Understanding Bridge: Trump and Notrump Play

You can’t get very far playing bridge if you don’t decode these funny phrases: trump and notrump. So, what do the terms trump and notrump mean to a bridge player?

Have you ever played a card game that has wild cards? When you play with wild cards, playing a wild card automatically wins the trick for you. Sometimes wild cards can be jokers, deuces, or aces. It doesn’t matter what the card is; if you have one, you know that you have a sure winner.

In bridge, you have wild cards, too, called trump cards. However, in bridge, the trump cards are really wild because they change from hand to hand, depending on the bidding.

The bidding determines whether a hand will be played with trump cards or in a notrump contract (a hand that has no trump cards). If the final bid names a trump suit, that suit is the wild suit for the hand. For example, suppose that the final bid is 4♠ — this bid determines that spades are trump (or wild) for the entire hand.

When the final bid ends in notrump, the highest card played in the suit that has been led wins the trick. More contracts are played at notrump than in any of the four suits.

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