This page should list all the terms used in the game of contract bridge, sorted in alphabetical order. All terms which are too short for an article should be redirected here. No internal links outside this page (except redirects) should point to this page.

In this article, italic terms are internal cross-references.

/ Edit

Short for pass. Used on bidding sheets and hand records.

0314 Edit

A variant of Roman key card Blackwood, in which the first step shows 0 or 3 key cards and the second step shows 1 or 4 key cards.

1430 Edit

A variant of Roman key card Blackwood, in which the first step shows 1 or 4 key cards and the second step shows 3 or 0 key cards.


A Edit

The ace card.

above the line Edit

In rubber bridge, points which do not count towards games.


The zonal bridge organisation of North America.

accept Edit

  1. The act of making the intended bid after a transfer bid.
  2. of an invitational call, e.g. game or slam bid.

ace Edit

The highest card in a suit.

action Edit

A call other than a pass.

active Edit

(adj) a style of play which aims to establish winners as soon as possible.


  1. (n, v) bidding after the overcaller doubles/bids.
  2. (adj) A bid which is made before the normal situation appears which it is made. For example, an advance cue-bid is one before agreeing trumps; an advance sacrifice is one before the opponents bid game.


(old-fashioned) A player on the other side during the auction (opponent) or a defender during the play.

alert Edit

A method to inform the opponents that a call may have an unexpected meaning.

announcement Edit

A method to inform the opponents the meaning of a call which is generally treated differently by different people.

arrow Edit

An arrow is used to show the direction of North in a duplicate bridge event.

artificial Edit

An artificial call is a call which is not natural. For example, Stayman 2, Blackwood 4NT and relays are all artificial calls.

An artificial system is a call which contains many artificial calls, e.g. relay systems.

asking bidEdit

An asking bid is one which requires partner to respond with one of several bids to give more information. Typically the captain makes the asking bids. Stayman and Jacoby 2NT are both common asking bids.

auction bridge Edit

The predecessor to royal auction bridge, with different scoring methods.


balance Edit

(v) To make an action at the balancing seat. Same as reopen.

balanced Edit

4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2 and 5-3-3-2 shape. See also flat.

balancing Edit

(adj) The seat after an action and two consecutive passes. See also pass out (3).

below the line Edit

In rubber bridge, points that count towards a game.

bid Edit

A bid is a call which constitutes a level and a denomination.

blank Edit

same as void

bidding sheet Edit

A piece of paper which allows players to place calls by writing on it.

book Edit

  1. (n) The initial six tricks by the declarer, which is not bid but assumed, and do not count towards the score.
  2. (n) The tricks by the defenders just before setting the contract. For example, the defenders' book in 3 is 4 tricks.
  3. (v, slang, usually passive) The declarer is said to be "booked" if he has lost the maximum number of tricks just before getting set.

boss suit Edit

(slang) The suit. See also: royal.


A board that is played the worst in the field. If MP scoring is used, the term is equivalent in meaning as zero.


A bust is a very weak hand with a long suit. In particular, when partner opens notrump, the contract is undesirable. A bust hand therefore runs to the long suit where it is safer. This is particularly common with minor suits.


call Edit

A bid, pass, double or redouble.


A bidding style that bids short suits before long suits.

claim Edit

(n, v) announcing that a number of tricks are won by our side. Opposite: concession


Once a player has limited her hand, she becomes the private and her partner becomes the captain. The captain's job is to ask for any more information she needs to determine where the best contract will be, and then to sign off in that bid. She therefore forces the private until she has enough information. Once the captain has made a non-forcing bid, the private should no longer make any free bids.

club Edit

  • The suit.
  • A club in everyday usage.

concession Edit

(n) announcing that a number of tricks are lost by our side. Opposite: claim

contract Edit

A bid with an optional double or redouble which specifies the level, the denomination and the stakes.

contract bridge Edit

Contract bridge is a form of trick-taking card game played by two pairs which the aim is to get the highest score by either bidding a contract and making it, or defeating the opponent's contract.


An artificial call in a natural system to communicate specific information. Contrast: treatment


To convert a call means to change the meaning of a call. For example, a penalty pass converts a takeout double to penalty.

cross-ruff Edit

To cross-ruff means to ruff repetitively (usually to play a card from the declarer to the dummy's void, then to play a card from the dummy to the declarer's void, and so on), in order to gain more tricks. For example, when s are trumps:



After drawing trumps, the hand can be claimed to take all remaining tricks by cross-ruffing.


dbl Edit

Short for double.

dealer Edit

The player who deals the cards. In duplicate bridge, the dealer does not actually deals the cards, but instead is marked on the board.

declaration Edit

(old-fashioned) contract


A denomination is one of the four suits, or notrump (NT). The ascending order of the denomination is , , , , and NT.


Short for double even pass odd, used after interference of Blackwood.

diamond Edit

The suit.


The direct seat is the seat directly after the right-hand opponent has bid. An immediate overcall is therefore called a direct overcall, and a number of other terms also inherit this name. The opposite term is balancing.

discard Edit

(verb) To play a card other than trumps when unable to follow suit.


Short for disturbing opponent's no trump, a method for interfering over a 1NT opening.


Short for double zero pass one, used after interference of Blackwood.

double Edit

A call which can only be made when the last action is a bid by the opponents. Its natural meaning is to increase the stakes.


The term double-dummy refers to the situation when all four hands are known. It is because when there are two dummies lying on the tables, all four hands are known. See also double-dummy solver.

double-dummy solver Edit

A program which finds the optimal line of play when all four hands are known.

doubleton Edit

A suit which contains exactly two cards. Compare void and singleton.

draw Edit

To draw trumps means to remove the opponents' trumps.

dummy Edit

  1. Partner of the declarer whose card is played by the declarer.
  2. The cards lie down on the table by the dummy.



To escape from a contract means that the contract is bad, and a better one is chosen.

establish Edit

To establish a card means to set it up as a winner. For example, the K and Q are said to be established if the A is played when one holds KQ72 in s.


flat Edit

The term flat, as an adjective can have two meanings:

  1. A board which nearly everyone scores the same.
  2. A hand with no shape, i.e. 4-3-3-3 distribution. Same as shapeless.


An outside A, K, or Q is typically called a feature. This is used, for instance, in rebids after a 2NT response to a weak two bid.


(slang) Short for fertiliser, an opening used for very weak hands in strong pass systems.

field Edit

The field is the set of contestants playing the same board. This term only applies to pair duplicate events.


A fit is typically 8 cards in one suit between a partnership. Common shapes for fits are 5-3, 4-4, 5-4, 6-2, etc.

A 7-card fit is called a Moyesian fit.

four triple three Edit

Same as flat i.e. 4-3-3-3 shape.

free bidEdit

A free bid is a bid when not forced. Usually the term is describe in the situation when partner makes a forcing bid and RHO overcalls, hence frees the forcing bid.


gadget Edit

(slang) Either a treatment or convention designed to cover a specific situation without integral effect on the whole system.

green Edit

(slang) Non-vulnerable.


heart Edit

The suit.

HCP Edit

High card point.

high card point Edit

High card points (HCPs) are used in hand evaluation. An ace is 4 points, king is 3 points, queen is 2 points, jacks is 1 point. There are 40 HCPs in a deck.

honour Edit

An ace, king, queen, jack or ten.


The regional bridge organisation of Hong Kong.


IMP Edit

International Match Point, a form of scoring in duplicate bridge.

invitational Edit

An invitational call is a call which tells the partner to bid game if he holds a non-minimum hand, or a good-fitting hand. For example, 1-3 is normally played as invitational, which tells the opener to bid 4 if holding a non-minimum.


jump Edit

To bid at a level higher than necessary.


K Edit


king Edit

The second highest card.



The term level has two related meaning:

  • The level of a bid. If used in this way, a number is attached to it. For example, 1 to 1NT are called 1-level bids.
  • A measure of the bidding space. For example, a bid 3 after 1 consumes two levels.

lily Edit

the old name of royal


major suit Edit

or , which worth 30 points per odd trick

masterpoint Edit

A system used for ranking the performance of players in the long run.

matchpoint Edit

A form of scoring in duplicate bridge.

minor suit Edit

or , which worth 20 points per odd trick


  1. Short for matchpoint, a form of scoring in duplicate bridge.
  2. Short for masterpoint, a system used for ranking players.


natural Edit

A natural call is a call which specifies its literal meaning.

  • A natural bid indicates willingness to play in the denomination named.
  • A natural double or redouble means to increase the score of the contract.
  • A natural pass means not willing to make any other call.

A natural system is a system which is mainly composed of natural calls.

The opposite is artificial.


Notrump, or no trump, means its literal meaning, i.e. without trump suit.

nullo Edit

Nullo is a denomination in some variant of bridge (but not in contract bridge proper), which is to lose tricks instead of to win tricks. Nullo ranks lower than notrump, but higher than spades, and scores as the same as notrump. For example, a 1 nullo contract promises to lose at least 7 tricks, while a 7 nullo contract promises to lose all 13 tricks.

Nullo was developed at the time of auction bridge, but was dropped because it is hard to bid.


odd trick Edit

The tricks which are taken beyond the book, and are counted towards the score.

ODR Edit

Short for offence to defence ratio, a method of hand evaluation useful in competitive auction.

off Edit

A convention is said to be off if it can't be activated at that point of the auction. Otherwise, it is said to be on. For example, if Stayman is off when a 1NT opening is interfered by a double, a 2 bid by the responder is a natural sign off.

on Edit

A convention is said to be on if it can be activated at that point of the auction. Otherwise, it is said to be off. For example, if Stayman is on when a 1NT opening is interfered by a double, a 2 bid by the responder is Stayman.

over Edit

(slang) A card is over another card means the card is on the left side of the other card. (See under)

overruff Edit

To overruff means to play a higher trump card when unable to follow suit, when a trump card is already in the trick.


P Edit

Short for pass.

pair Edit

Two players as partnership, one sitting opposite to the other.

A pair event is an event which is entered by pairs. See duplicate bridge for details.

pass Edit

A pass is a call whose natural meaning is unwillingness to take an action. The auction ends with an action followed by three consecutive passes, or four consecutive passes without an opening.

pass out Edit

  1. (v) To make the fourth consecutive pass when the bidding is not opened. The deal is said to be passed out after such an action and is abandoned.
  2. (v) To make the third consecutive pass after an action. The contract is then fixed and the play begins.
  3. (adj) A position which pass ends the auction

pass or correct Edit

A pass-or-correct bid is a kind of 2-suited sign off which shows no further interest. It requires the partner to pass or correct to the other suit.

penalty Edit

  • The score awarded to the opponents when the contract is set.
  • A score given to the non-offending side when someone violates rules.

plain suit Edit

i.e. side suit

point Edit

preempt Edit

To bid at a high level in order to take away the bidding space.

prerequisite Edit

Some conventions only make sense if other conventions are in play. These are called prerequisites.

psych Edit

A call which delibrately misstates one's hand.

pull Edit

(Slang) To pull a double or redouble means to remove it by bidding over it.

puppet Edit

A puppet is an artificial call which unconditionally requires the partner to make a specific bid, usually the lowest one, after which the player placing the puppet can have further action.

A puppet is different from a relay that a relay bid itself shows nothing, but asks the partner to respond something; a puppet show something, but requests the partner to return, showing nothing.

push Edit

(slang) Board which perform the same as others. Same as flat. e.g. This board was a push.



(slang) Queens and Jacks. They are useful when supported but usually useless when unsupported.


rdbl Edit

Short for redouble.

red Edit

(slang) vulnerable.

redbl Edit

Short for redouble.

redouble Edit

A call which can only be made when the last action is a double by the opponents. Its natural meaning is to further increase the stakes.

relay Edit

A bid, generally the cheapest available bid, which asks partner information.

reopen Edit

(v) Same as balance.

reopening Edit

(adj) Same as balancing.

rescue Edit

To bid over partner's bad contract.

royal Edit

A denomination in auction bridge that are trumps and each odd trick is worth 9 points. See also: boss suit.

ruff Edit

To ruff means to play a trump card when unable to follow suit. It wins the trick when not overruffed.

run Edit

To repetitively take tricks by playing winners in a suit.


sac Edit

Slang for sacrifice

sacrifice Edit

To deliberate bid a contract that cannot be made, hoping that the penalty will be less than the value of the making contract by the opponents.


A self-raise is a raise of a suit previously bid by the same player. It usually shows a longer suit then before, Such a bid is almost always limiting.

sequence Edit

A sequence is formed by consecutive cards. For example, AKQJ is a 4-card sequence.

shape Edit

The shape of a hand is defined as the number of cards in each suit. If a quantifier is used along the word shape, it refers to the difference in length between the longest and shortest suits. i.e. 4-3-3-3 is no shape, 4-4-3-2 is little shape, 6-2-3-2 is a lot of shape, and 8-4-1-0 is an extreme shape.

shapeless Edit

A hand with exactly 4-3-3-3 distribution. Same as flat.

shapely Edit

A hand which the difference in length between the longest and shortest suits is large, such as 7-4-2-0 shape.

side Edit

A side is either North-South or East-West.

side suit Edit

A suit other than the trump suit in a suit contract.

sign offEdit

A sign off is a bid indicating that partner should pass. Typically, game bids are sign offs. Other instances is when it becomes clear that there is no possibility for game.

singleton Edit

A suit which contains exactly one card. Compare void and doubleton.

slam Edit

A small slam is a 6-level contract; a grand slam is a 7-level contract. As the bonuses for slam is very large, conventions are developed for accurate bidding.

The bonuses for slam:

Non-vulnerable Vulnerable
Small slam 500 750
Grand slam 1000 1500


The bidding space has 7 levels and 35 steps. Making a bid always take up some space, but making other calls doesn't.

spade Edit

The suit.


  1. The stop card in the bidding box.
  2. (verb) To stop a suit means to prevent it from running.


Bidding space is measured in levels and steps. The space between a bid and the immediate next bid is called a step. For example, 1-1 is 3 steps, 1-7NT is 34 steps.

A level is equivalent to 5 steps.


A card which can stop a suit running.


A suit is considered solid if it contains an unbroken line of honors from the A. Typically, A-K-Q is required to call a suit solid, but this can be generalized to more (i.e. "five solid" would mean A-K-Q-J-T, and so on).

It is useful to show solid suits to confirm a maximum weak two bid.

A suit is nearly solid if it is missing a single low honor from being solid. Thus, A-K-J is nearly solid.




There are 4 suits in the deck: (club), (diamond), (heart), (spade). and are called the minor suits and and are called the major suits. A major suit scores 30 per odd trick, a minor suit scores 20 per odd tricks.

As major suit games need one less trick to make, it is generally preferable to place contracts in majors instead of minors.

The boss suit is the spade suit, since it is the highest suit, thus having the ability to take up the whole level and wins competitive biddings.

swing Edit

(slang) A large difference in score. For example, a game swing is the difference between a game and a partscore, while a double game swing is the difference between making games of two sides.


T Edit

Ten. Used when each card has to be represented by exactly one character.

take-out Edit

same as rescue


Some tournament are played in teams. A team is formed by 4 to 6 players, with 4 of them playing, the remaining spare. When team A and B compete, the N-S pair of team A plays with the E-W pair of team B, the E-W pair of team A plays with the N-S pair of team B, and the team result is compared by subtracting the opponents score from the other table, sitting at the same position (or equivalently add the points of the teammates from the other table together). (See also duplicate bridge)

tenace Edit

A tenace is a combination of two honours with one missing between them, since as A-Q or K-J. Such combinations are useful for finessing underneath the missing honour held by LHO. Holding high tenaces in the dummy prevents either opponent from leading the missing honour and can therefore shut down the honour even if held by RHO.


A board that is played the best in the field. If MP scoring is used, the board gets all available MPs.


A call which asks the partner to bid a specified suit.


A natural call to communicate specific information. Contrast: convention



a trick

A trick is formed by all four players playing a card into it in turn.

trump Edit

A trump suit is a suit, which can be played to a trick when unable to follow suit, to win a trick. The act of playing a trump when unable to follow trump is called ruffing or trumping.

In contract bridge, the trump suit is decided by the auction.


under Edit

(slang) A card is under another card means the card is on the right side of the other card. (See over)


To underlead an honour means to lead a card from the suit with the honour.


void Edit

A missing suit. Compare doubleton and singleton.

VP Edit

Victory point, a form of scoring in duplicate bridge.

vulnerable Edit

A vulnerable pair scores more then a non-vulnerable pair if a contract makes, but is also penalised more if it goes down.


weak or strong Edit

A call is called weak or strong if it denotes strength of two distinct ranges (weak or strong). It is not used by strength between the two ranges.

winner Edit

A card which can win a trick when played.


x Edit

A small card. Used in hand diagrams.

X Edit

Abbreviation of double. Same as dbl.

XX Edit

Abbreviation of redouble. Same as redbl or rdbl.


yarborough Edit

A hand with no honours.



At MP scoring, a board that gets zero matchpoints. Same as bottom.