Wednesday, 24 February 2016

What Is The Game Bridge?

I was asked this question just a few days ago.  This blog, which is dedicated to providing free online bridge lessons for absolute beginners, seemed a good place to answer the question.

What is the game bridge?

Bridge is a card game.  It uses a single pack of standard playing cards, without the jokers.  You need four people to play bridge and they are divided into two partnerships.  At the start of each game, all the cards are shuffled and dealt, so that each player holds 13 cards.  These are then sorted by the player into the 4 suits - spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.

Bridge is a trick taking game.  In each round of the game, each player plays one card.  The person playing the highest card, or a trump card, wins the trick.

Before the card play starts there is a round of bidding.  One of the things the bidding decides is whether or not three will be a trump suit.  If there is, which of the 4 suits will be trumps.

All players must follow the suit played at the start of each round if they can.  If they can't they can play a card from another suit.  If there is a trump suit, a card played from the trump suit will beat cards played from the suit that was led (unless the round is being played in the trump suit).

There are two distinct parts to each game.  The initial bidding and the actual card play.  Each require different skills and take time and practice to do well.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Online Bridge Lessons


Welcome to Bridge Lessons - A Publication of Blueberry Bridge.

On this site you will find 12 beginning bridge lessons for complete beginners wanting to learn Acol bridge.

The first five lessons are the same whether you are learning Acol or American Standard bridge. They are the basics of the game.  Lessons 6 - 12 relate to Acol bridge.

Acol bridge is the system used in the UK, New Zealand and in a few other countries.  Standard American is widely used in the rest of the world and online.

If you are attending bridge classes and aren't sure which system you are being taught there is a simple way to decide.

Strong No Trumps opening
If your classes, online software or friends open the bidding with a bid of 1NT if they hold 15 - 17 points, then you want the Standard American lessons.

Weak No Trumps opening
If you are being taught to open the bidding with a bid of 1NT if you hold 12 - 14 points, then you want the Acol lessons.

Work your way through the lessons by choosing from the menu on the right. The list is "upside down" with lesson 1 at the bottom.  Sorry about that.

When you have completed the lessons you will be ready for either:

a) The best place to learn Standard American bridge for beginners and improvers - No Fear Bridge US.

b)  The best place to learn to play Acol bridge for  beginners and improvers - No Fear Bridge.  Here you will find lessons graded from beginner through to improver with some advanced lessons too, to help you become a better and more confident Acol bridge player.

What are you waiting for - learn how to play bridge today, or improve your bidding and play.  There's a two week trial, with no credit card details required and nothing to pay unless you decide to join.  The sites are run by an experienced bridge teacher and player who understands the needs of beginners and improvers and knows how to help you learn in a fun, interactive way with tutorials, quizzes, progress chart and hundreds (probably thousands) of interactive hands to play.  New content is added regularly to help keep you interested and help keep you learning.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Lesson 1 - The Basics

This site is for beginning Acol bridge players.

To play bridge offline you need 4 players, who play in two pairs.  The players sit round a table, with partners sitting opposite each other.  Generally the playing positions are known as North, South, East and West with N/S forming one partnership and E/W forming the other partnership.

The aim is to win the game for your partnership.

The game is played using a standard pack of 52 playing cards.  At the start of the game the person designated as the dealer deals all the cards, so that each player holds 13 cards in their hands.

Each player sorts their cards into their suits.  The suits rank in this order - spades is the highest ranking, next comes hearts, then diamonds and then clubs is the lowest ranking of the suits.

Before the game starts, each player adds up the number of High Card Points (HCPs) in their hand.  Counting 4 points for each ace held, 3 points for each king held, 2 points for each queen held and 1 point for each jack held.

The best place to learn Acol Bridge online is at No Fear Bridge.  It's the number one website for learners.  It's fun, interactive and addictive.  Join now - take your two, no obligation, trial membership.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Lesson 2 - Basic Jargon. Bridge Terms

Before we go any further, let's look at some of the basic bridge terms..  In many of the following lesson you will read terms such as "dummy" and "declarer".  Who are they are and what role are they playing in the game you are playing?

The Dealer. As we saw in lesson one, there are 4 players who play as two partnership, N/S and E/W.  It is usual to decide who are playing together as partners before the game starts.  Players can then draw cards from a deck to decide who will be the "dealer".  If you are playing at home the dealer will then deal the cards, dealing clockwise around the table and starting with the player to their left.  If you are playing in a lesson or club it is likely that the cards will have been pre-dealt and you will be handed them in a wallet.  In this case the dealer is just a nominal position.

The Opener - This is the player who makes the first bid that isn't a "pass".  (More about this later)

The Responder - is the "opener's" partner.

The Declarer - The first player to bid the suit that the game is played in (more later)

The Dummy - Declarer's partner.  After the first card is played, Dummy turns their cards face up and takes no further part in the game.

Major Suit - Spades and Hearts are the major suits and are worth more when scoring a game of bridge.

Minor Suit - Diamonds and Clubs are the minor suits.

Contract - see lesson 4

As you learn more you will also come across bridge terms such as:

Bidding Convention. Some bids that are used when playing bridge can have a special meaning.  It's a bit complicated to explain right now, when you are just beginning.  Partners agree before playing which bidding conventions they are using so that they know and understand when a special bid is made.

For example - a bid of 2 Clubs usually tells your partner that you are holding a certain number of clubs and a certain number of points.  However, in some circumstances it tells your partner nothing about your hand but is actually a question - asking  your partner if they hold 4 or more cards in one of the major suits - hearts or spades.

You will find much more about bridge terms if you take  your trial membership at No Fear Bridge.  Click Here to join now.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Lesson 3 - Opening The Bidding

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player in turn must decide whether to open the bidding or to pass.

Can you open the bidding?

Each player has added up the number of High Card Points (HCPs) in their hand (see lesson 1).  As a general rule a player needs at least 12 HCPs to open the bidding.  (There are exceptions, but we'll learn those later).

If the player to the left of the dealer holds 12 or more points, they can open the bidding.  If they have fewer than 12 points then they pass.

If you are playing bridge in your home or somewhere where there are just a few tables of players you can speak your bids.  If you are in a club or larger gathering you will almost certainly be using bridge bidding boxes.  This means you don't have to speak your bid - imagine the noise in a large bridge club if everyone was trying to shout their bids so their table could hear them!

Once a player has opened the bidding they become the "Opener" and have started a dialog with their partner which is aimed at finding out the best final bid for them to make as a partnership.

The player on the Opener's left must decide whether to overcall or pass and leave the opener and their partner to bid and make the final contract that the game will be played in.

Now that you know how to decide if your hand is suitable for opening, head over to No Fear Bridge where you will find a tutorial on opening the bidding.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Lesson 4 - The Contract

The "contract" is the final bid that the game will be played in.

The contract can either be a "suit" contract or a "no trumps" contract.

In a suit contract one suit is designated as the "trump" suit. A no trumps contract is what it says - there is no trump suit.  When the game is being played (see lesson 5) a trump card wins the round if no other trump card is played.

Once the contract has been decided the person who first bid the suit (or no trumps) that the game will be played in becomes the declarer.  Declarer's partner becomes the dummy.  The person on the declarer's left plays the opening lead.

What does the contract mean?

Once the contract has been decided the declarer and their partner are aiming to make the number of tricks that they bid for.  The first 6 tricks don't form part of the bidding.

There are 13 tricks in each round of bridge.  A bid of, for example, 1 spade means that the partnership think they will win 7 tricks - the six non counted tricks plus the one trick that they bid for.  A bid of 7 hearts means that the partnership think they can win all 13 tricks - the six non bid tricks plus the 7 they bid for.  A bid of 3 NT (no trumps) means the partnership think they can win 9 tricks (6 + 3).

Friday, 8 August 2014

Lesson 5 - Playing The Game

Once the bidding has finished and the contract has been decided, the cards are played.

The player to the left of the declarer makes the opening lead.  As soon as the opening lead has been played, the dummy lays their cards face upwards on the table and takes no further part in the game.  The declarer plays both their own hand and the dummy's hand.

The game is played clockwise around the table.  Each player in turns lays a card on the table.  If the player has a card in the suit led by the first player then they MUST play the same suit.  If they don't have a card in the suit that has been led then they can play a card from another suit.  If the game is being played in a trump contract they have the option to play a card from the trump suit or to throw away a card from another suit.

Each round is known as a trick.  A trick is won by the team that plays the highest card in the suit that was led OR by the team that played the highest trump card.  A card from the trump suit ALWAYS beats cards from any other suit.  If the game is being played in a No Trumps contract then the trick is won by the team that plays the highest card in the suit that was led.

After the opening round, each subsequent round is started by the player  (or dummy) than won the previous round.

The game is played until all 13 rounds or tricks have been played.

The declaring partnership count the number of tricks they have won.  If they have made the number of tricks they bid for, or more, they score the relevant number of points.  If they have made fewer tricks than they bid for then the opposing partnership win the relevant number of points.