How To Play Contract Bridge

While relatively easy to learn the basic rules of contract bridge, it can take quite some time to master. Contract bridge is played with the standard 52 card deck, with the cards ranked in the following, descending order: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
In contract bridge, the suits are also ranked for bidding purposes, with Spades (♠) the highest ranked, hearts () next, followed by diamonds () and then clubs (♣). Spades and hearts are called the major suits and diamonds and clubs are referred to as minor suits.

Standard contract bridge is always played by four players, with two of the players playing as partners playing against the other two who are also partners. Each player will remain partnered with the same player throughout the entirety of the game. For variations of Contract Bridge for differing numbers of players, see the Variations section below.

Oftentimes, in this game the partnerships may be pre-arranged, especially amongst regular players. Otherwise, to determine the partnerships and the first dealer, the fully shuffled deck should be fanned out in the center of the table, face down. Each player then draws one card from the deck, but not one of the last four cards at either end of the spread out deck. The two highest ranked cards (see above for ranking of specific cards and suits) play as partners against the two lowest. The player who draws the highest card becomes the dealer for the first hand of the game.

Each player sits at the table directly opposite their partner such that the play will alternate between each partner. In bridge the seats are indicated by the four compass directions, North, South, East and West. Thus, player "North" sits opposite his partner "South" and "East" sits across the table from "West" who plays as his partner. The first dealer generally sits in the North position.

North and South will thus play in partnership against the second partnership which consists of the players seated at positions East and West.

The pack is then shuffled by the player to dealers left and cut by the player to dealers right. The dealer then takes the deck and deals out one card at a time, face down to each player, starting with the player to his immediate left in a clockwise direction. He deals out the entire deck, with each player receiving thirteen cards. The right to deal each hand then passes clockwise around the table, with the next dealer being the player at the current dealers immediate left.

Bidding and the Auction

After each player examines his hand, the Auction begins. The auction begins with the dealer and continues clockwise around the table. On his turn at bidding, a player must make one of the following calls: The bidding continues clockwise around the table, player by player until three consecutive players call "pass". At this point, the player who made the highest bid is the winner of the bidding and his declaration becomes the contract for the hand for his partnership. The player from that partnership who first named the trump suit (or no trump) called in the winning bid is considered the "declarer" for the hand. Thus, the "winner" of the bidding may not necessarily be the member of the partnership who becomes this declarer. The declarer, who represents his partnership for the hand (see below), then attempts to win the indicated number of odd tricks declared in the winning contract. The suit named in the winning bid becomes the trump suit for the hand. Cards of this trump suit have additional precedence for winning tricks, as described later. If "no trump" was the suit called, then no trump suit is designated for this particular hand which indicates that none of the suits have any specific precedence for this particular round of plays.

Bidding Example
Pass1 ♣Pass1
Pass2 No TrumpDoublePass
2 ♠3 3 ♠Pass

In this example, the dealer, South declines to start the bidding, with a pass. West bids the minimum bid of one club. North passes and East follows with a bid of one diamond. South passes and West increases the bid to 2 with no trump suit. North responds with a call of Double (whereas West's bid would remain the highest bid, but certain scores for the hand would be doubled). East passes and South, the dealer bids 2 spades which also cancels North's Double (although any player could again double the current high bid). West overcalls this bid with 3 diamonds and North responds with a bid of 3 spades. East, South and West all pass, thus three spades becomes the winning bid with spades as trump. Since North was the first player of his partnership to declare spades in a bid, he becomes the declarer and plays the hand for his partnership attempting to win a total of 9 or more tricks.

As bidding is one of the most complex components of the game of Contract Bridge, there are a number of standard bidding methodologies commonly used. These methodologies are generally designed to not only convey some information about your hand (through the various bids) to your partner, but also to complete the bidding (if you are the contract winner) with a bid in suit and number that the partnership can use to win the hand. All bidding techniques to be used by a partnership must be explained and discussed with the opponents before the game, and direct communications about the contents of a players hand are never allowed.

In fact, the major goal in the earlier bids in the round are simply to advertise information about your own hand and request information, through these same bidding conventions, about your partners hand. Before beginning their bidding players will thus evaluate their hands through a number of means, with the Goren point count system being the most commonly used in most social games of bridge. The bidding example above is not intended to so much illustrate anything about the players hands but more to show how the general flow of bidding in contract bridge might proceed.


Once the "declarer" and trump suit (if any) are determined as per the auction (see above) the play of the hand begins. The declarer attempts to win at least as many odd tricks as their final bid while the opposing partnership attempts to win as many tricks as possible in an effort to prevent the declarer from fulfilling the contract.

The dummy hand should be laid out in an ordered fashion for ease of play by the bidder
The defender to the "declarers" immediate left starts by leading to the first trick. He places any card of his choice from his hand face up on the center of the table as the opening lead to the first trick. Immediately after this opening lead is played, the declarers partner must place his hand face up on the table in front of himself, arranged neatly. This hand is called the "dummy". This "dummy" hand is also played by the declarer who plays both his own hand and this face-up hand, in its proper turn. The partner who was the original owner of the "dummy" hand takes no further part in the play of any of the tricks in the hand. The opposing partnership, called the "defenders" play against the "declarer", each playing a card to the trick in their normal turn.


A typical score sheet for Bridge has two scoring sections for each partnership, called "above the line" scores and "below the line" scores. Each scoring category, detailed below, is scored in one or the other locations.

Winning a "Game"

This sample Contract Bridge Score sheet shows the typical layout and locations for possible scoring areas during the game. The individual sections have been labeled to show where the different scores should be recorded. Notice the separate sections for Above the line, Individual game sections and the Final Score given at the bottom of the sheet.
When, at the end of any hand, a partnership has scored an accumulated 100 or more points in the "below the line" section of the scorecard, it is said to win a game. When this happens, the score keeper draws a new line beneath the tally for both sides, setting each partnerships "below the line" score back to zero and again beginning to accumulate the "below the line" scores beneath the new line. Scores in this "below the line" section are only possible from bidding and making contracts. A partnership can score the requisite 100 points for a "game" through one or more hands, depending on the number of odd tricks bid for and won and the suit (if any) selected as trump for the hand.

The first partnership to win two "games" in this manner wins a "rubber". The partnership winning the rubber earns a 500 point bonus above the line. If, however, the opposing partnership have not won any games during the rubber, the winning partnership score 700 points instead.
Once one partnership has won the two games, completing the rubber, both sides accumulate all of their scores, totalling all of their previous below the line and above the line scores. The partnership with the higher grand total is declared the winner of the rubber. A rubber is usually considered a "complete game" of Contract bridge, with one or more rubbers being played in a contract bridge session.

Being Vulnerable or Not

When a partnership wins it's first game of a rubber, they are considered to be "vulnerable". Before that time they are considered not vulnerable. Being vulnerable dramatically increases the scoring and possible penalties for a partnership (see scoring section above).

Contract Bridge Variations and Optional Rules

Some of the common variations of contract bridge that are often played are as follows:

Auction Bridge: This variation is identical to the standard game described above in all ways except for in its scoring.

When a declarer fulfills his contract, his partnership scores for every odd trick won in the hand, including any and all overtricks as follows (below the line):

Trump SuitScore per Trick
No Trump102040
Spades (♠)91836
Hearts ()81632
Diamonds ()71428
Clubs (♣)61224

In addition, each overtrick scores 50 bonus points above the line if the contract has been doubled and 100 points if redoubled.

As in the standard Contract Bridge, the partnership fulfilling a doubled contract scores 50 points above the line and 100 for a redoubled contract.

If, instead, the defenders are able to prevent the declarer them from winning at least as many tricks as they bid (to "set" the declarer), they score 50 points for each undertrick the declarer is short his total tricks needed to fulfill the contract. If the bid has been doubled, it is 100 per undertrick and 200 if redoubled.

A partnership has won a "game" when they have accumulated 30 total points below the line.

In Auction Bridge a small slam is worth 50 points above the line and a grand slam is worth 100. If the declarer is contracted for a grand slam (6 odd tricks) and he only takes 5 odd tricks, his side still scores for the small slam (50 points). However, his partnership is still penalized as necessary for the one undertrick they were set.

If one player has 3 of the trump honors (The honors consist of: A, K, Q, J, 10, of trump) the partnership scores 30 points (above the line). A player holding four of the honors earns 80 points above the line for the partnership. If a player holds all five his partnership scores 100 points above the line. If a partnership has four honors in one hand and one in the other, they score 90 above the line. If a partnership, between them, have four of the honors, they score 40 points. If they have 3 combined, they score 30 and if they have all five combined, they score 50 (all above the line). For hands played at no trump the honors consist of the four aces. A player holding all four earns 100 points above the line for his partnership. If a partnership holds all four between them, their partnership scores 40 points, and three (combined by the partnership or held by one of the partners) score 30.

For winning two "games" of a rubber the partnership scores 250 above the line. At this point, the scores are totalled and whichever partnership has the higher score wins the rubber.

Within Auction Bridge there is no concept of vulnerable or not vulnerable so the given scoring above remains the same regardless of the number of "games" a partnership may have won.

Plafond: Plafond is a French variation of Auction Bridge which is sometimes also called Bridge-Plafond. This is one of the original predecessors of standard Contract Bridge.

In no-trump contracts, the four aces are the honors for the hand.
This game is played identically to Auction Bridge, described above with a few key differences which all pertain to the scoring. In all other aspects, Plafond is played the same as Auction Bridge.

Standard Bridge for 5 or more: If their are enough players to make even groups of four, then, of course, multiple games of bridge can be played. However, if there are an uneven number of players, the following rules can be adopted for cycling some of the players in and out of the play rotation:
When the cards are fanned out for determination of the dealer and partnership, all players draw one card. The players drawing the two highest cards become partners against the players drawing the third and fourth highest cards. The remainder of the players wait until the first complete match is completed. When the round is completed, the methods for determining which players rotate in and out are as follows:

If there is one extra player: The losing partnership draws random cards and the player who draws the lowest card will relinquish his place to the individual waiting.
For two extra players: The losing partnership will relinquish their positions to the two waiting players.
For three extra players: There is a draw of cards among the three players, and the two highest replace the losing partnership.

After the new group of players is determined for the next round, standard methods for determining the partnerships amongst these players and the dealer can be used. Subsequent rounds can use the same method to determine the rotation of players into and out of the games.

Contract Bridge for 3 Players: There are various methods of playing Contract Bridge for 3 players, with the most popular being the cutthroat method:

Each player draws one random, face down card from the deck. The player who draws the highest card becomes the first dealer. The player to dealers immediate left shuffles and player at dealers right cuts the deck. Four face down hands are dealt (just as in standard bridge) with the dummy hand being dealt immediately between the two opponents. Dealer starts the bidding and then continues in a clockwise rotation around the table for each active player. A player should bid based on the contents of his own hand, but taking into account what might be in the dummy hand if they become the declarer. The bidding will continue around the table until there are two passes by two consecutive players. As in standard bridge the highest bidder becomes the declarer. The remaining two players then become the defenders attempting to set the declarer.
The defender at the dealers left leads the first card to the first trick. Play proceeds clockwise around the table, player by player. After that first lead is played, the dummy hand is laid out, face up, directly between the two defenders. As in standard bridge, described above, the declarer plays a card from the dummy hand in it's turn, such that it will play between the play of the two defenders.
A separate score is kept for each individual player, and standard Bridge scoring is generally used, although sometimes Auction bridge (see Auction Bridge variation above) scoring is used instead. If the declarer is able to fulfill his contract the score for the contract is added to his individual score. If the contract is set by the defenders, each defender gets the full undertrick score added to their total. For honors, the declarer scores for them as normal, for the defenders, if their combined hands or either hand contain them, each defender will receive the appropriate honors score.
If standard Bridge scoring is used, 700 points is gained by the first player to win two games (as described for the standard game) if neither opponent has won a "game" and 500 if either or both have. However if Auction Bridge scoring is to be used, the player receives 250 points when winning a game.

Bridge for Two Players: This is a variation of Contract Bridge that is played by two players. To begin, each player draws one face down card from a shuffled deck. The player drawing the higher card becomes the first dealer. Two handed bridge uses the standard ranking of bridge for cards and suits, as described above. Dealer again shuffles the deck and deals 13 cards to each player, alternately, starting with his opponent. The remainder of the cards are placed in a stack, face down in the center of the table to form the stock pile. The first 13 tricks are played with no scoring value. These tricks are played at No Trump and the second player need not follow suit to that which is led for the trick. This phase of the hand is generally used by the players to build their hands for the actual scoring portion of the hand. The winner of each of trick, being the individual who plays the highest card of the suit led, draws the top card from the stock pile, and the other player takes the next card. These cards are drawn and added to the players hand without being exposed to the opponent.

When the last card of the stock pile has been drawn, the second phase of the hand begins. The dealer begins the bidding by either making a bid or pass. After this, the bidding proceeds identically to standard Contract Bridge (as above), including doubles and redoubles (which double and quadruple, respectively certain scoring values). The bidding continues until a valid bid, double or redouble is followed by a pass. If both players immediately pass at the start of the bidding, the cards are reshuffled and no score occurs on this hand. Once the contract is made, the player opposite that whom was the final bidder leading to the first trick. The standard rules for Contract Bridge are used for the play of the hand and the scoring of the hand. Thus, in this second phase of the game, a player must follow suit to that which is led if able. Just as in standard Bridge, one or more rubbers are usually played to complete a "session" of contract Bridge.

Mayonnaise: This version, often called Goulash or Hollandaise is not so much a variation of Bridge as a method to create some very interesting Bridge hands. Occasional hands can be played in this manner or an entire game of Contract bridge could be played as Mayonnaise. Groups sometimes will play the hand as Mayonnaise if a hand is passed by all four players with no bids. Once a contract bridge hand, which has already been dealt, but not played, is decided to be played as Mayonnaise the following rules are applied:

Each player arranges his hand with each suit grouped together. The dealer first places his arranged hand, face down in the center of the table. Then, the remaining players in a clockwise direction each lay their arranged hands face down on top of the dealers hand. At this point, the stack may be cut, but this step is optional. Then, the dealer deals this stack of cards in the normal dealing rotation around the table. However, on the first round of the deal, he gives 5 cards to each player. On the second round, he gives 5 more, and on the last round he gives three cards to complete the deal and deplete the remaining cards in the deck. After this, all of the Standard rules for Contract Bridge (as detailed above) are followed. Playing in this manner often results in some very unusual hands.

As a variation to this variation, several rounds of passing may occur amongst the players after the deal. If this is done, each player after first examining his cards, passes four cards, face down to the player to his left. After again examining their hands with the new cards received, each player then passes four more cards to the player to his left. On the next, and last round of passing, the player passes four cards, face down, across the table to their partner. After the passing, the bidding begins as in standard Contract Bridge.

Illustration of one Duplicate Bridge Board Duplicate Bridge: In Bridge tournaments and parties, the form of Bridge most commonly played is Duplicate bridge. Duplicate Bridge is set up in such a way that the arrangement of the cards is predetermined for each specific table, with each table having its own such set and arrangement of cards. This helps ensure that when players are competing they are playing with the same hands, which allows skill to play a much larger part in determination of the winners. Generally, in Duplicate Bridge the same pair of players will remain the same partners throughout the tournament. However in some tournaments each player may play independently and keep his individual score independently, or in other tournaments, teams of four may compete as a unit (each partnership of this team playing at a different table with the same tray, one team playing as North - South the other as East - West).

When duplicate bridge is played a "Bridge Board" is used at each table. This bridge board is a tray that contains four pockets holding the four hands for North, South, East and West. The tray also contains an indicator on who the dealer is for the hand, and which sides, if any, are vulnerable. A similar set-up is found at one or more other tables, with different hands. When all the tables complete their hands, the trays are reset (individual cards for the hand placed back into their respective envelopes) and the tray is moved to another table. Thus, the table that receives this tray will be playing with the exact same hands. The original table will receive a tray with different hands (and other factors) from another such table.
A set of duplicate bridge boards usually comes in a set of 16 (or some larger multiple of 4). Each board would have a different combination of cards in each pocket.
The illustration to the right shows an example Duplicate bridge board with the grey pockets for each of the hands. Notice all necessary details for the hand are indicated, including the Dealer (west) and the vulnerable partnerships (both in this case).

Below illustrates the specific board layouts for a set of 16 such boards:

Board NumberDealerVulnerable Side
1 North Neither
2 East North/South
3 South East/West
4 West Both
5 North North/South
6 East East/West
7 South Both
8 West Neither
9 North East/West
10 East Both
11 South Neither
12 West North/South
13 North Both
14 East Neither
15 South North/South
16 West East/West

For larger tournaments, with a larger number of players, this particular set of 16 board layouts (with differing card arrangements) would be repeated for each subsequent set of 16. For partial multiples of 16, the number of boards necessary would be used from this setup.

When a player plays a card from his hand, instead of playing the card to the center of the table, he should place it face up in front of him, such that it is easy to reconstitute the hands to their original arrangement in each pocket. When a trick is won, the cards should be turned face down still in front of the player who played the card. The card should be set lengthwise, pointing to the partnership who won the trick to indicate the winners of the trick and to help facilitate scoring at the end of the hand. When the hands at all tables have been completed, the trays are then reset to their original content and then moved to another table for another group of players who have not participated in playing a tray with that arrangement of cards. Each hand is scored independently, with no actual full games really being played. Points for that hand are kept as normal for Contract Bridge except for the following exceptions: For making a contract when your side is indicated by the board to be not vulnerable, the partnership scores 300. For making contract when the board indicates the partnership is vulnerable they score 500. For making a contract that does not meet the 100 points required for winning a "game" the partnership scores 50 points whether vulnerable or not. These scores for the individual partnerships for determining the winner of the tournament are generally obtained using one of two methods:

Matchpoint Scoring: For each bridge board that a partnership plays, they score two points for each other partnership, who playing that same board scored less then they did. For each partnership that scored the same number of points, the partnership scores one point. After a partnership has played each board, they gain the cumulative points scored from all these boards. With the partnership who obtains the highest number of total points being declared the winner.

International Match Points Scoring: In this scoring method, each individual board score is subtracted from a score generated by one of the following:
  1. If there are exactly two of each specific board card combination, this score can be the score from the same players playing the identical cards at that same board.
  2. The average difference between the same score at all the other hands played on this tray.
Once the point difference is determined, the International Match Points scored by the partnership are based on the following table:

Difference in PointsInternational MatchPoints Earned
0 to 100
20 to 401
50 to 802
90 to 1203
130 to 1604
170 to 2105
220 to 2606
270 to 3107
320 to 3608
370 to 4209
430 to 49010
500 to 59011
600 to 74012
750 to 89013
900 to 109014
1100 to 129015
1300 to 149016
1500 to 174017
1750 to 199018
2000 to 224019
2250 to 249020
2500 to 299021
3000 to 349022
3500 to 399023
4000 and over24
The partnership obtaining the highest number of these International Matchpoints is declared the winner.

There are various methods of rotating the boards around the tables, with the general concept being to have each partnership play each board one time. The most widely used methods are the Mitchell Movements and Howell Movements. The Mitchell movements are often used when there are 7 or more playing tables and the Howell movements are usually used with less than seven playing tables. These are designed to allow the movements of the boards and players in an orderly and regular manner.

The three most common types of competition formats in Duplicate Bridge are individual, partnership and team of four, each of which will be described here.

Starting positions for 2 or 3 table Duplicate Bridge Play The most common competition format is individual players, usually consisting of a smaller and more casual Duplicate Bridge session, consisting of 8 or 12 players (two or three tables) each playing independently. In these cases, the players themselves would change seats or tables between rounds. The game is arranged in such a manner that each player would play as partner with every other player one time and as an opponent against each other player twice. At the start of such a game, each player would randomly draw or receive a card or slip of paper which would assign that participant his player number for the duration of the competition. The number drawn would then determine that players starting position, table and other pertinent information. Each table would play the exact same set of boards for the game, thus each table would essentially be playing identical hands of Bridge (albeit with a different set of players and different order of the hands). Between hands, the boards would be transferred between tables. After the initial game, the players would then move on a prearranged pattern to another seat or table. The boards played at the next table would be different than the previous set of boards played, but as before, all tables would play the exact same set of boards during the round. The following rules should be used to determine the movement of the players after each game. The player at the North position at table one would remain in the same position for the entire session, but all other players would move to another seat as appropriate. After each round, every other player except the one in the North position at table 1 would move to the seat previously occupied by the player in the next lower number than their own. The player assigned number 1, would move to the position of the player with the highest number. The standard starting seating arrangement for one of these two or three table Duplicate Bridge games is described in the following table and is illustrated in the diagram to the left:

Two Table Duplicate Bridge     Three Table Duplicate Bridge
TablePlayer's NumberPosition at Table
TablePlayer's NumberPosition at Table

Another common competition format used in Duplicate Bridge is partnership competition using the Mitchell system of player movement. The setup and player seat determination would be the same as the individual player format. However, once the partnerships are determined, these partnerships would remain the same for the entire session. After each round, the partnership in the North-South position would stay in their same seats, but the opposing partnership in the East-West position would move to the East-West positions at the table with the next highest number. The East-West partnership at the highest numbered table would instead move to table 1. The four boards to be played during the round would be moved to the next lower table (the boards at table 1 being moved to the highest numbered table). The session would be completed when each East-West partnership has played at each table one time. Using the Mitchell system of player movement there would actually be two winning teams. The highest scoring team in the North-South position and the highest scoring team in the East-West position are all considered the winners of the competition.

Duplicate Bridge Teams of Four Bracket Chart The last commonly used Duplicate Bridge competition format is Teams of four competition. In this format, players are first arranged into teams of four players. These teams are often preselected before the competition but may also be randomly arranged as per the method described for individual play. Two of the players from the team of four are sat in the North-South position of one table and the other two players of the team would be at the East-West position of a different table. Both these tables should play the exact same set of boards. At the end of a round, the sum total of both partnerships in the team of four are totalled to determine the team of fours total score for the round. In this competition format, the winning teams usually then to the next round until the game is down to just two teams, who then vie to be the top team of four.

Pivot Bridge: Another Bridge variant designed for tournaments and other situations where multiple tables of Bridge are to be played is Pivot Bridge. In Pivot Bridge multiple numbers of tables are set out for play and players do not progress or move from one table to another, staying at the same table for a full round. Players will not move positions during a round, but the players may move position at their respective table at completion of a round (see below). There are two standard methods of playing a full round:
  1. Four Deal Method: In the Four Deal Method, exactly four deals are played. Scoring in this method is the same as Standard Contract Bridge with the following differences:
    Every deal is considered to be separate and scored independently of any other deal. No trick scores are advanced from one deal to the next. To make Game, a side must score 100 trick points, and this must be done in just one deal. Making game in this one deal earns a game bonus of 300 points for the partnership if they are considered vulnerable during the deal and 500 if not. For contracts bid and made that are less than the full value of game, the partnership scores an additional 50 points. Bonus points made for Small and Grand slams may only be scored if bid for. A side may never score more than 1000 points during a single deal. If their score exceeds this, the score is capped at 1000 for the deal. The one exception to this rule is if a slam contract was bid and made which may bring the score over this limit.

    Vulnerability for the hand is determined based on which deal of the round is being played. For the first deal of a round, neither side is vulnerable. For both the second and third rounds, the dealing side is considered vulnerable with the opponents not vulnerable. For the fourth and last deal, both partnerships are considered vulnerable.

  2. Rubber Method: In the Rubber method the game is played similarly to the standard game, with as many deals played in the round as necessary to determine a winner for the round. Scoring and determination of vulnerability is exactly the same as in the standard game of Contract Bridge described above.

  3. This game can be played by four or five players per table, with any number of individual tables. The objective is for, during a full session of Pivot Bridge each player will play as the partner and the opponent of each other player for one game. To accomplish this most of the players change position at the table after each round. The specific movement of the individual players after each round is shown in the diagram below: Pivot Bridge Player Movement
    Generally, Pivot Bridge is arranged with four or five players at each table. With five per table, a different player will sit out each round. Before starting play, each player should draw a card from a face-down shuffle deck. The player drawing the highest card becomes the first dealer for the round and his partner would be the player drawing the second highest card who would sit opposite the dealer. The players drawing the third and fourth highest cards would also sit opposite each other, becoming partners for the round. If five players are playing per table, the player drawing the lowest card would sit out the first round. During a round the deal rotates around the table from player to player clockwise around the table. At the end of three full rounds (with four players) or five rounds (with five players) the players would then again draw for first dealer and partners and start the table rotation over. At the end of the session, the player with the highest cumulative score over all the hands is declared the session winner.

    Progressive Bridge: Progressive Bridge is another method of allowing a larger number of players to all participate in a session of Bridge and is sometimes used in small Bridge tournaments. Progressive Bridge is usually played using two or three individual tables (for 8 or 12 players), although sometimes four or more tables can be accommodated. After each complete round, the players would then move to another seat or table for the next complete round. Each round in Progressive Bridge consists of exactly four hands played by each table of four participants. Each player at the table deals one hand, starting with the player in the "South" position and continuing in a clockwise direction around the table. After the four deals have been finished at all tables, the players would then move to their next assigned table and seat for the next round.

    Sample tally card which might be used in Progressive Bridge
    The scoring for Progressive Bridge is the same as the Standard game of Contract Bridge with a few differences: The rules for vulnerability are the same as for Pivot Bridge and Chicago, as follows:
    On the first deal, neither partnership is considered to be vulnerable.
    On the Second and Third deal, the dealers partnership are considered to be vulnerable.
    On the fourth and last deal of the round, both partnerships are considered vulnerable.
    If a deal is passed out and that hand not played, the deal passes to the next player in turn and both partnerships score 0 for the passed out hand. After the set of four deals is completed for each round, the players would reset their score for the next round.

    Tally Cards: Before the start of a session of Progressive Bridge each player is given a special tally card. This can be assigned by the game mediator or they can be randomly drawn by each player. This tally card serves several purposes. First, the players cumulative score is recorded on their individual tally card. In addition, the opponents score should also be recorded on the players card. The tally card also contains a number which indicates that players number. This number is used to indicate the players table and seat position for each round during the game session. The attempted goal in Progressive Bridge is for each player to play as partners with each other player for one complete game and twice against each other player as an opponent. To accomplish this goal, the player movements during the session are arranged in a specific manner. Any arrangement which allows this pattern may be used, but the following player movements (shown for sessions consisting of two and three tables) are common:

    Two Table Arrangement     Three Table Arrangement
    Round NumberTable 1 Players
    (N-S vs E-W)
    Table 2 Players
    (N-S vs E-W)
    11-6 vs 2-53-8 vs 4-7
    22-3 vs 5-81-4 vs 6-7
    31-8 vs 3-62-7 vs 4-5
    41-2 vs 3-45-6 vs 7-8
    51-7 vs 2-83-5 vs 4-6
    62-6 vs 3-71-5 vs 4-8
    72-4 vs 6-81-3 vs 5-7
    Round NumberTable 1 Players
    (N-S vs E-W)
    Table 2 Players
    (N-S vs E-W)
    Table 3 Players
    (N-S vs E-W)
    11-2 vs 3-45-6 vs 7-89-10 vs 11-12
    22-6 vs 3-117-9 vs 8-101-5 vs 4-12
    34-11 vs 7-122-9 vs 3-81-6 vs 5-10
    42-12 vs 5-93-7 vs 4-81-11 vs 6-10
    51-7 vs 4-103-9 vs 5-112-8 vs 6-12
    63-10 vs 5-121-8 vs 2-74-9 vs 6-11
    76-8 vs 9-112-4 vs 10-121-3 vs 5-7
    83-6 vs 7-101-4 vs 9-122-11 vs 5-8
    91-10 vs 8-113-12 vs 6-92-5 vs 4-7
    101-12 vs 6-74-5 vs 10-112-3 vs 8-9
    111-9 vs 7-112-10 vs 3-54-6 vs 8-12

    As shown on the charts above, the seating arrangement at each table for the listed player would be in the order of North, South, East then West. The player in the South position would be the first dealer, with the deal rotating in a clockwise rotation for each of the four deals in the round.

    Special sets of these tally cards can be created or purchased showing this information as well as spaces for a players assigned number, name and scoring information. The following links contain easily printable versions of two and three table tally cards for playing Progressive Bridge: Two Table Tally Card, Three Table Tally Card.

    At the end of the entire session, all of the players' tally cards would be compared and the individual player with the highest total would be considered the winner for the session or tournament.

    Contract Whist: This game is played identically to contract bridge in all respects save one. In this variation, the hand opposite the winning bidder is not turned over as a dummy hand, with this player (as the bidders partner) instead retaining his hand and taking an active part in the hand. Thus, the bidder's partner would play a card from his hand to each trick at his normal turn. He does not expose his hand (as the dummy hand is normally exposed) but keeps it concealed as the rest of the players in the game. Scoring, bidding and all other rules for this game are the same as in contract bridge.

    Chicago: This game also known as Four Deal Bridge or Club Bridge and each game consists of exactly four hands or deals. This game was created in the Standard Club in Chicago, Illinois to allow faster games and more frequent rotation for partners in larger groups. In this game, each of the four participants deals once. At the conclusion of these four deals all the players would then cut again for partners, first dealer and seating position as normal. At the end of a full session (one game or multiple games), the player who has accumulated the most total points would be declared the overall winner. If a deal is passed out due to no bids being made on the hand, the same dealer deals again and the passed out deal not counting as one of the four deals in that game.

    Diagram to easily indicate the current dealer and vulnerability in Chicago.
    Diagram as it would appear during the third deal.
    The top diagram shows an aid that can be drawn on the score sheet to help clarify the current dealer and vulnerability. The second diagram shows it being used, with the third deal currently in progress.
    Any partial score during a hand is carried over to the next hand. However, at the completion of the four deals (making a complete game) only full game scores are attributed to the partners winning them, with any partial scores being dropped. However, making a partial score on the fourth and final deal of the game, each player in the partnership would score 100 points. All scores for the partnership are attributed to the individual players such that if changing partners in subsequent games of Chicago a cumulative total score can be kept for each player.

    For a partnership making Game when vulnerable, they receive a 500 point bonus. For making when not vulnerable, the bonus is 300. With each deal during the round, as the dealer changes so does the vulnerability. The following chart shows the dealer and vulnerability for each deal in a game of Chicago:
    Deal NumberDealerVulnerability
    1NorthNeither partnership
    2EastNorth/South partnership (Non Dealing side)
    3SouthEast/West partnership (Non Dealing side)
    4WestBoth partnerships
    One method often used to help keep track of the current deal, dealer and vulnerability, is to draw a large X, either on the top of the score sheet or on is own separate sheet. Thus, at the start of the first hand, a number 1 should be written that faces the first dealer (North). At the start of the second hand, a number 2 would be written in the angle facing the second dealer (East) and so on. Thus, it is always easy to determine at a glance which deal it is and which partnerships are vulnerable.

    Another variation of this game, swaps the vulnerability in the second and third deals, thus making the dealing side vulnerable. The game can be played using either cycle, but is much more commonly played with the non-dealing partnership being vulnerable on those deals.

    Bridgette: Bridgette is a fun two player variation of Contract Bridge created by Joli Quentin Kansil in 1970. Bridgette is played using a special deck consisting of 55 cards. These special Bridgette decks can sometimes be found for sale by game and card manufacturers, but the deck can also be created using a Standard 52 card deck with the addition of three Jokers which are called Colons. As most card decks come with only two Jokers, a Joker from another pack with the same back design can be used, or, sometimes an additional card with the same back design is included with some card decks (usually the display card or rules card). These Jokers should be distinguishable in some manner from each other as each of these Colons has a specific name and purpose. The color Joker is designated as the Grand Colon, the black and white joker included with most packs is the Royal Colon and the display card is designated the Little Colon. The usual recommended way to recall which Joker is which Colon is to mark the faces with the cards with a permanent marker in certain ways. The chart below describes the markings usually made on the Jokers to distinguish them , which is some form of the colon punctuation mark, filled out in different ways.

    The markings used to distinguish the Colons in Bridgette
    The markings commonly used to distinguish the Colons in Bridgette
    The normal cards are ranked exactly the same as in standard Contract Bridge (rank and suit). The three Colons have no actual comparative ranking, but are associated with a specific group of other cards in the deck as follows:
    ColonGroupStandard Marking
    Grand ColonThe AcesColon mark consisting of two filled in circles with a letter "A" between the dots.
    Royal ColonThe Royalty Cards (King, Queen, Jack)A colon mark with one circle filled in and the other empty (non-filled). Between the two vertical dots is written "JQK".
    Little ColonNumbered Cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)A colon mark with both circles empty, plus "2 - 10" written between the dots.
    To determine the first dealer, both players should draw a card from a shuffle deck. The player drawing the higher card (using standard Contract Bridge card ranking) becomes the first dealer. If either player draws a Colon, they should draw again as the Colons are considered to have no rank. Thereafter the deal alternates between both players from hand to hand. After the dealer is determined the dealer should thoroughly shuffle the deck and his opponent cuts. After the cut, the dealer distributes 13 face down cards to each player, one at a time, starting with his opponent. The dealer then places the deck face down on the table as the stock. He removes the top card of the stock and places it face up next to the stock to begin the discard pile.

    By convention, upon completion of the deal, both players would then pick up their cards and arrange them by suit. The Colons should be placed between two suit groupings in the hand or at either end of the hand to separate them.

    After arranging their hands, there is a sort of drawing phase. The dealer gives the top two cards, face down, from the stock to the non-dealer. He then draws a certain number of cards for himself from the stock. This number is directly dependant on the face up card on the discard pile. If the face up card is an Ace or the Grand Colon, he draws 12 cards from the stock. If the card is a royalty card or the Royal Colon he draws eight cards, and if the upcard is a numbered card or the Little Colon he draws four. After this draw each player then arranges their hand again by suit they then reduce their hand back to 13 cards. These cards are placed face down to the side and are not used again in the hand. However, before a player looks at the cards from the draw, he can elect to take the upcard into his hand. To do so, he must hold the matching colon for that group of cards and place it face down in front of himself. The non-dealer has the first opportunity to take this card, followed by the dealer. If the upcard is a Colon, it cannot be exchanged for.

    After the draw phase of the game, the bidding begins. The Dealer is the first bid and must declare some type of bid. This bidding is similar to regular Contract Bridge in that a player bids a number and suit (or No-Trump). The lowest allowable bid for the dealer, is zero no trump (which is not a legal bid in standard Contract Bridge). This is a bid to win six tricks with no trump suit being used in the hand. The next highest bid after the Zero no Trump would be ONE Clubs, and continues as in normal Bridge. A bid of zero no trump is a bid by the dealer to play the hand at No Trump and to win no tricks. After the dealer bids, the non dealer then has the option to make a higher bid, but is not required to, and may pass instead. In this way, the bidding alternates between the players until there are two consecutive passes. Thus the original player would need to also pass after his opponent passes to make the bid official. Doubles and redoubles are also allowed, with the same effect on the final score. A bid of double ends the bidding if followed by one pass, and a redouble ends the bidding phase immediately. A bid may only overcall a redouble when that bid is higher than that necessary to increase the previous high bid during the hand. In order to declare a bid in a certain suit, the player must possess in his hand at least two cards of the bid suit. If a player makes a bid that is higher then would normally be required in order to raise the previous bid (called a Jump Bid), he must have at least four cards of the bid suit. In order for a player to be allowed a bid of No Trump, he must have in his hand at least one card of each suit. The final bid for a suited contract requires this bidder to have four or more cards in the bid suit.

    After the bidding is completed, the Declarer makes the first lead to the first trick with any card. As in the normal play of the hand at Contract Bridge the opponent must play a card of the same suit led if he has it. If not, he may play any card, including a card of the trump suit. The player who plays the highest card of the trump suit to the trick wins the trick, or, if no trump suit was played to the suit, the highest played card of the led suit wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads the first card to the next trick, continuing in this way until all 13 tricks have been played and won. By convention, the cards to each trick are not played to the center of the table but rather played face up in front of the player. The winning card is placed face down on that players left and the losing card is placed face down to a players right.

    Playing the Royal Colon to a trick
    Playing the Royal Colon to this trick forces the leader to lead the next trick from a different suit
    The Colons are special cards that a player can use for specific purposes during the hand. After a players lead, the opponent can play the appropriate Colon to a trick instead of a card of the suit led (whether the player has a card of the suit or not). The Colon so played must be the one associated with the card led to the trick (i.e. if a King was led to the trick the player could play the Royal Colon). When this is done, the leader of the trick still wins the trick, however, on the next trick they must lead a card of a different suit than that of the current trick. However, if that player does not have cards of any other suit, then this rule obviously would not apply. A Colon of a different group can also be played to the opponents trick, but it does not confer the same restriction on the winner of the trick. A Colon of a different card grouping can only be played to the opponents trick if the player has no cards of the suit led.
    A Colon can also be played as the lead card to a trick. When a Colon is led to a trick the opponent may play any card in his hand. If the opponents card played to the trick is from the same group as the Colon or is a card of the Trump suit, the opponent wins the trick. However, if the player plays a card from one of the non-matching groups, the Colon wins the trick. Similarly if another Colon is played to the trick the leader to the trick wins.

    The scoring in Bridgette is also very similar to standard Contract Bridge, except for a few notable differences: All other scoring and the criteria for winning a game are identical to that of standard Contract Bridge.

    Standard Whist: Whist was the predecessor to modern Contract Bridge. It still maintains a wide following, especially considering the games many similarities to Contract Bridge. Standard whist is just different enough to warrant its own separate game entry. Please see the How to Play Whist page for rules for this game and its variations.

    Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved.
    [Main][Site Map][Glossary][Copyright Page]