Bridge is a trick-taking card game for two pairs of players played with a standard 52-card deck. The game has two phases: the auction, in which the partnerships bid in a structured manner trying to determine how many tricks they will be able to take; and cardplay, in which the auction-winning partnership attempts to make tricks against their opponents' defense. Although both portions of gameplay are equally difficult to perform well, the auction is more unique to the game and therefore harder to learn based on skill transfer from other games.
While bridge is stereotyped as a game primarily for old people, among its younger players there is a disproportionate number of mathematics and computer science majors.
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- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Standard Floorpi Conventions
- 3 Mindfuck Variants
Success in bridge requires partnerships to not only take a majority of the tricks, but also to correctly estimate the number of tricks they will take before actually playing their hands through. Points are awarded based on whether players successfully made their contract (the result of the auction), and by how much they were in excess (or in shortage).
In rubber bridge, partnerships are scored against the partnerships at their table; that is, your opponents are the people sitting right in front of you. In duplicate bridge, which is more commonly played in tournaments, a large number of partnerships will play the same hands, and the goal is to perform better on a given hand than the players sitting in the same positions as your partnership at other tables.
Objective: During the auction, partnerships communicate to determine what contract they should be in.
Language: Auctions are held in a very limited language -- there are five bidding suits (Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and No-Trump, in increasing order), and seven levels (numbered 1 through 7). A normal bid is composed of a level and a suit, for example "1C" or "3NT". A player may also pass, double, or redouble.
Constraints: If a normal bid is made, it must be higher than the previous normal bid; that is, at a higher level, or at the same level in a higher suit. A player may double if the last normal bid was made by the opposing partnership; a player may redouble if the last non-pass bid was a double made by the opposing partnership.
Termination: The auction ends after three players pass consecutively; the final contract is the last normal bid, with double or redouble attached if relevant. Within the partnership that bid the contract, the first person to have made a bid in the contract's suit is the declarer (even if his partner later rebid the same suit at a higher level).
Semantics: A contract at the N level in suit S requires the winning partnership to make at least 6+N tricks during cardplay, with trump suit S. Bids generally have meaning to the partnership beyond setting this requirement, as they serve as communication between partners. For example, in our Floor Pi convention, an opening bid of 1S indicates that the bidder is holding at least 5 Spades, and a certain number of the deck's face cards. Bids can be artificial; for example, an opening bid of 2C indicates a strong holding of the deck's face cards, but says nothing about the bidder's club holdings.
Once the contract is decided, cardplay begins with a lead from the player seated to the left of the declarer. Then the declarer's partner, the dummy, lays his hand face up on the table so that the other three players can see it. Play progresses clockwise with each player contributing a card in turn to a set of four, with the declarer playing both his hand and the dummy's. Each set of four is a trick; each trick is won by the person who played the highest card, and this person leads into the next trick.
Players must follow the leader's suit if possible. If they are not able, they may discard a non-trump, or play a card of the trump suit if it exists. Trump cards are higher than cards of any other suit. Note that it is the leader of the trick that must be followed; one cannot trump even after the previous player has unless one also lacks the leader's suit.
A single deal of the cards, and the play that follows, is called a board. The partnerships are said to sit North-South and East-West.
To win a trick by trumping is to ruff. To pass control back and forth between the hands of a partnership by exploiting complementary empty suits is to cross-ruff. Should an opponent play into a suit in which both you and your partner are empty, you may win the trick with a trump and discard a losing card from the other hand; this is called ruff and slough.
To fail to follow suit when you could have is to renege.
The face cards are honors, and this includes the Ace. Depending on the situation, the Ten may also be referred to as an honor.
An empty suit in a hand is a void. Similarly, a single card is a singleton, and two cards are a doubleton. These are examples of shortness in a suit; the opposite is length, which refers to having at least five cards in a suit. Strength refers to a significant holding of honors; its opposite is weakness.
A hand with no length or shortness is balanced.
A convention most significantly refers to the hidden meanings attached to bids, but can also refer to hidden meanings attached to cardplay styles. The latter are specifically called carding conventions.
A natural bid means exactly what it sounds like it means; its opposite is artificial. An aggressive bid is sometimes called preemptive. A bid meant to be the final contract is sometimes called a signoff bid. A bid that has no meaning other than to acknowledge your partner's artificial bid is called waiting, in the sense that you are simply waiting to learn more about your partner's hand without letting the auction end. Leaving your partner in an artificial bid contract makes you a fucking moron.
A grand slam refers to a board in which the declarer's side wins all 13 tricks; or, during auction, a bid at the 7 level. Similarly, a small slam refers to winning 12 out of the 13 tricks, or a bid at the 6 level.
A stopper is a high card in a suit, usually the Ace, intended to wrest control from your opponents should they play in that suit.
When which hand in a partnership leads matters, cards that can be used to switch control from one hand to the other are called entries.
Standard Floorpi Conventions
Floor Pi's conventions are based on Standard American Yellow Card. We assign 4 high card points (HCP) to an Ace, 3 to a King, 2 to a Queen, and 1 to a Jack. We award a distributional point for each card above 5 or below 3 in a suit. When points are referred to, we always include HCP, and sometimes include distributional points depending on the situation. General heuristic is that 25 points should make game, and 33 points should make small slam.
Summary: Players with 13 or more points must open; in third and fourth seat this restriction may be relaxed slightly. Bids at the one-level indicate 13+ points and a suit preference (except for the "default" 1C opening). Bids at the two-level are artificial and weak, except for 2C, which is artificial and strong.
In general, use of a bid precludes the opportunity to use a lower non-1C bid. For example, opening 1S indicates that one is not able to open 1H. There are two exceptions, 1NT and 2C, which should always be bid if the hand fits.
|1C||13-21 points, no better 1-level bid. (*)|
|1D||13-21 points, 4+ Diamonds.|
|1H||13-21 points, 5+ Hearts.|
|1S||13-21 points, 5+ Spades.|
|1NT||15-17 points, balanced. (**)|
|2C||22+ points, any hand.|
|2D||6-12 points, 6+ Diamonds, 3 out of 5 honors (or 2 out of 3)[in any case, not strictly enforced].|
|2H||6-12 points, 6+ Hearts, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc.|
|2S||6-12 points, 6+ Spades, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc.|
|2NT||19-21 points, balanced.|
|3C||6-12 points, 6+ (7+) Clubs, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc. (discouraged).|
|3D||6-12 points, 7+ Diamonds, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc.|
|3H||6-12 points, 7+ Hearts, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc.|
|3S||6-12 points, 7+ Spades, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc.|
|3NT||24+ points, balanced. *disputed, not in use currently*|
|4C||13-21 points, 7+ Clubs, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc.|
|4D||13-21 points, 7+ Diamonds, 3 out of 5 honors etc. etc.|
(*) Mathematically, in order to make sure that an opening is always possible with 13+ points, this effectively means 1C: 2+ Clubs. Other systems use the stronger minor opening, whereupon the 1 Diamond opening is changed to be 3+ Diamonds.
(**) Some people like to play this as 16-18 points. "Balanced" means no voids, no singletons, no six-card suit, and no five-card major.
(***) Other notes: The rare situation of 18 points and balanced leads to an equally rare articifial bid sequence called 1-and-a-half No Trump. This is an opening of 1C and then a rebid of 2NT irregardless of partner's response or opponents' interference. The case of 13+ points, and 7 or more cards in a major suit (Hearts of Spades) is handled with bidding 1 of that suit.
Overcalling at the 1 level requires 10 points and 5+ in the overcall suit.
"I wanted to do that!", when opponents overcall during an artificial convention.
Interest in the unnamed suits, when performed below 3S.
"Slow shows; fast denies" is the principle at work. Answering 3S to 1S shows a weaker hand than 2S to 1S. Both responses show 3 or more Spades, but 3S shows a 6-9 point count while 2S shows a 10+ point count.
A rebid that shifts to a higher suit one level up indicates 1NT point strength with exactly 5 of the first suit and at least 4 of the second.
An unusually high jump shift indicates implicit support for partner, void or singleton in the bid suit, mid-range point count (near 1NT if opener, 10-13 if responder), and slam interest.
4C implying acceptance of a notrump contract, asking for Ace holdings. Response 4D for no Aces or four Aces, 4H for one, 4S for two, 4NT for three.
4NT implying acceptance of suit trump, asking for Ace holdings.
Response 5C for 0 or 4 Aces, 5D for one, 5H for two, 5S for three, 5NT for two and a useful void, 6X for one with X a void suit lower than the trump, 6 trump for one with a void suit above the trump. The initiator may continue to 5NT to ask for kings, with similar meanings.
(above may have been true as of September, 2009)
As of September, 2011, FloorPi plays Roman Key-Card Blackwood. Under this system, the King of the trump suit is counted as a fifth Ace. Responses are 5C for 0 or 3 "Aces", 5D for 1 or 4, 5H for 5 or 2 without the Queen of trumps, 5S for 2 with the Queen of trumps. The 5NT and higher responses are disputed to begin with and currently not in use.
Brozel vs Strong 1NT
Opening-level strength overcall. Double for a single-suited hand, 2C/D for Clubs/Diamonds and Hearts, 2H for majors, 2S for Spades and a minor, 2NT for minors, 3x as a cuebid for a void/singleton.
Michaels Cuebid/Unusual 2NT
10 pts, 5/5 distribution in two suits. Rebid of an opponent's opened suit, indicating the two majors if the cuebid is a minor, or the other major and an unspecified minor if the cuebid is major. Use 2NT to reverse the convention in favor of minors.