How to Play Bridge: Here Are the Rules

Card games are complicated to learn and even more complicated to master. Games like bridge are almost impossible to learn on your own unless you have a decent guide. A guide can be anything from online games to experts who have been playing the game for decades. 

Bridge is complicated even for seasoned players. Here is what you should know about the rules of bridge, even though it will be almost impossible to grasp at once.

The Basics of Bridge

Bridge is often played by four players, two times two, meaning that there are two partnerships. Bridge uses a standard 52 card deck. It is divided into four suits, spades, clubs, hearts and diamonds, ace being the card with the most worth.

The cards are dealt so that every player has 13 cards. After the cards are dealt, one of the teams plays first, and they are called the Declarer, or rather, one of the two people in the partnership. The other two are the Defenders. The Declarer’s partner is called the Dummy and their cards are laid on the table, face up.

The game has a bidding phase where you have to state how many tricks it will take you to win a deal. When all players pass consecutively, the bidding phase is over. Bidding is done so that you can tell your partner what type of cards you have. If you bid 4S, it means that you consider spades as your way to victory, in at least 4 contracted tricks. 

Bridge Gameplay

The game is played clockwise and the Declarer starts first, declaring a trump or notrump card. Once the Declarer starts with the opening hand, the Dummy’s cards are turned face up and placed on the table. All players must follow suit if they have the card. The highest card in the suit wins the trick.

If the player doesn’t have a suit, they can play a trump card, and win the trick. At the end of a deal, the declaring pair’s number of tricks is compared against the contract they made, and if they met the criteria, they score some points, based on how the tricks went.

If they didn’t meet the criteria, then the defenders score. 

A Game of Tactics

Bridge is a game where you have to play with your partner at all times. Even the best professionals often relied on their partner more than on their own knowledge. As a team game, you must use teamwork if you want to succeed.

Communication and problem solving are among the two most important skills to practice if you want to be good at bridge.

The rules, while complicated, become obvious after a game or two of bridge. 

As a game which requires lots of problem solving, it is not one that can be played in five minutes. Typical bridge sessions last about six hours or more, depending on who is playing and whether it is a tournament or a casual match between friends.

Duplicate Bridge

Duplicate bridge is mostly played at tournaments and clubs. The same exact hands are dealt across multiple tables, hence the name duplicate. The scoring is based on relative performance across all teams. Since they are duplicated, all the tables are either Declarers or Defenders, so every table must do good in order to actually win. 

Bridge is a very hard game to play, particularly if you want to master it. It is a game of skill and patience, problem solving and communication. Firstly, you should learn the rules and after that, start playing with people.