Passion of The Game of Bridge

Double (X) & Redouble (XX): Special Bid on The Auction

As we can bid the 35 kind of contract in its order during auction, there are 2 important special bids that can be made in addition of those 35 bids: Double (X) and Redouble (XX). And because it’s special bids, they have special requirement and special purpose as well.

This is really happening to me on a supervised session on my club: I open 1 as natural 12-21HCP promising at least 3 cards Diamond. LHO passes and partner bids Double !! Apparently the person opposite me has doubleton Diamond, 4-4 majors and 3 cards club and wanting me to be 2nd suit if any… He is not really beginner’s beginner as has been playing bridge regularly for more than 1 years, but it highlite one simple fact that probably the understanding of this Double bid (and even the rarer Redouble) is not really well explained to the beginner as one of the bridge basic.

Declarer Play: Playing Suit Contract

Theoretically, you will play a suit contract 4 times more often than NT contract. Playing a suit contract is a little bit more complicated as the highest card in a suit will not always win if a trump suit is being played. “Trumping” or “Ruffing” become part of the play.

Declarer Play: Playing No Trump Contract

Now the bidding is over and you have your bridge contract to play. Your LHO (left hand opponent) has select the card for opening lead and put it face down in the table. Your partner lay the card on the table as dummy and it is time for declarer play.

The Auction or Bidding in Bridge

The Auction or Bidding in Bridge

The first action to do after you receive your hand and assess it is to do the auction or bidding. The purpose of auction or bidding is simply to communicate the kind of hand that you have to partner and opponent for them to act accordingly and reach the best contract.

Playing Bridge: the Big Picture

Playing Bridge: the Big Picture

This is an overall overview when playing a hand of bridge from start to finish as your “big picture” reference before dig in into the detail.

[Holding a Hand]

Each player has 13 cards

In general, we can categorize all activity into 4 segment below:

A. The Beginning

  1. 4 people sits on a table taking  North, East, South and West position. North and South are partner, as well as East and West.
  2. Each player have 13 cards to play.
  3. Each player do the assessment of their own card. What kind of distribution they have, how many point, etc, etc…

B.The Bidding / Auction

[Bidding Box]

Bidding Box

  1. One player start the bidding (who will start first is predetermined) by making a bidding of a contract (there are 35 kind of them) which communicate the value of his holding to the other 3 player. For example: one bid 1 this tell everybody on the table:  “My hand has at least 5 cards of Heart, and I have 12 – 21 points”. Each also can choose not to bid with “Pass”
  2. The bidding can be written by hand into a special bidding sheet, or in official tournament, a bidding box (as picture on the right) can be used.
  3. Each takes turn to make a bid or “Pass” clockwise.
  4. If you don’t understand opponent bid, you may ask the partner to explain to you the meaning. For example if you are South and East make a bid, you can ask West what  is the meaning of the bid.
  5. The lowest bid will be 1 and the highest will be 7NT.  The lower bid cannot be used after the higher bid has been made.
  6. The bidding / auction only stop until there are 3 “Pass”es.
  7. The highest bid is the contract of that particular hand. Whoever bid that contract the first time will be the “Declarer” who will play to meet the target of the contract.
    For example : the highest bid was 5, then whoever bid suit the first time on that partnership (maybe 1 or other bid) will be the declarer.
  8. The partner of declarer will be called “Dummy” as he will not really play on that hand. His/her main job is only to lay his own hand on the table for everybody to see, hence “dummy”
  9. The opponent will be called “Defender” as they have to defense against declarer to try to break the contract.
  10. The left hand side opponent of the declarer will become make “Opening Lead”, that is start the play with the first card put into the table.
  11. If there is mis-turn or wrong bidding sequence, in a tournament you need to call the tournament director “Director !”

C. The Play

  1. The play start with opening lead. Once the opponent lay the opening lead card, then dummy will be opened and put on the center of the table.
  2. Declarer will examine dummy to plan his strategy to fulfill the contract. Both defender also try to figure out the defence to “steal” as many trick as possible from declarer. There will be pause here maybe 1 or 2 minutes, then the war continues.
  3. Cards that have been played will be put down facing the table toward the winner of the trick for traceability purposes.
  4. Whoever win the trick will have to make opening lead for the next trick.
  5. Total, there will be 13 trick , some  will be for declarer, some will be for defender. After all cards have been played, then tally will be counted and announce whether the contract was made, overtrick or undertrick.
  6. Any problem during the play, you need to call the director as well.

D. The End

  1. Then as closing, North (usually) have the obligation to record the score and result and  prepared for the next hand.
  2. Each player need to count their own card again to make sure there is no mix-up and put back into the wallet or board for next table to play the same hand.

There you have it. Not too difficult, isn’t it ?

Recommended next reading in this series: Assessing Your Hand
– Or go back to the series list: Learning The Game of Bridge.

Assessing Your Hand: The First Bridge Ritual

When you play bridge, you will receive 13 cards for your part of the play. These 13 pieces of cards became your holding on that round. We will refer them as “your hand”. I would encourage you to develop some kind of “ritual” (something that you will repeat and always do over and over again) when you received your card. Not only this will trigger your mind to focus and “enter” the world of bridge, but also will help you during the play as we assess the entire card during this ritual.

The Ritual

Here is my ritual:

  1. Before even look onto the card (card still facing downward), count the card. (No, not out loud, just for yourself)
    Usually I count 2 cards at once, so the count only 1,2,3,4,5,6 and half… Notify the dealer / the tournament director if it’s already not 13.
  2. Now open the card, and start sort your hand according to the suit.
    I would recommend to sort and place the suit as if  (I mean do not put spade on the left and club on the right for example) – because it might consitute that you have hidden/secret convention about it.  Within the suit, you may want to sort it from higher to lower or vice versa as per your preference.
  3. Determine if your hand is balanced, 1 suiter, 2 suiters or 3 suiter… (based on the number of card in a suit)
    Balanced is 4-3-3-3,  4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2
    2 suiters are 5-4-x-x, 5-5-x-x, 6-5-x-x,6-6-x-x, 7-6-x-x  (where ‘x’ is not important/don’t care)
    3 suiters are 5-4-4-0 and 4-4-4-1
  4. Count the HCP (High Card Point)
    Only 4 card of each suit matters: Ace is 4, King is 3, Queen is 2 and Jack is 1. Remember the total.
  5. Count the distributional points
    If you have void in 1 suit (no card in certain suit), give it +2 points, Singleton (only 1 card): +1 point.
    If the singleton is either King, Queen, or Jack then give it -3, -2 or -1 points  accordingly.
    If there is doubleton honor in a suit without the ace: KQ, KJ, QJ give minus point to the lower rank honor. So, KQ=-2pts, KJ/QJ=-1pts
    if there is long suit more than 6 card and 1 additional point for extra card above 6, i.e: 7 cards=+1 pts, 8 cards=+2 pts, 9 cards=+3pts, etc
    the distributional point can and should be re-assess later during the bidding. For example if the doubleton honor is in partner’s suit then there should be minus point any more.
  6. Calculate total points of HCP and distributional points and make a range of points for your hand.
    Example: 10HCP and +2 distributional points means your total point will be 10 – 12 points
  7. Fold your card, wait for the other 3 player to finish and get ready for opening bid according to your system

Once you did the ritual above, you actually have assessed your card and ready for the next task: the bidding or auction.

But before that, lets do some practices on some hands below:

Example 1:

K32
J852
8653
KQ
This hand has 9 HCP with balance distribution 4-4-3-2 with -2 distributional points (KQ doubleton). Total points: 7 – 9 points
If you are the one do the opening bid then probably you will bid “Pass” (depends on your system though)

Example 2:

AQ6543
32
K
Jxx
Looks like 1 suiter spade with 10HCP plus -2 points (+1 singleton, but -3 singleton King). But hold on ! It’s only 12 cards here. You should tell the dealer or call the tournament director before proceed !
After looking at the record, they say it’s actually there is one additional card in Club. Here is the complete distribution:
AQ6543
32
K2
Jxx

So, the hand becomes 1 suiter with 10HCP with no distributional point. Total points: 10 pts.

Example 3:

A
KJ987
AQT75
QJ
This hand has 17HCP – 1pts (QJ doubleton), total points 16-17 pts with 2 suiters 5-5-2-1

Example 4:

K765
QJ21
J
8532
This is the 3 suiters 4-4-4-1 with 7HCP +0 pts (+1 for singleton, but -1 for singleton J)

Example 5:

AK2
Q
J8653
AK54
This hand has 17HCP with -2pts singleton Q. Total points: 15-17pts. It’s 2suiter 5-4-3-1

Example 6:

K4
532

QJ976432
This hand is 1 suiters with 8 cards , 5HCP, 4 distribution points (+2 void , +2 pts for long suit). Total points: 5-7 points

Recommended next reading in this series: The Auction or Bidding in Bridge
– Or go back to the series list: Learning The Game of Bridge.

Learning The Game of Bridge

There is nothing better than learning by doing. So, I would encourage anybody that interested in this greatest mind sport in the planet, go out there join your local club. In your community, in your school, in your university or even in your office.

But, of course it will be even much better if you know a bit here and there beforehand, so here some great list for you to start:

Bridge Concept: Playing Card With a Partner

Bridge Concept: Playing Card With a Partner

Unlike chess, bridge is not individual game. The smallest entity of playing bridge is a partnership. Playing bridge is essentially between your partnership against one other partnership as your opposition.

Therefore, to play bridge you need at least:

  1. 4 people: to form 2 partnership
  2. deck of playing card
  3. a pen and paper