The Ultimate Bridge Card Game

What is the Bridge Card Game?

The Game of Bridge is a card game most of us are not familiar with. The reason could simply be because it is more complicated than other card games. But once you learn the mechanics of the game, it can be fun, challenging and could get you hooked just like any other card games.

The Basics

  • The Bridge Card Game has two parts: the Bidding (also called the Auction) and the Play.
  • This is a partnership game which requires four players. Partners should sit opposite to each other.
  • Bridge requires a standard deck of 52 playing cards.
  • One player should be the dealer of all the cards and distributes the cards to all players giving them thirteen cards each.
  • As to who gets to partner with who and who gets to be the dealer, that can be prearranged or whatever method you prefer (e.g. draw cards, toss coin, etc.).
  • There are four suits to the Bridge Card Game and are ranked as follows: spades (the highest), hearts, diamonds and clubs (the lowest). Suits can be labeled as S, H, D, C. This ranking is for bidding purposes only.
  • In the play all suits are equal. However, you can assign a suit to be the trumps which defeats all the others.
  • The order of ranking for the cards of each suit are as follows (highest to lowest): Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

Objective of the Game

The objective of the play is to win tricks. A trick is made up of four cards, one from each of the players. These cards are obtained from each player in a clockwise direction once the lead has commenced.  Lead refers to the first card played at the start of each trick.

Participants of the Game

Dealer – the one who deals the cards. Could be prearranged or determined via draw cards, toss coin, etc.

Declarer – the determining point as to who shall make the first lead. The player to the left of the declarer makes the first lead which is called the opening lead.

Dummy – the partner of the declarer. A dummy does not participate in the play. His partner, the declarer, plays for both declarer and dummy each in proper turn.

Bridge Card Game

The Play

The game begins with a player making the opening lead. The player doing the lead can present any card of his choice. After the lead, the succeeding players have a goal to meet which is to follow suit as possible. This means they can only throw in the same suit as the lead. If you cannot follow suit for some reason (like you don’t have any cards left on the same suit), you can play any card of your choice. After four cards have been played, a trick is complete. The winner is the one who played the highest card according to ranking as previously explained. Remember if there is a trump, the highest trump played defeats all other cards.

The Bidding

The bidding determines who will be the declarer, which suit will be considered trumps, and how many tricks a declarer must win. For more details as to how the bidding takes place, read about The Basics of Bidding.

Example

There are four players: W, X, Y, and Z. After the bidding, it was determined that X is the declarer, clubs (C) are trumps and X has to win 7 tricks.

bridge-card-game-pic


The players have the following cards:

W Clubs J 10 8 6 X Clubs A K Q 9 5
Hearts 10 7 4 Hearts J
Spades 5 2 Spades A K 6 4
Diamonds A 6 3 2 Diamonds 10 7 4
Y Clubs 3 2 Z Clubs 8 5 3 2
Hearts Q J 7 Hearts 7 4
Spades Q 10 8 Spades 10 9 8 3
Diamonds 9 K Q 8 6 Diamonds J 5

Since X is the declarer, the player to her left (player Y) makes the opening lead. Player W is the Dummy and does not participate in the game. Right after the opening lead is made, player W arranges his cards face up and neatly segregates it into suits for all the players to see. The trump is arranged on the right as viewed by the dummy, and left as viewed by the declarer.

Assume the following tricks are made:

 Trick Lead 2nd Player 3rd Player 4th Player
1 Y Diamonds K 6 J 4
2 Y Diamonds 6 2 5 Club 5
3 X Clubs K 2 J 8
4 X Clubs A 3 6 5
5 X Spades K Q 2 10
6 X Spades A 10 5 9
7 X Spades 6 8 Club 8 8
8 W Hearts 10 7 Club 9 7
9 X Spades 4 Heart J Club 10 3

This is just for illustration purposes to explain better the mechanics of the Bridge Card Game. Just disregard any technicalities.

For the first trick, Y made the opening lead since he is the player to the left of X, the declarer. Player Y chose the diamond suit and played it with a king. The following participants then took turns playing their cards: W (the second player) threw in diamond 6; Z (the third player) threw in diamond J; X (the fourth player) threw in diamond 4. In this case, player Y wins the trick. And since he won the first trick, he gets to do the opening lead for the second trick.

For the second trick, the fourth player (Player X) won since he decided not to follow the suit but instead threw in club 5, a trump. And since he won, he gets to open the lead for the third trick. And so on…

Now that you have an idea how to play this game, go ahead gather your friends and practice with them this awesome Bridge Card Game.

The Benefits of Playing The Bridge Game

Have you ever wonder if playing cards, specifically the bridge game, is just a waste of your precious time? Well, read on because the succeeding facts and information will encourage you to go ahead and play some more. It will actually and surprisingly tell you that you’re doing yourself a favor.

Playing the Game of Bridge results to a healthier brain.

Playing the bridge game stimulates your brain. You are exercising your brain each time you are training yourself to keep track of who holds what card, analyzing your own suits, and figuring out the best strategy to win the most tricks. Playing the game of bridge sharpens your memory as well. You are constantly in the lookout for clues and always calculating your next best move.

Playing the Game of Bridge gives you a better chance in fighting off diseases.

Yes, you read that right. Studies show that keeping your brain active and stimulated helps boost your immune system.  Playing the bridge game within proper boundaries will benefit you in such a way that you will be more capable of warding off infections. You are constantly working out your brain when you are persistently concentrating. This results to a well-optimized brain and consequently produces stronger immune system.

Playing the Game of Bridge Enhances Social Life.

The Bridge Game is not for solo playing; it requires four players. When you are playing this game, your communication and social skills are enhanced as well as your ability to nurture a partnership. You also get the chance to meet new friends may it be in the Internet, at another friend’s house, at a club or tournament.

Playing the Game of Bridge Beats Boredom.

The bridge game is a fun and challenging card game. It’s actually entertaining, even for the present spectators. The nonstop teasing, bluffing and side comments are enough to make you stay, laugh your heart out and even contribute to the enjoyment.

The Basics of Bidding in Bridge Game

Before you learn the basics of bidding, it is best you learn first the mechanics of the play part in the Bridge Game.

Bridge Game Terminologies

Below are terminologies that will help you understand better the bridge game.

  • Bidding or Auction – process to determine who will be the declarer, the number of tricks to be won by the declarer, whether there will be trumps or not, and in cases of having trumps which suit should be assigned as trumps.
  • Trumps – any suit assigned as trumps is the highest of all other suits.
  • Dealer – one who deals the cards; not to be confused as the declarer. To determine who gets to  be the dealer one can either toss coin, draw cards, etc.
  • Declarer -  the winner of the bidding.

Simple Bidding

As we have learned in the mechanics of the play part in the bridge game, this game comprises of four players or two pairs. Each pair sits opposite to each other. At the start of the bidding, the dealer deals all 52 cards to each player, leaving them with 13 cards each. The cards of each player are to be kept hidden and not shown to any other players. The bidding then begins with the dealer and continues on clockwise. As to what card to present first is completely up to the dealer’s strategy. The goal of the succeeding players is to top the previous bid. A player can either deal a card or pass when taking turns.

In bidding, the cards are ranked as follows: clubs (lowest), diamonds, hearts, spades, and NT or no trump (highest). A little tip so that you can easily remember the rankings: the rankings are actually alphabetical in order – C,D,H,S and NT. C (clubs) is the lowest then it continues on to D, H and S. And finally, NT, two-letter abbreviation is the highest.

A bid is a number from one to seven plus a suit. In the end, the winning bid’s number will be added to six which will determine the number of tricks to be won by the declarer. So for example, the winning bid is 7 of diamonds. The goal of the declarer is to win 13 (7 + 6 = 13) tricks with diamonds as trumps. The bidding only ends when three players in a row declare a pass.

Example:

bridge gameIn this example, let us assume W is the dealer. He throws in 4 of clubs. Z then passes. Player X throws in 4 of hearts. Take note you can either throw in the same number of tricks but with a higher suit (in this case heart is higher than club) or same suit but higher number of tricks. Now it’s Player Y’s turn. He throws in 6 of hearts. W then turns in 7 of hearts. Z, X and Y then each makes a pass.

The bidding has now ended since there was three consecutive passes from the players. The partner who first bid the winning trump is awarded as the declarer. In this case, although W made the last bid, his partner X is the declarer since X first bid the winning trump – heart.

professional bridge

Traveling the ICW can be a fun and adventurous for all boaters, but at some point you are going to run into the dreaded draw bridge. And being a sailboat those draw bridges really get our attention. When you are dealing with draw bridges, it takes some knowledge of how the system works and dealing with them at night requires even more.


You can always refer to nautical charts and hopes that the bridge you are looking at is listed or if you have a more sophisticated electronic system (chart plotter) it should be listed. The main thing we are all looking at is whether we can safely clear the bridge (vertical clearance) or do we need to request an opening.


Captains should consult your charts for the note on heights whenever they are available; most charts will show minimum vertical clearance at mean high water. OK, what does mean high tide mean – right? Well that means, if you are at the bridge at any time other than high tide, you should have more clearance than shown. You should, prior to planning a trip, consult any cruising guides or a sailing forum such as www.sailblue.net for the area you will be traveling and make notes in your trip log concerning bridges including the name of the bridge, hours of operation, recommended method of contact, (channels) etc.


When you approach a bridge there are several thing that you should keep an eye out for. On the right side of the bridge should be the “clearance board”. This sign will give you the minimum clearance, in feet, from the current water level to the bridge structure. This allows you to determine if you can safely clear the bridge.


You should know the vertical clearance of your sailboat before you ever plan a trip! Do not cause unnecessary openings of bridges, it is illegal and you will get fined! According to the U.S. Coast Guard regulations, you may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties for causing an unnecessary bridge opening because of “any nonstructural vessel appurtenance which is not essential to navigation or which is easily lowered.” So if you are requesting an opening because of your mast height your are fine, if you are requesting an opening because you are too lazy to lower your VHF antenna or out riggers, well expect a visit shortly after passing from the coast guard. These same regulations also provide penalties for any bridge tender who “unnecessarily delays the opening of a drawbridge after the required signal has been given.”
Once a bridge is open, always slow down and use caution when navigating through the bridge opening. You might not be able to see if another boater is coming until they dart out into the bridge channel.


When you approach a bridge look for a blue sign with what looks like a telephone receiver with a lightning bolt through it. This gives you the radio frequencies that the bridge monitors. The channels are usually 16, 13 or 9. Proper protocol in most areas is to contact the bridge operator by VHF radio to request an opening; however, there is also a sound signal that can be used. To sound signal a bridge use one prolonged blast followed within 3 seconds with one short blast. The bridge tender will acknowledge an OK with the same signal. If the bridge operator cannot open at the moment they will signal you back a NO by sounding five short blasts. If this should happen you need to respond to the bridge operator with the same five short blasts back letting them know you understand.


You should know the name of the bridge you are contacting, here in southern Florida, bridges can be close and several are in range of your radio transmission. Dont call out “bridge, bridge, bridge.” I have found that bridge tenders can sometimes be a little cranky. (Now that being said I have had some really great tenders who have been awesome, thanks to all for putting up with us sail boaters.). If you know the bridge opens on demand dont make it sound like a demand ask nicely and make their day, I usually call the bridge on the radio and ask when the next scheduled opening is. If it is on demand, the bridge tender usually says “come on up Captain, I’ll open when you get here.”


Once at the bridge you will also find a white sign that shows the hours of operation. You should note that some bridges will open on demand year-round and some will only open on demand during certain parts of the year. In areas like South Florida, the boating population grows significantly in the winter time, and many bridges open only every half hour during the peak season.


Caution: Bridge structures make a great place to set up a marine speed trap, keep an eye open for other signs on the bridge rails such as speed and caution warnings.


When you approach a bridge at night you should see three red lights in a triangular pattern. These lights have a meaningThe two lower lights indicate the bridge opening just above water level. The center light hangs from the center of the bridge span. You should line up with the center light and keep the relative relationship of the lower lights equidistant on either side you to ensure you stay in the center of the passageway and the highest point of the bridge.


Once the Bridge is open and you passing remember steering is slow to react at slow speeds and use caution around other boaters. Also once you are through and back up to speed its always nice to throw a thank you back to the bridge operator via the radio and maybe with a few more polite and courteous people on the water, we can help keep our passage ways friendly.

Array

contract bridge

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game of bridge

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