Here we go on to talk more about the bidding. The game of Bridge has two distinct elements. Firstly the bidding and secondly the playing of the cards. The playing of the cards does not start until the bidding has been completed and a contract arrived at.

More about bidding in bridge

It is the purpose of the bidding to arrive at that contract. This is done by each player with reference

1. to the high card points in both the bidder’s and his or her partner’s hand and
2. to the flow of information between the two by virtue of what is said and what is not said.
3. to what is said or unsaid by the other team.

All these will be studied in detail shortly.
bridge cards bidding

High Card Points

Think about it like this. You go to the shops to buy some CD’s. You choose four and the price is 38 quid. You get your wedge out and , my oh my, you find that you only have 32 quid. So you ditch one and buy three.

You simply did not have enough money to buy four so you had to settle for one less than you wanted.

Similarly regard your high card points as the currency with which, having evaluated your hand, you are going to “buy” some tricks.

Remember the high card points – Ace 4, King 3, Queen 2 and Jack 1.

The dealer bids first – let us assume you are the dealer.

You have 13 high card points and 5 hearts. You bid 1 Heart. The bidding goes round the table clockwise and the person on your left says “pass”. He of course belongs to the other team. It is then your partner’s turn to bid. He or she is sitting opposite you. ( You are now declarer and partner is responder ). Partner bids 2 Hearts and the player on your right says pass.

One round of bidding is therefore complete. What has been learned from this round of bidding ?

1. You have opened the bidding with one of a suit, in this case hearts. In doing so you have guaranteed to your partner that you have at least 13 points and that you have at least 4 hearts.

2. You have also guaranteed to your partner that you can take seven tricks – six plus the one you called.

3. The player on your left ( from the other team ) has said “ pass “. You now know that he hasn’t got thirteen points – the minimum required to make an opening bid.

4. Responder has bid two hearts – he has therefore guaranteed to you ( declarer ) two things. Firstly, that he has between six to nine points
and secondly he has at least three cards of the suit you have called.

5. The player on your right from the other team has said “pass “ and you know he hasn’t got thirteen points the same as his opposite number.

6. Remember that this information is available to everybody at the table. Remember also that the total “conversation “ consisted of “1 Heart”, “Pass”, “2 Hearts”, “Pass”.

7. You see what is said and unsaid is equally important.

Lets continue the bidding.

It is declarers turn to start the next round. But he has a problem. He has 13 points, his partner he knows by his bid , has a minimum of six. 19 points doesn’t “ buy “ a lot of tricks.

What and why you should bid

Lets go over the basics – what you must look at and know before you start to bid.

When the deal is finished you pick up your cards (and not before). You then:

1) Arrange them into suits, each suit then being arranged in order starting at the top down.

2) Count your high card points – not forgetting your points for distribution

You need a minimum of 12 to start the bidding (see later).
Look at the cards and decide whether the shape of your hand is balanced or unbalanced – remember we discussed this earlier, this is vital in deciding what to bid.

The purpose of the bidding is twofold. Firstly to explore the content of your own and your partners hand to find a fit (cards in each others hands that compliment each other) and secondly to fix the contract with each other to score the required number of points for game or the maximum number towards game if you and your partner feel it is not possible to make game (this is called a part score).

In a perfect world you and your partner are looking for an eight card trump fit. So if declarer opens “ one heart “ he must have four hearts. If his partner (responder) only has two or three hearts the team does not have a fit. Responder must pass or change the suit (more later).

It is the fit as well as the HCPs that helps the players to decide in which suit to play the contract.

What is a bid?

A bid at bridge is almost, but not quite, a guarantee to your partner that you will win the number of tricks that you state in your bid. (plus, of course, don’t forget, the basic six).

Thus a bid of “ one heart “ indicates to your partner that having evaluated your hand you think you can take seven tricks, with hearts as trumps.

A bid of “ one no trump “ indicates to your partner that your hand is good for seven tricks and that you wish to play it with no trumps.

The dealer has the right to make the first bid, but if he is not strong enough, that is does not have a minimum of twelve points, he merely says “ pass “. It is then the turn of the person on his left either to bid or pass and so on.

Please note the bidding comes to an end after three successive “ passes “.

Have look again at the bids required to make game:-

1) 3 No Trump ( 9 )
2) Four Spades ( 10 )
3) Four Hearts ( 10 )
4) Five Diamonds ( 11 )
5) Five Clubs ( 11 )

As always we have to add six so that the number of tricks required in each case to make game is the number contained in the brackets opposite each bid.

Why is the number of tricks required different?

The answer lies in the scoring. For each trick over six bid and made

1) In no trumps the first trick is worth 40 points and each subsequent trick is worth 30.
2) In Spades or Hearts (major suits) each trick is worth 30 points
3) In Diamonds or Clubs (minor suits) each trick is worth 20 points.

The score sheet has sections “above the line “ and “ “ ”below the line “. The score for the tricks bid and made go below the line and the score for “ overtricks “ go above the line.
Over tricks score at the same rate as indicated above, disregarding the first no trump trick. (overtricks arise if you have bid a contract say “ four spades “ and you make eg six. There are therefore two overtricks).

There are similarly penalty points for bidding a contract and not making it. There are many other scoring opportunities in bridge and at first sight it looks ridiculously complicated, but it isn’t. For the moment though, all you need to know is in the paragraph above – the rest comes later.

The bidding has its own little quirk regarding the level at which you bid. Remember the order of suits?

CDHS, clubs, diamonds hearts and spades.

When bidding it is usual to start at the one level unless of course you have loads of HCPs. Also, it is worth noting, every bid has to be higher than the last one.

So, if you, declarer, opens the bidding with “one club “ the next person to bid on your left may say “ one diamond “, your own partner opposite you may say “ one heart “ and the person on your right may say “ one spade “. The bids have followed the order of seniority of the suits and because of this seniority it is a higher bid although still only at the one level.

If the first bid is “one spade “ then the next bid HAS to be at the two level because spades are senior to any other suit and each bid has to be higher than the one before.

Returning now to the bidding itself having counted our HCPs and distribution points you must now decide if your hand is balanced or unbalanced. Just to remind you a balanced hand has the following shape:-

4-3-3-3 4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2

There may be NO SINGLETON, NO VOID, and no more than ONE DOUBLETON. Everything else for the moment regard as unbalanced.

A balanced hand is almost always required to make a No Trump bid – lets look at it.


Dealer has decided he has a balanced hand : these are his bidding options.

1) 0 – 11 points – PASS

2) 12 – 14 points – 1 No Trump

3) 15 – 19 points – First you must open one of a suit (your longest) then
when your turn comes
round again rebid no trumps

4) 20 – 22 points – Open 2 No trumps

5) 23 + points – Open 2 clubs

Lets run through the options.

0 -11 points. “pass.” Each bid is specific and in this case partner is being told that he does not have more than eleven points, not enough to bid.

12 – 14 points. 1 NT Partner knows the bidder has exactly 12 – 14 points no more, no less. Further, he is telling partner that he does not have a four card major suit (remember, hearts or spades).