How to Play the Card Game Bridge

By Shawn Candela

Bridge is a popular card game for four players working as partners who sit across the table from each other. It is played with a standard deck of 52 cards and the cards are ranked normally, with aces high and deuces low. Some hands use a particular suit as trump, meaning that suit becomes the most powerful in a hand, while others do not. This is determined by the player offering the highest bid.

Deal cards around the table, one at a time, until everyone has 13 cards. Start by dealing to the player to your left and proceed clockwise.

Bid or pass when it is your turn. Your bid must be higher than the previous high bid and based on the number of tricks you think your hand can win. In bridge, six tricks is assumed, since that number of tricks is just below the halfway mark (13) of total tricks. So, when you bid, you are bidding the number of tricks you think you can take above six. You also either bid a suit you wish to call trump or bid no-trump.

For example, a bid of two hearts means you think you can take eight tricks using hearts as trump (six assumed tricks, plus two more). A bid of one no-trump means you think you can take seven tricks (six plus one) without using trumps.

Suits rank with spades highest, followed by hearts, diamonds and clubs. This comes into play if two players bid the same number of tricks.

A no-trump bid is higher than any trump bid of the same number of tricks.

Play the first hand in clockwise order, starting with the player to the left of the bid winner. He may play any card.

Turn over the hand of your partner, whose turn is next. This is now a dummy hand for all to see. Choose a card from this hand to play next. As with all hands, you must throw a card that follows suit when you can. If you can't, you may play any card. Win the trick if you or the card you played from the dummy hand is the highest. If there are trump cards, these beat all other cards. The highest trump thrown in a trick wins the trick.

Continue to play until all tricks have been taken.

Count your score if you made the number of tricks you bid. If the trump was clubs or diamonds, count 20 points for each trick you took. If trump was hearts or spades, count 30 for each trick. If you bid no-trump, count 40 points for one trick and 30 for all others.

Count your opponents' points if you did not make your bid. They get 20 for each trick below the number you bid if trump was clubs and diamonds, 30 if trump was spades or hearts and 40 points for one trick below your bid plus 30 points for each addition, if you bid no-trump.