Card Games Home
Featured Card Games
How To Play Contract Bridge
Bridge, also known as Contract Bridge, is a trick-taking card game. It is most commonly played with 4 players who form partnerships. The game consists of a bidding phase, play, and then a phase where hands are scored. The bidding ends with a contract, where teams declare how many tricks they will capture.
Since the game may be played in tournaments with an almost unlimited number of people, Bridge has remained very popular over the years. These tournaments are held everywhere from small clubs to major venues (such as the World Bridge Olympiad).
History of the Game
The oldest known Bridge rulebook dates back to 1886. The modern game is due to the innovations made by Harold Stirling Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt's rules were set out in 1925, and contract bridge had supplanted all other forms within a few years.
Rules of the Game
Rubber Bridge is played with 4 players in 2 fixed partnerships. The partners sit across from one another at the table. Players are traditionally referred to by their position at the table (North, South, East, West). The actual gameplay moves in a clockwise direction.
Most of the time, there are not complicated systems and partnership agreements in Rubber Bridge. It is likely that a person is playing with an unfamiliar partner or in an informal setting. Complicated agreements are, however, often encountered in Duplicate Bridge, where players have long-standing partnerships.
A standard 52-card deck is used, with cards ranking from Ace (highest) down to 2 (lowest).
The cards are shuffled by the player to the dealer's left and cut by the player to the dealer's right. The dealer then deals out cards, one at a time, so that each player eventually has 13 cards in their hand. On subsequent turns, the dealer passes in a clockwise direction.
After all players have received their cards, the next step is to have an auction to decide who will be the declarer. Each bid specifies a number of tricks and a trump suit (or that there will be no trumps). When bidding, the number bid actually represents the number of tricks in excess of six which the partnership must capture to win. For example, a bid of "two hearts" represents a contract to win at least 8 tricks (8 = 6+2) with hearts as trumps.
A bid of a larger number of tricks will beat a smaller number, and the higher suit wins if the bids are equal. The lowest bid allowed by a player is "one club," which means that the player will attempt to win at least 7 tricks with clubs as trumps. The highest bid is "seven no trumps," which means to win all 13 tricks without trumps.
The auction begins with the dealer and then passes clockwise. On each turn, a player may do one of the following:
1. Make a bid
A bid which must be higher than any previous bid.
A bid made by an opponent.
A bid which has already been doubled by your opponents.
The player does not bid, double, or redouble at this time, but he or she can do so at a later turn.
If all 4 players pass on their turn, then the hand is said to be "passed out." The hands are thrown in and the next player deals. If anyone bids, then the auction continues until there are three passes in a row. After this happens, the last bid given becomes the contract. The team who made the final bid will now be responsible for making the contract. The first player on the team who mentioned the suit becomes the "declarer." The declarer's partner is known as the "dummy."
The player to the left of the declarer leads the first trick. After this happens, the dummy cards are exposed to all other players. If possible, each player must play a card of the suit led. A player without a card of the suit led may play any card in his hand. To win a trick, you must either play the highest card of the led suit or play the highest trump card. The winner of a trick leads the next hand.
The dummy takes no active part in the play of the hand. On the dummy's turn, the declarer will say which of the dummy's cards is to be played. The dummy may not offer advice or comment. When the dummy wins a trick, the declarer then specifies which card the dummy should lead with.
Rubber Bridge is played in rubbers, which means the best of three games. A game is won by the first team to score 100 or more points. If a side has already won one game, then they are said to be vulnerable. A side which has yet to win a game is said to be not vulnerable. The vulnerable side is subject to higher bonuses and penalties.
How To Score Points
If a team is able to complete their contract, they will score in the following manner:
If, during bidding, the contract was doubled, then the above scores are doubled in value. If they were redoubled, then they are multiplied by 4.
A contract to make 12 tricks is known as a small slam, while a contract to make all 13 tricks is called a grand slam. If a team scores more tricks than were bid, they score additional points. If they capture less tricks than they bid, then their opponents score points.
Partners are forbidden to pass information to each other talking, facial gestures, etc. Partners, however, can exchange information by their choice of bids or cards played. Partners can therefore assign arbitrary meanings to bids. Bids which can be taken at face value are called natural bids. Bids which carry some other meaning are referred to as artificial bids. All such bids must be declared to the opponents. Many tournaments require that these artificial bids be kept track of through a convention card which sets out the meaning of various bids.
Card Games Cafe is Copyright 2007 - 2008. All rights reserved, no unauthorized duplication.