Contract Bridge Course
Main Page
  1. Welcome
  2. Duplicate Bridge
  3. Table Manners
  4. How to approach this Course
  5. Bidding Guides
  6. Books for further study
    Key map

Subject Index   Bidding Guide   Solo Bidding   Play Technique  

Absolute Beginners |  1 |   2 |   3 |   4 |   5 |   6 |   7 |   8 |   9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | ?? |

Extended Basics      | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | ?? |     Bidding Strategy   12 Guide lines


The Inner Game of Bridge     bridge4u Bidding System     Our Social Bridge Concept

The bridge4u Club   Developments in Hand Valuation   Charles Goren's legacy

Play at home : Learn as you Play   Duplicate Bridge   How to score Duplicate Bridge   Score Calculator

New Conventions : Quijote NT Overcalls     Furstner 2♣ Rebid (after 1♠ - 1NT)

Visit Rich Waugh's website to download his Bridge Timer for free, or click here.

Michael supports Médecins Sans Frontières and World Vision

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BR Intro 1 - Welcome

Hi, and welcome to the world of Contract Bridge.
My father taught me the first principles of this marvellous game when I was only 12 years old, and I have been playing and teaching bridge to others ever since.
My main interest in life is music, but I find playing Contract Bridge a good diversion, which keeps my mind fresh and always interested in both fields.

Learning to play bridge is in some ways very similar to learning music. It takes time to become fully familiar with all the cards (like the notes in music) and to recognise card patterns (such as K Q J 10 9, or A Q 10) like scales and arpeggios in music.


Learning to play Contract Bridge also involves learning a new language to communicate with your Partner during the auction period of the game.
There are a variety of languages (bidding systems) used for this purpose.
The main ones are :

  • Standard American - also known as the the Goren System, after its inventor Charles Goren,

  • Acol - especially popular in the UK, and

  • Precision - developed by a Chinese business man, C.C.Wei in the late 60s.

In this course you will learn Standard bidding with 5-card majors (with Game forcing jump raises) which is a popular variation of the 'Standard American' system.
It is a natural bidding system which combines simple uncompromised logic with an elegant rhythmic symmetry. This, as a scientist, musician and creative thinker, has always greatly appealed to me. I have attempted to reflect these fundamental qualities in my Bidding Guide.
For a beginner the system is easy to learn. It will also stand you in good stead during many years of playing.

Most players around the world have a basic understanding of this system. Once you are familiar with this language you have a good foundation to go on to learning other systems if you develop the desire to do so.

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BR Intro 2 - Duplicate Bridge

Contract Bridge is played by four players, divided into two pairs who play against each other (North & South against East & West).
Although good players will always get more out of a game than novices, the cards you are dealt determine to a large degree the outcome. With good cards you win, with bad ones you lose.
Duplicate bridge, as played in thousands of bridge clubs around the world, takes this aspect of luck out of the game.

  1. Each trick each player in turn takes one card out of his hand and places it in front of him on the table.

  2. When all four cards to a trick have been played this way each player turns his card face down in front of him. All tricks are played in this way.
    Therefore at the end of the game each player still has all 13 cards he was dealt at the beginning.

  3. When the game is completed the four hands are placed in four separate slots (marked N, E, S and W) of a plastic or aluminium duplicate board.

  4. The score is recorded on a score sheet (also called 'traveller') which is placed in a fifth slot on the board.

  5. After this the board is handed to the next table, where four other players will play exactly the same cards!

Each side does not compete against the opponent at their own table, but instead against all the other pairs at the other tables who play the same hands for each board. In other words each EW pair competes against all other EW pairs, and each NS pair competes against all other NS pairs.
This takes the aspect of luck with the cards completely out of the game, as all players compete while using the same cards.

Duplicate bridge has elevated contract bridge from an enjoyable 'gentleman's game' to a full blown and very exciting sport with large numbers of players participating in competitions and tournaments at local, Regional, National and International levels around the globe.

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BR Intro 3 - Table Manners

Contract Bridge requires quick thinking and decision making. What often appears obvious in hind sight, is not at all clear in the heat of the battle. Mistakes are therefore unavoidable and part of the game, even by the best players.

The better players know that maintaining a friendly atmosphere and providing Partner with moral support when needed, are essential for maintaining good productive communication throughout the play.
Endless post mortems and blaming your Partner (a regrettable habit by some lesser players) are not going to make any difference to the result, and only lead to further deterioration of constructive communication with your Partner. brillqh.gif

Therefore at all times be nice to your Partner.
When your Partner makes a mistake he/she will suffer and fret over it much more than you do. It usually also will affect his play negatively for the next few games. Therefore don't rub it in, but immediately put a positive spin on the mishap and try to erase it from Partner's mind.
This will help Partner enormously to get back on a positive track.
Furthermore he/she will be more likely to treat you in the same way, the next time you make a mistake !

In general be graceful in defeat and humble after your victories.
This will enhance the atmosphere at your table enormously. Contract Bridge may be a fiercely competitive sport, but this does not mean it can't still be played as a gentleman's game !

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BR Intro 4 - How to approach this Course

Contract bridge is a great game, and you need not be an Albert Einstein to learn it. Anybody with a normal amount of common sense can learn it. This is very important to remember in the early stages of learning this game.
The main obstacle virtually every novice has to overcome is simply a matter of becoming familiar with the elements of the game. This includes the visual familiarity with the cards and various card distributions, but also the various bids in the auction you make. Time and a period of regular playing will get you there without fail.
Also be aware that you will learn ten times more from every mistake you make, than all the games you sail through smoothly, blissfully unaware of the pitfalls you have unwittingly avoided.
Therefore do not use the bidding guide or any other notes while you are bidding or playing. This is a certain recipe for not learning a thing and therefore not making any progress.
Look at the guide after completing the game, to verify what you did right or wrong. This way you will digest the material in a productive manner and as a result make steady progress.

The course can be divided into three sections.
Lessons 1 to 12 form the Beginners level part of the Course. They are the fundamentals you should focus on and digest first.   The Basic Bidding Guide is most appropriate for this period of your development.

Only after you have become fully familiar with these first twelve lessons and the game in general should you progress to the Intermediate level : Lessons 13-24. This generally occurs after 6-12 months of playing.   Therefore be patient with yourself, do not be afraid to make mistakes and keep playing, building up your experience.

Once you are comfortable with the matrial presented in the first 24 lessons you may wish to add a few optional extras to your bidding system. The Advanced level lessons, from Lesson 25 onwards, will provide you with some possibilities in this regard. The Intermediate and Advanced Bidding Guides include progressively more of these additional conventions.

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BR Intro 5 - Contract Bridge Bidding Guide

I have included three versions of my Contract Bridge Bidding Guide

Print out all pages of the Contract Bridge Bidding Guide. Print only on one side of the paper, so that you have plenty of blank spaces in the booklet to write down your own comments and reminders.

Cut the top and bottom edges of each page along the horizontal markers, then stack the pages in numerical order.
Make sure you have sufficient blank space on the left side to allow for stapling.
Now assemble the Bidding Guide as follows.


How to use the Bidding Guide
Use the Bidding Guide for your study, or for checking and reference after you bid and played a deal.
Do not use it during the bidding itself !
Don't be afraid to make mistakes. These will in fact greatly speed up your learning process. Playing it safe by reading all your bids from the book will only hamper the process of you absorbing and learning the bidding principles.

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BR Intro 6 - Books for further Study

The enormous quantity of Contract Bridge literature available can be rather daunting to the novice bridge player. The following books are, in my opinion, outstanding within their field. They will enhance your bridge skills and add clarity and focus to your overall understanding of the game. (Highly recommended titles are shown in red.)

Bidding Systems

  1. Standard Bidding (Beginner)
    Bridge Basics - An introduction to good bridge - by Ron Klinger
    Publ. by Modern Bridge Publications, PO Box 140, Northbridge, NSW Australia

  2. Acol (Beginner)
    Basic Bridge - The Acol System - by Ron Klinger
    Publ. by Modern Bridge Publications, PO Box 140, Northbridge, NSW Australia

  3. Bidding and Play (Newcomer/Intermediate : separate versions for Standard American and for Acol)
    Ron Klinger's Guide to Better Bridge - by Ron Klinger
    Many "add on" skills to both your bidding and play.
    Publ. by Modern Bridge Publications, PO Box 140, Northbridge, NSW Australia

  4. Losing Trick Count (Intermediate)
    The Modern Losing Trick Count - by Ron Klinger, 2009
    Publ. by Cassel - Orion Publishing Group ,Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9EA

  5. Bidding Conventions (Intermediate)
    Bridge Conventions, Defences and Countermeasures - by Ron Klinger, 2009
    Publ. by Cassel - Orion Publishing Group ,Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9EA

  6. Bidding Conventions (Newcomer/Intermediate)
    25 Bridge Conventions you should know - by Barbara Seagram & Marc Smith, 1999
    Publ. by Master Point Press, 331 Douglas Ave, Toronto Ontario Canada

  7. Bidding Conventions (Newcomer/Intermediate)
    25 More Bridge Conventions you should know - by Barbara Seagram & David Bird, 2003
    Publ. by Master Point Press, 331 Douglas Ave, Toronto Ontario Canada

  8. The Banzai Point Count (Intermediate/Advanced)
    Better Balanced Bidding - The Banzai Method - by David ("Banzai") Jackson & Ron Klinger, 2010
    Publ. by Cassel - Orion Publishing Group ,Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9EA

  9. Acol - Bidding and Play (Intermediate)
    The New Complete Book of Bridge - by Albert Dormer with Ron Klinger, 2010
    Publ. by Cassel - Orion Publishing Group ,Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9EA

  10. Precision (Intermediate)
    The Precision System of Bidding - by Charles H. Goren
    Publ. by Robert Hale & Co., 63 Old Brompton Road, London, S.W7

  11. The Power System (Intermediate/Advanced)
    The Power System - Five bids to Winning Bridge - by Ron Klinger
    Publ. by Modern Bridge Publications, P.O.Box 140, Northbridge, NSW 2063, Australia

Card Play Technique

  1. Both Declarer Play and Defence (Newcomer/Intermediate)
    Card Play Technique - by Victor Mollo & Nico Gardener, 1971
    The all time Classic in Contract Bridge literature, and a must read for every serious bridge player.
    Publ. by Faber and Faber, 3 Queen Square, London

  2. Declarer Play (Newcomer/Intermediate)
    How to Play Your Cards when You are The Declarer at Contract Bridge - by John Mallon
    A systematic approach to Declarer card play techniques with numerous examples and Quizes.
    Publ. by Chilton Book Company, Radnor, Pennsylvania USA and by Don Mills, Ontario, Canada

  3. Opening Leads (Newcomer/Intermediate)
    Opening Leads and Signals in Contract Bridge - by John Mallon
    A systematic approach to making superior opening leads with numerous examples and Quizes.
    Publ. by Collier Books, Collier MacMillan Publishers, London

  4. Both Declarer Play and Defence (Intermediate)
    Guide to Better Card Play - by Ron Klinger, 2011
    Publ. by Cassel - Orion Publishing Group ,Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9EA

  • Duplicate Bridge Direction - a Complete Handbook - by Alex Groner
    With complete scoring instructions and Movement charts for any number of tables.
    Publ. by Barclay Bridge Supplies, Inc., Port Chester, NY 10573, USA

  • The Laws of Duplicate Bridge, 2007 - by the World Bridge Federation
    Effective from January, 2008.
    Publ. by Bridge NZ (2004) Limited, 60-D Woodland Road, Jonsonville, Wellington NZ

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