Bridge is played by four players, forming two pairs, the partners sitting opposite each other. In practice, the four players are identified by the four points of the compass. Thus North partnering South plays against East and West. Bridge is played clockwise.
The game is played with a deck of cards (without the jokers), each player receiving 13 cards from the dealer. Before dealing, the dealer asks the player sitting on his right to cut the deck (this move is not mandatory). In private games, it is a habit for the partner of the dealer to shuffle the other deck while dealing, and putting it on his right hand side.
The point in bridge is that the players fight for the 13 tricks. The first part of the game is the bidding, where the players are auctioning for tricks according to certain rules, while in the second part comes the play, where the auctioned tricks (or possibly more) have to be made for the declaring pair, while the opponents try to prevent this. Making the auctioned tricks (or preventing it, for the opponents) results in getting points, as a reward. Eventually, the goal is to achieve more points.
One trick consists of four cards (one card from each player), thus at the end of the play each players plays out all of the cards from his hand.
The definition of the tricks:
- One trick consists of four cards, taken by the side which contributes the highest card in the lead suit, or the highest trump.
- Following suit is compulsory, if possible!
- Players can follow with any card from hand in the lead suit. Following with a higher card than previously played cards is not compulsory.
- Players can follow with any card from hand if they can’t follow suit. Following with a trump is not compulsory.
- The very first lead at the beginning of the play is made by the player sitting behind declarer (on the left hand side of declarer). In the following tricks the lead is made by the player who took the previous trick. There’s no possibility for the other player of the same side to make the lead.
- After a trick, each player places the contributed card in front of them with its face down (the cards are not gathered in the middle of the table). (**The cards are in the same order as the tricks played.**) Usually the tricks taken by the other side are placed horizontally, and the tricks taken by our side are placed vertically.
The bidding is started by the dealer. After the start, each player has the right to bid or pass, when it is his or her turn. When a non pass bid is followed by three passes, the bidding ends. The owner of the last valid bid will be the declaring side (who wants to make the auctioned tricks, with possible overtricks), the other side will be the defending side (who wants to prevent this).
If the deal is passed out, this will be the result at competitions, in private games we can play another deal with the same dealer.
- A valid bid consist of a number and a named suit, for example: 3 clubs,
- The number in the bid specifies the minimum number of tricks excluding the 6 base tricks that should be taken to fulfill the contract. (If we take only 6 tricks, then the opponents have taken 7, so we lose.)
Thus the 3 clubs bid means that the side stands that with the clubs as trump, they take 9 or more tricks.
The ascending order of the suits:
Clubs (♣) diamonds (♦) hearts (♥) spade (♠) and no-trump (bid with no trumps)
Obviously, the lowest bid is 1 club and the highest is 7 no trump.
Each bid made by a player must be higher than the previous bid. This can be made by retaining the bid’s number and raise the suit’s rank, e.g.: upon 1 hearts we bid 1 spade (but 1 club is not a valid bid, because clubs are lower ranked than hearts), or we can bid by raising the trick number, in which case the bid’s suit is indifferent. For example, we can bid 2 clubs upon 1 heart (or even 3 or 4 clubs!).
There’s no limit in raising the bid’s rank. (We can bid 4 clubs upon 1 hearts, and often we do so).
When a player does not raise the bid, he usually passes. His or her alternative is to double the opponents, which does not change the bid, only the reward is higher (in both cases, whether the bid makes or fails). For example in the case of 3 clubs doubled the declarer still has to take 9 or more tricks for making, and the defenders 5 or more to defeat it.
The doubled side may redouble, if they assume the bid is making for sure. The case of redouble is similar to double, the reward is higher, and the bid is the same. Thus 3 clubs redoubled, as we have seen before, the declarer has to take 9 or more tricks and the defenders 5 or more for getting the reward points.
The last valid bid is named contract
In this part the declaring side tries to make the contract (with possible overtricks) while the defenders try setting it (with one or more undertricks).
The declaring side consists of one active player, the declarer, and a passive one, the dummy. The declarer will be that player, who bid first the contract’s suit from that side! For example, if the 1♦-1♥-4♥ bidding (opponents passing) is followed by three passes, then the declarer is the player who bid 1♥, and the player who bid the contract, 4♥, will be the dummy!
The lead is made by the player sitting behind declarer (left hand side from declarer), putting the first card face down on the table, and waiting for his/her partner’s permission to start the play. This is for avoiding mistakes, if a player leads out of turn, he/she is allowed to withdraw his/her card, until the card was face down!
The moment that the lead becomes visible, the cards of dummy are exposed, so that the cards are clearly visible for declarer. The cards are arranged in suits (black and red suits following in turn), the cards of each suit arranged in rank order in an overlapping column. In trump games, according to rules, the trump suit is placed to dummy’s right (declarer’s left).
During play tricks are not gathered, the cards being placed faced down in front of the player who played it, turned horizontally when the enemy wins the trick and vertically for our tricks.
Not gathering tricks is important in case of disagreements (sometimes happen), when tricks can be counted easily, also it is essential in duplicate game.
After the sides agree in the exact count of the tricks and the score, they record it and only after this can they begin another game.
The dealer of the next hand will be the player next to the first dealer, while his or her partner shuffling the other pack and places it right, and so forth until the game ends.