Bridge For Dummies
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Without order, there's chaos — even when playing bridge. When bidding suits, you must follow a specific order. During the bidding of a hand of bridge, players can’t make a bid unless their bid is higher than the previous bid. In bridge, two factors determine whether your bid is legal:
  • Which suit you’re bidding

  • How many tricks you’re bidding for in that suit

During the play of a hand, the rank of the suits has no significance. The rank of the suits matters only during the bidding. The suits are ranked in the following order:
  • Notrump (NT): Wait! You thought you were reading about the rank of suits. Your deck of cards probably doesn’t have a notrump suit. Well, okay — so notrump isn’t really a suit in the strictest sense of the word. But notrump is a type of bid. In fact, notrump is the highest suit you can bid. Notrump is the king of the hill when it comes to bidding — you can score the most points with notrump bids.

  • Spades (♠): Spades is the highest-ranking suit (after notrump).

  • Hearts (♥): Hearts ranks behind spades; hearts and spades are referred to as the major suits because they’re worth more in the scoring.

  • Diamonds (♦): Diamonds don’t carry as much weight; they outrank only clubs.

  • Clubs (♣): Clubs are the lowest suit rank-wise. Diamonds and clubs are called the minor suits.

To remember the rank of the suits (excluding notrump), look at the first letter of each suit. The S in spades is higher in the alphabet than the H in hearts, which is higher than the D in diamonds, which is higher than the C in clubs.

To see how the rank of the suits comes into play during the bidding, consider the following example. Assume that you’re seated in the South position.
South (You) West North (Your Partner) East
1♥ ?
Suppose that you open the bidding with 1♥. Because the bidding goes clockwise, West has the next chance to bid. West doesn’t have to bid if he doesn’t want to; however, the most likely reason for not bidding is that West simply doesn’t have a strong enough hand. West can say “Pass” (which is not considered a bid).

However, if West wants to join in the fun, he must make some bid that is higher ranking than 1. For example, West can bid 1 or 1NT, but not 1 or 1 — because both bids are higher ranking than a 1 bid.

On the other hand, if West wants to bid diamonds (a lower-ranking suit than hearts), West must bid at least 2 for his bid to be legal. That is, only by upping the level of the bid (from 1 to 2) can West make a legal bid in diamonds (a lower-ranking suit than hearts).

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