Bridge or Contract Bridge is one of the most popular strategy card games played across the world where two teams try to score the most points by winning the tricks. Notably, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is also a huge fan of the game.
Despite that not many people in India are aware of it or know how to play except for a few. However, the Indian men’s team securing a silver at the Asian Games 2022 is sure to create interest among people as to what the card game is all about. Fret not as we are here to tell you all about how it is played.
The basics of the game can be very simple to understand, but it features a high skill-level ceiling for top-tier matches. As a result, teamwork is also an important part of the game.
A game of Bridge starts with four players sitting in four directions (East, West, North and South) facing each other. Four of them are then split in teams of two with players facing each other in a team. A deck of 52 cards is then divided equally between all four players (13 cards each). One of the players then starts the bidding. Let’s say the player in the west does it.
Now during bidding, west will either announce how many tricks their team will win or pass it to north to declare in a clockwise manner. The person bidding will also designate a suit as the trump suit. The person selecting the trump suit will also announce the number of tricks their team will win in a round.
By default, the trick bidding starts with six, so the bidder selecting the trump suit will announce the number of tricks they believe their team will win. For example, the bidder selecting 1 of hearts can say their team will win 7 (6 default + 1 announced) tricks with heart as the trump.
Tricks are the hands played by all players and the person with the highest value card in the suit wins the trick. Players will only start scoring after winning 6 tricks.
All the players will bid clockwise, and each bid has to be higher in either the number or in the suit. The hierarchy of suit is No Trump (NT)>Spade>Hearts>Diamonds>clubs. Bidders can also decide to have no trumps, meaning each suit will be equal to others, or pass their turn.
Three passes end the bidding with trump being the last one to bid before three passes. After the bidding is done the game starts with the team losing the bidding defending and preventing the other team from scoring.
The first card after bidding is always played by the player to the left of the winning bidder. The partner for the bid winner will then show their cards to everyone and will not play to win the round. The bid winner can then take a card from their partner.
With this, the round commences and the rest of the players follow suit. The winner will be the one who plays the highest card in the suit or the highest trump card, if any.
Similarly, the suit is followed until one runs out of a similar suit. In that case, they will play any random card. The player that played the random card cannot win the trick unless the random card is a higher trump. At the end of the round, teams will count the tricks they won and note down the scores.
Scores are divided into three categories – Majors, Minors, and No trumps. Majors are spade and heart, giving 30 points for the trick while diamonds and clubs are minors giving 20 points per trick. The first trick in no trump scores 40 points and all the following no trumps are worth 30 points each.
The score of players reaching their announced bid will be noted under the line in the scoresheet. Points for extra bids won will be put above the line. A team score over 100 points wins the round and so the next round commences.
Points can also be deducted in a game of Bridge as the team failing to reach their bid will get -50 for each trick. If the team which won during the first round fails to meet the required bids they will face a penalty of -100 points for each trick.
Winning two rounds will award the team 500 points above the line. Finally, the points above and below the line are added and the team with most points will win the game.