Introduction to Bridge for Beginners/Gameplay Overview


Bridge is card game where you need 4 players or multiples of 4. Each table has 4 places. The players opposite each other at a table are partners. They work together against the other two players. The teams are usually labelled North/South and East/West. The largest challenge I have with the players is to get them to work as a team, not as individuals. In most other card games each person plays alone and that is the mentality that beginners approach this game. The two players need to learn to work together and trust each other.

The game of bridge uses a standard deck of cards, consisting of 52 cards divided about 4 suits (spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs); a total of 13 cards in each suit. A standard bridge card is narrower than cards used for poker. Also, two decks of cards are used when playing bridge. While one deck is being dealt and played, the second deck is being shuffled to be used for the next hand. Aces is high and deuce is low. Also, each suit has a rank. Spades is the highest suit, followed by Hearts, then Diamonds and then Clubs. An easy way to remember the ranks is by the fact that they are in alphabetic order from bottom to top (lowest rank to highest rank): Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades.

All the cards are dealt and each player then sorts the cards according to suit. They then count how many points they have in their hand. If you have 13 points they are able to bid. If not, you pass. To make the first bid for a team, the player (called the opener) needs 13 points. His partner can respond with less than 13 points (he is called the responder). The purpose of the bidding is to describe your hand to your partner. The bidding rotates around the table until there are 3 passes in a row (a pass means that player does not what to bid anymore). The purpose of bidding is for a team to find a common suit between them in which they have a minimum of 8 cards. If they have 8 cards of a suit then their opponents only have 5 (13 total cards – 8 = 5). That suit has a possibility of being trump for that hand.

For example, the opener bids “1 spade” (one of my conventions), promising at least 13 points and 5 spades. If his partner has 3 spades, they have the 8 total they are looking for. His partner respond back to show the makeup of his hand. The first bid by the partners show points first and best suit second. The final bid sets the contract for that hand. The final bid usually sets the trump suit for that hand. The trump suit changes which each hand. The cards are then played one at a time, the highest card winning the trick. All 13 cards are played and then the score determined. The winner bid team must get the number of tricks they bid plus a base of 6. So if the team that gets the bid at 3 spades, they must get 9 tricks (6 base plus the 3 they bid) of the 13 total possible tricks. If they get less they don’t get any points; if more they only get points toward a game for what they bid. Extra tricks do not apply toward winning a game. So the purpose of the bidding is to make sure you bid and get what you bid.

A game is a score of 100 points. Partial scores are recorded. The first team to get 100 points wins the game. Winning two games out of three is called a rubber.

Are you interested to know more about bridge? Let me know by leaving a comment below. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


James Frazee

Author, Beginning Bridge by the Numbers

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