Bridge etiquette, rules and procedures

Bridge is a social game, but some ‘rules’ are necessary for everyone’s enjoyment. Strict rules are usually relaxed for those learning. These apply to rubber bridge. Duplicate bridge rules differ slightly.


  1. Either draw/cut for partners and the dealer, or the host decides.
  2. Always greet your ‘opponents’ courteously when they first come to the table. By all means talk when the hand is finished, but if you talk to excess you will not play many hands. Chatter or comments whilst the hand is being bid or played can be very off putting. Try to avoid a long post-mortem on the hand played, or a previous hand. Some analysis at the end of the hand can be helpful especially if a more experienced player is there to help. Confirm the number of tricks made by each side and congratulate or commiserate as necessary. Do not patronise your partner’s or your opponent’s poor play. Avoid a heated discussion with any other player. If there is a problem ask the host or director to sort it out.
  3. Everything in bridge is clockwise. The dealer deals clockwise starting from the player on his left. Bidding and play is clockwise in turn. The dealer opens the bidding. If you are playing with two packs of cards the dealer’s partner should shuffle the other pack and place it on her right, ready for the next hand.
  4. Your partner is important. So sort out any system things you wish to play before you pick up your hand and bidding commences.  Especially important to agree what range of points an opening bid of 1NT covers. This can vary from partnership to partnership.
  5. When bidding you call the level and the suit (e.g. ‘one diamond’). Do not make any comments like “I’ve a strong hand partner” or “I do not know what to bid”.  You may also use bidding boxes where you draw a special card which shows the bid (e.g. “1NT”) instead of calling out the bid. The bids are then all left on the table for everyone to see until the auction is over. If you bid out of turn your side may be penalised
  6. In trump contracts, the trumps are placed on dummy‘s right. The other suits can be in any order, but lots of players arrange the suits red/ black etc. The highest card of the suit is farthest away from declarer and the others in descending order. In no- trump contracts dummy can arrange the suit  order as she wishes.
  7. Either player may collect the tricks. Add up your side’s tricks at the end of the hand. Declarer can either pick up dummy’s card or ask dummy to play a specified card. At the end of the hand check that you agree on the number of tricks won.
  8. Bridge is a trick making game. You follow suit when you can. If you cannot you may play any other card including the designated trumps. If you fail to follow suit when you could, this is called a revoke.
  9. Dummy is dumb! Do not make any specific comments about the hand you are putting on the table, or indicate in any way which card should be played. However saying “good luck partner” or other generalisations are fine.
  10. Enjoy the game. Everyone makes mistakes so do not let your own mistakes get you down