Bridge is a trick-taking card game for four players in two teams that use a standard deck of 52 cards. Specific to Bridge is an intricate bidding phase between dealing and trick-taking. The card game Bridge is especially popular in the United States and several European regions, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.
To start the game, the dealer shuffles the deck and deals 13 cards to each player. Then it is time for the bidding. If you play multiple rounds, the turn to deal rotates clockwise each round.
The player to the left of the dealer starts the bidding, stating the number of tricks they believe they can win as well as their preferred trump suit. Alternatively, they can pass. Bidding continues clockwise until three consecutive players pass.
There is also a complex of bidding conventions in Bridge, as specific bids are often used to communicate information about one’s hand during the bidding process. A few common examples are:
- Stayman Convention: Used to find a 4-4 fit in a major suit.
- Jacoby Transfer: Used to transfer the opening bid to a minor suit.
- Weak Two Bids: A bid of 2 of a suit that shows a weak hand with a long suit.
- Reverse Bids: A bid of a higher-ranking suit than the previous bid, indicating stronger values.
- Blackwood Convention: Used to ask partner for the number of Aces they hold.
- Gerber Convention: Used to ask partner for the number of Kings they hold.
- Slam Conventions: Used to bid and find 6NT or 7NT contracts.
There are are many more bidding conventions used in Bridge, so it’s important for team mates to agree on which ones they both use and understand.
After finding the bidding’s winner, their team determines the declarer, who names the trump suit. Also, the declarer’s partner becomes the dummy, revealing their hand cards on the table to all players. The declarer will name the card the dummy plays each turn.
Trick-Taking starts with the player to the dealer’s left playing a card. The others must follow suit if they can. If they can’t, they must play a trump card if they have one. They cannot win the trick if they can’t follow suit or play trump. The highest card in the leading suit or the highest trump wins the trick. The contributing player gets to start the next one.
The round ends after all cards are played. Points are scored for taking tricks and fulfilling the bid. Also, there may be several bonus points awarded, depending on the scoring system you use.
The entire game ends either after a predetermined number of deals have been played or after a certain threshold of points has been reached by either team.
By the way, if you enjoy team-based trick-taking games that include bidding and reaching an announced number of tricks or points, come have a look at our games at the Whist Palace and Pinochle Palace.