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How to play bridge

Bridge is fun! Learn how to play bridge with this short lesson and then play a free game against the computer.

The players and cards

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. Your partner is North at the top of the screen. West is your left hand opponent and East is your right hand opponent.

A full deck of 52 cards is used with no jokers. Each player is dealt 13 cards.

players in a game of bridge

You can see your cards at the bottom of the screen.

The auction

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. OK, so we need to know the rank of the suits.

Rank Of Suits In Bridge

  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

In each hand, you and your partner work together to win tricks.

The opening lead

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

opening lead in bridge

West leads the ♠A.

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 ♠6.

Winning Tricks

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.

winning tricks in bridge

West wins the trick with the ♠A. Bummer.

The Result

At the end of the hand, declarer's tricks are counted and think back to the contract for a moment. 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 otherwise the opposition win points. It's always the number bid plus another 6. Don't worry about the exact score yet, just try playing a hand and we can look at scoring later.

Play a free hand of bridge

Try playing this free hand of bridge. Good luck! Let us know how you get on.

free hand of bridge

Scoring

Scoring can seem a little complicated when you first look at it. You don't need to know how to score when you're playing online because the scores are always calculated and displayed for you. Still, it's helpful to know how to score and it's really not so hard.

Learning to score will make you a better bridge player. You'll bid better, you'll play better. And you'll know how to score. Let's do this!

Bridge players love points

Points are a way of evaluating the strength of your hand and when you before start learning more about bidding you'll find it helpful to learn how to count your points.

High card points in bridge are used to calculate the strength of your hand and are the most common method of hand evaluation.

Player Positions

During the auction, each player has different bidding tactics depending on their position in relation to the first bid.

Each player in a bridge game has slightly different bidding rules depending on who was the opener. Watch the video to learn more.

Next Steps

According to the World Bridge Federation, bridge is played by tens of millions of people throughout the world and more so than any other card game.

We're here to help you get started! Check out more bridge lessons and videos, ask us anything and play some more hands.

Welcome to the wonderful world of bridge!
Graeme, Tina, Bajir and all of us at Sky Bridge Club

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