Bridge Game Rules

Posted by John Taylor on

(An attacking team's hand in a game of Bridge)

(An attacking team's hand in a game of Bridge)

Card Game Rules

Bridge is a team trick taking game played with a standard 52 playing card deck. The objective is to win as many games to 100 as possible. In Bridge, Aces are high and 2’s low. The rank of suits from highest to lowest is: No Trump, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs.

If you are interested in other trick taking games, check out our guides for Spades and Hearts.

If you are looking for cards to play Bridge with, check out a standard pack here or one of our specialty bridge packs here.

Set Up

Before the game begins, an initial dealer must be chosen. To do so, every player is given a card from a shuffled deck and who ever receives the highest card becomes the first dealer. Ties are broken by a repeated deal. The initial dealer shuffles the deck and the player to their right cuts it. The dealer then passes 13 cards one by one clockwise to each of the 4 players.

The dealer position rotates clockwise at the end of each round.

Teammates sit across from each other and work together to make bids and win tricks.

Auction

Before the gameplay commences, players, starting to the right of the dealer and going clockwise, enter into an auction for the round’s contract and decide to either Bid, Double, Redouble, or Pass.

Bid

A bid represents the number of tricks the team expects to make along with the trump suit they desire for the round. The minimum bid is 7 tricks, while the maximum is 13. For example, if a player makes a bid of “One Heart”, they expect to make 7 tricks. A bid of “Two Hearts” is 8 tricks and so on.

Double

A player can decide to double a bid made by the opposing team if they believe that they will not make the number of tricks. By doubling a bid, the player doubles the penalty if the bid is not made but, also doubles the payout if the bid is successful.

Redouble

A player can redouble a bid if the bid was made by their teammate and the bid was doubled by their opponent. Redoubling quadruples the original bids payout if successful and penalty if unsuccessful.

Pass

 If a player passes, they decide not to make a bid, redouble or double. The auction continues to each player until all players have passed on the highest bid. The highest bid (in terms of suit ranking and number of tricks bid) becomes the contract for the round.

How to Play

The player who made the highest bid becomes the Declarer and their team becomes the attackers while the other team becomes the defenders. The teammate of the Declarer becomes the Dummy. The Dummy lays down their cards face up, grouped in suits, for the players to see. The Dummy does not participate in the round. Instead, the Declarer plays for them when it is their turn.

The gameplay officially begins when the Declarer lays down the lead card. Going clockwise, the Defenders try to out rank the lead. A player must only play cards of the same suit as the lead card. If they do not possess cards of the same suit, they may play any of their cards in an attempt to win the trick. The winner of the trick places the next lead and the gameplay continues until all cards are dealt. Tricks won should be collected and placed faced down on the side of the winning team.

For more resources on the game bridge, check out pagat's article here and the American Contract Bridge League's website here.

 

Scoring

 

Each trick over 6 tricks is worth a certain number of points depending on the trump suit. A team wins a game after scoring 100 points. The scoreboard for bridge is generally divided into two columns (one for each team) and two rows. The bottom row is for points won by making tricks while the top row is for bonus and penalty points.

Bottom Row

The following is the point value for tricks made in each trump suit:

Tricks made in the Diamonds or Clubs trump suits are worth 20 points.
Tricks made in the Hearts or Spades trump suits are worth 30 points.
Tricks made in the No Trump suit are worth 40 points for the first trick over 6 and 30 points for each trick after.  

Top Row

Bridge contains a lot of bonus points, such as small and grand slams, for teams to earn. A small slam is given to a team who wins 12 tricks. A grand slam is given to a team who wins all 13 tricks. Bonus and penalty points are affected by whether or not a team is vulnerable or not vulnerable. A team is vulnerable if they won the last game. Vulnerability increases both bonus and penalty points.

The following are bonus point values for teams that are vulnerable:

Doubled overtricks are worth 200 points each.
Redoubled overtricks are worth 400 points each.
Small slams are worth 750 points.
Grand slams are worth 1500 points.

The following are bonus point values for teams that are not vulnerable:

Doubled overtricks are worth 100 points each.
Redoubled overtricks are worth 200 points each.
Small slams are worth 500 points.
Grand slams are worth 1000 points.

The following are penalty point values for teams that are vulnerable:

Undertricks cost 100 points each.
The 1st doubled undertrick costs 200 points.
Each doubled undertrick after the 1st costs 300 points each.
The 1st redoubled undertrick costs 400 points.
Each redoubled undertrick after the 1st costs 600 points each.

The following are penalty point values for teams that are not vulnerable:

Undertricks cost 50 points each.
The 1st doubled undertrick costs 100 points.
Each doubled undertrick after the 1st costs 200 points each.
The 1st redoubled undertrick costs 200 points.
Each redoubled undertrick after the 1st costs 400 points each.
For a more detailed explanation on Bridge's scoring system check out Gathertogethergames's website here and see the graphic below. 

(A guide to the scoring system of Bridge)

(A guide to the scoring system of Bridge)

About the author: John Taylor is a content writer and freelancer through the company Upwork.com. You may view his freelancing profile here. He has a B.A. in English, with a specialty in technical writing, from Texas A&M University and is working towards a Masters degree in English at the University of Glasgow. You may view his previous articles about card games here and his LinkedIn profile here.

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Last update date: 08/30/19

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