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# Counting Points by Brent Manley

You can thank Milton Work for his pioneering efforts to help with the language of bidding and for helping to give the bridge world one of its most basic tools — the point count. Work, a Philadelphia lawyer and expert whist player, eventually left the practice of law and took up bridge as his profession in the early part of the previous century (he died in 1934). Work was instrumental in publicizing the point-count method of hand evaluation that is still in use today.

The method was developed by an obscure player named Bryant Campbell, but it is known as the Work point count method because it was through Work's writings that the system gained almost universal acceptance.

It is a very simple system. You evaluate your hand on a points system, with the following parameters.

 Card Point Value Ace 4 King 3 Queen 2 Jack 1

Using this scheme, each suit has 10 high-card points, so a deck has 40 altogether. The average bridge hand has about 10 points.

Many bridge authorities consider the Work point-count method to be flawed. For example, in the context of a 4-3-2-1 method of high card evaluation, most experts consider the ace to be worth more than four points, a jack less than one. Nevertheless, the Work system is the one used by just about everyone in bridge today, either exclusively or as the cornerstone of more esoteric evaluation methods.

One of the first things you will learn about bridge bidding is how to count points, and it's a great way to get started in the game. You will learn some other methods of hand evaluation later in this chapter, but you will be on solid ground — and certainly in tune with other bridge players — if you count your points the way Work did.

So, how does this apply to the language of bidding? Well, while you were sitting there counting your points, your partner was doing the same, and it is through the bidding that the two of you will exchange information about the relative strengths of your two hands. Your objective is to reach the best contract, be it a part score, game, or slam. A part score is a bid for less than enough points for game — for example, 2 ♠ (you must bid 4 ♠ for game).