The game of bridge is the most exciting card game in the world. It's easy to learn but takes a while to play well; it's lots of fun and a great challenge! Each bridge hand takes about 5 to 10 minutes to play from beginning to end. The action, the pressure, the strategies and emotions, the instantaneous sense of achievement (or defeat) is a wonderful "high." The feeling of accomplishment of a single bridge hand may last for years!
(2)How to start
Bridge is played at a square table with four people, one on each side of the table.. The game is a battle between two teams (called "partners"), you and your partner (facing each other) against the two people to your left and right (your opponents). Players are given the cardinal points N,E,S,W in a bridge club to denote their position on the table. Remember bridge is a partnership game NOT an individual game.
To play bridge you need an ordinary deck of 52 cards (no jokers). The deck of cards contains four groups of 13 cards. These groups are called "suits." They each have a symbol and are ranked in the following order:
Each suit has 13
cards in it, the ace the highest, down to the deuce (the 2):
A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Once everyone is seated, each player selects a card and the player with the highest card becomes the dealer. The dealer's opponent to his right shuffles. Then the dealer allows the player to his left to cut the deck. The dealer deals the cards (face down) clockwise beginning with the player to his left. All the cards are dealt, so everyone will receive 13 cards.
The higher the cards you are dealt, the better. The ace of spades is the best card to be dealt and the deuce of clubs the worst. But in the course of playing the hand, the deuce might prove more valuable.
(3) Sorting your
Each player picks up his 13 cards and organizes them into suits and rank, without letting the other players see his cards. Usually you sort: spades, hearts, clubs, diamonds, separating the black suits (spades and clubs are black symbols) from the reds (hearts and diamonds are red symbols). You may sort the cards in rank from the best card in each suit to the worst. Here's a typical bridge hand sorted:
♠A J 4 2 ♥Q 9 7 3 ♣10 6 5 ♦K 2 (separating the reds from the blacks in suits)
Note: The term "bridge hand" has two meanings. It refers to the 13 cards everyone holds and also means the entire "hand" of bridge, from the shuffle to its conclusion.
In a newspaper column, you will see the above hand written vertically in order of suit rank:
J 4 2
♥Q 9 7 3
♣10 6 5
You are now ready to play. Once the cards are dealt and sorted, there are two parts to playing bridge: the "auction" and then the "play."
The main goal of bridge is to take "tricks." The "auction" is a prediction of how many "tricks" will be taken by each side during "the play." So let's understand first what a trick is.
A "trick" consists of four cards, one played by each player face up on the table. It works like this: A player "leads" a card by putting it face up on the table. The player to his left does the same, but he must play a card of the same suit that was led. Then the leader's partner plays a card of the same suit and then the fourth person as well. If you don't hold any cards in the suit led, you must play a card of another suit.
The highest played card in the suit led wins the trick. The four cards are gathered up into one neat pile by the winner of the trick and placed in front of him, face down. Tricks are counted by partnerships, so if you win a trick and then later your partner wins a trick, his trick goes on your side of the table as well, for easy counting of tricks at the conclusion of the hand.
There are 13 tricks played during the course of a single bridge hand. Again, tricks are taken only during the "play," the second part of a bridge hand.
Let's return to the first part, the "auction."
(5) The Auction
In the auction, no cards are played at all. The auction is completely verbal. You contract for the number of tricks your side will win during the "play." The highest bid buys the contract. Starting with the dealer, everyone gets a chance to "bid" for the "contract."
A "bid" consists of a number and a suit. You can bid any number from one to seven. This indicates the number of tricks you contract for (your goal in the play) plus six. So if you bid "one," your side must try to win 7 tricks (one plus six). If you bid "four," your side must try to win 10 tricks.
The dealer speaks first and then each player clockwise around the table gets a chance to bid or pass.
You also name a suit when you bid. The suit you name is the suit you want to be "trumps."
Trumps are like wild cards; if you can't "follow suit" (you have no cards in the suit led to the trick), you can win the trick by playing a trump instead.
So in the auction you usually name a suit in which you have lots of cards, because you want to have lots of trumps. For example, if you held five spades, you might bid "one spade" (contracting for seven tricks with spades as trumps).
If you don't want any suit to be trumps, you can bid a number followed by "notrump." You tend to bid notrumps, rather than a suit, when you hold lots of high cards but no very long suit. Notrump is ranked higher than all the suits.
Suit ranking in order (highest at top)
(6) The Order to the
There's an order to the auction. You must make a bid "higher in rank" than the one made by the previous bidder. A bid can outrank the previous bid by being a higher ranking suit, or a higher numeric level, or both.
For example, if the opponent to your right bids "one heart," you can bid "one spade" or "one no-trump" but you can't bid "one club" or "one diamond," because those suits are ranked lower than hearts. If you want to name clubs or diamonds as a trump suit, you must bid at the next level, "two clubs" or "two diamonds."
Here's an example auction: Mary is dealer
Mary, the dealer, opened the bidding one diamond. John bid two clubs (he couldn't bid one club, because clubs are lower ranked than diamonds). Helen (Mary’s partner) bid two hearts. Lucy (John’s partner) passed and Mary bid four hearts. Three passes followed, so Mary's bid has bought the contract at four hearts (to take 10 tricks with hearts as trumps) for her side. Her partner Helen will play the contract. After the 1st lead dummy’s cards are placed face-up on the table for everyone to see
Notice that if you don't want to bid, you must say "pass." or “no bid”. There are two other calls you can make as well, called "double" and "redouble," but you'll learn more about these later.
After the third consecutive pass, the auction is over and the contract is determined by the final bid. In the auction above, the final bid was "4 hearts." So the contract is 4 hearts.
(7) The Play Begins
The player in the partnership who first called the suit (or no-trump) of the contract becomes the "declarer." In this case it was Helen, who bid hearts before Mary bid them. So Helen becomes "declarer" and her partner (Mary) becomes the "dummy." Let's look at a complete bridge diagram:
Mary (dummy) with ♥s as trumps on dummy’s left, as displayed on the table.
♥ ♠ ♦ ♣
Q A A 5
J K 5 2
8 2 4
Lucy John (These hands cannot be seen by other players)
♠J 9 8 7 6 ♠Q 10 5
♥7 5 ♥2
♦10 8 7 6 ♦ Q J 9
♣7 3 ♣A K 10 9 8 4
♠4 3 ♥A K 10 9 4 3 ♦K 2 ♣Q J 6 (as Helen might hold them in her hand)
Helen’s contract is "four hearts." She must try to take 10 tricks with hearts as trumps. Her opponents (Lucy and John) must try to stop her! The player to the left of "declarer" makes an opening lead (placing a card face up on the table). In this case, Lucy leads. The "dummy" then puts all her cards face up on the table. She is no longer involved in the bridge hand. She must remain quiet; all her cards are played by her partner, the "declarer."
NOTE: Mary is called the "dummy" AND her bridge hand is called the "dummy."
Now Helen, the declarer, selects a card from dummy. The opening lead was the first card played, and the second card played is chosen from the dummy. Clockwise, Lucy's partner (John) plays his card and then the last card is played by Helen.
Usually you try to win the trick by playing the highest card in the suit led. But there are other strategies involved. Remember, it is just as good if your partner wins the trick than if you win it, since you are a partnership. The four cards played face up on the table constitute the first trick.
(8) The Order of
Let's look at how the play to the first trick might go. Suppose Lucy leads the 7 of clubs. Mary (the dummy) puts her hand face up on the table. Helen plays the 2 of clubs from dummy, John plays the king of clubs, and Helen (the declarer) plays the 6 of clubs. (Helen can't beat the king, so she plays her lowest club, preserving the jack and queen for later.)
John has won the trick for his side, because he played the highest club. The four cards are placed in a pile face down in front of John and he leads to the next trick. This goes on for 13 tricks, when there are no more cards left in anyone's hand.
When there are no more cards, the play of the hand is over. You count the tricks taken by each partnership and score the hand. Then you shuffle the cards and start a new hand, with the player to the left of the previous dealer as the new dealer.