How to Make Your Contract in Bridge
6 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Playing a Hand of Bridge
Bridge scoring revolves around the final contract (as determined by the bidding) and the number of tricks actually taken by the side buying the contract. If your final contract is 3, your goal is to win at least nine tricks and clubs are trump, the wild suit. If you take exactly nine tricks, you make your contract.
If you take ten tricks, you have made your contract plus an extra trick, called an overtrick. In bridge, as the side buying the contract, you score points only if you make your contract or if you make your contract with overtrick(s). Overtricks score points for your side but don’t contribute toward completing a game contract of 100 or more points.
To calculate the number of tricks you need to take to fulfill your final contract, add six to the number, or level, of the bid. For example, if your final contract is 5♠, you need to take 11 tricks to make your contract (5 + 6 = 11).
If you don’t make your contract, the bad guys (the opponents) rack up penalty points and your side gets nada for your efforts. For example, if you take eight tricks in your contract of 3, you would be one trick short of making your contract (and concede one undertrick); your opponents would get to add points to their score.
Your goal on every hand is to make your contract; overtricks are icing on the cake, and undertricks, though inevitable, are something you try to avoid.