which are almost identical. One may count either long suits or short suits. To count long suits,

  • Long suits - 1 point for each card past the fourth

Alternately, to count short suits, use the following:

  • Voids - 3 points
  • Singletons - 2 points
  • Doubletons - 1 point

There is also an alernative way to count short suits, mostly when used after a 9-card trump fit has been found, use the following:

  • Voids - 5 points
  • Singletons - 3 points
  • Doubletons - 1 point

Note: To count short suits you need to have support for partner's suit in a trump contract so that short suits allows you to trump the suit later on.

There is debate about when distribution points should be counted. If a fit is found, they should certainly be counted. In notrump contracts, they should probably not be counted (particularly for notrump openings).

Note that for highly distributional hands, it is often less useful to count points and more useful to count trumps, quick tricks, and losers.

Controls Edit

As the HCP scale undervalues aces and kings, an ace counts as 2 controls and a king counts as 1 control.

Quick tricks Edit

Quick tricks are a measure of defensive power. It is an estimate of the trick taking power when on defence:

  • AK = 2 quick tricks
  • AQ = 1.5 quick tricks
  • A = 1 quick trick
  • KQ = 1 quick trick
  • Kx = 0.5 quick tricks

A standard minimum opener typically contains 2.5 quick tricks, and a standard 2 opener typically contains at least 4 quick tricks.

Honour tricks Edit

Honour tricks are the measure popular in the 1930s with the Culbertson system. It is similar to quick tricks but counts additional not-so-quick honours into consideration:

  • AK = 2 honour tricks
  • AQ / AJT = 1.5 honour tricks
  • KQJ / KQT = 1.5 honour tricks
  • A = 1 honour trick
  • KQ / KJx / Kx and Qx = 1 honour trick
  • QJ / Qx and Jx = 0.5 honour tricks

Playing tricks Edit

The number of playing tricks of a hand is defined as the expected number of tricks taken by the hand, with the best suit as trumps. For example:


has 8.5 playing tricks, 7 in s and 1.5 in s.

Losers Edit

Losers are counted when a trump fit has been found, by the assumption that an ace cannot be lost, and a king cannot be lost in a two-card suit, and a queen cannot be lost in a three-card suit, and there are at most three losers in a suit. Therefore, a flat hand with nothing is counted as 12 losers. Only the 3 highest cards are counted in a suit:

  • void, A, AK, AKQ = 0 losers
  • x, Ax, Kx, AKx, AQx, KQx = 1 loser
  • xx, Axx, Kxx, Qxx = 2 losers
  • xxx = 3 losers

The estimated number of tricks one side can take is equal to 24 minus the total number of losers in both hands.

A typical minimum opening hand contains 7 losers, and a typical strong two opening hand contains at most 4 losers.

ODR Edit

Short for offence to defence ratio, useful in competitive auctions. It compares how a hand performs differently between when played as a declarer or a defender.

External Links Edit