Suppose North-South ("N-S") has a combined hand that can make a contract of 4 Hearts. If they win 10 tricks and make 4 Hearts, then they get 120 points whether they bid 4 Hearts and made game, or (say) just 2 Hearts and made 2 overtricks. Sure, points from the 2 overtricks are Above The Line, but so what? If fewer points are Below The Line and more are above, it just means that they get to play more hands before they accumulate enough points to win a game.

Also, by bidding below game, they reduce the risk of not making contract. If they win only 9 tricks and make only 3 Hearts, then: if they had bid 4 Hearts in the first place, then their opponents get 50 points and N-S gets nothing! But if they had bid only 2 Hearts in the first place, then they still get 90 points (30 of which are Above The Line). So why would they try to bid 4 Hearts just because the Below The Line points happen to exceed 100?

After all, it's the total number of points that counts. If their opponents quickly win many points Below The Line and achieve two Games, bringing the Match to a close, that's not necessarily a bad thing as long as N-S has more total points when that happens.

This question is Rubber Bridge. I am asking whether there is some other scoring about which I don't know, which gives an advantage to scoring a whole game at once. For example, is there a bonus score when a team makes Game (ie. 100+ score Below The Line with a single hand)? I know there are bonuses to making a small or grand slam. Are there game bonuses with other types of contract bridge?

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    No analysis of bridge scoring or strategy can be remotely sensible without first specifying method of scoring (there are several, from Match Points and IMPS in duplicate to Rubber, Chicago with part-scores, and Chicago without part scores to non-duplicate games) and accounting for the Rubber/Game bonuses inherent in the chosen method of scoring. Jul 13, 2023 at 9:16
  • I think it's "Rubber Bridge" but was taught scoring as if it all bridge games were scored the same. Maybe you can help me identify which system I learned? Minor tricks are worth 20, major tricks are 30 (except the first trick in NT is worth 40). Tricks made for contract are scored Below The Line, and extra tricks are Above The Line. When one side accumulates 100 or more points Below The Line, that is a Game; and the rubber continues until there are two Games done, at which point whichever side has more points wins. Is that Rubber Bridge?
    – kwantum
    Jul 13, 2023 at 19:44
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    You're simply asking why players prefer to win games on hands that can win games now, instead of hoping they can get hands that win games later. The even shorter version: why do players want to win now instead of hoping they might win later? Should make the answer more obvious.
    – Nij
    Jul 13, 2023 at 20:57
  • @kwantum: Yes, that is Rubber bridge; though the scoring of tricks both above and below the line is also a feature of Chicago With Part Scores. The point to bidding and making games is to win the Rubber Bonus: 700 for a "fast" rubber and 500 for a "slow" rubber. However: note that strong players will gladly collect doubled under tricks for hours against weak players without deigning to bother with winning the Rubber. Sitting on a Vulnerable part score is a hustle as old as the game itself. Edit your answering comment into the question itself to begin the reopening. Jul 13, 2023 at 23:55
  • With the edit made by OP this is now a legitimate question about Contract Bridge scoring and tactics, comparing Rubber Bridge to other (non-tournament) scoring methods such as Chicago. Why is there then an attempt to Delete it instead of Reopening? Jul 17, 2023 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


You say "it's the total number of points that counts".


All bridge games are time limited in some way. Even rubber bridge ends when one pair has to go home or falls asleep.

Bidding games wins rubbers, and winning rubbers wins points. Making game in one auction, rather than over several part scores, has several advantages. Firstly, it is quicker, so you will accumulate more points overall in the available time. If you are playing for money, this can make a significant difference to your income. Secondly, it reduces opponents' opportunities to make game themselves. If you can wipe out their part-score with your game, then they have to start at the beginning again. If you are timid, and only bid a part-score instead of going for game, they have a chance to convert their part-score to game on the next hand. Thirdly, it is more fun. Playing at the very edge of what you can make means that you have to play to the very best of your ability. In turn that will improve your bidding and play.

Please note that I'm not (and I don't think that you are) talking about bidding 4H, for example, when you have 40 below the line and 2H would be sufficient for game. I once raised partner's 1S to 3S (showing 4 spades and 10-12 points) in that exact situation, to hear partner explain, "as 2S would be sufficient for game, 3S must be a slam try" :-)

Fortunately he passed anyway :-)

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    Thank you! Both responses cogently answered my question. I can only choose one to be "The Answer", and AlDante's answer was ever so slightly more understandable to me, but thank you to all who responded, including commenters whose responses didn't count as a votable answer.
    – kwantum
    Jul 26, 2023 at 1:10

So why would they try to bid 4 Hearts just because the Below The Line points happen to exceed 100?

Rubber Bridge is basically a "best 2 out of 3" format, so teams are incentivized to bid contracts that win a game all at once. The rubber bonus of 500/700 points is usually what will make the difference in final scoring. A game win is worth anywhere from 200-700 points in the Rubber bonus (either by ending the match immediately for 500/700 points or by reducing an opponent bonus from 700 to 500, for a net gain of 200 points).

So the choice between bidding 3H, and 4H is the choice between a safe contract with a small number of points and a riskier a game-winning contract worth many points. The downside of failure is probably giving up 50-200 points in undertricks (depending on Vulnerability and Doubling) to the opponents for a chance to win a game outright on this deal (worth 200+ points).

This is Rubber Bridge. To clarify the question, I am asking whether there is some other scoring about which I don't know, which gives an advantage to scoring a whole game at once.

If fewer points are Below The Line and more are above, it just means that they get to play more hands before they accumulate enough points to win a game.

There isn't a specific bonus to scoring a game score all at once instead of over multiple hands. It's more about winning now while you have good cards and not leaving your opponents with an opportunity to score points in future hands when your team has worse cards. Why give your opponents the opportunity to get lucky?

In your example above, if your team has already scored 40 game points from previous hands, then there is no difference between 2H + 2 overtricks and 4H + 0 overtricks, so you might as well bid the safer contract if your opponents let you.

  • Making a game when the opponents have a game does not only reduce their possible points advantage by 200 points. It also increases your expectation of getting that 500 bonus yourself. If both pairs are evenly matched, and you are not vuln. against vuln., the opponents have 50% chance of making 700, and 25% chance of making 500 (you make an intervening game). Your expectation is only 25% of 500, because you have to make the next two games. Now look at the position if you've made a game. Now the expectations are symmetric - both sides have a 50% chance of making 500, expected value 250.
    – AlDante
    Jul 25, 2023 at 15:59

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