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A 4 player trick-taking card game where opposing partners try to either take the number of tricks they bid or prevent their opponents from doing so. When asking questions on bidding or play, please specify scoring system (Rubber, Matchpoints, IMPS, ec.), Dealer, vulnerability for both sides, full auction to the point of inquiry, and as complete a description of the visible hands as you can, including spot cards instead of x's.

Asking Questions:

When asking questions about Bridge, please provide the exact cards and distribution for the hands of interest as best you can recall them. Where you know the value of spot cards, please specify them rather than simply entering them as x's; every x you specify will be treated as a deuce, so anything more specific than that will be an improvement.

For play problems the precise spots will often be critical; the order in which experts play their spot cards in a suit is used to signal distribution of the hand, count in the suit, attitude to the suit, and suit preference. Without this information, which was available at the table, we cannot give you the best advice possible.

Also important is the vulnerability of both sides, who the dealer was and the type of scoring (Rubber, Chicago, Matchpoints, IMPs, or Board-a-Match); all of these affect the decisions made at the table, and sometimes even the conventions in play.

Finally, even for play and defense problems, please describe the overall bidding approach used by both you and the opponents, and any relevant conventional agreements. In the absence of any specific description the following will be assumed

Assumed Conventional Treatments:

  • Four-Card Majors approach-forcing style (Goren/Culbertson/ACOL)
  • Stayman
  • Standard Blackwood
  • Gerber only as a jump to 4C directly over a natural NT bid
  • Jacoby & Texas Transfers
  • Strong NT (15-17)
  • Strong 2C opening with 2D waiting; Cheapest Minor as Second Negative.
  • disciplined Weak Twos
  • Standard leads and signals

If you specify your System Approach as Five-Card Majors we will also assume, unless specified otherwise, that you are playing Two-Over-One (almost) Game Force, and Forcing 1NT response to a major-suit opening. It really is not possible to play that approach adequately without both those corollaries.

The Game:

Bridge is a 4 player trick-taking game using a standard deck of 52 playing cards. Two partnerships compete against each other.

For purposes of scoring and reference, each player is identified by one of the points of the compass and thus North and South play against East and West. Each deal progresses through four phases: dealing the cards, the auction (bidding), playing the hand, and scoring the results.

Dealing: Cards are dealt clockwise, one at a time and face down starting on the dealer's left so that each player receives thirteen cards. In duplicate bridge the dealer is predetermined by the board. The board also contains the four hands which have been dealt and placed in the board prior to commencement of the game; these hands are not redealt over the course of the event.

Auction or Bidding: The bidding starts with the dealer and rotates around the table clockwise with each player making a call, the purpose being to determine which partnership will contract to take more tricks given a particular trump suit or with no trump. The partnership which makes the highest final bid is known as the declaring side and is said to have 'won' the contract. The player on the declaring side who, during the auction, first stated the suit ultimately becoming trumps (or first stated notrump if that is the final strain) is referred to as the declarer. The purpose of bidding is for each partnership to ascertain which contract, whether made or defeated and whether bid by them or by their opponents, would give the partnership their best scoring result. Bidding is complex, so beginners are encouraged to first master simple, commonly used bidding conventions before adding greater complexity.

Playing: Bridge is similar to other trick-taking games with the additional feature that the hand of declarer's partner is displayed face up on the table after the opening lead has been made by the member of the defending side to the left of declarer; the displayed hand is referred to as the dummy and is played by declarer.

Scoring: After all thirteen tricks have been played, the hand's score is determined by comparing actual versus contracted tricks and awarding points accordingly. The available scoring points for the declaring side are dependent upon both the level and strain of the contract and are awarded to them only when the contract is 'made', i.e. at least the contracted for number of tricks are won by them; failure to do so results in the defending side's receiving points instead, and they are said to have 'defeated' the contract. Individual scores of several hands are accumulated to determine the overall game score.

Bridge has a number of variants, the most common being and . The method for calculating scores is different depending on which variant is being played, and this impacts the strategy of both the bidding and the play of the hand.