BEGINNER'S BRIDGE

LESSON 1

 

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INTRODUCTORY CONCEPTS ‑ VOCABULARY ‑ PLAYING GUIDELINES

 

 

Bridge is a partnership game in which each players is designated by his/her compass direction.  NORTH and SOUTH are PARTNERS playing against their OPPONENTS, EAST and WEST.  The bridge deck consists of 52 cards with four SUITS:  CLUBS,  DIAMONDS,  HEARTS, and  SPADES.   Clubs and Diamonds are termed MINOR SUITS, Hearts and Spades are termed MAJOR SUITS.    The cards in each suit are RANKED with the Ace being the highest, followed by the King, Queen, Jack, Ten ... then on down the line to the 2 (the lowest ranking card).   The suits are also ranked, these in alphabetical order: “C”lubs. "D”iamonds, "H”earts, and "Spades", with clubs being the suit of lowest rank and spades the highest.   The cards are SHUFFLED and the deck is then dealt by the DEALER, one card at a time, face down in a clock‑wise direction until each player has 13 cards; comprising his/her, HAND.

The game of bridge has two stages.   Firstly, there is the BIDDING stage, which, in an auction fashion, determines which partnership will undertake a final CONTRACT.   The bidding is begun by the dealer with each player in turn, in clock‑wise rotation, choosing to either BID, or to refrain from bidding by simply saying "PASS".  

Each BID or CALL consists of two parts; e.g.,   (1 Spade, 2‑Hearts, 3‑Diamonds, 4‑Clubs,                  5 No Trump, etc.).   The first part, the numerical portion, represents the number of tricks that partnership is committed to take over and above the first six tricks called BOOK.    For example, bidding  “1” of any denomination commits that team to taking seven  (6+1)  tricks;  bidding “3” of any denomination commits the team so bidding to taking nine  (6+3)  tricks; etc.    The highest level of bidding is, therefore, the seven level.    This commits a team to a total of thirteen (6+7)  tricks.

The second portion of any bid is the denomination; i.e., whether the contract is to be played in a TRUMP SUIT contract or in a NO TRUMP contract.   There are only five possible denominations ‑ Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and No Trump.  "No Trump" ranks above spades.    As in an auction, each successive bid must be higher than the proceeding bid in either level or denomination, or both.   The auction proceeds until there are three successive passes.   The member of the partnership who first suggested the suit denomination of the final contract becomes the DECLARER.   The bidding phase is then concluded with the last declaration becoming the final contract.   The opponent to the left of declarer makes the OPENING LEAD by placing a single card, face up upon the table, and the play of the hand then begins.

The second stage of bridge is the PLAY of the cards in which one side played by the DECLARER tries to fulfill the agreed-upon CONTRACT,  while the other side ( the DEFENDERS) tries to defeat the specified contract.   Declarer's partner is called, the DUMMY.   Declarer plays the cards for both himself/herself and the Dummy.   Each player, in a clock-wise rotation, plays a card of the same suit.   The four cards played constitute a TRICK.    When the contract is played without a TRUMP SUIT, the player who contributes the highest‑ranking card of the same suit led wins the trick.   On many hands, however, one suit is designated, through the bidding, as "wild" or as the TRUMP suit.   A trump card of any denomination played beats any card in all the other three suits no matter their rank.   Since it is a partnership game, either partner playing the highest card wins the trick for his/her side.   One must always follow the suit which is being played, but if one does not have a card in the suit led, one may then play a card from any other suit.   This is called DISCARDING.    In a trump suit contract the following rules apply:

a. One must follow suit if one can do so. You may play a trump only if you have no cards in the suit led. This is called TRUMPING or RUFFING.

b. One does not have to trump if a card in the suit led is not available. One may alternatively discard.

c. If more than one player trumps a trick, the highest ranking trump wins the trick.

d.      The trump suit does not have to be led at any particular time. It is up to the discretion of each player when to lead a trump.

 

 

 

 

 

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The partner who wins the previous trick leads the first card to each successive trick, and so on until all thirteen tricks are played out.   The teams count their tricks won or lost and it is thus determined whether the bid finally contacted for has been made or defeated.    A score is awarded to the victors. 

 

                                                                 

          BIDDING OF THE HAND - THE AUCTION

 

CHOOSING TO BID:  Once a player arranges his/her cards into suits, he/she then determines the shape and the strength of his/her hand, so as to decide whether or not to open the bidding or, alternatively, to pass; and, if bidding, whether to commit to a Trump Suit Contract or to avoid naming a Trump Suit and to strive for a No Trump Contract, alternatively.    The dealer has this first opportunity to bid, and the bidding then proceeds in a clockwise rotation with each player receiving a chance to bid or to pass.   The relative strength of each hand is computed by each player based upon the:

 

THE 4‑3‑2‑1 POINT COUNT SYSTEM

 

 

                 HIGH‑CARD POINTS ‑ HCP'S                                            DISTRIBUTIONAL POINTS                      

 

ACE      = 4 POINTS                 Each DOUBLETON (Two Cards in a Suit)  = 1 Point        

KING    = 3 POINTS                 Each SINGLETON (One Card in a Suit)     =  2 Points                   

QUEEN = 2 POINTS                 Each VOID (No Cards in a Suit)                  =  3 Points

JACK     = 1 POINT                                  

 

Since it has been determined that a partnership needs approximately 26 Points or more in combined high‑card and distributional point strength to make a GAME  for which there is awarded a bonus,  any one member of either partnership is expected to have his/her one-half share (approximately 13 Points) in order to venture the first BID  or CALL.   When you and your partner have at least eight (8) combined cards in any suit, think of it as a GOLDEN FIT.   That is the suit that might well be named as the TRUMP SUIT.  In absence of a golden fit, since no one suit predominates, NO TRUMP contracts are usually best sought. 

Hands are considered UNBALANCED (favoring a suit contract) if they have one or more voids. one or more singletons, or two or more doubletons.   Hands are considered BALANCED (favoring a no trump contract) if they have no voids, no singletons, and not more than one doubleton.

 

A BALANCED HAND -    5-3‑3‑2       4‑4‑3‑2      4‑3‑3‑3

 

 

 

OPENING THE BIDDING

 

 

Requirements for opening the bidding ONE OF A SUIT:  = 13-15 Points   (Both HCP's and Distributional           points are counted since it be advantageous to have an absence of one or more side suits in any great abundance.)

a. With Any 5‑Card Suit or Longer    - Bid the Longest suit

b. With Two 5‑Card or 6‑Card Suits  - Bid the Higher Ranking Suit First

c. With No 5‑Card Suit                      - Bid the Longest (Preferred) Minor Suit

d. With Two 4‑Card Minor Suits        - Bid the Higher Ranking of the Two (Diamonds)

e. With No 4‑Card Minor Suit            - Bid the 3-Card Minor (Clubs or Diamonds) 

f.  With Two 3‑Card Minor Suits        - Bid the Lower Ranking Club Suit

 

Requirements for opening the bidding ONE NO TRUMP:  = 15-17 HCP’s (Only High Card Points are counted, never distributional points since it be disadvantageous not to have all suits to the greatest degree possible.)