The Purpose of Bidding and What a Contract Means


Bidding in bridge is a way of describing your hand to your partner. For example, if I bid one heart, I am telling my partner that I have at least 13 points and at least five hearts in my hand; whereas an opening bid of one club means I don’t have five hearts or five spades (major suits) and have more clubs than diamonds (minor suits). These bids are called conventions in bridge.   Not everyone uses the same conventions, but many are common among bridge players. The conventions are used to convey the makeup of your hand to your partner.

The bidding process has two purposes: First, to convey the number of points to your partner, and second, to identify your strong suit(s) … (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, or Club). Through the bidding process each team is looking for a suit in which they have at least 8 cards. If the partners have eight cards between them, then the opponents only have five (13-8 = 5).

After the cards are dealt, the players begin the bidding process. The first person to bid for a team is called the Opener. His partner is called the Responder. A player will either bid or pass. The dealer bids first, followed by the person on his left and so on around the table. The opener should have 13 points in his hand (total of high card points and distribution points). If not, he passes and the bidding moves to the player on his left.

The bidding will continue around the table until there are three consecutive passes. The last person to bid usually sets the contract. The contract identifies the trump suit and how many tricks the team must win to fulfill the contract. If the final bid is three spades (spades is the trump suit) the bidding team must win nine of the 13 tricks to fulfill the contract. For any contract bid there is a base of six tricks that must be made plus the number bid. For example if the final bid is two clubs, clubs are the trump suit and the team must make eight tricks (base 6 + 2). If the find bid is five hearts, hearts is the trump suit and the team must win 11 tricks (base 6 + 5) to fulfill the contract. This form of bridge is called CONTRACT BRIDGE.

How is your knowledge of playing bridge shaping up? Got some questions on the bidding process? Let me know through Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads so I can improve on writing these guides. For more questions on the mechanics of the game, you can also consult me directly through those channels.


James Frazee

Author, Beginning Bridge by the Numbers

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