How To Play Bridge
Bridge is the ultimate of all the card games. Once you learn how to play Bridge online you will always find a game to play and friends to play Bridge with. There are hundreds of Bridge clubs worldwide and according to Wikipedia more than 500,000 Bridge games are played online every day.
You can even play bridge free here with our ‘hands of the Day’, and learn Bridge online from over 400 free Bridge lessons.
Is Bridge Hard To Learn?
The basics of Bridge are easy to learn, especially if you have already played Euchre, 500 or similar trick taking games.
As you learn how to play bridge, what does take time is learning the large number of bidding rules, but on 60SecondBridge in our members area, we provide interactive tips on how to bid (even in our daily competition games) so you will be playing bridge online here from your first lesson. This will get you started and then as you continue to learn you can migrate to using a ‘flipper’ (cheat sheet) which can also be used offline when playing with friends, family and at Bridge clubs (when playing as a beginner).
Overview of a Bridge Game
The game of Bridge uses a standard card deck of 52 cards with the jokers removed.
There are four players in each online Bridge game, they form two partnerships.
North and South partnership sit opposite each other, as does the East and West partnership.
To start the game, the entire deck of cards is shuffled and then dealt to the players one at a time in a clockwise rotation, each player receiving 13 cards.
A Bridge game is divided into two phases – ‘bidding’ and ‘play’.
Bridge is a trick taking game. A trick is four cards – created by each player placing a card into the center of the table.
In the bidding phase of the Bridge game the players each estimate how many rounds (tricks) they will win and what will be the dominant (trump) suit for that game. The bidding continues until three players in a row ‘pass’ (a no bid).
In the ‘play’ phase the players take turns to place a card into the center of the table. When there are 4 cards in the center it is called a ‘trick’. The highest card in the leading suit wins the trick and the trick count for that partnership is increased by one.
The game ends when all 13 cards have been played by each player. If the partnership that won the bidding contract, achieved the number of the trick they bid for then they have won. In online Bridge, all cards are displayed at the end of a game.
Our first 19 lessons are totally free (no registration required).
Start playing Bridge in just 10 minutes. Watch the video above (5 minutes) and then start with our interactive lessons in ‘Quick Start – Learn While You Play‘ and ‘Bridge Hand Evaluation‘ lessons in our members area and you’ll be playing Bridge online in no time at all.
Now, each phase in more detail…
The bidding phase of an online Bridge game is an auction where each player gets to estimate how many rounds they think they and their partner can win. If the winner of the auction then achieves their target they win the game and gain points and the opposition loses points. If the winner of the auction fails to achieve their target then they lose points and the opposition gains points.
NOTE: When you play Bridge online on 60SecondBridge, you have extra help with inbuilt bidding hints. Our commented Bridge hands also provide full description of the bidding and play.
The person who shuffled and dealt is called the Dealer, it is the responsibility of the Dealer to make the first bid whether it is a passed bid (P) or an opening bid.
The bidding involves knowing how high to bid with the hand you and your partner have altogether. Bidding is how you communicate the strength of your hand to your partner. Of course your opposition understand the strength of your hand from you and your partner’s bids as well, you are not allowed to have a private bidding system with your partner, you always need to have your partner able to describe what your bid means. The purpose of the bidding is to estimate how many rounds you and your partner could win together if they get the contract by making the highest bid followed by three passes (called winning the auction).
- Your partner North starts the bidding with 1 Club (1C).
- East responds with 1 Diamond (1D).
- You (South) bid 1 Spade (1S)
- West says ‘Pass’ (No Bid)
- North bids 1 No Trump (1NT)
- East says ‘Pass’ (No Bid)
- You (South) bid 3 No trumps
- West, East and North then all ‘Pass’ so the bidding is over and the ‘Contract’ is 3 No Trumps*
The highest bid at the end of the bidding becomes the ‘Contract’. In this example North-South have the Contract and must win 9 ‘Tricks’ (rounds).
* ‘No Trumps’ means only a card of the same suit can beat a card e.g. 9 of spades will beat an 8 of spades, but a 10 of hearts cannot.
NOTE: The minimum number of tricks you can bid for is 6, so winning the first tricks is assumed and so a bid of 1D or 1H or 1S means you need to win at least 7 tricks e.g. A bid of 2D or 2H or 2S means you must win at least 8 tricks.
The above video compares our free lessons with our members-only lessons which include inline Bridge term glossaries, instant quizzes and multiple guided practice hands. In all, much more effective way to learn Bridge. You can access all our member-only lessons free here.
Unlike similar games like Euchre and 500, the rules for bidding in Contract Bridge are very formal. There are numerous ‘systems’ you can play, but most players play a variation of one of two systems. Which system you will play will often depend on the country you are in or what your Bridge friends play:
Acol: If you live in the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand then you are much more likely to play using the Acol Bidding System
The Standard American Bidding System is played in most other countries. This system is also known by the names ‘SAYC’, ‘Stam’, ‘Five Card Majors’ and ‘American Contract Bridge’.
When you play Bridge online on 60SecondBridge you can use either Acol and Standard American bidding. Our friendly beginner lessons are relevant to both systems and then as you learn how to play bridge you must choose to use either the Acol or Standard American lessons (depending on the country you are in or sometimes what your friends play).
If you find this lessons useful, you will find our members only lessons even more valuable. The video below demonstrates the extra features in the interactive lessons in our members area. You can get full access to all those lessons with a free trial with over 100 hours of interactive Bridge lessons and Bridge hands.
Essential Bridge Terms
Once the first card (opening lead) has been played, the declarer’s partner exposes their hand for all to see. For the remainder of the game the declarer will play their own hand and that of their partner.
A little history: according to Britannica, the game of Bridge emerged out of Whist where, if there were only 3 players available to play a game, then the fourth hand could be played by one of the players as ‘dummy’.
Essentially ‘honor’ cards are the ‘picture cards’ (Jack, Queen, King, Ace). These are awarded values by the player as a method of assessing the strength of their hand.
The initial order of suits in each Bridge game is
- Spades (highest)
- Clubs (lowest)
However that order can change as a result of the bidding. Part of the bidding process is for players to nominate a ‘trump’ suit. This suit becomes the highest ranking suit for that game e.g. if a player has a strong hand in clubs they may bid for a ‘club’ contract. If they win the contract then ‘clubs’ becomes the trump suit for that game. The new order of suits for that game will be:
After the bidding is finished the players enter the second phase of the Bridge game called ‘The Play’. This consists of 13 rounds where each player plays one card each in a clockwise order. Players must follow suit if they can. If you already play Euchre, 500 or Whist then the ‘Play’ phase will be very familiar (but there are no Jokers or Bowers in Bridge). Whoever wins the trick, is the next to play the first card on the next round.
A new term needs to be defined here. The ‘declarer’ is first player to bid the suit of the final contract e.g. if north/south won the contract and the contract was 4 spades then whoever in the north/south partnership that first bid spades is designated as the declarer. The aim of the Declarer is to, at the bare minimum, win the number of rounds (tricks) they estimated in the bidding. The opposition are trying to stop the Declarer achieving this goal.
The first player to start the play is the player to the left of the declarer. This first card played is called the ‘opening lead’. The declarer then plays from the dummy hand, the opposition plays the third card and the declarer plays the fourth card from their own hand. The winner of that round plays the first card in the next round. The turns always proceed in a clockwise order.
The game ends when each player has played their 13 cards.
Scoring is a more detailed subject which we will expand on in later lessons. When you play Bridge online at 60SecondBridge, the scoring is calculated automatically by the computer.
The above was an overview of how to play Bridge online. The next lesson will outline how learning Bridge online at 60SecondBridge can greatly simplify the learning process for beginners. Then you’ll play your first game (with the assistance of the computer of course).
Commonly Asked Questions
Can You Play Bridge With 2 Players?
Online you only need one player, the computer can act as the other 3 players. Offline (with friends or at a club) 4 players are needed for each game. However, often two players in a partnership will play four hands between them as practice as they discuss strategies and review past games and how scores could have been improved.
How Can Beginners Play Bridge?
Learning to play Bridge online has many advantages. There is no pressure to choose bids, or a card, and you can use the in-built bidding hints to assist you with the complex bidding rules until you have built sufficient knowledge to play independently.
The 60SecondBridge website is divided into two sections, our ‘Public Lessons’ and our ‘Members Only’ section. The table below outlines the differences between the two areas.
MEMBERS AREA LESSONS AND BRIDGE GAMES
‘Members Area’ lessons include inline glossaries for bridge terms, ‘test your knowledge’ instant quizzes and multiple practice hands for each lesson (see video below).
Our members-only lessons are a much faster and more effective method of learning Bridge.
FREE ACCESS TO THE FIRST 2 BEGINNERS COURSES (no registration required)
- Quick Start – Learn By Playing Bridge (5 lessons)
- Bridge Hand Evaluation (14 lessons)
- Standard American bidding System (28 lessons)
- Acol Bridge Lessons (26 lessons)
- On Defense – Bidding and Card Play (36 lessons)
- Bridge Conventions in Bridge (14 lessons)
- Declarer Card Play (16 lessons)
Our members area also includes unlimited random practice hands to play online, daily Bridge competitions and a daily ‘Hand of the Day’ game with a guided commentary.
PUBLIC LESSONS (text only)
Our public lessons are text and some images, they are not interactive and generally do not include practice hands. See the members area for a more effective method of learning bridge.