Length points are used for 5-card suits or longer.
This hand has 12 HCP (3 aces x 4 points), plus one length point in spades. So the total is 13 points.
What's the purpose? Well, imagine if we change the hand slightly:
Unlike the first hand, this one lacks a long suit that could be used for trumps, or running tricks in no-trumps. So it has only 12 points, whereas the first hand has 13.
Length points can also be assigned to two suits:
This hand has 10 HCP, plus 1 length point in spades and 2 length points in hearts. If your criteria for opening the bidding is 13 points, then this hand has just enough.
Short suit points are a hand evaluation method when bidding suit contracts. It assigns points to each doubleton, singleton and void:
12 HCP + 1 point for the doubleton = 13 points. If counting length, this would only be a 12-pointer. As another example:
12 HCP + 2 points for the singleton = 14 points.
Things to bear in mind:
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