Beginners essentials


High Card Points

Beware: isolated high cards are half as valuable


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Evaluate the Power in your hand

High Cards

For the second stage of evaluating your hand, we need to work out how many tricks you might win. Give yourself 4 points for each Ace, 3 for each King, 2 for Queens and 1 for each Jack.

The entire pack contains 40 High Card Points (HCPs). So, if you have 10 points, that's average. With 12 you have above average HCPs, which is enough to open the bidding.

HCPs are not the only possible source of strength in your hand, but they are the most obvious.


Other sources of power are suit shortages, such as Voids (no cards in a suit), or conversely very long suits. You can sometimes award yourself points for these too, when evaluating your hand.


Meanwhile, there are some bad signs to look out for. Although singletons and voids are generally good, sometimes they are not. Deduct 1 point for these singletons. . .

  • singleton King,
  • singleton Queen, or
  • singleton Jack.

There's no point having a King if it's on its own. If someone leads with the Ace, you won't be able to hold it back for later. So it will often become useless.

Note that you can cancel these deductions after your partner's bids - if your short suit is in a partner's suit. Then they are no longer unprotected and so become good again.

Now try the quiz

Can you put all this into action ? Try the quiz for this subject by clicking on the link at the top left of the page, just below the main menu.
(You can try quizzes for any other subjects too while you're there. Look out for the thin red line).



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