What is Contract Bridge

“When all else fails-sports, love, ambition- bridge remains a solace and an entertainment”- says W Somerset Maugham. “Contract bridge” otherwise known as “bridge” is one such entertaining card game, which is played by four players, with two players against the rest two. Both skill and chance play equal important roles in the game of contract bridge. This game is played with the regular set of 52 cards wherein 13 cards are dealt with each player, face down. Contract bridge belongs to the class of trick taking game wherein the play of a “hand” surrounds around the series of units of play which are called tricks and each such trick is evaluated to find out the taker of the trick who becomes the winner.

Contract bridge is played among two teams, each team comprising of a partnership of two members. The players then arrange themselves a in a way that the partners face each other sitting opposite with directions specified as North, West , East and South with North and South being partners. The game of bridge then begins with several deals going through four stages of the game. With each deal the partners try and achieve highest scores with their available cards. The number of tricks bid and the related number of tricks taken decides the score. World Bridge federation is an international organization who has standardized the rules and regulations for a scoring system in Contract bridge.

Contract Bridge is played in four stages as a procedure, namely dealing, auction or bidding, playing the hand and finally scoring the end results. Out of these bidding and playing the hand are generally played very actively in a competitive spirit. Let’s consider understanding all these terms in brief.

  • Dealing the cards- Cards are always dealt in clockwise direction, starting on the left of the dealer to distribute 13 cards all face down, each to a player. While the cards are cut initially, the two highest cut will team up against the two lowest cut and thus the player cutting the highest card will be considered dealer.
  • Auction- This interesting stage begins with the dealer and moves around in a clockwise, and each player in his turn makes a call. A call in the bidding stage could be a bid, a pass or a double. The partnership bidding the highest will be declared the final bid which is known as declaring side and is considered to have won the contract and the player from such side, who has first declared of his suits turning into trumps, is referred as the declarer. The bids always represent the number of tricks in excess of six which has to be taken by the declaring team. Thus a bid of “two spade” refers to a contract to win atleast eight tricks with spade as trumps
  • Playing the hand- The playing starts with the hand of the declarer’s partner being displayed with face up which is referred as dummy, after the first card is displayed by the defending team and the play continues in clockwise direction with each player, playing a possible card of the same suit. A trick is played out of these four cards, and the winner of the trick will be the player with highest trump and in case of no trumps, then highest card of the suit.
  • Scoring the results- The final scoring is done by evaluating the tricks taken by the partnership of declaring team and points are awarded accordingly. The declaring team can win the game only if they have won the number of tricks they had contracted for.

Since contract bridge involves partnership, it could be won only if both the partners in the team act well. Skill and luck, both are necessary in the results of a bridge tournament, though skill plays a major role. It is a game which can be played with no age limit and this statement has also got a proof. A 89 yr old man was the World Champion in the game of bridge, in the year 1998.