Distribution Points are an integral part to evaluating a Bridge hand. Because the starting step of counting High Card Points is strategically not enough to determine your relative hand strength the simple mathematical Distribution Points count system was devised. The Distribution Point method takes into account the shape of a hand. The shape of a hand is a consideration of the number of cards in a particular suit that a player has in his or her hand. Using Distribution Points to reflect unbalanced hands can provide additional information to the player that he or she can use during the bidding process.
Length Points or Long Card Points
Having more than the average number of cards in a particular suit is called having a long suit. Having long suits can effectively increase the value of a hand beyond the High Card Points total of that hand.
- 5 card suit = +1 point
- 6 card suit = +2 points
- 7 card suit = +3 points
The point count system takes into account the HCP plus the distribution points. These types of distribution points, also known as length points, plus the HCP gives a player a better understanding of his approximate hand strength at the opening bid moment before a trump suit has been established.
Note: A hand with a combination of long suits (i.e. a 5 card suit and 7 card suit) would get points for both of them (1 + 3).
After a trump suit has been agreed upon or a fit has been recognized between the hand of the partners then having short suits becomes more important than having long suits. The ruffing opportunities during the play of the hand are more available with short suits rather than long suits. Because of these potential ruffing opportunities that result in additional tricks being taken, having short suits can be advantageous and so the point count system takes this into account with shortage points.
Distribution points are added for shortage based on these parameters:
- Void = 3 points
- Singleton = 2 points
- Doubleton = 1 point
Shortage points are added to the High Card Points to give you a total number of Support Points. Remember, shortage points should only be applied when a fit has been discovered. Additionally, support points for shortness are only used if you have at least 3 cards for your partner’s bid suit.
Distribution Points Summary
Length: Any suit with more than four cards. The length distribution points method expects the suit to become the declarer’s trump suit which would make low cards into trick winners. Best if the suit has several honors.
Shortage: Any suit with less than three cards, preferably of the opponent’s suit. The shortage distribution points method expects that your partner will eliminate losers by ruffing the suit. This assumes your partner’s hand has enough holdings in his or her planned trump suit.