- Played in teams – you can play two vs. two players or three vs. three players
- 52 pack of cards
- A note pad and a pen for keeping score
- Bridge revolves around fulfilling contracts; players commit to taking a specific number of tricks.
- Points are awarded for successfully making the contract and penalties apply for failing to do so.
- Points for Making Contracts: Declarer earns points for meeting the tricks specified in the contract.
- Penalties for Failing Contracts: Opponents earn penalty points if the declarer fails to achieve the contract.
Additional Setup Notes
- Shuffle the card deck thoroughly.
- Have the members of the same team sit across from each other.
- Partnerships (in other words, teams) are often called North-South and East-West.
For the card game Bridge, the objective is for two partnerships to compete against each other by bidding and playing hands to accrue points and achieve the highest score, with the goal of reaching a predetermined score threshold or outperforming the competition.
Determine Partnerships: Players form two partnerships that are seated across from their partner.
Shuffle the Deck: Shuffle the deck thoroughly to ensure the cards are well-mixed.
Deal the Cards: The player who draws the highest-ranking card from the shuffled deck becomes the dealer for the first hand. They will shuffle the deck and then offer it to the player to their right for a cut. Then, the dealer will deal the cards, one at a time, in a clockwise direction. Each player gets 13 cards. The dealer rotates clockwise for each hand dealt.
Keeping Score: In competitive Bridge games, you may use bid boxes or an auction sheet to help players record bids. If you’re keeping score manually, have a pad or a sheet ready to keep score.
Time to play! Once the setup is complete, the first round, named “Deal” can take place. The game begins with bidding, where players take turns making bids to determine the contract for the hand. For example, the bid could be a contract of two Spades where the partnership commits to taking two tricks with Spades as the trump suit. The trump suit means that it is the most powerful suit for any particular hand, beating cards of other suits during that play.
After the contract is set, the play phase begins. Players attempt to fulfill the contract by taking the specified number of tricks. Scoring occurs based on the outcome of each hand, and the game continues for a predetermined number of hands or until a team reaches the required score threshold. In a regular game of Bridge, each player receives 13 cards for a total of 52 cards dealt in four rounds.
Bridge uses a point-based scoring system. The game rewards successful contracts and penalizes failing contracts. The primary objective in Bridge is for a partnership to make the contract they bid during the auction phase. A contract specifies both the level (the number of tricks) and the trump suit (or “No Trump” if there isn’t one).
Points for Making Contracts:
- If the declarer, i.e. the player who won the contract successfully takes the number of tricks specified in the contract, their partnership earns points. The number of points earned depends on the level and suit of the contract:
- A “part score” is for contracts of less than 100 points.
- A “game” is when a partnership gets 100 or more points in total.
- A “small slam” is when a partnership achieves 12 of the 13 possible tricks, earning even more points.
- A “grand slam” is the most points you can achieve by taking all 13 tricks .
Penalties for Failing Contracts:
If the declarer fails to take the number of tricks in the contract, the opposing partnership earns penalty points. The number of penalty points depends on the level of the contract and whether it was doubled or redoubled.
Overtricks and Undertricks:
If the declarer takes more tricks than required by the contract, they earn additional points called “overtricks.” Conversely, if they take fewer tricks than specified, it results in “undertricks”. These can lead to penalty points.
Game and Rubber:
- A standard game of Bridge is often played to a score of 100 points for the first game. The score for the second game is typically 200 or more points.
- Winning a “Rubber” means winning two games. This can grant bonus points that are added to the total.
Slam and Grand Slam Bonuses:
Bidding and making a small slam or grand slam can earn large bonuses in addition to the points for the contract.
For your partnership to win a game of Bridge, you’ll need to either reach the score the players agreed upon or win two games in a row, or a Rubber.
Bridge Strategy & Tips
Winning in Bridge means strategizing against your opponents. Not only do you need to fulfill your contracts but also consider when to bid higher to earn bonus points, and when to defend against opponents’ contracts to keep their scores down.
Bridge Variations and Alternate Rules
- The concept of “vulnerable” partnership exists in some variations of Bridge. It means that partnerships can become “vulnerable” if they win a game. If they fail a contract, the penalties are higher and they’ll lose more points.
- Party Bridge is often played at social functions as a more informal version of the card game. It involves simplifying rules and variations to make the game easier for beginner-level players.
- Chicago Bridge is a shorter, more casual version of rubber Bridge where each partnership plays four hands in a row, and scores are recorded after each hand.
- Cards are drawn to determine the dealer for the first hand; East becomes the dealer.
- East shuffles the deck and offers it over to West for a cut. Then, East will deal 13 cards to each player.
- Each player bids on the contract for this hand. For example, North-South could win the bid with a contract of 2 Spades (this means they commit to taking 2 tricks, the trump suit being Spades).
- Play Phase: North-South, as the declarer, try to take 2 Spade tricks. They succeed in taking 2 tricks, and they fulfill their contract and earn points.
- Score is updated: North-South’s score increases based on the points earned in this hand.
How are Bridge hands dealt?
Bridge hands are dealt by one player, called the dealer, who shuffles the deck and offers it to another player for a cut. The dealer then deals the cards one at a time in a clockwise direction, starting with the player to their left. After each hand, the dealer position rotates clockwise, and the process repeats for the next hand.
What is the concept of “dummy” in Bridge?
The “dummy” refers to one of the declarer’s partner’s hands. It is placed face-up on the table after the opening lead. The dummy’s cards are played by the declarer, who controls both their own hand and the dummy’s.
What does it mean to “follow suit” in Bridge?
In Bridge, “following suit” means playing a card of the same suit that was led by the player who played the first card in a trick. Players are required to follow suit if they possess cards of the led suit. If they don’t have them, they can play a card from another suit, but they can only win with a trump suit.