Learn to play Bridge

 
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Basics

Suits and rank Tricks and scores

Evaluating a hand

Planning the play Types of Bridge

The game of contract bridge which will exercise your brain. It offers a social forum, team building, problem solving and general fun.

It is a competitive card game for 4 players split into two pairs, partners sitting opposite sides of the table.

You must trust your partner and consider your partner all the times

Conventionally the positions round the table are refereed to as North, South, East and West.

North
West

Cool cats sitting round a bridge table

East
South

Suits and Rank

The four suits in bridge are Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs.The four suits are ranked in order to facilitate the bidding process. From the lowest these are clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades and no trump. Alphabetically

The bidding process only allows you to raise the suits in rank. You can not go backwards.

1 club - 1 heart   correct
1 spade - 2 clubs correct

1 spade - 1 club X incorrect

 

> popup window Card pack


Tricks and Scores

The Ace is the highest card in a suit followed by the King, Queen and Jack. The trump suit is higher than any other suit.

A trick is made up on one card from each player, the highest card wins. You must follow suit if you have a card but may trump if you are void.

Once a trick is complete the cards are turned face down and you are not allowed to look at them again. You need to learn to memorise the played cards.

There are 13 tricks altogether the first 6 tricks are termed the 'box' any tricks over the 6 gives your side the majority. These extra tricks are the basis of the bids.

1 Level - (1 club, 1NT etc) would require seven tricks to succeed
2 Level - (2 clubs, 2 Spades etc) would require eight tricks
... etc.

In order to help count tricks won at duplicate a winning this is placed vertically and a losing trick horizontally. see picture

Scoring

Contract level

1...

2...

3...

4...

5...

No Trump

40 for the first trick and then 30 for each additional trick.

40

70

100

130
160

Spades

Major suits - 30 points per trick

30
60
90
120
150

Hearts

Diamonds

Minor suits - 20 points per trick

20

40

60

80

100

Clubs

Game:
100 points earned for tricks in the declared contract give your side a 'game'. It can be seen from the table above that playing in a higher ranking contract you need fewer tricks to earn a game.

Slam :
Making 12 or 13 tricks is called a ‘slam’

Bonus:
Making a declared contract earns a bonus - see type of bridge.
Game – 300/500
Slam - 750/ 1000
Part score (below game) – 50

Vulnerability

This is a term which comes from rubber bridge. When a partnership has made a 'game' they become vulnerable and this affects bonuses and penalties. You score more but penalties are higher.

This is marked on the playing boards as
green - not vulnerable
red - vulnerable

Doubles

A contract that is doubled scores twice the points for success but also or doubles the penalty for failure.


Evaluating a hand

The rules of bidding are the art of contract bridge. There are 35 separate bids in the game and in some cases will have more than one meaning. In the learning zone we will start at the simplest level.

Bidding determines both the suit and number of tricks to be made. It also decides who plays the cards.

In order to learn how to bid you need to know the value of your hand. We do this by assigning points to the honours in a suit.

Ace

= 4 points

King

= 3 points

Queen

= 2 points

Jack

= 1 point

For each suit there are 10 points, in the whole pack there are 40 points.

Points may not be the only factor in having control but are important in deciding how high the contract is set.

Using this scheme the following table gives an estimate of the number of tricks you can expect to make.

The points are the combined points in both the partnership hands.

Points Held

Tricks (in NT)

Tricks (In Trumps)

21 – 22

7

8

23 – 24

8

9

25 – 26

9

10

27 – 28

10

11

29 – 30

11

11

31 – 32

11

12

33 – 36

12

13

37 +

13

13

 


Planning the play

Declarer is the player who names the suit first during the bidding. The number of tricks is determined by the last bid in the auction. Declarer then plays the contract controlling both his own hand and his partners.

The player on the left of the declarer makes the initial lead and declarers partner becomes Dummy and places his cards face up on the table and can only play the cards designated by the declarer.

Everyone gets to see half the cards in the pack.

Play of a hand is clockwise around the table.

It is important to plan the play at the very start in order to identify any problem suit.

  1. Know how many tricks are required
  2. Count your top tricks (Aces, Kings etc)
  3. Identify where you can make extra tricks and how you can establish them
  4. Look for potential problems and try and tackle these as soon as possible

We will look at techniques in play, promoting high cards and establishing long suits in the learning zone. You need to learn how to count cards, tricks and honours played.

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© Mary Vale 2009
Learn to play bridge