OBJECTIVE OF CONTRACT BRIDGE: The objective of the game is to score points by making bids, or by defeating the opposing players’ bid. The team with the most points wins.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 4 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: standard 52-card
RANK OF CARDS: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
RANK OF SUITS: Spades (High), Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.
TYPE OF GAME: Trick-Taking
How to deal
Bridge is a card game consisting of 4 players with 2 opposing pairs. Each player is referred to by a cardinal point of the compass – North, East, South and West. North and South are team mates as are East and West. Team mates sit opposite each other at the table. Each player is dealt 13 cards from a deck of 52 cards, dealt in a clockwise rotation, where the hand starts to the left of the dealer, making the deal equal. Players should sort their cards by suit; spades (highest), hearts, diamonds and clubs (lowest) and rank; A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Please note, in terms of suits, the ranking is present in bidding only, where in play all of the suits are equal.
How to play
The aim of the game, and method to win, is by making winning tricks. Each player is required to play a card, where the highest card, taking into account suit and rank, wins the trick. As each player has 13 cards, there are 13 tricks to be won in each deal. Players must follow the same suit in play as the ‘lead’ (person who plays first) has played. So, if the lead has placed a heart, and your hand contains hearts, you must place one down. If, however, you don’t have any hearts, you may play any other suit.
Another method to winning tricks is to win with a trump suit, so when you have no cards remaining in the suit that’s played, you may play the trump and win the trick. The trump suit ‘trumps’ all of the other suits, meaning it cannot be outranked. For example, if clubs are the trumps, three players place down a heart, and one places a club, the one who places a club has one the trick. If multiple players play a trump, the winning trick is determined by the player with the highest rank.
A game of bridge is won by the first team/pair to reach a score of 100 or more points for successful contracts. Generally, the score is kept on a piece of paper which is split into two columns titled ‘WE’ and ‘THEY’, with a horizontal line placed halfway down the page. Successful contract scores are written below the line and get totalled towards winning the game, whereas trick bonuses (overtricks) or penalties (undertricks) are written above the line and don’t count towards the total score.
How to bid
The Dealer must start the bidding, opting to bid or pass. A bid is made up of 2 parts, the number of tricks you think you’ll make and the trump suit you’d do it in. For instance, 2 Spades means I will make 8 tricks with Spades as trumps (the first 6 tricks are taken for granted in the bid, so a bid of 2 mean 6+2 = 8.) whereas a bid of 4 Hearts means you think you’ll make 10 (6+4) tricks with Hearts as trumps. Finally, 3 No Trumps means you’ll make 9 (6+3) tricks with no trump suit at all. Once the dealer has bid or passed, the person to his/her left can then bid or pass and so on. Every player at the table is entitled to bid in turn until a bid is followed by 3 passes; the hand will then be played in the last-mentioned suit, or NoTrumps, this is called the contract.
The two pairs at the table will compete to determine the contract. The highest bidder will get the contract e.g. player one bids 2 spades, player two bids 3 hearts, player three bids 4 spades, and there are then 3 passes. Player three gets the contract with the highest bid (4 spades). The final bid locks the partnership into winning a particular number of tricks. For example, 4 spades is equal to 10 tricks (out of 13) where spades is the trump card.
Each bid must be higher than the previous one, this is where we remind ourselves of the ranking order: spades (highest), hearts, diamonds and clubs (lowest) and rank; A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Spades and hearts are often referred to as the majors where they score 30 per trick. On the other hand, diamonds and clubs are the minors, and score 20 per trick. NoTrumps are the highest scoring, bringing in 40 for the first trick, and 30 thereafter.