This article is mainly intended for newcomers to the game contract bridge. More details can be found in the relevant main articles.
Bridge is an outgrowth of Whist. History shows shows Bridge as an evolving card game that nowadays is played by two partnerships attempting to take tricks (best of 4 cards in a turn) with the left-over cards in their hands (the trick is turned over which starts the next turn). There are three (3) basic elements to the game of bridge: bid, play, score. Each element has some specific rules and many conventions. The game of Bridge is played as a social, tournament & professional game. Depending on involvement, Bridge may have some form of associations that define limitations within their game versus a social game that identifies its own flavor.
There is no one correct way to bid or play. One purpose of this wiki is to document each common system/convention, including all the common variations of each.
There are two main variants of contract bridge: rubber bridge or duplicate bridge. (There exists another form, Chicago bridge, which uses duplicate scoring and every board is only played once.) They are played by pairs and each partner in a pair sits opposite to the other.
Unless stated otherwise, this wiki tends to adhere to duplicate bridge rules that might be common to American Contract Bridge League (ACBL)
A player is identified as the Dealer (based the convention used). When the cards in a 52 card deck are shuffled, the Dealer clockwise distributes the cards to each player in turn; the role of dealer also rotates clockwise. When a player picks up the hand, he/she should first check if exactly 13 cards are there. Then the hand is evaluated; most people also sort by suit and value. A simple way of evaluation is to count the HCPs: A=4, K=3, Q=2, J=1, others=0.
The dealer calls first, by either passing or bidding. After that, the players calls in turn. Normally, a player should open the bidding (bid when no one has bid yet) with 12 HCPs or respond to the partner's opening with 6 HCPs. A bid normally suggests a contract to play. Before the game, a regular partnership should decide which bidding system and add-ons they will use. A partnership should seek for game if they think that they are likely to have 25 HCPs in total, e.g. having an opening hand when the partner has opened.
When a bid is made, the auction ends with 3 consecutive passes, in which the last bid, along with any double or redouble afterwards, becomes the final contract. If no one opens the bidding, the hand is passed out. In this case, in rubber bridge, it is reshuffled and redealt by the next dealer; in duplicate bridge, it is simply put back to the board with 0 points recorded, and proceeds to the next.
The first player who bid the denomination in the partnership winning the contract becomes the declarer. The opponent on the left to the declarer picks a card, put it face down on the table. It is the last time to clarify the auction. Then he/she turns up the card. Declarer's partner now becomes the dummy and lays all his/her cards, sorted by suit and rank, on the table, with the trump suit (if any) on his right. Afterwards, declarer plays both his hand and dummy's hand, which is on the table.
The players play a card in his/her own hand in turn (with the exception of declarer playing dummy's hand). A player must follow the suit of the first card played in the trick if available. If there is no that suit in the hand, a player can play any card. When all players have played a card, a trick is complete and won by the player who played the highest card (The declarer and dummy are treated as different players, although the same person controls both). The cards are ranked from the lowest 2, 3, 4, ..., J, Q, K and the highest A, and only cards which can follow suit are counted, unless there are trump cards, in which case the highest trump wins the trick. After that, the cards are turned over without mixing up, pointing to the partnership who wins the trick. Then, the player who wins the trick starts a new trick by playing any card, and subsequent players have to follow that suit. It continues until all 13 tricks have been played.
When all tricks have been played, all players count how many tricks they have won. If the result is consistent, the contract is determined to be made or set and the appropriate score is entered. In rubber bridge or Chicago bridge, the deck is reshuffled and redealt by the next dealer. In duplicate bridge, the players shuffle their 13 cards in their hand only (in order to provide no information of how the hand might have been played to the next player of that hand), and then put the hand back into the board.
Main article: scoring