"Now then, chaps, listen up!" Said Captain Mainwaring to his eager squad. "This afternoon we shall have Hand Evaluation. This is how we work out how good our hands are."
"There's nothing wrong with my hands, so they tell me..."
"That's quite enough smut Walker. We're here to discuss the finer points of the Game of Bridge, not your pathetic fumblings behind the bus stop."
"How do you know about that, Sir?"
"I have my spies Pike. I have my spies. Anyway, where were we?"
"Behind the bus stop, I think Sir."
"Wilson! Pay attention. All of you. Now, there are three main parameters for the evaluation of what we hold in our hands: 1) High Card Points (HCP) 2) Suit Length 3) Suit shortage. All three can carry equal weight when we make our decisions. When you first pick up a hand you are inclined to add up the HCP and see whether or not they add up to 12 or more so you can open the bidding. Alternatively whether or not they add up to 6 or more so you can support partner if they open the bidding. But just as important is the length of the suits you hold:
This hand is worth only 10 HCP so you might PASS. But this would be to ignore the value of the extra Spades. You have a 6 card suit, so you should add 1 point extra for each card more than 4 in a suit. So, in this case, you can add an extra 2 DISTRIBUTION points(DP). Now you have a total 12 points (10HCP + 2 DP) and should open 1S."
"But what", said Godfrey, "Should I do about my shortage?"
"Get it seen by a Doctor mate..."
"Walker! That's quite enough out of you. A perfectly reasonable question, Godfrey. After an 8 card fit has been found between the two hands they should both start to add extra SHORTAGE points (SP). But be careful because what you add depends on whether you open or respond. As responder you should calculate VOID = 5, SINGLETON = 3, DOUBLETON = 1. But if you are the Opener you should add fewer: V = 3, S = 2, D = 1.
Remember, you must adjust the evaluation of your hand as the auction proceeds to allow for these extra points. And as it proceeds, your hands will be going up and down.."
"I thought you said we'd had enough smut..."