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Contract Bridge
LESSON 3
Hand Evaluation

 High Card Points Hand Shape Length Points Self Deals 17 - 20 Bidding in the Auction Quiz - Answers - Review Bidding Guide : BG-1

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BR 3.1 - High Card Points

Recent developments

After all the cards have been dealt each player picks up his hand, organises the cards into suits, and evaluates his hand in terms of strength and shape.

The strength of a hand is measured in High Card Points (HCPs).
High card points are allocated to the Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 in each suit as follows :

 Ace = 4 King = 3 Queen = 2 Jack = 1 10 = ½

• Each suit contains 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 + ½ = 10½ High Card Points.

• There are four suits and therefore 42 HCPs in a complete Deal.

• When the HCPs are equally divided amongst the four players each will have a hand with 10½ HCPs.

Example 1 is an above average hand with 15 HCPs in total.

Example 2 is a strong hand.
With 17½ HCPs it contains almost half of all available HCPs.

Example 3 is a moderately weak hand.
It has only 8 HCPs, which is two points less than the average hand.

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BR 3.2 - Hand Shape

The shape of a hand describes the relative distribution of the 13 cards in the four suits..
If the cards are evenly divided amongst the four suits the hand shape is described as balanced. Balanced hands are generally most suitable for No Trump contracts.

If the cards are unevenly divided amongst the four suits, the hand is described as unbalanced. Unbalanced hands are generally most suitable for Trump contracts.

The shape definitions are :

• Balanced hands - contain at the most one doubleton (one suit with only two cards).
The balanced card distributions are :
• 4 - 3 - 3 - 3 (showing the number of cards in each suit)
• 4 - 4 - 3 - 2
• 5 - 3 - 3 - 2

• Semibalanced hands - contain two or three doubletons.
The semibalanced card distributions are :
• 5 - 4 - 2 - 2
• 6 - 3 - 2 - 2
• 7 - 2 - 2 - 2

• Unbalanced hands - contain one or more singleton or void (one card or no card at all in a suit).
Some unbalanced card distributions are :
• 4 - 4 - 4 - 1
• 5 - 4 - 3 - 1
• 5 - 5 - 2 - 1
• 6 - 5 - 1 - 1
• 7 - 4 - 1 - 1
• 6 - 5 - 2 - 0
• 6 - 6 - 1 - 0
• 7 - 5 - 1 - 0
etc.

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BR 3.3 - Length Points

As we have seen in Lesson 1 a long suit can produce additional tricks made with the small cards in that suit. To include this aspect in a hand's valuation Length points (where present) are added to the High Card Point score of a hand.

One Length Point is awarded to each card over and above the first four cards in each suit.

Example 4 shows a balanced hand (distribution 5 - 3 - 3 - 2).
It is awarded one length point for the fifth card in the Spade suit, increasing the value of the hand from 13 to 14 points.

Example 5 shows a semibalanced hand (distribution 5 - 4 - 2 - 2).
It is awarded one length point for the fifth card in the Spade suit, increasing the value of the hand from 13 to 14 points.

Example 6 shows a unbalanced hand (distribution 6 - 5 - 2 - 1).
It is awarded one length point for the fifth card in the Heart suit and one point each for the 5th and 6th card in Diamonds, increasing the value of the hand from 14½ to 17½ points.

Always include length points in your hand valuations, as it gives a truer picture of its strength.

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BR 3.4 - Self Deals 17 to 20

For the following four deals : valuate your hands. Each player in turn calls out the number of points he (she) has.

1. The side with the largest combined total may decide the mode of play (No Trumps or a Trumps suit).

2. The player with the strongest of the above two hands will be the Declarer, his/her Partner will be the Dummy.

3. The Opponent to the left of the Declarer makes the opening lead.

4. After the first card (opening lead) is played, Dummy does not play a card, but instead places all his cards on the table, like this :

5. Declarer will tell Dummy which card to play, and will direct all further play, both for Dummy and for his own hand.

6. After Dummy's card (as directed by Declarer) has been played, the right hand Opponent plays his card to the first trick.

7. Declarer plays the last card to the first trick.

8. The winner of the first trick will make the lead for the next trick, etc.

This is the standard procedure of play in each Contract Bridge game.

Make sure everyone gets a turn at being Declarer and, if necessary, swap hands to achieve this.

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BR 3.5 - Bidding in the Auction

In Contract Bridge the play of the cards is preceded by the auction period.
Each bids made during the auction consists of :

• a number between 1 and 7 - indicating the number of tricks, over and above the first six tricks, a player is contracting to make, and

• a trump suit or No Trumps - indicating the mode of play, No Trumps or a trump contract in the specified suit.

With a bid of 1NT a side must make at least 6 + 1 = 7 tricks played without a trump suit.

With a bid of 2H a side must make at least 6 + 2 = 8 tricks played with Hearts as the trump suit.

With a bid of 4S a side must make at least 6 + 4 = 10 tricks played with Spades as the trump suit.
 The first bid in the auction is made by the Dealer. The other players get their turn one at a time in clockwise direction.Each player may make a bid in the auction, or decline to do so by bidding "pass". As in most auctions each bid must be higher than the preceding bid. After a bid has been followed by 3 consecutive passes (from the other three players), the bid becomes the final contract.
The ranking order of the five nominations are :

 No Trumps = Highest Spades = Second highest Hearts = Third highest Diamonds = Fourth highest Clubs = Lowest

Here is an overview of all possible bids which can be made in the auction.
1 Club is the lowest possible bid, and 7NT is the highest.

 1NT 2NT 3NT 4NT 5NT 6NT 7NT = Highest bid 1S 2S 3S 4S 5S 6S 7S 1H 2H 3H 4H 5H 6H 7H 1D 2D 3D 4D 5D 6D 7D Lowest bid = 1C 2C 3C 4C 5C 6C 7C

BR 3.6 - Quiz 3 - Answers - Review

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