Taking a closer look at high card points and distribution.
You have seen in the video how distribution affects playing strength. This is why we talk of ‘high card points’ (HCP) rather than just ‘points’ — your hand is worth more ‘points’ overall if it contains certain features. Here are just a few principles to reinforce what you have learned and to help you judge how good your hands are:
Aces are very important, not just because they win tricks but because they give you control - you can grab that control and start to do what you want to in the hand rather than letting your opponents shape the play. The four points for an ace in one suit is a ‘better’ four points that a king and a jack in different suits.
Honour cards are more useful in long suits than in short ones. The king in KJT87 is worth a lot more than the king in K87 even though you count the same number of points for both.
Honour cards have much more trick taking potential when they are in combinations, especially of ‘touching’ cards. A holding of QJT9 (three HCP) means you can knock out the ace and king by playing two of them and then have two tricks guaranteed in no-trumps or if they are trumps. The four HCP holding of KJ9 on the other hand, may not take any tricks at all if the hand playing after it holds AQT because they can beat every card you play.
So when judging the strength of your hands to choose a contract, try to get into the habit of thinking about how many tricks you and your partner are likely to take with your combined hands, rather than just the point count.