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Each bridge deal begins with an auction to determine the contract which sets the strain and how many tricks are needed.

There are 5 strains. They are listed by their rank from lowest to highest::

  1. Clubs             Clubs are trump
  2. Diamonds      Diamonds are trump
  3. Hearts           Hearts are trump
  4. Spades         Spades are trump
  5. No Trump     There is no trump suit

Because hearts and spades outrank clubs and diamonds, hearts and spades are called major suits. Clubs and diamonds are called minor suits.

There are 7 possible levels of bidding (1 thru 7). Each level corresponds to how many tricks are needed to fulfill the contract. There are 13 tricks in a bridge hand. A 1-level contract requires a simple majority of the 13 tricks, 7 tricks. Each additional level requires another trick. If you add 6 tricks to the level of bidding, you get the number of tricks needed to fulfill the contract.

Bidding begins with the dealer and proceeds clockwise. A player may pass, or bid a strain and a level (e.g. 1♠, or 2). Two other bids are possible. A player may double an opponent’s bid. A player may redouble if their bid is doubled. Doubles and redoubles increase points awarded for making your contract and the points awarded to your opponents if you fail to win enough tricks to fulfill your contract.

The North-South partnership uses their bids to assess the right strain and contract level.  The East-West partnership competes to find their best strain and level.  If your partnership’s bid is followed by 3 consecutive passes, the auction ends.  The strain of the last bid determines which suit is the trump suit or whether there will not be trump suit (notrump).  The level of the last bid determines how many tricks are required to make your contract.  The number of tricks required to make your contract is 6 + the level of your bid. For example if the auction ended with your 3 bid, your partnership would need 9 tricks with hearts as the trump suit.

The player in your partnership who first bid the chosen strain becomes the declarer. The player to their left leads to the first trick. After the opening lead, declarer’s partner places their cards on the table face up, sorted from high to low in each of the 4 suits. If the contract specifies a trump suit, the trump suit is places to dummy’s right. Declarer plays the cards in their hand as well as dummy’s cards which are visible on the table.

As the auction proceeds clockwise around the table, a player cannot bid at a lower level than the previous bid. If the suit you want to bid is higher ranked than the strain last bid, you can bid it at the same level. If the suit you wish to bid is ranked lower than the strain last bid, you must bid it at a higher level than the previous bid.

For example, on the auction below, South cannot bid 1♣ or 1 because they rank lower than hearts. South could bid clubs or diamonds at a higher level. Because spades and notrump are higher ranking than hearts. South could bid them at the one-level.









If the auction begins with all 4 players passing, the board is passed out. No points are earned by either side. The pairs move on to the next board.

The auction proceeds clockwise starting with the dealer.  The auction ends when a bid is followed by 3 passes.  The highest bid sets the contract.  

If all players pass, the auction ends without a contract. You move onto the next hand. Neither pair earns points for the board which was passed out.