Bridge Game: How to Play Bridge

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Welcome to the world of Bridge, a classic trick-taking card game that has captured the hearts and minds of players for generations. Known for its intricate gameplay, Bridge offers a dynamic mix of skill, strategy, and teamwork. Beyond its engaging mechanics, Bridge also shines as a social and mental exercise, fostering camaraderie and critical thinking.

In this article, we’ll dive into the fundamentals of the Bridge card game, explore its rich history, and uncover the myriad of benefits it brings to those who embrace its challenges at the table.

Bridge rules basics

Bridge is played with 52 cards and 4 players, separated into teams of two. The card rankings are as follows from high to low: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The suits also have a rank from high to low: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.

Once four players gather around a table, each player is given the name of a direction: North, South, East, and West. North and South are on one team, while East and West are on he other.

Bridge is a trick-taking card game, and the objective of each team is to win seven or more tricks in order to score points. Different tricks and combination of cards are scored differently, making this a dynamic game of strategy and teamwork.

How to play Bridge card game

Let’s say, it’s a beautiful day and you’ve found three players for a game of Bridge. You sit around the table with your partner in front of you and a deck of cards in the middle.

Let the game begin!

1. Deal the cards. The dealer distributes 13 cards to each player, finishing the entire deck. The players look at their cards, sorting them by rank and suit. The more cards and higher values in a suit, the more favorable the chances. This is crucial during the bidding phase.

2. Bidding. Teams bid the number of tricks they believe they would take, as well as a suit. The dealer bids first, and bidding rotates clockwise around the table. First you bid the number of tricks and the team that bids the highest number, chooses the trump suit. To secure a deal, players need at least 7 tricks. Conventionally, bids begin from the seventh trick, with the initial 6 tricks often referred to as “the book.” For instance, aiming for 7 tricks means a bid of 1, and the sequence continues up to a bid of 7, in which case you believe you would win all 13 tricks. Each new bid must higher than the last. You can also pass if you don’t want to raise the bid. If three players pass in a row, the last bid wins and determines the trump suit.

3. Declaring trump suit. The winning team declares trump and the game begins. You can also declare a bid of “no trump” (NT). In this case, the game is played without a trump suit and the winning team would score more points at the end. The person who made the winning bid is called the “declarer,” and their partner is the “dummy.” The other team are the “defenders.”

4. First trick. The defender to the left of the declarer plays the first card. This card determines the trick’s suit. Winning the trick requires playing a card of that suit or a trump card, disregarding the other two suits. Following the trick’s lead, the dummy lays out their hand on the table, typically organized by suit in four columns. From then on, the declarer takes charge of the dummy’s hand for the remainder of the deal, while defenders continue to play as usual.

5. Follow suit, ruff or sluff. As with other games, the defender has to follow suit. If that’s not possible, they may “ruff” (play a trump suit card) or “sluff” (play another suit card). A ruff would likely win the trick, while a sluff is basically passing on the trick.

6. Finish the trick, repeat. Once everyone has played a card, the highest one wins the trick. The winner leads the next trick. When all 13 tricks have been played, each team counts their winnings. If the declaring team covered their bid, they win the deal. If not, the defenders are the winners.

7. Scoring. Count each team’s points and write them down. Start a new deal and keep playing until one team reaches 100 points.

Points & scoring

Beyond the initial 6 tricks, every additional trick holds a distinct point value, determined by the trump suit. A team secures victory upon reaching 100 points.

The Bridge scoreboard typically features two columns, designated for each team, and two rows. The lower row tallies points earned through successful tricks, while the upper row accounts for bonus and penalty points.

Bottom Row

  • 20 points for tricks made in the Diamonds or Clubs trump suits
  • 30 points for tricks made in the Hearts or Spades trump suits
  • 40 points for tricks made in the No Trump (NT) suit, for the first trick over 6, and 30 points for each trick after.

Top Row

Bridge awards bonus points for specific situations, such as small and grand slams. A small slam is when a team wins 12 tricks. A grand slam is when a team wins all 13 tricks. Bonus and penalty points are given or taken whether or not a team is vulnerable or not. A team is vulnerable if they won the last game.

Here is how it goes:

Bonus points for vulnerable teams:

  • 200 points for a doubled overtrick
  • 400 points for a re-doubled overtrick
  • 750 points for small slams
  • 1500 points for grand slams

Bonus points for non-vulnerable teams:

  • 100 points for doubled overtricks
  • 200 points for re-doubled overtricks
  • 500 points for small slams
  • 1000 points for grand slams

Penalty points for vulnerable teams:

  • -100 points for undertricks
  • -200 points for the 1st doubled undertrick
  • -300 points for each doubled undertrick after the 1st
  • -400 points for the 1st redoubled undertrick
  • -600 points for each redoubled undertrick after the 1st

Penalty points for non-vulnerable teams:

  • -50 points for undertricks
  • -100 points for the 1st doubled undertrick
  • -200 points for each doubled undertrick after the 1st
  • -200 points for the 1st redoubled undertrick
  • -400 points for each redoubled undertrick after the 1st
We’ve delved into the captivating world of Bridge, unveiling its strategic intricacies and the joy it offers through shared experiences. Bridge is not just a game, but a gateway to mental agility and meaningful connections.

So, why not gather your friends and deal out a hand? Unleash your strategic prowess, relish the thrill of the bidding, and savor the camaraderie that Bridge uniquely fosters.

Now read about another classic card game in our blog post on the topic of Canasta Rules: How to Play Canasta.

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