Bridge card game was started in the Middle East during the 19th century. Auction Bridge was the first widely played game and was developed by the British that were living in India, but the popularity of this game soon spread to England and the United States. However,
Contract Bridge is the main version of bridge that’s played today. It gained popularity in the 1920’s when changes to the game were introduced by Harold S. Vanderbilt.
Numbers Of Players – Bridge is played with a deck of 52 cards (take out the jokers) and four people sitting at a square table with the players who are sitting across from each other forming a partnership. Four, playing as two pairs, with partners facing each other. Tradition refers to the pairs as North-South and East-West.
The Cards – There are four suits: clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades. Each suit has 13 cards. In bridge, the deuce is the lowest card in the suit and the ace is the highest. In Bridge, the suits also have rank giving them priority in value and bid. The suits rank Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs. Spades and Hearts are major suits, Diamonds and Clubs are minor suits.
The Deal – Draw cards to select the person to deal the cards (the dealer). This person distributes the cards face down, in clockwise rotation one at a time, until each player at the table has a hand consisting of 13 cards. Deal and play are clockwise, the deal proceeds to the left side person after each hand.
Aim of the Game – Each partnership tries to win (or take) as many tricks as possible. The aim for the ‘declaring side’ is to win as many tricks as they bid. The aim of the ‘defending side’ is to stop them.
Bidding – Bidding is the language of bridge. Here, the partners decide the playing strength of their hands before naming their best contract. A bid consists of two words, a number (which indicates how many odd tricks or tricks in excess of six the bidder proposes to win) and a denominator (which is the suit the bidder decides to declare the trump).
The dealer starts the bidding and is followed by the other players in a clockwise manner. A player may bid or pass, if he decides not to bid in that turn. Each bid must however be higher than the previous one. A player may double if he is convinced his opponent cannot make his bid.
Bidding continues till three of the four players pass or all four pass during the first round of bidding. The last bid becomes the contract. The person who first named the denomination on the team that won the bid is called the declarer.
Hand Valuation – The ace = 4; the king = 3; the queen = 2; the jack = 1. In addition to giving points for high cards, points are given for the shape of the hand. A five-card suit = 1; a six-card suit = 2; a seven-card suit = 3; and an eight-card suit = 4. Once you have valued your hand, the next step is to bid according to its strength and shape.
Game play – Players may be identified by the positions North (N), East (E), South (S) and West (W). Play begins, far right, after the bidding. The declarer attempts to make the contract. The declarer’s partner is called the dummy, whose cards are placed face up on the table and played by the declarer.
Dummy takes no active part in the play of the hand. Whenever it is dummy’s turn to play, the declarer plays one of the dummy’s cards. Dummy is not permitted to offer any advice or comment on the play. The highest card in the suit led wins the trick, unless someone plays the card from the trump suit, in which case, the highest trump wins the trick. The game continues till all thirteen tricks have been taken.
Scoring – As its name suggests, rubber bridge is played in rubbers. A rubber is the best of three games. A game is won by the first team to score 100 or more points for successful contracts, over several deals if necessary.
A side which has already won one game towards the current rubber is said to be vulnerable. A side which has not yet won a game is not vulnerable. A side which is vulnerable is subject to higher bonuses and penalties than one that is not.
Scores for successful contracts are entered below the line, and count towards winning a game. Other scores, such as bonuses for tricks made in excess of the contract (overtricks), or penalties for tricks short of the contract (under tricks) are entered above the line, and do not count towards winning the game.
Below the Line – This is the real score. The score that contributes to winning the game. The bids you made, the tricks you took. We can only score points below the line from the tricks we take in the contract.
Anything extra, if you can imagine for a moment, counts for nothing. The first team to 100 wins the game. Then a new game is started with the (below line) score a zero.
A ‘rubber’ is the best of three games. The first to 100 wins the game. A new game starts with score at zero. The first to win two games wins the rubber.
Above the Line – This “counts for nothing” as was said above. The ‘above line score’ counts all your bonuses, extra tricks, or rewards for taking the Declarer down. These are not the points that win the game. This score, is the icing and confetti if you like.
Overtricks – Any overtricks, those are tricks taken in excess of the number bid, are scored above the line. As are any bonuses for taking Slams.
Undertricks – If the declarer is beaten, “goes down”, and fails to fulfil their contract, the opponents score above the line a specified amount for each trick by which the declarer fell short.This amount is also depends on whether the contract was doubled, redoubled and whether or not the Declarer’s side was vulnerable.
Vulnerable – When a side’s score below the line reaches 100 or more, which may take one or more deals, they win the game. A new game starts with a score below the line at zero.
By winning a game, a side now becomes vulnerable. What does that mean? It means that now certain bonuses for both you and your opponents are worth more. Now that one side is vulnerable, there are more points on offer above the line.
Slam Bonus – A contract to make 12 tricks is known as a small slam. A contract to make all 13 tricks is called a grand slam. For bidding and making a slam, declarer’s side get an extra bonus above the line, depending on their vulnerability, as follows:
* Slam Bonus Small Slam Grand Slam
* Not Vulnerable 500 1000
* Vulnerable 750 1500