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How to play bridge

Bridge is a partnership cards game for four players. Here at Sky Bridge Club the computer will play for the other three players so after watching the video you'll be able to play your first hand.

The Auction - choosing a contract

There is an auction on every hand before any cards are played. During the auction, players make bids to tell their partner what suit they like best. If you've ever watched a game of bridge then you'll know that bidding can seem like a strange language but you can get started without knowing any of that. Just pick a suit you like and bid that - you'll do fine!

The terminology for bidding is always a number plus a suit. For example, 1 or 4♠.

auction in a game of bridge

Those hearts look pretty good so South bids 1.

Each bid must either be for a greater number of tricks or a higher ranking trump suit, so we need to know the rank of the suits.

  1. NT Notrumps
  2. ♠ Spades
  3. Hearts
  4. Diamonds
  5. ♣ Clubs

After your 1 bid, if West wants to bid spades, he can bid 1♠ because spades rank higher than hearts but if he wanted to bid clubs he'd have to bid 2♣.

auction in a game of bridge

West has made spades the trump suit.

Each player can either bid...

auction in a game of bridge

North likes hearts, too!

...or pass.

auction in a game of bridge

East has nothing to say.

Going, going , gone!

After three passes in a row the auction is over.

auction in a game of bridge

Going, going, gone. Auction over.

2 was the last bid so hearts is the trump suit and 2 is the contract. That's where the name contract bridge comes from.

Playing the cards

South bid the hearts first on this hand so South is the "declarer".

The opening lead

After the auction is finished, the person to the left of declarer makes the opening lead.

opening lead in bridge

West leads the ♠6.

Declarer and Dummy

Declarer's partner is called the dummy. Dummy's cards are placed face up on the table and declarer takes control of that hand.

declarer and dummy in bridge

North is the dummy on this hand.

Following suit

In clockwise rotation, each player plays a card and if possible must 'follow suit', which means playing a card of the same suit as the one led. If someone can't follow suit then that player can play any card.

following suit in bridge

North follows suit with the ♠3.

Winning Tricks

Each round of four cards is called a trick, won by the partnership who plays the best card to that trick.

winning tricks in bridge

South wins the trick with the ♠A.

The highest card of the suit led wins the trick unless any player plays a trump in which case the highest trump played wins the trick.

The player who won the trick plays the first card to the next trick.

Practice Hand

Try playing this hand yourself. Good luck! Let us know how you get on.

play hand of bridge

Scoring

On the hand we've been discussing, the contract was 2. The '2' means declarer must make at least 2 plus another 6 to win points for fulfilling the contract. It's always the number bid plus another 6.

Now check out how to score at bridge, other bridge lessons and videos, ask us anything and play some more hands.

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