What is bridge

Bridge is a mind sport

Bridge belongs to minds sports, same as chess, international checkers, and GO. 

You can participate in tournaments in local bridge clubs, national federations or international championships.

European Bridge League and World Bridge Federation are the international associations which unites bridge players from all over the world.

Bridge is a game for 4 players

Players are named North, East, South, and West. North-South make a pair and East-West another.

There are various trick taking games possible to play with 3 or 5 players, but bridge can be played with 4 players.

Bridge is played with a deck of 52 cards

To play bridge, you need a deck of 52 cards with 4 suits. There are 13 cards in each suit. Suits are called ♠ Spades, ♥ Hearts, ♦ Diamonds, and ♣ Clubs.

Highest card in each suit is the Ace, followed by the King, the Queen, and the Jack - we call them honors. Low cards rank from 10 to 2.

The game starts by dealing the cards

The dealer distributes the deck of cards between 4 players card by card. Each player has 13 cards - we call it a hand. 

We call one game of bridge a deal or a board.

Bridge is a game of tricks 

A trick is set of 4 cards, one from each player's hand, placed face up on the table.

 There are 13 tricks in one deal.

Players play the cards one after another in a clockwise direction. We call the first card the opening lead.

Players must follow the suit of the first card led. They do not have to play a higher one if they wish not to. The highest card in the suit wins the trick.

The player who wins the trick leads into the next one.

If a player cannot follow the suit, he can play any card from his hand, but cannot win the trick, unless there are trumps in the game.

Trumps beat cards in all other suits

Players can choose one of the suits as trumps at the beginning of the game. If a player cannot follow the suit, (s)he can play a trump to win the trick even with a small card. 

If other players also use a trump in the trick,, the highest trump card wins it.

Players can choose to play without trumps, in that case, only the highest card in the suit led wins the trick.

A bridge game has three parts 

The first part of the game is called the Bidding. Players exchange information about their hands and try to win a contract.

In Card play, each partnership tries to win as many tricks as possible. The attackers try to make the contract they have chosen in the bidding, defenders try to prevent it.

The Scoring system makes bridge a unique game since in tournaments you compare with other players holding the same cards as you do. The scoring of each contract depends on its level and trump suit chosen as well as how many tricks each partnership made in the card play. 

The goal in a game of bridge is to win a contract in the bidding and make the respective number of tricks in the card play.

The goal of contract bridge (tournaments) is to achieve the best possible score with the cards dealt. You compare your results with players who hold the same cards as you did.

There are 35 possible contracts

The level of the contract determines the number of tricks that the winning side has to win in the card play.

The type of the contract set the trumps or players can choose a no trump game.

There are 7 levels of the contract. The first 6 tricks (lower half) is call a book and you have to add this number to the level of the contract to get the amount of tricks the winning side has to win in the card play. Therefore 1st level contracts are the lowest and commit players to win 7 tricks, 7th level is the highest and players has to win all 13 tricks (6+7).

The highest contract wins the bidding

Players offer contracts one after another. In order to offer a contract, players has to bid a higher contract than the previous one. For this purpose, suits are ranked with clubs ♣ as lowest, diamonds ♦, hearts ♥, spades ♠, and no trump NT contract is the highest on all levels.

If player does not want to offer a contract, he can pass and let other(s) fight. Each player can bid multiple times even if he first passed.

The bidding ends if 3 players pass consequently, except the first round where each player has the right to make a bid.

The player of the partnership who offered the trump suit/no trumps first becomes the declarer, his partner is the dummy. Opponnents are called defenders.

Card play starts with the opening lead

The defender to the left of the declarer makes the opening lead. After the opening lead, dummy place all cards on the table.

Declarer chooses the cards from both his and the dummy hand.

The final part of the game – scoring can start when all 13 tricks has been played. In order to speed up the game, the declarer can claim all the remaining tricks if he thinks (s)he has all the highest cards.

Higher bonuses for making
a game or a slam

In bidding, players try to find out if their partnership has good enough cards to get a game/slam bonus. 

There are different rewards based on the suit of the contract. Minor suits (♣ and ♦) are worth 20 points per trick, Major suits (♥ and ♠) are worth 30 points per trick. In No Trumps, first trick scores 40 points, all other tricks 30 points.

The final score is calculated as a sum of contract points + bonus for making + overtricks. If attackers do not make the contract, defenders receive 50 points for each trick opponents were missing to win their contract.

Bonus for making a partscore contract is 50 points. Overtricks are added to the score if the contract is fulfilled = 30 points for each other trick in NT, ♠, ♥, and 20 points in ♣ and ♦. 

You can get a game bonus of 300 points if the total sum of points for the contract bid reaches 100 and more. That means, that contracts 3NT (40+30+30=100), 4♥ and 4♠ (4*30=120), and 5♣ and 5♦ (5*20=100) receives a game bonus of 300 points.

Game point rewards, but also penalties for not making the contract are higher in vulnerable round (indicated on the board).

Slam bonus is a reward for making 6 level contracts (800), grand slam bonus for making 7 level contracts (1300).