Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player in turn must decide whether to open the bidding or to pass.

Can you open the bidding?

Each player has added up the number of High Card Points (HCPs) in their hand (see lesson 1).  As a general rule a player needs at least 12 HCPs to open the bidding.  (There are exceptions, but we’ll learn those later).

If the player to the left of the dealer holds 12 or more points, they can open the bidding.  If they have fewer than 12 points then they pass.

If you are playing bridge in your home or somewhere where there are just a few tables of players you can speak your bids.  If you are in a club or larger gathering you will almost certainly be using bridge bidding boxes.  This means you don’t have to speak your bid – imagine the noise in a large bridge club if everyone was trying to shout their bids so their table could hear them!

Once a player has opened the bidding they become the “Opener” and have started a dialog with their partner which is aimed at finding out the best final bid for them to make as a partnership.

The player on the Opener’s left must decide whether to overcall or pass and leave the opener and their partner to bid and make the final contract that the game will be played in.

Now that you know how to decide if your hand is suitable for opening, head over to No Fear Bridge where you will find a tutorial on opening the bidding.

The Contract

The “contract” is the final bid that the game will be played in.

The contract can either be a “suit” contract or a “no trumps” contract.

In a suit contract one suit is designated as the “trump” suit. A no trumps contract is what it says – there is no trump suit.  When the game is being played (see lesson 5) a trump card wins the round if no other trump card is played.

Once the contract has been decided the person who first bid the suit (or no trumps) that the game will be played in becomes the declarer.  Declarer’s partner becomes the dummy.  The person on the declarer’s left plays the opening lead.

What does the contract mean?

Once the contract has been decided the declarer and their partner are aiming to make the number of tricks that they bid for.  The first 6 tricks don’t form part of the bidding.

There are 13 tricks in each round of bridge.  A bid of, for example, 1 spade means that the partnership think they will win 7 tricks – the six non counted tricks plus the one trick that they bid for.  A bid of 7 hearts means that the partnership think they can win all 13 tricks – the six non bid tricks plus the 7 they bid for.  A bid of 3 NT (no trumps) means the partnership think they can win 9 tricks (6 + 3).