Source: Mike’s Bridge Lesson by ACBL 

The first thing a player learns is to evaluate his hand. High-card points get most of the attention while distributional points get less.

You hold: spade 3  KQJ63  KJ1063  Q3.

To evaluate this hand, you start with 12 high-card points, add 2 for the singleton spade and 1 for the doubleton club. The total is 15 points. You may think this is a good hand, but what do you think when the bidding is:

North South
1spade 2
2spade ?

After partner’s 1spade bid, there was little cause for alarm, but when he repeated his spades, you have to take stock. You still have 12 HCP, but those 3 distributional points need attention. The value of distribution is that you can ruff losers. If spades are going to be trump, what distributional value do you see?

Your singleton spade is worthless and your doubleton club is probably worthless, too. Why? The defenders will lead a trump at some point, stopping a club ruff in dummy. At this point, you may be wondering where to play this hand. Should you pass 2spade and put down a poor dummy or should you bid 3 , looking for a better spot?

If this hand was given to a panel of 100 good players, the answers would be in this range:

Pass   90 votes (or more)

3     10 votes (or less)

3        0 votes

The key is that you have a misfit, you are at a low level, your distributional values are useless, and the only thing you can bid to improve matters (3) is questionable.

High-card values may go up and down slightly in value, but distributional values rise and fall like a wild day in the stock market. Suppose, instead, your 1 bid was raised to 3. All the optimism you assigned your singleton spade and your doubleton club would be justified —bid 4.

This hand shows the other side of the coin: spade K J 9 8 5 4  6  3  J 8 6 5 3.

West North East South
1 Pass 1spade
Dbl 2spade 3 ?

You scraped up a 1spade bid with your 5 points, West made a takeout double and North bid 2spade. Let’s say that your partner’s raise promised four trumps. East bid 3 . Should you pass with your 5 points? Should you push to 3spade with your great shape? What should you bid?

The key is to realize that some hands go down in value and some go up. Here is an approximation of what I think the South hand is worth: It starts with 5 HCPs. It has two singletons and these were worth 2 points apiece when the bidding started. After North raised spades, you can add a little for the singletons. Let’s say you add 1 point, making the singletons worth a total of five points.

You have six spades as opposed to four or five, so I would add 2 points for these, too. This hand is now worth at least twelve points — enough to bid 4spade!

Here are the two hands:

North) spade A 10 3 2  K 8 3  K Q 8 7 2  9

South) spade K J 9 8 5 4   6 3  J 8 6 5 3

Will you make 4spade? Probably. The key comes from the super fit.

Here’s an extreme situation. You have the same hand, but the bidding is different:

West North East South
1 Pass 1spade
2 2 3 Pass
Pass 3 Pass ?

You responded 1spade, but the ensuing auction is ugly. Your spade values may be worthless, your distribution is not going to help and you have no high cards anywhere that can contribute. Pass and pray that no one doubles.