Bridge is a popular game and there are many online resources to help you get started. Here is a brief overview of the absolute basics of how to play bridge card game, for complete beginners.
The game is played by four players, working as two teams. One standard pack of 52 cards is used and all the cards are dealt so that each player holds 13 cards. Each player sorts their cards into suite (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs).
The aim of the game is to make “tricks”. Each round (or hand) starts with one player leading a card. Each player then has to follow suit (if s/he has a card in that suit). The player who plays the highest card wins the trick for their partnership. If a player doesn’t hold a card in the suit played they can discard a card from another suit or, if the game is being played in “trumps” they can play a card from the trump suit. The player playing the highest trump card (if more than one is played) wins the trick for their partnership.
There are two main elements to a game of bridge – the bidding, or auction and then playing the hand.
The bidding takes place before the hand is played. Players are not allowed to talk to each other so the bidding is a way of deciding whether you and your partner have enough “points” in your hand to take enough tricks to win the hand. Before the bidding starts, each player counts the number of points in their hand – counting 4 for each ace, 3 for each king, 2 for each queen and 1 for each jack.
The player to the left of the dealer starts the bidding. If they hold less than 12 points they “pass”. Play continues clockwise until a player has 12 or more points and can open the bidding. There are a total of 40 points, so if they are evenly distributed it is possible for all the players to pass. If this happens, the cards are reshuffled and a new game is dealt.
The bidding continues until 3 consecutive players pass. The final bid decides the “contract”. There are two kinds of contract – a suit contract and a “no trumps” contract. If a suit contract has been bid, then the suit becomes the trump suit. A no trumps contract is played without the use of a trump suit.
The bidding between partners tells each other which suits they hold cards in and what points range they have. It is generally agreed that in order to make “game” in a major suit the partnership should hold at least 25 points. Game means that if your partnership wins the round you will score at least 100 points with your tricks. Nothing is scored for the first 6 tricks – so one aim of the bidding is to decide if you have enough points to make more than six tricks.
Some example contracts are:
3 spades – you are saying you will make 9 tricks (6 plus the 3 bid) and want to use spades as the trump suit.
1 No Trump (NT) – you are saying you will make 7 tricks (6 plus 1 bid) and don’t want to use a trump suit.
The suits are split into major suits (spades and hearts) and minor suits (diamonds and clubs). If you are playing in a major suit contract (for example 2 hearts) you score 30 points for each trick made above 6 tricks. If you are playing in a minor suit contract (for example 3 diamonds) you score 20 points for each trick made above 6, and if you are playing in No Trumps you score 40 points for the first trick over 6 and 30 points for subsequent tricks.
If you bid for and make game (100+points) you score bonus points. If you bid for fewer tricks this is known as a part game contract. Your score is based on the number of tricks you bid for as well as the number of tricks you take. So, for example, you won’t score the game bonus if you only bid for a part game contract, even if you do score enough tricks for game – although you will get points for the tricks.