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Playing Bridge: How to Decipher Cards and Directions

When you play bridge, you need to understand how the cards are ranked and what the directions mean. You use all cards in a standard deck (except the Jokers) for bridge. The directions correspond to the players (East and West make a team, as do North and South).

Ranking the cards for bridge

A deck has 52 cards divided into four suits: spades (♠), hearts (♥), diamonds (♦), and clubs (♣). Each suit has 13 cards: the AKQJ10 (which are called the honor cards) and the 98765432 (the spot cards).

The 13 cards in a suit all have a rank — that is, they have a pecking order. The ace is the highest-ranking card, followed by the king, the queen, the jack, and the 10, on down to the lowly 2 (which is also called the deuce).

Because each card has a ranking, the more high-ranking cards you have in your hand, the better. The more honor cards you have, the stronger your hand. You can never have too many honor cards.

Knowing your bridge directions

In bridge, the players are nameless souls — they’re known by directions. When you sit down at a table with your three pals to play bridge, imagine that the table is a compass. You’re sitting at due South, your partner sits across from you in the North seat, and your opponents sit East and West.

This figure diagrams the playing table. Get acquainted with this little diagram: You see some form of it in newspaper columns and magazines. And if you never can get your directions straight, this bridge diagram may be a blessing in disguise.

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