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Contract Bridge
LESSON 1
Making tricks without a Trump Suit

  1. Shuffling and Dealing the Cards
  2. Organising your Hand
  3. Making Tricks in 'No Trumps'
  4. Self Deals 1 - 4
  5. Scoring Trick points in NT
  6. Opening Lead in NT - Rule of 11
  7. Self Deals 5 - 8
  8. Quiz - Answers
  9. Bidding Guide : BG-14

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BR 1.1 - Shuffling and Dealing the Cards


Contract Bridge is a card game played by four players, called "North", "East", "South" and "West".

The four players form two pairs who play against each other.

North & South form one pair, and play against the other pair consisting of East & West.

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1a.
At the beginning of each 'deal' the cards are shuffled and dealt.

If North is the Dealer :

  • his left hand Opponent (in this case East) shuffles the cards, then places the shuffled pack across the table in front of his Partner (in this case West)
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1b.
  • West cuts the pack in two, and places the top part (T) of the pack nearest to the Dealer, North.

  • North picks up the bottom part (B) of the pack first and places it on top of the top part (T).

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1c.
  • North then deals the cards in clockwise direction one at a time to each player starting with the player on his left (in this case East).

  • The other players wait patiently, and do not touch any one of their cards, while the Dealer deals out all cards.

  • Only after the Dealer has completed dealing out all 52 cards do the players pick up their cards.
    This is the proper etiquette. It gives all players the same amount of time to organise and asses their hand.
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BR 1.2 - Organising your Hand

Contract Bridge uses a pack with 52 cards.
The cards are divided into four different suits, called Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs.

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Each suit contains 13 cards. Ranked from the highest to the lowest they are :

Ace - King - Queen - Jack - 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2


The five highest cards in each suit (A- K - Q - J - 10) are called the honours or honour cards.

After all cards have been dealt all players pick up their cards and arrange them in an organised way as shown below.

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Sort all cards into the four suits, and within each suite arrange them from the highest to lowest value.
Arrange the suits in your hand so that they alternate in colour, for example :

Spades   Hearts   Clubs   Diamonds  

This way you have a good view of the ranking of the all cards and of the length (number of cards held) of each suit.


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BR 1.3 - Making Tricks in 'No Trumps' (NT)

There are two distinct periods in each deal played in Contract Bridge.

  1. The auction - a period of bidding in which both sides compete for the right to play a deal by setting a contract (the minimum number of tricks a side contracts to win).
    This aspect of the game is dealt with from Lesson 4 onwards.

  2. The play - a period of playing tricks, 13 in total (one trick for each card held by every player).

There are two modes (types of contracts) of winning tricks in Contract Bridge.

  • No Trump contacts - in which the highest card of the suit lead always wins the trick.

  • Trump contracts - in which the highest card of the suit lead wins the trick unless it is trumped ('ruffed') by one or more cards from the trump suite. In this case the highest trump wins the trick.

    A player can only play a trump when he can not follow suit (has no cards left in the suit which was lead). This mode of play is covered in Lesson 2

In the first two lessons we start with playing the simple game of whist, where all four players keep their cards in their hands throughout the play. This gives you a good opportunity to become familiar with the mechanics of playing tricks, without being distracted by anything else.

Here follows the action for the first three tricks in a game played without a trump suit (NT).


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br01/br0107 3a.
North has dealt the cards and (for the first two lessons only) is allowed to make the Opening lead (plays the first card to the first trick in the game). The other players, in turn in clockwise order, play their card to the first trick.

North takes a card from his hand (SQ) and places it face up in front of him on the card table.

Now it is East's turn to play. North has lead a Spade, therefore East must follow suit and also play one of his Spade cards. The card he selects may be a higher or lower card than played before. In this case East selects the Spade King.

Next it is the turn of South (SA), and finally West (S4) to play a Spade to the first trick.

South has won the first trick with the Ace and has therefore gained the lead for the next trick.



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br01/br0108 3b.
After all four players have played to the first trick, and having identified the winner of that trick, they each pick up their card and place it this time face down in front of them back on the table.

The winning side for this trick (in this case North and South) place the card face down and aligned in vertical direction (from their viewpoint), in front of them. This records the trick as a winning trick for their side.

The losing side for this trick (in this case East and West) place the card face down and aligned in horizontal direction (from their viewpoint), in front of them. This records the trick as a losing trick for their side.

Therefore all face down cards for this trick are aligned in the same direction on the card table.


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3c.
South, having won the previous trick leads the first card to the next trick. Hoping that North had a reason for playing Spades at trick 1, he leads a small Spade, 'returning Partner's lead'.

West plays next (S5), then North (SJ), and finally East (S2).

North therefore wins trick 2 with the Jack of Spades, and will lead again to the next trick.


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3d.
As for trick 1, all players pick up their card played on trick 2 and place it again face down on the table, with this second card partly overlapping their card from trick 1.

The winning side (North and South) again places their card in vertical direction in front of them, the losing side (East and West) in horizontal direction.


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br01/br0111 3e.
North, having won the previous trick, leads to trick 3 with S8.

East follows with the S7.

South, having no more Spades left in his hand, discards the 10 of Hearts.

West wins trick 3 with the 9 of Spades.

Note that, although South plays the card with highest ranking (10) it does not win the trick because it is not a card from the suit lead (first card played) to this trick. (Even an Ace of Hearts, Clubs or Diamonds would on this trick have lost to West's humble Spade 9.)


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br01/br0112 3f.
After trick 3 all players place their card again face down on the table, partly overlapping the card from their previous trick.

This time East and West have won the trick and align their card in vertical direction in front of them, while North and South (the losers to this trick) align their card horizontally in front of them.

This is the way tricks are played in all club competitions.

  • It keeps the cards for each hand separate, so that the same deal can be play by other players in the room, and

  • the way the cards are aligned provides a record of winning and losing tricks for both sides and the order in which the tricks were played.


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BR 1.4 - Self Deals 1 to 4

At this point you are ready to play.
Deal and play four games in No Trump mode.

  • Self Deal 1 - Dealer and Opening lead by North.

  • Self Deal 2 - Dealer and Opening lead by East.

  • Self Deal 3 - Dealer and Opening lead by South.

  • Self Deal 4 - Dealer and Opening lead by West.

If you practice with four players each player keeps his/her cards in his/her hand throughout the play.


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4a.
When you practise just by yourself, keep one set of cards in your hand (like S on the adjacent Diagram) and lay out the other three hands on the table as shown, with all cards (faces up) facing towards the centre of the table.
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4b.
When you practise with someone else : take one hand each in your hand (like S and W on this Diagram) with the two remaining hands displayed on the table as shown. The South player also plays the North hand on the table.
The West player also plays the East hand on the table.

With three players only one hand needs to be laid out on the table. The player opposite this 'Dummy hand' plays both hands. Rotate the Dummy hand around the table in successive games, so that each player gets a turn playing with dummy.

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BR 1.5 - Scoring Trick points in No Trump Contracts

A complete deal of Contract Bridge consists of 13 tricks, one trick for each card of each player.
A side must therefore always make more than six tricks to win more tricks than the Opponents. The first six tricks a side wins are called the book.

Scoring in Contract Bridge is based on the winning tricks made after the first six tricks have been won. Trick points after the first six winning tricks are awarded as follows.

  • 40 points for the first trick in No Trump.

  • 30 points for each trick thereafter.

Therefore if one side wins a total of 7 tricks (and the Opponents win only 6), the winning side is awarded
        (7 - 6 = 1)   > >   1 x 40 points = 40 trick points.

If one side wins a total of 9 tricks (and the Opponents win only 4), the winning side is awarded
        (9 - 6 = 3)   > >   1 x 40 + 2 x 30 = 100 trick points.


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BR 1.6 - Opening Leads in No Trump Contracts

After playing a few hands in No Trumps you will no doubt have discovered that there are two ways of winning tricks.

  1. with high cards in your hand, especially Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks.

  2. with small cards of a long suit once the high cards in that suit have been played.

Which SUIT to lead
The best strategy in No Trump play is therefore to lead cards from your (or Partner's) longest suit first, before you play out your high cards in other suits.
Playing your long suit probably means first losing one or more tricks. Use your high cards in other suits to regain the lead, then immediately lead another card from your long suit again.

If, on the other hand, you play your high cards in other suits first it is unlikely that you will get a chance to 'cash in' the small winning cards from your long suit.

Which CARD to lead
There are two standard approaches to leading long suits in No Trump contracts.

  1. Lead the top of a solid sequence
    A solid sequence consists of three or more successive cards ('touching cards') in a suit headed by an Honour (the Honour cards in a suit are : A - K - Q - J - 10).

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    Other solid sequences are Q J 10 and J 10 9 and 10 9 8 and A K Q
    (always lead K from A K Q)

  2. Lead the 4th highest card from your longest suit if it is not headed by a solid sequence.
    Rule of 11

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When your Partner makes the opening lead in No Trumps it will be his longest suit. Always return this suit when you gain the lead unless there is a very good reason not to do so.


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BR 1.7 - Self Deals 5 to 8

Play another four Deals in No Trump mode while applying the above strategy and making the correct opening lead.

  • Self Deal 5 - Dealer and Opening lead by North.

  • Self Deal 6 - Dealer and Opening lead by East.

  • Self Deal 7 - Dealer and Opening lead by South.

  • Self Deal 8 - Dealer and Opening lead by West.



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BR 1.8 - Quiz 1

  1. How many players are there required for a game of Contract Bridge, and what are each of them called ?

  2. How many cards are there in a pack of cards and how are they divided ?

  3. Which is the highest ranking card in a suit, and which is the lowest ?

  4. Which are the Honour cards in a suit ?

  5. If West is the Dealer, who shuffles the cards and who cuts them ?

  6. How are the cards dealt ?

  7. If South makes the opening lead, which player will play a card next ?

  8. At the end of the game South's cards on the table are displayed as shown below.
    Which side made the most tricks, and how many ? Which side won the first trick ?
    Which side won the 5th trick ? Which side won the last trick ?
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  9. What is your opening Lead in a No Trump contract with the following hands.

    1. S - 10 8 4     H - J 10 9 4 3     C - A J     D - K J 3

    2. S - A Q 2     H - A Q 9     C - J 10 7 5   D - K J 3

    3. S - A J 4 2     H - Q J 9     C - 9 7 5 3   D - A 2

    4. S - Q J 10 9     H - K 9 5     C - K 5   D - A Q 3 2

    5. S - Q J 3     H - 7 6 3     C - K 5   D - A K Q 3 2

  10. How many trick points are awarded to the following results (playing in No Trumps).

    1. winning 8 tricks

    2. winning 7 tricks

    3. winning 11 tricks

    4. winning 9 tricks

    5. winning all tricks

  11. Your Partner makes an Opening Lead with the 2 of Spades. How many Spades does have ?

  12. Your Partner makes an Opening Lead with the 5 of Hearts. How many Hearts could he have ?
Answers to Quiz 1


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Copyright © 2006 Michael Furstner. All rights reserved.