Bridge: Learn The Basics of The Game

Bridge: Learn The Basics of The Game

After a series of seven articles in this column about introduction to the game of bridge, it is time to educate the readers about some basics of Card Play and Bidding both, but one by one

Arvind VaidyaUpdated: Sunday, March 17, 2024, 03:40 AM IST
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After a series of seven articles in this column about introduction to the game of bridge, it is time to educate the readers about some basics of Card Play and Bidding both, but one by one. Though it is not possible to teach each aspect through a column like this, I can place before you a few basics on which a learner can build on subsequently.

Card Play and Bidding are the two distinct but interlinked parts of each bridge deal we play. Bidding precedes the card play. However, it is useful that a learner becomes familiar with card play first and later looks at the bidding issues.

Let us start! It will be useful if you keep a deck of 52 cards ready with you before you read further (but not mandatory). There are 4 Suits – Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs. Each Suit has 13 cards with the mighty Ace on the top and all the way down to the 2. Each bridge deal has 13 tricks maximum and each player is dealt 13 cards (13 is the number for Bridge).

Let us say the South player (see diagram) starts the first trick.

Once South starts with H 5, West plays next H 9, North is next playing King and in the end its East who plays H 3 to complete the trick. This is clockwise rotation. Further, each player should play a card only on his turn and not out of turn.

The next question is: who plays first to the next trick? 

It is the player who wins the last trick is required to play first card of the next trick. In the diagram above, it is North who will start the next trick

Another very important rule is that ‘each player must follow with a card of the suit that first player has led to the ongoing trick. Let us go back to the diagram.

Naturally, the next logical question is: What if any player has no card in the suit that is led? Now of course he can play a card from any of the remaining suits. Such card played is termed as a ‘discard’.

As explained in one of the previous articles, there are two types of contracts: Notrump Contracts & Suit Contracts. If it is a SUIT contract, then we have a suit that is designated as the trump suit. See the situation when a discard happens to be a trump card! It simply wins the trick! But this is not the case when it is a NT contract. See following tricks as a comparison

Notrump Contracts: H A, H 9, H 7, H2!  (H Ace wins)

Suit Contract (spades are trumps): H A, H 9, H 7, S 2 ……here a lowly spade 2 beats the mighty H Ace and wins the trick!! (see the diagram below)

The hierarchy in each suit is already well known. Ace is the most powerful card; King is the next most powerful and so on. Accordingly, it gets decided which player wins an ongoing trick. Lastly, a card once exposed and played, cannot be withdrawn. Also, after a trick is completed, cards are placed upside down. Once all cards are closed, no player can review those cards (bridge players must remember what is played already).

Thus, the play goes on till all cards are played. Also, in bridge, a player is allowed to claim tricks to save time, once he is sure about what he wants to claim. The opponents can verify if the claim is correct.

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