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How to Play Bridge

Contract Bridge Play

Once the bidding portion of Contract Bridge has been completed, the play of the hand begins. Let's look at the rules of play:

The play of the hand:
The player at declarer's left (in the sample hand below, West) will choose the card to lead to the first trick. This is called the opening lead. Once the opening lead is made, the dummy hand, (that of declarer's partner, here North), is placed on the table. The declarer's partner is now functionally out of the round, as this hand is now played by the declarer. South rearranges the dummy hand to show trumps (
s) on the left, as illustrated here:

Once the opening card has been played, the declarer's partner (the dummy) lays down his hand.

When it is dummy's turn to play, declarer selects the card to be played and plays it
or asks dummy to play what the declarer selects. Each hand in playing to a trick
 must follow with a card of the suit led, but lacking that suit may play any card.
Whichever hand wins a trick will lead any card to the next trick.

Once the opening card has been led, each player must follow suit if able. Should you be deficient in the suit led, you are free to play any other card, including trump. High trump or highest card in the suit led wins the trick. The winner of each trick leads to the next. If the trick is won by a card from the dummy┬╣s hand (or "board"), the next trick must be led from the board.
The first time trump is played, trump is said to be broken. Only after trump has been broken may anyone lead with a trump -- unless they have no other suits available.
Here is a sample round using the hands introduced on the first page:
  • West begins by leading the 5. South wins East's J with the A.

  • At tricks two and three, South cashes (takes short tricks) his A and K, and discovers that the defense will win a trick with the Q (meaning that West threw out their J and 2, leaving the Q in reserve for later use).

  • South continues at the fourth trick by leading the 3 to dummy's K.

  • South leads 3 to the dummy's K.

  • South next leads the 10, West puts on the Q, but South trumps it in dummy with dummy's remaining trump.

  • Except for West's high , South will win all the tricks and the contract succeeds.

In this Contract Bridge hand, South has won the bid with 6 hearts.

This is the sample Bridge hand shown earlier.

Now that you've read about the bidding and playing of a hand, you'll need to learn about keeping score. Let's take a look at the Contract Bridge socring system on the next page.