To play bridge you need four people sitting at a table and a deck of cards. One person (the dealer), distributes thirteen cards to each player, one at a time, in a clockwise direction. There are fifty two cards in the deck, and four suits ( ♠ Spades, ♥ Hearts, ♦ Diamonds and ♣ Clubs ). The Ace is the highest, followed by the King, etc, down to the two. That’s AKQJ1098765432.
The four players, sitting opposite each other in two partnerships, score points by winning tricks. A trick is four cards, played one at a time, clockwise. The highest card wins. Thirteen tricks may be taken on each hand. One person leads, and everyone must follow suit, provided they have a card of that suit. If they don't, they make a discard (i.e. play a card of another suit that they don't think will win a trick). Whoever wins starts the play to the next trick, and leads whatever card they choose.
The aim is to make your contract (an undertaking to win a certain number of tricks) which one partnership has made. A hand may be played in no trumps or with any trump suit: ♠ Spades, ♥ Hearts, ♦ Diamonds, or ♣ Clubs . In no trumps, the highest card led to any trick wins. But a trump will beat any card, provided you have no cards left in the suit led.
When a partnership holds the majority of cards (eight or more) in any one suit, it’s said there's a “fit”. To evaluate how good your hand is, add up your high card points (i.e. honour cards, Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks) and long suit points.
High Card Points - Add 4 for each Ace, 3 for each King, 2 for each Queen, and 1 for each Jack in your hand. For example, the hand below has 16 high card points (HCP).
♠ A K T 8 6
♥ Q J T 5
♦ T 6
♣ A Q
Length Points Add 1 point for any card in a suit longer than four. For example, the hand above has 1 length point for the fifth spade. That gives you 17 total points = 16 high card points plus 1 length point.
Usually, but not always, the partnership with more points makes a contract for a certain number of tricks, in either no trumps or one of the four suits. They become the declaring side. If they succeed and take the tricks (or more) that they contracted for, they gain points. If they don't make their contract, the other side, called the defending side, scores points for the number of tricks by which they were short.
After you have played the hand, watch the walkthrough video. Click on the little box icon in the menu, lower right, to change the video to full screen.
Looking for more information? These books will help you learn the basic skills required to play bridge.
Test your knowledge
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