Bridge extends the concept of bidding into an auction , where partnerships compete to take a contract , specifying how many tricks they will need to take in order to receive points, and also specifying the trump suit or no trump, meaning that there will be no trump suit. Players take turns to call in a clockwise order: Contrast with Spades, where players only have to bid their own hand.
After the contract is decided, and the first lead is made, the declarer's partner dummy lays his cards face up on the table, and the declarer plays the dummy's cards as well as their own. Once all the cards have been played, the hand is scored: But if the declarer fails to fulfil the contract, the defenders receive points depending on the declaring side's undertricks the number of tricks short of the contract and whether the contract was doubled by the defenders.
The four players sit in two partnerships, with each player sitting opposite his partner. Cardinal directions are assigned to each seat, so that one partnership sits in North and South, while the other sits in West and East. In rubber bridge, each player draws a card at the start of the game: Players take turns to deal, in a clockwise order. The dealer deals the cards clockwise, one card at a time. In duplicate bridge, the cards are pre-dealt in order to allow for competitive scoring. Once dealt, the cards are stored in a device called a "board" , with a slot for each cardinal direction.
The director of a duplicate bridge game or their assistants may shuffle the decks immediately before play starts, or in advance.
After a deal has been played, all four players slot their cards back into the board, ready to be played by the next table. The dealer opens the auction and can make the first call, and the auction proceeds clockwise.
A bid is higher than another bid if either the level is greater e. If the last bid was by the opposing partnership, one may also double the opponents' bid, increasing the penalties for undertricks, but also increasing the reward for making the contract. Doubling does not carry to future bids by the opponents unless future bids are doubled again.
A player on the opposing partnership being doubled may also redouble , which increases the penalties and rewards further. There exist many bidding conventions that assign agreed meanings to various calls to assist players in reaching an optimal contract or obstruct the opponents. The auction ends when, after a player bids, doubles, or redoubles, every other player has passed, in which case the action proceeds to the play; or every player has passed and no bid has been made, in which case the round is considered to be "passed out" and not played.
The player from the declaring side who first bid the denomination named in the final contract becomes declarer. Then the dummy lays his or her cards face up on the table. Play proceeds clockwise, with each player required to follow suit if possible.
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Tricks are won by the highest trump, or if there were none played, the highest card of the led suit. The declarer has control of the dummy's cards and plays them when it is their turn, although the declarer often requests his partner to play a specified card on his behalf.
At any time, a player may claim , stating that their side will win a specific number of the remaining tricks. The claiming player lays his cards down on the table explains how he intends to play the remaining cards. The opponents can either accept the claim and the round is scored accordingly, or dispute the claim. If the claim is disputed, play continues with the claiming player's cards face up in rubber games,  or in duplicate games, play ceases and the tournament director is called to adjudicate the hand. At the end of the hand, points are awarded to the declaring side if they make the contract, or else to the defenders.
Partnerships can be vulnerable , increasing the rewards for making the contract, but also increasing the penalties for undertricks. In rubber bridge, if a side has won contract points, they have won a game and are vulnerable for the remaining rounds,  but in duplicate bridge, vulnerability is predetermined based on the number of each board.
If the declaring side makes their contract, they receive points for odd tricks , or tricks bid and made in excess of six. In both rubber and duplicate bridge, the declaring side is awarded 20 points per odd trick for a contract in clubs or diamonds, and 30 points per odd trick for a contract in hearts or spades.
For a contract in notrump, the declaring side is awarded 40 points for the first odd trick and 30 points for the remaining odd tricks. Contract points are doubled or quadrupled if the contract is respectively doubled or redoubled. In rubber bridge, a partnership wins one game once it has accumulated contract points; excess contract points do not carry over to the next game.
A partnership that wins two games wins the rubber, receiving a bonus of points if the opponents have won a game, and points if they have not. Overtricks score the same number of points per odd trick, although their doubled and redoubled values differ. A larger bonus is awarded if the declaring side makes a small slam or grand slam, a contract of 12 or 13 tricks respectively. If the declaring side is not vulnerable, a small slam gets points, and a grand slam points.
If the declaring side is vulnerable, a small slam is points and a grand slam is In rubber bridge, the rubber finishes when a partnership has won two games, but the partnership receiving the most overall points wins the rubber. Undertricks are scored in both variations as follows: The rules of the game are referred to as the laws as promulgated by various bridge organizations. In addition to the basic rules of play, there are many additional rules covering playing conditions and the rectification of irregularities, which are primarily for use by tournament directors who act as referees and have overall control of procedures during competitions.
But various details of procedure are left to the discretion of the zonal bridge organisation for tournaments under their aegis and some for example, the choice of movement to the sponsoring organisation e. Some zonal organisations of the WBF also publish editions of the Laws. There are no universally accepted rules for rubber bridge, but some zonal organisations have published their own. The majority of rules mirror those of duplicate bridge in the bidding and play and differ primarily in procedures for dealing and scoring.
In , the WBF promulgated a set of Laws for online play. Bridge is a member of the family of trick-taking games and is a development of Whist , which had become the dominant such game and enjoyed a loyal following for centuries. However, the idea of a trick-taking card game has its first documented origins in Italy and France. The French physician Rabelais mentions a game called "La Triomphe" in one of his works. In the Italian Francesco Berni wrote the oldest known as of textbook on a game very similar to Whist, known as "Triomfi".
Also, a Spanish textbook in Latin from the first half of the 16th century, "Triumphens Historicus", deals with the same subject. It and his subsequent letter to The Saturday Review dated May 28, , document the origin of Biritch as being the Russian community in Istanbul. The game had many significant bridge-like developments: In auction bridge was developed, in which the players bid in a competitive auction to decide the contract and declarer. The object became to make at least as many tricks as were contracted for, and penalties were introduced for failing to do so.
Auction bridge bidding beyond winning the auction is pointless. The modern game of contract bridge was the result of innovations to the scoring of auction bridge by Harold Stirling Vanderbilt and others. The most significant change was that only the tricks contracted for were scored below the line toward game or a slam bonus, a change that resulted in bidding becoming much more challenging and interesting. Also new was the concept of "vulnerability", making sacrifices to protect the lead in a rubber more expensive.
The various scores were adjusted to produce a more balanced and interesting game. Vanderbilt set out his rules in , and within a few years contract bridge had so supplanted other forms of the game that "bridge" became synonymous with "contract bridge". In the USA and many other countries, most of the bridge played today is duplicate bridge , which is played at clubs, in tournaments and online. The game is still widely played, especially amongst retirees, and in the ACBL estimated there were 25 million players in the US.
Bridge is a game of skill played with randomly dealt cards, which makes it also a game of chance , or more exactly, a tactical game with inbuilt randomness, imperfect knowledge and restricted communication. The chance element is in the deal of the cards; in duplicate bridge some of the chance element is eliminated by comparing results of multiple pairs in identical situations.
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This is achievable when there are eight or more players, sitting at two or more tables, and the deals from each table are preserved and passed to the next table, thereby duplicating them for the other table s of players. At the end of a session, the scores for each deal are compared, and the most points are awarded to the players doing the best with each particular deal. This measures relative skill but still with an element of luck because each pair or team is being judged only on the ability to bid with, and play, the same cards as other players.
Duplicate bridge is played in clubs and tournaments, which can gather as many as several hundred players.
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Duplicate bridge is a mind sport , and its popularity gradually became comparable to that of chess , with which it is often compared for its complexity and the mental skills required for high-level competition. Bridge and chess are the only "mind sports" recognized by the International Olympic Committee , although they were not found eligible for the main Olympic program. The basic premise of duplicate bridge had previously been used for whist matches as early as Initially, bridge was not thought to be suitable for duplicate competition; it was not until the s that auction bridge tournaments became popular.
In when contract bridge first evolved, bridge tournaments were becoming popular, but the rules were somewhat in flux, and several different organizing bodies were involved in tournament sponsorship: In , the first officially recognized world championship was held. In , the World Bridge Federation WBF was founded to promote bridge worldwide, coordinate periodic revision to the Laws each ten years, next in and conduct world championships. In tournaments, " bidding boxes " are frequently used, as noted above. These avoid the possibility of players at other tables hearing any spoken bids.
The bidding cards are laid out in sequence as the auction progresses. Although it is not a formal rule, many clubs adopt a protocol that the bidding cards stay revealed until the first playing card is tabled, after which point the bidding cards are put away. In top national and international events, " bidding screens " are used. These are placed diagonally across the table, preventing partners from seeing each other during the game; often the screen is removed after the auction is complete.
Much of the complexity in bridge arises from the difficulty of arriving at a good final contract in the auction or deciding to let the opponents declare the contract. This is a difficult problem: Since a partnership that has freedom to bid gradually at leisure can exchange more information, and since a partnership that can interfere with the opponents' bidding as by raising the bidding level rapidly can cause difficulties for their opponents, bidding systems are both informational and strategic.
It is this mixture of information exchange and evaluation, deduction, and tactics that is at the heart of bidding in bridge. A number of basic rules of thumb in bridge bidding and play are summarized as bridge maxims. A bidding system is a set of partnership agreements on the meanings of bids. A partnership's bidding system is usually made up of a core system, modified and complemented by specific conventions optional customizations incorporated into the main system for handling specific bidding situations which are pre-chosen between the partners prior to play.
The line between a well-known convention and a part of a system is not always clear-cut: Bidding systems can be divided into mainly natural systems such as Acol and Standard American , and mainly artificial systems such as the Precision Club and Polish Club. Calls are usually considered to be either natural or conventional artificial. A natural call carries a meaning that reflects the call; a natural bid intuitively showing hand or suit strength based on the level or suit of the bid, and a natural double expressing that the player believes that the opposing partnership will not make their contract.
Conventions are valuable in bridge because of the need to pass information beyond a simple like or dislike of a particular suit, and because the limited bidding space can be used more efficiently by adopting a conventional artificial meaning for a given call where a natural meaning would have less utility, because the information it would convey is not valuable or because the desire to convey that information would arise only rarely. The conventional meaning conveys more useful or more frequently useful information. There are a very large number of conventions from which players can choose; many books have been written detailing bidding conventions.
Well-known conventions include Stayman to ask the opening 1NT bidder to show any four-card major suit , Jacoby transfers a request by usually the weak hand for the partner to bid a particular suit first, and therefore to become the declarer , and the Blackwood convention to ask for information on the number of aces and kings held, used in slam bidding situations.
The term preempt refers to a high-level tactical bid by a weak hand, relying upon a very long suit rather than high cards for tricks. Several systems include the use of opening bids or other early bids with weak hands including long usually six to eight card suits at the 2, 3 or even 4 or 5 levels as preempts.
As a rule, a natural suit bid indicates a holding of at least four or more, depending on the situation and the system cards in that suit as an opening bid, or a lesser number when supporting partner; a natural NT bid indicates a balanced hand.
Most systems use a count of high card points as the basic evaluation of the strength of a hand, refining this by reference to shape and distribution if appropriate. In the most commonly used point count system, aces are counted as 4 points, kings as 3, queens as 2, and jacks as 1 point; therefore, the deck contains 40 points. In addition, the distribution of the cards in a hand into suits may also contribute to the strength of a hand and be counted as distribution points.
A better than average hand, containing 12 or 13 points, is usually considered sufficient to open the bidding, i. A combination of two such hands i. Opening bids of three or higher are preemptive bids, i. Unusually strong bids communicate an especially high number of points normally 20 or more or a high trick-taking potential normally 8 or more. Opening bids at the one level are made with hands containing 12—13 points or more and which are not suitable for one of the preceding bids. Using Standard American with 5-card majors , opening hearts or spades usually promises a 5-card suit.
Partnerships who agree to play 5-card majors open a minor suit with 4-card majors and then bid their major suit at the next opportunity. Doubles are sometimes given conventional meanings in otherwise mostly natural systems. A natural, or penalty double, is one used to try to gain extra points when the defenders are confident of setting defeating the contract. The most common example of a conventional double is the takeout double of a low-level suit bid, implying support for the unbid suits or the unbid major suits and asking partner to choose one of them. Bidding systems depart from these basic ideas in varying degrees.
In the UK, Acol is the most common system; its main features are a weak one notrump opening with high card points and several variations for 2-level openings. There are also a variety of advanced techniques used for hand evaluation. The most basic is the Milton Work point count, the system detailed above but this is sometimes modified in various ways, or either augmented or replaced by other approaches such as losing trick count , honor point count , law of total tricks , or Zar Points. Within play, it is also commonly agreed what systems of opening leads, signals and discards will be played:.
They have yet to be compared with the scores achieved by other people who have played the same cards. The method of doing this comparison varies according to what kind of duplicate is being played:. Generally you play two or three boards at a table—this is called a round—and then one pair moves to another table and plays other boards against other opponents. Scores for each hand, or board, are recorded and given to the director to tally the results of the entire game.
Each pair has a number to identify them and this must also be entered on the scoresheet to show whose result it is. Then the total matchpoints scored by each pair over all the boards are calculated. This is generally converted to a percentage, for each pair, of the points they scored compared to the theoretical maximum. This gives a fair comparison between pairs who have played different numbers of boards.