Learn | How To Play Bridge

How to play bridge

Bridge is fun! We'll show you how to play bridge and then you can play a free game against the computer.

  1. Bridge is played by four players in two partnerships with one full pack of cards, no jokers.
  2. The game starts with an auction in which each partnership bids to choose the trump suit.
  3. After trumps have been chosen each partnership plays cards to try and win tricks.

The players and cards in a game of bridge

bridge example hand

Bridge is played by four players, with partners seated across from each other. It's convenient to refer to the players by their compass positions. When you play bridge online at Sky Bridge Club you sit South. You can see your cards at the bottom of the screen. Your partner is North at the top of the screen. West is your left hand opponent and East is your right hand opponent.

In bridge, a full deck of 52 cards is used with no jokers. Each player is dealt 13 cards

The auction in bridge

bridge example hand

During the auction, players make bids to tell their partner what kind of cards they are holding.

Each bid must either be for a greater number of tricks or a higher ranking trump suit. The rank of suits from highest to lowest is as follows

Rank Of Suits In Bridge
  1. NT Notrumps
  2. !S Spades
  3. !H Hearts
  4. !D Diamonds
  5. !C Clubs

A player who doesn't want to bid can pass. After three passes in a row the auction is over.

Most bids in an auction mean what they say. If someone bids hearts you can be pretty sure they've got some hearts! The more you play, the more you'll learn how to evaluate your hand in terms of trump length and overall strength when partner makes a bid and what sort of hand partner will expect you to have when you bid.

Playing the cards

In each hand, you and your partner work together to win tricks. The number of tricks you have to win is determined by the auction.

The opening lead

bridge example hand

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

Declarer and Dummy

bridge example hand

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

Following suit

bridge example hand

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.

Winning Tricks

bridge example hand

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

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.

How to score at bridge

The side that chose the trump suit tries to win the tricks they bid for. Try this bridge score calculator to work out the final score for each hand.

Now it's your turn!

Try playing this free hand of bridge

bridge example hand

Good luck! Let us know how you get on.