Want To Learn Bridge? Here's How You Can Score In the Game

Want To Learn Bridge? Here's How You Can Score In the Game

Why and what for we play any game? We want to win and we want our opponent to lose!

Arvind VaidyaUpdated: Friday, November 24, 2023, 10:50 PM IST

Why and what for we play any game? We want to win and we want our opponent to lose! Or, as spectators, we want our favourites to win and others to lose. In other words, without scoring, any game can become boring. It will be devoid of excitement and fun. In fact, any sport will be a non-starter if it does not have its own structure of result-oriented scoring. Bridge is no exception!

Before you read about the scoring, let's understand the ‘hierarchy’ in Bridge. We have five strains — Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, No-trump. Amongst them, there is a hierarchy. Clubs are at the lowest and then it goes up to Diamond to Heart to Spade to No-trump (see the picture below and check the order from right to left in each row).

Clubs and Diamonds are called the ‘minor’ suits while Hearts and Spades are called the ‘major’ suits. No-trump is just No-trump. For minor suits, the value of each trick is 20 and for a major suit, it’s 30 per trick. For No-trump, the first NT is 40 and each subsequent No-trump is 30 each.

Let us see a few examples. Pick any final contract and apply the scoring rule. Say the final contract is 3 Spades. It is a major suit and hence its 3×30 = 90. Thus 90 is the trick value of this contract. Take 5 Clubs contract, for instance. It is a minor suit, so it’s 5×20 = 100 as the trick value of this contract. Check for 2N. It will be 40 + 30 =70 because the first NT is 40 and each subsequent NT is 30. This will tell you that any contract that is reached, will have its own trick valuation.

At this point, let us take a step further to know what are the four types of contracts. They are: Partials, Game, Small Slam and Grand Slam. The entire level 6 is ‘Small Slams’ and the entire level seven is ‘Grand Slams’. Now, how do we differentiate between a Partial Contract and a Game Contract? This is where the trick value of the contract comes into play.

If the contract value is less than 100, it is a Partial Contract but if it’s 100 or more, it is a Game Contract – as simple as that!

But a mere differentiation of contracts is not enough! There must be some incentives for bidding higher and higher. If not, anybody would bid as low as possible and stuff out the excitement of the game. Let us see these incentives now.

If you bid and make a Partial Contract – you get trick value + 50 bonus points.

If you bid and make a Game Contract – you get trick value + 300 bonus points.

If you bid and make a Small Slam – you get trick value + game bonus (300) + extra slam bonus (500).

If you bid and make a Grand Slam (the ultimate) – you get trick value + game bonus (300) + small slam bonus (500) + extra bonus for Grand Slam (1000).

This should explain why the bidders look to bid high. Higher the level, bigger the risk, but high gains too. This makes playing bridge challenging and exciting. It is a mix of good bidding, sound judgement and optimisation. What is the flip side? Well, if you go overboard, you might fail and gift points to your opponents.