Counting Points


         High-Card Points.      The quickest way to determine the strength of your hand is to count the high-card points (HCP). Here's how it works:

Count 4 points for each Ace.
Count 3 points for each King.
Count 2 points for each Queen.
Count 1 point for each Jack.


         Distribution Points.      It is also common to count extra points for good distribution. The simplest method is counting points for short suits:

Count 3 points for each Void
Count 2 points for each Singleton.
Count 1 point for each Doubleton.


         Problem Suits.      Certain combinations of high cards are worth less in short suits:

Problem Suits
    • K, Q, or J singletons.
    • KQ, KJ, or QJ doubletons.
    • Qx or Jx doubletons.

My recommendation for such suits is:

In a "problem" suit, you may count either HCP or distribution, but not both.

For example, a KQ doubleton is worth 5 points (for the K and Q), and a J singleton is worth 2 points (for the singleton).


         Points Required for Game.      Here is the approximate number of points you and your partner need to make various game contracts:

Major-Suit Game (4 or 4):     25 points
Notrump Game (3NT): 25 HCP
Minor-Suit Game (5 or 5): 28 points

Note that only HCP are helpful for notrump: since you cannot trump anything, short suits are not an asset in a notrump contract.




        The basic scoring formula is as follows:

50 points for making a contract
    + 10 extra for notrump
    + 20 / trick in a minor suit
    + 30 / trick in a major suit or notrump
    + 250 bonus for bidding and making game

         NOTE:    For most contracts, your score depends on what you make, not what you bid. For example, 1 making 3 and 3 making 3 are both worth 140 (50 + 3 30). The exception is game contracts: you must bid and make a game contract to get the 250 point bonus.

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