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How to Become the Captain in Bridge

Captain on the bridge! In bridge, the captain is the one who makes the final decision of how high to bid. During the bidding in a game of bridge, each player tries to determine his partner’s strength and distribution. Based on this information, you or your partner can become the captain, depending on what each of your reveals.

First, you need to rebid to figure out what your partner has. Your partner’s hand (your partner opened the bidding) can fall into any of the following ranges:

  • 12 to 14 high card points (HCP): Minimum range (11 HCP is an exception)

  • 15 to 18 HCP: Intermediate range

  • 18 to 20 HCP: Rock-crusher range (18-point hands go both ways!)

Your hand, as the responder, can fall into any of the following four ranges:

  • 6 to 10 HCP: Minimum range

  • 11 to 12 HCP: Invitational range

  • 13 to 17 HCP: Game, or possible slam range

  • 18 or more HCP: Likely slam range

After either player reveals her range, which is called limiting one’s hand, the partner of the player who has revealed her range becomes the captain. The captain knows how many total points are held by the partnership; the captain uses that number to determine how high to bid. And, of course, each player knows that after she limits her hand, her partner is the captain.

The captain can sometimes determine which trump suit is best for the hand after her partner has limited her hand. During the bidding, your first objective is to try to locate an eight-card (or longer) major suit trump fit. If you find one, your quest is over; make that suit your trump suit.

As the responder, you frequently have a pretty clear picture of your partner’s hand after she bids a second time, particularly if her second bid is a limit bid (anytime the opener rebids anything but a new suit, the opener’s rebid is limited). Before you make your rebid, ask yourself the following two questions:

  • What has my partner already told me about her hand with her first two bids?

  • What have I already told my partner about my hand with my original response?

Your rebid depends on your answers to these two questions.

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