The “Who’s Who” of Bridge

When you first begin to play the game of bridge, getting a firm grasp of who is who in the game can be somewhat of a challenge. Learning the different names of the players and what their role is in the game is essential to game play. Here is a guide to help you learn the who’s who of a bridge game.

Bridge must be played with 4 players who form two pairs, the north and south partnership and the east and west partnership. Each player will sit on opposite sides of the table from their partner. The partnerships are selected by each player selecting a card from the deck. The individuals that draw the two highest cards will be a partnership, and the ones with the two lowest cards will become the opposing partnership. The person who draws the highest card will become the dealer. This is not always the way the partnerships are decided, players may decided to form partnerships before the game starts, and the cards are just drawn to determine who will be the dealer.

The Dealer – As the name suggests the dealer is the individual who deals the cards to each player throughout the game. Bridge is played with a full deck of 52 cards, and the dealer will deal out 13 cards to each player in every round of the game. The cards will be dealt out one at a time starting with the player left of the dealer; in a clockwise direction.

The Opener – The opener is the person who starts the bidding at the beginning of each hand. It will be best to not go into bidding just yet, but the opener will base their opening bid on the amount of points they hold in their hand.

The Responder – This player is the partner of the opener. They will respond to the opening bid. How they respond to their partner’s bid depends upon their hand in relation to the opening bid.

The Overcaller – The overcaller is on the opposite partnership to the opener and the responder. It is difficult to say exactly what this player’s objective is without going into bidding. I don’t want to over complicate things at the moment, so I will leave the description at the overcaller being the other partnership chiming in with their bid.

The Declarer – New players to the game often confuse this term for the dealer. It is similar in sound to dealer, so it is an easy mistake to make. The bidding will determine who becomes the declarer. This player is the one who will decide what suit (if any) will be trumps. A player wins a trick by having the highest card or the highest trump card.

The Dummy – The dummy is the declarer’s partner in the game. The dummy’s hand will be turned up for all players to see. The cards are arranged in a certain manner which makes it easy for all 4 players to see. This person will not participate in game-play. The dummy’s partner, the declarer, will have to play this hand as well as their own. The declarer will play their hand and the dummy’s hand in turn.

The Opening Leader – Refers to the person sitting to the left of the declarer. This individual’s role is to simply play the first card, the opening lead, in the first round.
That’s pretty much it, the who’s who of bridge play. Bridge is definitely a game that takes some getting used to; but once you learn how it’s done, you will find it both entertaining and addictive.

Now that hat you know what the different players are called, how about jumping in and starting to learn to play Acol bridge?