Bridge (card game)

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Participant in a bridge tournament - declarer sits in the front left while his partner has placed his cards face up on the table.

Bridge (especially contract bridge ) is a card game for four people. Every two players sitting opposite each other form a team that plays and is scored together. There are French cards (52 cards without Joker) is used.

The aim of the game is to take as many tricks as possible. In a first phase ( bidding ), a kind of auction is used to determine which pair has to take how many tricks and whether there is a trump suit . After a pair has prevailed with an announcement of the number of tricks and trump suit, the cards are played in the second phase. The main goal for one side is to achieve at least the number of stitches it has announced; the other side must prevent this if possible. A special feature of bridge is that only one player (declarer) of the party that won the bid plays in the lead, while his partner lays his cards face up on the table and his cards up after the first lead by the left opponent Admits instruction from declarer.

Today, bridge is understood as the modern version of contract bridge, which has established itself worldwide since the 1930s and has largely supplanted its predecessors such as Whist or Auction Bridge . Bridge is not only played as a rubber bridge in private circles, but often in the form of tournaments. In a tournament, the same deals are played on multiple tables by different players. The winner is the participant who achieves better results with his cards than other players with the same cards, not the player who receives the strongest cards. This greatly reduces the influence of card luck. Bridge is therefore practiced as a sport , similar to chess and Go .

Game flow

Colors at the bridge
Spades Cœur Diamonds Meeting
Spades Cœur Diamonds Meeting

Bridge is played with a pack of 52-sheet French picture playing cards: The four colors of bridge are called spades, coeur (in Austria hearts ), diamonds and clubs . (The term cross for club is not common in bridge). The suits form a ranking in this order, with spades as the highest and clubs as the lowest suit; this ranking becomes important when bidding. Spades and Cœur are majors called (majors), diamonds and accuracy are the minor suits . Each suit has 13 cards in the following order:

Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • Ace, king, queen and jack are called pieces, pictures or honors . According to the international tournament bridge rules, the 10 is also considered a figure.


The partnerships are either fixed or are formed beforehand by a lottery procedure (in private rounds, very unusual in tournaments). The players in a partnership take a seat opposite at the table. The players are designated with the four cardinal points north, east, south and west (N, E, S, W). The NS couple plays against the OW couple.

The divider lets the left opponent shuffle the cards and cut the cards from the right opponent. Then he deals the cards, starting on the left, one by one in a clockwise direction, until each player has 13 cards. In the next game, the player to the left of the divider has this task.

The teasing

The bidding (in Austria: the auction or the auction ) is the first phase of the game. Here it is determined:

  • which side has to make how many stitches,
  • whether there is trump (in Austria: atout ), and if so, which color is trump .

When bidding, the players make announcements in clockwise order, starting with the divider. A player can either

  • make a bid
  • fit,
  • double the last bid of the opponent or
  • recontract a contra of the opponent.

A bid for a contra or a contra cancels the latter. Bidding ends when three players pass in a row, unless bidding begins with pass - pass - pass. In this case, the fourth player still has the opportunity to place a bid. If he also passes, the cards are redistributed (does not apply to tournaments). The trump suit (or whether there is one) and the minimum number of tricks to be won is determined by the final bid, the contract .

All the bids in the bridge
with trump no
trump card
to be achieved
1 1 1 1 1NT 7 stitches
2 2 2 2 2NT 8 stitches
3 3 3 3 3NT 9 stitches
4 4 4 4 4NT 10 stitches
5 5 5 5 5NT 11 stitches
6 6 6 6 6NT 12 stitches
7 7 7 7 7NT 13 stitches

If you place a bid, you always commit to taking more than half of the tricks, i.e. more than six of the thirteen possible. These six mandatory stitches (“The Book”) are not explicitly included in the bidding process. The lowest bid is 1 . The player undertakes to take one trick more than the book, i.e. 7 (= 6 + 1) tricks together with his partner, whereby club should be trump.

The next bid is 1 and requires 7 tricks with diamonds as trumps. This is followed by 1 , 1 and 1NT ( No Trump, signing 7 tricks without a trump, sometimes also with 1SA, for sans-atout, or briefly 1 without ). After 1NT comes 2 . 2 obliges to 8 (= 6 + 2) tricks with club as trump. It continues with 2 , 2 , 2 , 2NT, 3 , 3 ,…, 7 , 7 , 7 , 7 and finally 7NT (all 13 = 6 + 7 tricks, without trump).

Individual bids can be left out. For example, 1 can be immediately followed by 1NT (omitting 1 and 1 ).

A bid can only be followed by a higher bid. Higher value means that a higher number of stitches is promised or a higher color with the same number of stitches. If a player z. For example, if the bid of 2 ♦ goes down, the bids 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1NT and 2 ♣ are no longer permitted. 2 would be the next legal bid. Reizen therefore has the character of an auction.

The first commandment is opening .

Bidding: Pass - 1 - Contra ("X") - Rekontra ("XX") - 1 - 1 - Pass - 3 - Pass - 4 - Pass - Pass - Pass

The basic aim of the bidding is to announce the number of tricks that can be achieved in a suitable color as precisely as possible. Under no circumstances should a couple bid more tricks than they actually do, but within a certain framework not too few tricks (otherwise the couple may miss out on bonuses, see accounting ). Under certain circumstances, however, it can be beneficial for a couple to announce a contract that they cannot fulfill - a sacrificial offer .

In order to achieve this goal, the players use the announcements to exchange information about their hand. The information usually includes the number of cards in one or more suits and the strength of the hand. The exact meaning of an announcement depends on the announcements made previously. A systematic summary of such partnership agreements is called a bidding system . All agreements on the meaning of the commandments must be disclosed to the opponents; “Secret agreements” are therefore not permitted.

It often happens that one party does not intervene in the bid, but always passes; In such a case one speaks of undisturbed irritation . When both sides bid it is called competitive bidding . The bids of the party that did not open are called counter-stimulation . The meaning of the announcements of the counter-bid differ significantly from the meaning of the bidding of the opening party.

Bidding box

Originally, all announcements were made orally when bidding. Nowadays, this is only done when playing in a private environment; bidding boxes are used in tournaments . Each player has a bidding box with the 35 bids and several cards for pass, contra, and contra. When it is his turn, the player takes the card for the desired announcement from the bidding box and places it on the table in front of him. Announcements made in the previous round are not removed, but partially covered with the new card, but in such a way that all previous announcements remain visible. The players can understand the sequence of the individual announcements during the bidding process. At the end of the bidding, before the cards are played, the players return the bidding cards to the bidding box

The alert rule

If a player makes an artificial announcement or an announcement with an unusual meaning, the partner of this player must inform the opponents of this fact by alerting them. In bidding boxes there is a separate card that the partner holds in the middle of the table for a few seconds. If you play without bidding boxes, you knock on the table a few times. The opponents now have the opportunity to find out about the exact meaning of the announcement from this pair.

The stop rule

This rule is in jump commandments of importance: A player is a jump bid if he misses one or more lower bids in the same color. If a player bids z. B. after 1 ♥ of the previous player 2 he skips bid 1 - he jumps.

When playing with bidding boxes, the player must first place the stop card from the bidding box on the table, then the card of the bid that he / she is making. After about ten seconds he puts the stop card back in the bidding box. Only now can the next player announce. Without bidding boxes, the player says “stop two spades”, after about ten seconds “go”.

The ten second waiting time gives the next player the opportunity to think about his announcements. This prevents the partner of this next player from receiving unauthorized information from a possible reflection.

The game

After the bidding, the cards are played. The party that made the last bid must now try to win at least as many tricks as possible. The player of this party, the trump suit (or NT) has called for the first time during the provocation becomes the declarer . The two players of the other party are called opponents .

Bridge is a trick-taking game : one player leads, i. i.e., he lays a card face up on the table. The other players deal one card from their hand in clockwise order. The player who dealt the highest-ranking card wins the trick and leads to the next trick. In the game there is a compulsory color , but no trick - and no compulsory trump card .

The player to the left of declarer leads to the first trick. Next, the declarer's partner puts all of his cards on the table in order of color. If there is a trump suit, the cards of that suit go to the right. These cards now lying on the table are called dummy, table or straw man . With each trick a card is added from this hand. However, his owner cannot decide for himself which card he wants to play, but has to follow the oral instructions of the declarer. In addition to their own 13 cards, each player also sees the 13 cards on the table, which means that the game can be planned better than in other card games.

An example: after teasing

North east south west
1 1 1 passport
2 ♠ passport 4 passport
passport passport

NS must take at least ten tricks with spades as trumps. South becomes declarer because he named spades for the first time during the bidding (when bidding 1 ). West leads to the first trick, North becomes dummy and puts his hand on the table.

Discarded cards after the game. NS (the players above and below) won the tricks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 13. OW (the players on the left and right) won the tricks 3, 7 and 9 accordingly.

Originally, the player or party that won a trick received all four cards in the trick. The declarer who fulfilled 1 NT had 6 + 1 tricks, i.e. 7 packs of 4 cards each. Today, the map composition should mostly be retained because the same games are played by different players in tournaments. In order to be able to count won and lost tricks better at the end, each player places the card of the completed trick face down in front of him. Tricks won in partnership are placed vertically, lost tricks horizontally. When all 13 tricks have been played, won and lost tricks are counted and the 4 times 13 cards in the composition are put back unchanged in the board (a plastic folder or box in the middle of the table). Before putting the cards back, each player should shuffle his 13 cards in order not to transmit any information about the course of the game.

Billing (scoring)

Only the number of tricks for each party is important for the settlement. There are no point values ​​of cards that would be relevant for accounting. A game is won by the declarer if he takes at least as many tricks as in the contract; H. in the last bid made, I promise. Additional stitches are called overstitching . If he makes fewer tricks, the other party wins. In this case, the difference between the announced number of stitches and the number of stitches actually made is called Faller .

There is also the concept of the dangerous situation . A party can either be in danger or not in danger . Four constellations are possible.

  • no party in danger
  • NS in danger, OW not in danger
  • NS not in danger, OW in danger
  • both parties in danger

In danger, both the bonuses for games won and the penalties for games that are lost increase. Only the risk situation of the declarer's party is relevant for the settlement. In tournaments, the danger situation results from the number of the game played in the rubber bridge from the points scored so far.

Won game

Tickets for a big feast

If the declarer's party fulfills the contract, it receives bullet points and bonuses .

The party receives bullet points for everyone from the seventh on. The amount depends on the trump suit and whether the contract was double or redrawn. The danger situation is irrelevant for the key points:

Points per trick from the seventh
not doubled doubled recontrolled
Subcolours ( , ) 20th 40 80
Upper colors ( , ) 30th 60 120
NT (7th stitch) 40 80 160
NT (further stitches) 30th 60 120
Overview of the premium levels
1 1 1 1 1NT
2 2 2 2 2NT
3 3 3 3 3NT
4 4 4 4 4NT
5 5 5 5 5NT
6 6 6 6 6NT
7 7 7 7 7NT
Partial contract premium
Full game bonus
Small meal bonus
Big gourmet bonus

Furthermore, the party receives various bonuses. The following terms are used:

  • Grand slam (Grand Slam, Grand Chelem): hip 13 stitches (i.e. 7. , 7 , 7 , 7 or 7NT)
  • Small slam (Small Slam, Petit chelem): 12 stitches hip (d 6 h.. , 6 , 6 , 6 or 6NT)
  • Full game or some: A game in which the trick points of the tricks announced when bidding (not those taken when playing) are at least 100. For a full game in the major suits you therefore need 10 tricks, for a full game in the lower suits 11, for a full game without trump 9 (the first trick over 6 counts 40 in a no-trump contract, the two following each 30, so that 9 Stitches are sufficient for a full game).
  • Partial contract: A game in which the trick points of the tricks announced are less than 100. If a partial contract is doubled or redrawn and fulfilled, the key points double or quadruple. For a fulfilled contracted partial contract (e.g. 2 X or 3 X) you may therefore receive the full game bonus.
Bonuses not in danger in danger
Winning a partial contract 50 50
Win a full game 300 500
Win a small feast 500 750
Winning a grand slurry 1000 1500
Win any contested contract 50 50
Winning of any recontracted contract 100 100
for each overstitch in a contracted contract 100 200
for each overstitch in a recontracted contract 200 400

If you fulfill a big or small slam, you also receive the full game bonus in addition to the respective slam bonus, but not the partial contract bonus. For a big feast, on the other hand, you do not receive the small feast premium, for a full game not the partial contract premium.

Examples (declarer not in danger):

The total is made up of key points of the tricks made and bonuses . Bullet points of the tricks announced are only necessary for the decision whether the couple receives the full game or the partial contract bonus.

contract stitches made Key points of the trending stitches Bullet points of the stitches made Bonuses total
3 11 3 × 30 = 90 (<100 => partial contract) 5 × 30 = 150 50 (partial contract premium) 200
4 11 4 × 30 = 120 (≥ 100 => full game) 5 × 30 = 150 300 (full game bonus) 450
6 NT 13 1 × 40 + 5 × 30 = 190 (≥ 100 => full game) 1 × 40 + 6 × 30 = 220 300 + 500 (full game bonus + small gourmet bonus) 1020
2 X 9 4 × 30 = 120 (≥ 100 => full game) (2 × 30) x 2 + 100 = 220 50 + 300 (winning bonus + full game bonus) 570

In order to receive the rewards for a full game, it is necessary to bid this beforehand. If a pair bids 3 and takes 11 tricks, it has taken enough tricks for a full game, but not announced enough tricks and therefore only receives the partial contract premium. This fact makes Bridge very appealing, because it is not enough to simply take a lot of stitches with strong hands, these have to be announced beforehand. On the other hand, you can't call too many tricks.

Lost game

If the declarer's party does not fulfill the announced contract, the other side receives the following bonuses:

Faller not in danger in danger
not doubled doubled recontrolled not doubled doubled recontrolled
A faller 50 100 200 100 200 400
Two fallers 100 300 600 200 500 1000
Three fallers 150 500 1000 300 800 1600
For every other faller 50 300 600 100 300 600

Game strategies and techniques

Stimulating strategies

A pair tries to find the optimal contract during the bidding.

  • The pair must find a color that is suitable as a trump. This is usually the case when you have at least eight cards of the same suit together. Eight cards or more are called a fit in this suit.
  • The couple must examine whether they are strong enough together for a full game, and more rarely for a slumber. If this is the case, the full game (or Schlemm) must be announced and fulfilled in order to receive the high rewards for it.

Leaf rating

D 10
KB 7 6
8 4 2
DB 9 4
A NT-distributed sheet (4-4-3-2) with 9 figure points
A 6
K 7
ADB 9 8 4
DB 4
One colorizer (6-3-2-2) with 17 figure points and two length points
AKB 8 3
7 5
A 3
A two-suit (5-4-2-2) with 18 figure points and one length point
KDB 8 3
KB 8 2
Another two-suit with 18 figure points and one longitude point, but less favorably distributed figures

The player has various aids to assess the strength of his hand. The most important are the figure points (English high card points, abbreviation HCP):

  • Ace = 4 points
  • King = 3 points
  • Queen = 2 points
  • Jack = 1 point
  • remaining cards = 0 points

There are a total of 40 figure points in the game. A hand with less than 10 points is weak. From 12 points a hand is strong enough to open. A hand with around 16-19 points is strong, one over 20 points is very strong.

The distribution of the leaf also plays a major role . A separate notation is used for the distribution:

A hand that is distributed 4-4-3-2 has four cards in two suits , three cards in the third suit and two cards in the fourth suit .

A distinction is made between the following distributions:

  • NT distributed (or regularly distributed): 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, 5-3-3-2, the cards are relatively evenly divided between the four colors.
  • Dyer: A suit with at least six cards, in the other suits a maximum of three cards, e.g. B. 6-3-2-2, 6-3-3-1, 7-3-2-1, ...
  • Two suiters: One suit with at least five cards and a second suit with at least four cards, e.g. B. 5-4-3-1, 5-5-2-1, 6-4-2-1, ...
  • Tricolor: 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0

Irregular distributions with many cards in one or two suits (e.g. 7-3-2-1 or 5-5-2-1) are stronger than regular distributions because the long suits are easier to declare as a trump suit and have more potential bid for stitches. Figures help more if they are in the longer colors or in the long colors of the partner and are divided into fewer colors. Therefore one adds additional length points to the figure points for each card from the fifth card in a color.

As soon as the partnership has found a fit in the course of the bidding (eight common cards in one suit) and therefore strives for a suit game with this suit as a trump in the bidding, distribution points can be added to the hand evaluation :

  • no card in one suit (Chicane) = 3 points
  • only one card in one suit (single) = 2 points
  • only two cards in one suit (double) = 1 point

In the no-trump game, these are weaknesses and must not be assessed positively and added to the figure and length points.

The controls are decisive for the bidding of a Schlemm , in order to prevent the opponents from playing ace and king in the same suit and thereby causing the Schlemm to fall:

  • Ace or Chicane = two controls (also called first round control)
  • King or Single = one control (also called second-round control)

Point requirements for full game and gourmet

contract Points
3NT 25th
4 , 4 27
5 , 5 30th
Small mess 33
Grand slumber 37

The adjacent table contains the approximately necessary points to be able to fulfill the respective contracts. You have to add up the figures, lengths and in the play of colors with Fit also the distribution points of both sheets of a partnership. The distribution of the leaves plays an important role. If one or both leaves of the partnership are irregularly distributed (i.e. one or two long colors), in particular, color contracts can also be fulfilled with a few figure points.

Even if a partnership has enough points, there is no guarantee that it will win the respective contract. With the points given in the table, the probability of winning is high enough to be able to announce the contracts profitably in the long term.

A full game is easiest to fulfill in the upper colors. The couples therefore first examine whether there is a fit in Cœur or Spades. If this is not the case, a full game is triggered in NT. A full game in the minor suits is rarely the best alternative, because you need 11 tricks to fulfill such a contract.

Sheet description

In order to achieve the optimal contract, a player must convey the strength and distribution of his hand to his partner. For this, the individual commandments are given a certain meaning during the bidding. Through the sequence and combination of commandments, one can gradually determine the strength and length of the colors more precisely. A number of systems and conventions have been invented to improve the assessment of common leaves. A natural system works roughly according to the following scheme:

AKB 8 6 W 000000O 7 2
KD 10 3 A 8 6 5
AD 4 K 9 8 3
6th B 9 5
North east south west
passport 1NT passport 3
passport 4 passport passport
  • NT distributed leaves are described with NT commandments.
  • Coloring agents are described by repeatedly stimulating the respective color.
  • Two-colored people are described by stimulating first the longer and then the shorter color.
  • If a player recognizes that he has a fit with his partner in one of his colors, he lifts him, i. i.e., it repeats its color.
  • With weak hands, bids are placed at the lowest possible level, with strong hands, bids at a higher level (jump bid) are used.

Example (bidding system: five major colors):

  • West opens 1 and describes a hand with at least 5 spades and 12–20 points.
  • East answers 1NT and describes a hand with 6-9 points with less than 3 spades. With 3 or more spades, he would have bid 2 und, confirming a fit in spades.
  • With 3 West shows 4 Cœur cards in addition to the 5 spade cards, a two suit. By using the 3 level, he shows strength, namely 18-20 points. 2 would also have shown 4 Cœur cards, but only 12–17 points.
  • East now recognizes that there are 8 Cœur cards in their common hands. That is, the partners have a fit and Cœur is suitable for being declared a trump suit. In the joint hands there are 26–28 figure points (18–20 from the partner plus their own 8). There is also a distribution point at east for the double in . Furthermore, East can count on at least two distribution points at West, because West can have a maximum of four cards in and (13 - (5 + 4 )). That is at least 30 figure and length points in both hands together and is comfortably enough to announce a full game - specifically 4 .

Natural and Artificial Commandments

A natural bid promises a certain minimum number of cards in the named suit and the willingness to play this contract. This is true of most of the commandments. In addition, there are artificial (also: conventional) bids in which there is no connection between the named color and the distribution of the leaf. In special situations, artificial bids describe the sheet better and more simply than natural bids.


North east south west
1 2NT

With the 2NT bid, East does not show a regularly distributed hand, but at least five cards in both sub-suits ( and ). This convention is called Unusual NT .

Bridge players have developed a variety of conventions throughout history. The Stayman and Blackwood conventions are used by almost every couple today, other conventions only less often. Some conventions disappeared over time.

A couple agree on the conventions to use before the game. If a player makes an artificial bid, his partner must alert the opponents to this.

Forcing commandments

A forcing bid forces the partner to make another bid, i.e. i.e., this must not fit. A player surrenders if he has a strong hand and he cannot rule out a full game or wants to achieve it quickly. The bidding system used determines which bids are forcing and whether the forcing is valid for one round or until a certain bid is reached. Often the bidding of a new color is forced.

Blocking orders and offering orders

A blocking requirement should make it more difficult for the opponent to find the optimal contract. It is often given on a three- or four- fold level in order to take away as many bids as possible from the opponent ( bidding space ). As a result, he can describe his sheet less precisely.

Related to this is the offer of sacrifice. If the offer is made, the player does not expect to fulfill the contract. However, the fallers earn fewer points for the counterparty than if they had announced and fulfilled a contract themselves. Both bids are made with hands that are weak but contain many cards of one suit.

Bidding system

Declarer with one hand for 4 or . The partner's cards (dummy) are on the table after the 7 has been played. More tricks are not possible because three aces are missing, so the opponents have three instant tricks.

A bidding system summarizes all partnership agreements and conventions that a couple uses when bidding. In a good bidding system, a bid is assigned to at least each point interval so that there are no gaps. In order to be able to transmit more precise information, artificial bids are added to the bidding systems, which fit into the logic of the basic system as harmoniously as possible. A couple must agree on a common system before the game. As with the conventions, bidding systems were and will be invented and further developed. The system used is not secret, but must be disclosed to the opponent on request.

There is a large number of systems, some of which differ only slightly. Standard hands are stimulated the same or similar in most systems. A well-established partnership usually has precise knowledge of the intricacies of their system. In spontaneous partnerships, non-standard situations can lead to differences of opinion about the meaning of a commandment.

There are two broad classes of systems:

  • Natural Systems: In a natural system, an opening of 1 , 1 , 1 and 1 ♠ is a natural imperative. Natural systems can be further subdivided:
    • 4 colors (e.g. Acol , widely used in England or the Netherlands). Each suit opening promises at least four cards of that suit.
    • 5 upper colors (e.g. American Standard or Better Minor ). The opening of 1 or 1 promises at least five cards of that suit.
In the last few years, 5-color upper color systems have dominated.
  • Strong clubs: In a system with strong clubs (e.g. Blue Club or Precision ), the opening of 1 ♣ is a conventional bid. It shows a strong hand from around 16 points, but with any distribution. The opening of 1 and 1 is still natural with at least a 4 (Blue Club) or 5 (Precision) length and around 11–15 points. Such a system makes it easier to stimulate strong hands than a natural system, but it is more susceptible to blocking orders from opponents.

In Germany, the German Bridge Association has adopted and modified the official system of the French association. The association recommends this system, called Forum D , to the bridge teachers it has trained and its affiliated associations as a standard system also for training beginners. The system can be expanded with additional conventions such as those used by strong players in large and international championships. The association has also developed a standard for this, Forum D Plus .

Techniques in the game

Even though all players see 26 cards, declarer play is considered easier than opponent's. The former knows all the cards of his party and thus exactly his strengths and weaknesses.

For example, he can see in which suit his party has the most cards in common and where the best additional tricks can be developed. It is also common for an opponent to play from his longest suit in order to develop length stitches there, but there is always the danger that his partner has an even longer - and therefore more suitable - suit or cannot support the suit played.

In order to win a game, there are usually various ways to play, including the basic techniques described below. To choose the best variant, it is necessary

  • To draw conclusions about the distribution of cards from the bidding and the course of the game,
  • to consider different mathematical probabilities about the distribution of the cards in the opponent's hands,
  • to remember the cards played.

Figure stitches

DB 10

A 6 5

A 4


K 3 2
KDB 10 4 3 2

9 8 7

9 8 7

OW do two figure stitches in spades and three in coeur.

Figure tricks are tricks made with high cards. A distinction is made between instant stitches and stitches that have to be developed first. In spades, OW have two instant tricks: ace and king. In Cœur, OW can develop three tricks: West plays the king, if North should take the ace, West can then take three tricks with queen, jack and 10 if he gets back to the trick. If the opponents do not sting with the ace, the maneuver can simply be repeated with the queen and, if necessary, the jack.

Figure tricks without the ace as a top figure can be developed and achieved in colors with a longer, uninterrupted sequence (sequence) if you have the opportunity to play a second time.

North south
ADB 5 K 2

If you don't pay attention to this, you can become blocked in developing figure stitches. If North in the example first the play A and then the 5 to K, it could not in the same color more go to the north side, because in the South hand not a small card is more available to D and B to reach.

North south

Sometimes you even have to “sacrifice” a high card in order to be able to reach all the tricks on the longer side. In the example you have to throw the K under the ace to win the remaining tricks. When playing, it is often important that you play the cards in the correct order. In general, the rule is that you play pieces on the "short side" first in order to avoid a blockage.

Length stitches

B 10 9


AKD 3 2


6 5 4
6 5 4 AKD 3 2

8 7

B 10 9 8 7

OW make 2 length stitches in spades, none in cœur.

If a suit is played until the opponents run out of cards in that suit, a player can take tricks with the remaining cards in that suit, although these can be very low (if there is a trump suit, however, the opponents can still to trump).

If West plays Ace, King and Queen of spades, NS no longer have any cards in spades. West then makes two length stitches with 2 and 3.

Whether and how many length tricks are made depends very much on the distribution of the missing cards: East cannot make length tricks in Cœur, because after the ace, king and queen have been played, South still has the jack and the 10 and thus tricks ♥ 3 and 2. The more cards a party has in a suit, the higher the probability of taking length tricks.

North south
AK 9 8 5 7 6 2

To develop length stitches, it may be necessary to first bring the opponent into play in order to use the length later after a re-entry in a different color. In the example NS have eight cards in . The opponents thus have five cards. These are probably distributed 3 - 2 (with a probability of 68%). If North plays a small after playing the ace and king in such a distribution and comes back to play later, he can win the remaining two small cards as additional length tricks.

Impass or cut

K 4

6 5

3 2


3 2 AD

6 5

K 4

The impass against the king of spades works, that against the king of spades does not.

A cut is played if one is missing between two pieces. One speaks of a fork . To prevent NS from taking a trick with the king of spades, West leads the 2, while East plays the queen in the hope that North will own the king. In this case, OW takes 2 tricks (Queen and Ace). If South has the king, he will take the queen and OW will only take a trick with the ace.

If East immediately took the ace, he would only get one trick, regardless of whether the king was sitting on north or south, because the opponents will not put the king under the ace. An impass against the king has a 50% chance of winning an additional trick.

There are a number of variants, e.g. B. the impass against the queen: AKB to 4 3 2. Here you hope that the queen sits in front of the jack and you take a third trick with the jack.

If you have nine trump cards with ace and king together with the table, you should refrain from cutting and draw trump from above, because the probability that the queen will sit single or double is over 50%.

the repeated cut
east west
ADB 8 5 3

Sometimes you can repeat a cut and win three tricks instead of just two. In the example, West advances lowercase and East takes the jack. If this holds, East brings his partner back to the trick in a different color and West can repeat the cut.

Submit a figure
North south
AD 7 6 B 10 4

There are constellations in which you can do without looking for a transition to repeated cuts in a new color. If South presents the jacks, North can stay small if West does not cover the lead with the king. If the king is not at east, south can repeat the cut with -10. If West now covers the trick with the king, North can win the trick. NS took three stitches in case the king was sitting in front of the fork. You may have even developed an additional length stitch when the cards of opponents 3 - 3 were distributed (probability 36%)

Double cut
North south
FROM 10 9 8 4

The principle of the cut can occasionally be applied twice. The probability that both missing pieces are in the east is only 25%. If South plays small to North twice, NS can with 75% neutralize one of the two missing pieces by cutting.

east west
AK 10 9 8 4

With AK 10 you can possibly even play the 10 high in a double cut, if both DB are north. The chance of this is 25%.

North south
AD 10 6 5 2

If you have a double fork, you can work with the so-called deep cut by cutting on the 10 in the first round. In 75% of all cases you win two tricks, in 25% even three tricks.


A 5


3 2


K 4
3 2 K 4


A 5

The expass against the ace of spades works, the one against the ace of cœur doesn't.

The Expass works similarly to the Impass, but it lacks the highest card. The expass is an indirect cut, in which there is a constellation in which the other party would fail to impass. The card with which you want to win the trick is always behind the opponent's higher card and is not blank. The opponents always take at least one trick.

In the example, West leads the 2 and East takes the king in the hope that North has the ace. If the Ace is in the hand from South, OW never take a trick, regardless of the chosen style of play. Even the expass against a higher card has a 50% chance. A typical game situation is that you have an ace with several small cards on one side and the queen with several small cards on the other. You can only win one trick with the queen if you play small to the queen and the player behind it does not have the king. If you forego the expass, you deprive yourself of a 50% chance of winning a trick.

the double expass
North south
KB 3 9 7 5

Even with the expass there are situations in which you can achieve a double coup by playing twice. You play small to the jack from the south. If both ace and a queen sit in West, a combination of cut (impass) and expass is even possible. Two tricks can be won on north. If the ace sits west and the queen sits east, you lose the first trick to the queen, but you can at least get the king through in the second attempt. Only if East has both queen and ace does KB x not win a trick. As with all forms of expass and impass, it is important that you play with a small card with the picture. On the other hand, if NS were to play from the pieces, all tricks would be lost.







2 -
- 2




With spades as a trump, the 2 can be snapped with the 9 and the 2 with the 8. NS's aces do not take any tricks.

In games with trumps, small cards that the opponent can trump can be snapped by using trumps.

Spades are trumps: West plays 2 and North the ace of hearts. East plays the 9 and wins the trick. East now leads the 2, South admits the ace of diamonds, and West snaps with the 8.

The declarer usually tries to prevent snappers from the opponent by playing the trump suit early and thereby depriving the opponent of his trumps. On the other hand, declarer himself will try to win additional tricks by snapping.

North south
AKD 9 7 4 3 2
A 10 6 8


The most common way the declarer can snap extra tricks is to trump with the short side of the trump. In the simple example, Coeur is trump. After the declarer has taken the trick, he deducts the ace and follows a small club card, which he snaps with a heart on south. After the return game in Coeur to the ace, he plays again and wins the third trick. NS get seven stitches in hearts. If North had drawn trump directly with his high cards, the small hearts in South would have fallen below the high trump cards, and the opponents would have retained the possibility of two tricks.

Snapping in the long hand does not usually bring additional stitches. The situation is different with the "reversed table" ( dummy reversal ). If more tricks can be achieved by snapping with the long hand than with the short hand, it can make sense to snap with the long hand instead of drawing trumps. A special case is that you can get more tricks with a cross ruff than by drawing the trumps. The prerequisite here is that you have a secondary color in your hand and at the table that is long on one side and short on the other. In addition, the trump cards have to be high enough so that the opponent cannot interfere with his own action. Because if your own cards are distributed unevenly, you have to expect that this will also be the case with your opponent; otherwise you are lucky.



One of the most important tasks for the opponent is to find a lead that is unfavorable for the declarer. With an unfavorable lead, it's easy to help declarer get an extra trick by playing into a fork or even helping him develop a length. To avoid such a thing, there are rules of thumb as to what one should normally do or what should not be done in any case. It is often the case that you shouldn't play the colors that your opponent has attracted, because that's where the opponent has his strengths.

If the partner has made a bid in the course of the bidding process, this color should be played in many cases because the partner here probably has strengths and a certain length. There is also the risk that the declarer will discard small cards equal to the strength of his opponent when he is first involved. If the partner has not irritated you should try to develop your own stitches. Sequences (KDB, DB10 or B10 9x) are well suited for this . This avoids a fork with the opponent, and with repeated play of the color you have developed piece tricks, because the next cards in the sequence can stop the game of the declarer.

You should almost always avoid playing an empty ace, i. H. a suit in which you only hold small cards next to the ace. The danger that the declarer will hold the king in this suit is relatively high. With the lead of the ace, the declarer now receives a sure trick.

There are a number of other rules for lead that can significantly improve your chances in bridge. A safe lead helps a player very quickly to improve his playing strength in bridge and, above all, to do better in tournaments.

To mark


D 7 6 5

D 10 3 2

D 10 3 2

AKD 8 5 2


10 9 7 6 3
10 9 8th
7 6 4 AKB
5 4 9 8 7 6


AKB 4 3 2

9 8 5


After the lead of A against the contract of 4 , East can mark with a high spade card from the remaining colors of diamonds and clubs in the higher suit (diamonds).

The opponents exchange information about their hand through the order in which small cards are played or through the specific value of a card. This technique is called marking.

  • The simplest type of marking is a so-called direct marking, it is agreed whether the discarding of a small or high card in this suit indicates that the partner should play this suit as soon as possible. Accordingly, this is referred to as low or high positive. The respective other value thus shows a disinterest in the partner's supposed to play this color.
  • Length marks provide information about the number of cards in a certain color. There are two basic systems. In the first, a high card, followed by a small card, shows an even number in that suit. In the second case, this is the other way around. Regional or national preferences for one or the other type of length marking should be noted. There is no absolute best system of length marks.
  • Color priority signals (also: Lavinthal marks) show in the event that a color can no longer be used in a color contract, by discarding a card, the desired of the two remaining colors. For example, if the opponent plays and one of the opponents can no longer serve, discarding a small card (2, 3 or 4) shows that his partner should please (the lower remaining color) and discarding a high card ( 7, 8 or 9) that his partner should please play (the higher remaining color) should he get a trick.
  • Other marking systems differentiate z. B. between even and odd card values, so-called Italian marking. (even = negative, odd = positive)

The marking agreements must be made known to declarer on request.

Example: South is declarer in the contract of 4 . West plays the A and sees that there are no more spades at the table. Playing spades is pointless because declarer would snap. Playing the trump suit is usually bad because the declarer has many pieces there. East can give a Lavinthal marker here: With a high spade card (e.g. the 10) he shows pieces in the higher of the remaining suits, of diamonds and clubs, i.e. diamonds. West can now continue playing diamonds, OW take three more tricks in diamonds with A, K and B and bring down 4 . In any other sequel, South would have fulfilled the contract with six coeur and four club tricks. A low card of spades from east (here e.g. the 3) would have shown pieces in the lower suit, club.

Error in gameplay

Playing from the wrong side

Occasionally it happens that the wrong opponent leads to the first trick. If the played card is face up on the table, declarer essentially has the following options:

  • He puts his cards on the table as a dummy and lets his partner play.
  • He demands the color from the correct player, who is obliged to play this color. The wrongly played card is withdrawn.
  • He forbids the color. The correct player may not play this suit as long as he is on the trick, the wrongly played card goes back into the hand here too.
  • He declares the wrongly played card a penalty card. This remains open and must be played or admitted at the first opportunity.

The declarer also has these options if the opponent leads from the wrong side during the course of the game. A wrong lead, on the other hand, may be withdrawn without penalty if it was played face down, i.e. the card was placed face down on the table.

Revoke - no service

Revoke is the term given to not confessing a suit , although one still holds cards of the desired suit . Revoke is covered in sections 61–64 of the Tournament Bridge Rules. A player must correct his revoke if he notices it before it is completed . The revoke is called “completed” when the offending player or his partner has played or admitted to the next trick without the revoke being corrected or when an opponent asks his partner whether he no longer has a card of the suit played.

To correct an unfinished revoke, the guilty player takes back the wrongly played card and uses another card of his choice. If the guilty player is an opponent, the withdrawn card becomes a penalty card, which means that it must remain in front of the player in a clearly visible position and be admitted or played at the first opportunity, cards from the table or declarer cannot become penalty cards, they may be withdrawn with impunity.

If the trick with the incomplete revoke of an opponent is won by the partner of the guilty opponent, the declarer has the same rights as in the lead from the wrong side:

  • He can request the color of the wrongly added card. This means that the opponent has to play this suit.
  • He can forbid this color. The opponent must therefore play a different color
  • He declares the wrongly played card a penalty card. This remains open and must be played or admitted at the first opportunity.

Once a revoke has been completed, it may no longer be corrected unless it took place in the twelfth, i.e. penultimate, stitch. As a punishment for the completed revoke, one or two tricks are taken from the guilty partnership.

  • If the guilty player wins the trick, the revoke trick and another of the tricks won by the guilty partnership after the revoke are awarded to the innocent side after the end of the game.
  • If the offending player does not win the trick, if the offending player's partner wins, the revoke trick or any other trick won after the revoke is awarded to the innocent side.

If, on the other hand, the tournament director comes to the conclusion after a completed revoke that the innocent partnership is not sufficiently compensated by these penalties, he can also assign an "adjusted" result.

In order to prevent complete revokes, the declarer may ask an opponent who has not known suit whether he still has a card of the suit led, but the opponents may not ask each other, likewise the straw man and the opponent may ask the declarer.

Tournament bridge

Boards: left board no. 1, north is a divider, nobody is in danger (green marking); right board no. 2, east is divider, NS in danger (red marking), OW not in danger
Boards: On the right is West Teiler, NS not in danger, OW in danger (red marking).

Tournaments are often held in bridge. Each game is played several times by different couples - hence the English name Duplicate Bridge . For the final settlement, the results of the individual pairs are compared with one another. How high the luck factor is depends largely on the form of the tournament. A pair can also win if it has had only bad cards throughout the tournament by taking more tricks with those bad cards than the other pairs who are dealt those bad cards.

Boards are used to play a game more often . These are plastic boxes or notebooks with four compartments for the papers of the four players. The players take their cards off the board, play the game without shuffling the cards, and put the cards back after the game. In the next round, the board will be played by other players at a different table. The cardinal points for the players, the danger situation and the divider are printed on the boards. In larger tournaments, the boards are mixed in advance. This is also called pre-duplicating . The pre-duplication is usually done with a duplicating machine that automatically classifies the cards in the boards. In smaller tournaments, especially house tournaments or team tournaments, the boards are shuffled once by the players at the beginning of the tournament or, in the case of the team tournament, at the beginning of each round.


Major international tournament that is played behind screens
Tournament table with screen

To cheating to avoid, there are at bigger tournaments as screens designated player screens that are placed diagonally across the bridge table and prevent you see his partner. This makes it impossible, for example, to use various gestures or the way of placing bid cards out of the bidding box to tell the partner what your own hand looks like. To prevent players from making gestures with their feet, screens are sometimes used that also shield the two partners from each other under the table. In the middle between the table and the screen there is a narrow slot through which the slide on which the board and the auction cards lie is pushed during the auction. Above this is a flap that opens after the auction so that declarer and opponent sitting on the other side of the screen can see the straw man and the cards played. When bidding behind a screen there are various special rules. For example, you not only have to alert your partner's artificial bids when the sled is pushed over to you, but also your own - the opponent next to you naturally cannot see the partner's alert due to the screen. If an opponent asks about the meaning of a command, the answer is not spoken, but written down so that the partner of the asked player cannot hear anything and cannot draw inadmissible conclusions from the information.

Tournament forms

There are different types of tournaments that differ in the number of players who play together, the playing technique and the type of evaluation.

  • Couples tournament: Two players each form a pair that plays together against other pairs throughout the tournament. In each round, the pairs play 2–3 (rarely 4–6) games against each other. After each round, the pairs and boards change seats and tables according to a certain system (movement) . Most couple tournaments are settled in match points or percentage ratings. The best score in a game (100%) is called the top, the worst (0%) is called the zero .
  • Individual tournament: A rare special form of the couples tournament. A player plays with a different partner each round.
  • Team tournament: Teams consisting of at least four players (or two pairs) compete against each other, with the pairs being allowed to consist of other players from the team in each round. The Swiss system is usually used as a form of tournament , with championships or international matches also the round-robin tournament . Two teams each play against each other in separate areas (open room and closed room) . The first pair of Team A plays in the open room on NS, the second sits in the closed on OW. Team B plays in the open room on OW, in the closed on NS. As a result, the same cards are played once in the Open by Team A (against B on OW) and then in the Closed by Team B (against A on OW). The results are compared and the differences between the results of the individual boards are converted into IMPS (International Matchpoints). These are added and the difference between the IMP scores of the two teams is calculated. This then results in the victory points, which are ultimately decisive for the end result.

The optimal playing technique depends on the type of tournament, due to the different accounting types for team and couple tournaments. In a team tournament, the absolute difference between the results is crucial. Large differences score significantly more points than small ones. It is therefore not worthwhile, e.g. B. for an overstitch (depending on the contract brings you 20 or 30 points) to risk the whole game (e.g. a full game costs at least 400 points). In the couples tournament, on the other hand, the results are ranked according to their size and rated according to this ranking. A difference of only 10 points can also be very decisive in this ranking, which means that overstitching in these tournaments, for example, increases in value.

Most clubs regularly hold house tournaments on certain days of the week. These are usually pair tournaments. Depending on the size of the club, around 8–40 couples take part, around 30 games are played in an afternoon or evening. Individual clubs, regional and national associations also organize larger tournaments and championships.


Whist , which originated in England and was first mentioned in 1529, is considered to be the forerunner of Bridge . Bridge appears to have evolved in the second half of the 19th century, but the exact circumstances are unclear. It is assumed that the origin is in Russia or Turkey. According to one theory, British soldiers invented bridge during the Crimean War (1853-1856); according to another, it appeared in Istanbul around 1860. At the end of the 19th century, Bridge found its way to New York and London. In contrast to whist, a sheet of paper was already open at the table, but there was still no irritation as with contract bridge.

Teasing, i.e. the element of auctioning, was introduced in 1903 or 1904 with auction bridge. Auction bridge originated in India and supplanted whist and bridge. It was very popular until it had to give way to the contract bridge in 1926. In auction bridge all tricks for bonuses from Vollspiel and Schlemm are counted, regardless of whether the declarer announced them during the bidding or not. Therefore the players try to call as few tricks as possible. This was changed in France in 1918 with Plafond, and only tricks that are trendy count towards the premiums.

Harold S. Vanderbilt introduced the different risk situations, changed the payroll table and christened the new game contract bridge. On November 1, 1925, he tried out the new rules for the first time as part of a boat trip. They have remained unchanged to this day, apart from two minor billing changes. Within a few years all older versions of Bridge disappeared. Today, bridge is understood exclusively to mean contract bridge.

In the 1930s Ely Culbertson contributed to the spread of contract bridge in the United States. The bidding system he developed was the first to have a larger following. He wrote several successful books, dominated bridge teaching, and founded The Bridge World magazine in 1929 , which is still relevant to the bridge world today.

In 1932 the International Bridge League was founded. In the same year the first European championship took place, in 1935 the first world championship.

Charles Goren took on Culbertson's role in Bridge in the 1940s. He led the American rankings from 1944 to 1962. The Time magazine on him in 1958 on the front page. As an innovation in his Standard American system, he used the Milton Work scoring system, which is still used today (ace = 4, king = 3, queen = 2, jack = 1). This made it easier for beginners to get started with bridge, which in turn triggered a bridge boom.

In 1958 the World Bridge Federation (WBF) was founded in Oslo. The first European championship after the Second World War was held in Copenhagen in 1948. The pre-World War II competitions between the United States and Europe were revived in Bermuda in 1950 . The world championship, known as the Bermuda Bowl , developed from this and has been held every two years since 1977.

From 1957 to 1975 Italy won thirteen of fifteen world championships with its Blue Team (they did not take part in 1970 and 1971). From 1976 to 1987 the USA was able to prevail again.

In 1998, bridge was officially recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee , but not as an Olympic discipline. In 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled that bridge is not a sport for tax purposes .

Bridge in art

Margret Hofheinz-Döring, bridge player, linocut, 1960

In Agatha Christie's detective novel cards on the table (dt. If maps ) from the year 1936, the host is a bridge evening killed - by one of the four players who has a dummy from the table, while his partner played a grand slam.

Ian Fleming was an avid bridge player. In the novel Moonraker from 1955, James Bond convicted Sir Hugo Drax as a cardsharp; Bond cheats better and wins the game (see Duke of Cumberland Hand ). In the film of the same name there is only a brief reference from Sir Frederick Gray that he once played bridge with Sir Hugo. References to Bridge can also be found in the novels Dr. No and fireball .

In 1959, Samuel Barber composed the short opera A Hand of Bridge based on a libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti , in which the card game Bridge is at the center of the plot.

The painter Margret Hofheinz-Döring liked to play bridge and used various techniques to process her experiences while playing. She made some drawings for the magazine of the German Bridge Association.

Bridge is an important motif in the 2005 novel Schlemm by the Swiss author Nicola Bardola .

Dissemination and Organizations

The international umbrella organization for bridge players is the World Bridge Federation (WBF). The WBF was founded in Oslo in 1958 and today comprises 123 national associations with almost 700,000 players (as of September 2013). The WBF organizes various world championships (open class, women, seniors, juniors) and coordinates the regular revision of the bridge rules.

The umbrella organization of the European countries is the European Bridge League (EBL). The EBL has 46 members with almost 400,000 players. The German Bridge Association (DBV) (28,000 players), the Austrian Bridge Sports Association (ÖBV) (2,400 players) and the Fédération Suisse de Bridge (3800 players) are also members of the EBL.

Within Europe, bridge is particularly popular in France (104,000 players) and the Netherlands (88,000 players), outside Europe in the USA (142,000 players) and China (34,000 players; all membership figures according to the WBF website).

Bridge with computer

Bridge can be played on the computer with bridge programs or over the Internet. Computer programs have not yet reached the skill level of top human players. The Pakistani Zia Mahmood was able to prevail in 1999 in a competition against seven bridge programs.

Several portals offer the possibility to play bridge over the Internet. The best known are the commercially operated OKBridge (approx. 13,000 members) and the free Bridge Base Online (over 100,000 members). The portals offer both free games and tournaments. Bridge Base Online also broadcasts live from many tournaments around the world, especially the major tournaments of course.


  • Sigrid Battner, Karl-Heinz Kaiser: Learning to bridge. A book for self-study . German Bridge Association , o. O. 2015, 3rd edition 2018; ISBN 978-3-935485-45-6 , with: Learning to bridge. Solution Guide (Forum D 2012)
  • Ulrich Bongartz: The irritation in the bridge . 2nd completely revised and improved edition. Verlag Mainz, Aachen 2005, ISBN 978-3-928493-58-1 . (Forum D)
  • Hans von Brandenstein : The Bridge Book - Course of the Game, Tips and Strategies , Munich 1928
  • Henry Francis (Ed.): The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge . 5th edition. American Contract Bridge League, Memphis 1994, ISBN 0-943855-48-9 .
  • Nico Gardener, Viktor Mollo: Card Play Technique: The Art of Being Lucky . BT Batsford, London 1995, ISBN 0-7134-7916-7 .
  • Robert Koch: Bridge - Lexicon . Geissler, 5th edition 2013, ISBN 3-9806482-5-7
  • Bernard Ludewig: Bridge for beginners: rules, techniques, exercises . Falken, Niedernhausen / Ts. 1996, ISBN 3-8068-1691-3 .
  • Joachim Freiherr von Richthofen: The new bridge feeling . Idea, Puchheim 1988, ISBN 3-88793-051-7 .
  • Bridge-Magazin, monthly news paper of the German Bridge Association, ISSN  1617-4178 . ( online )
  • Bridge Aktuell, monthly news bulletin of the Austrian Bridge Association ( online )

Individual evidence

  1. a b Sometimes also called insult bonus.
  2. Joachim Freiherr von Richthofen wrote about this: “Lady empty - empty the As, only the expass brings something.” In: Joachim Freiherr von Richthofen: Das neue Bridge-Feeling, Idea, 2nd edition 1984, 39
  3. Platinum script of the ÖBV, rules, page 138 f.
  5. ^ Henry Francis (ed.): The Official Encyclopedia Of Bridge . American Contract Bridge League, Memphis 1994, ISBN 0-943855-48-9
  6. Duplicate-Bridge does not fall under the term "sport" within the meaning of the VAT Directive and can therefore not be exempt from VAT as such. Press release 113/17 of the Court of Justice of the European Union, 26 October 2017
  7. ^ Homepage World Bridge Federation , accessed September 27, 2013
  8. David Burn: Man versus Machine . In: Austrian Bridge Magazine . Vol. 27, No. 4, year 1999, p. 7.
  9. whyokbridge.php . As of December 13, 2007.
  10. bridgebase: introduction.php . As of December 13, 2007.

Web links