Uganda Bridge Federation


Beginners’ Bridge Glossary

  1. Beginners’ Bridge Glossary

The Bidding

Auction — the entire round of bidding on a deal.

Bid — a number (1 through 7) followed by the name of a suit or notrump (1H, 3NT, 7C, etc.).

Call — any bid, pass, double or redouble.

Contract — the number of tricks the declaring side must take to earn a plus score. A bid becomes the final contract if it’s followed by three passes. (If the last bid is 3C, the bidder has contracted to make clubs trump and to take at least 9 — 6 for “book” plus the 3 bid — of the 13 possible tricks.)

Opening bid — the first bid that is not a pass. The player who makes this bid is called the “opener”.

Response — a bid made after partner has opened the bidding. The player who makes this bid is called the “responder”.

Overcall — a bid made after an opponent has opened the bidding. A suit overcall always promises at least 5 cards in the suit bid. A notrump overcall shows a balanced hand with 16-18 pts..

Rebid — any subsequent bid made by a player who has already opened, responded or overcalled in an auction.

Double — a special bid that can be made only over an opponent’s bid. A double describes your hand, but uses up no space in the auction. If a double is followed by three passes, it becomes a penalty double and increases the score of the final contract. A double usually has one of two meanings, depending on the previous auction:

   Penalty double — Usually made at a high level, when the opponents have reached their final contract. This type of double is made when you expect the opponents’ contract to go down.

   Takeout double — Usually made at your first turn to bid, and at a low level. This double shows strength and at least moderate length in all unbid suits. It asks partner to “take it out” of the auction by bidding his longest suit.

Redouble — similar to a double, but it can be made only over an opponent’s double. If a redouble is followed by three passes, it increases the score of the already doubled contract.

Cuebid — an artificial, strength-showing bid of an opponent’s suit (1H by your left-hand-opponent, 2H by you). The term “cuebid” is also used to describe a high-level bid that shows a specific ace.

Single (or simple) raise — to bid partner’s suit at the lowest level available (1S by partner, 2S by you). This shows a trump fit and minimum point-count.

Jump — to bid at a higher level than necessary (1D by partner, 2NT by you) to show strength.

Jump raise — to bid partner’s suit at a higher level than necessary (1H by partner, 3H by you). These jumps show trump support and extra strength.

Invitation — to make a bid (usually at a level of 2NT or higher) that asks partner to bid on to game level if he has more than minimum strength.

Jump-shift — to jump and change suits (1H-3D). This always shows a very powerful hand.

The Play

Book — the first six tricks taken by declarer. Only tricks in excess of book are counted for fulfilling the final contract. (To make a contract of 4S, you must take 10 tricks — 6 for book plus the 4 named in the bid).
Book also refers to the number of tricks the defenders must win before they can begin earning a score for defeating a contract. (If the opponents’ contract is 3D, book for defenders is 4 tricks — if they take a fifth trick, they defeat declarer’s contract and earn a plus score.)

Declarer — the player who first named the suit (or notrump) specified in the final contract.

Dummy — declarer’s partner. Dummy does not participate in the play. After the bidding is completed and the opening lead is made, dummy places his cards face-up on the table, sorted into suits, and they are played by declarer.

Defenders — opponents of declarer.

LHO and RHO — acronyms for Left-Hand Opponent and Right-Hand Opponent.

Trick — four cards, one contributed by each player in turn (clockwise around the table). The highest card of the suit led (or the highest trump) wins the trick. The player who wins the trick chooses the card to lead to the next trick. There are 13 tricks in each deal.

Lead — the first card played to a trick. Each of the other three players must follow (in clockwise order) by playing a card of that suit if they have one.

Opening lead — the card that starts the first trick of a deal, after the bidding is over. The opening leader is the player to the left of declarer.

Trump suit — the suit named in the final contract.

Notrump — a contract played without a trump suit. The highest card of the suit led wins the trick.

Trumping (or ruffing) — playing a trump on a non-trump-suit trick. A trump can be played only when the trump suit is led or when you cannot follow to the lead of another suit (you have no cards remaining in the suit led). A trump beats any card in any other suit. If a trick contains more than one trump, the highest trump wins the trick.

Discard (or pitch or sluff) — to play a non-trump card when you cannot follow to the suit led.

Finesse — an attempt to trap an opponent’s high card in a suit and thus avoid losing a trick to it. The most common finesses are made in suits where you have most of the high honors but are missing the king or queen. These holdings are called tenaces.

Revoke (or renege) — to fail to follow suit when you actually hold one or more cards in the suit led. This is a violation of bridge rules.

The Cards in Your Hand

Honors — Ace, King, Queen, Jack (and sometimes Ten).

High-card points — the total point-count of the honors (AKQJ) in your hand.

Quick tricks — high-card holdings that will usually win early tricks in the suit — aces, kings, and AK, KQ and AQ combinations. AK combination = 2 quick tricks;  Ace or KQ combination = 1 QT;  King = 1/2 QT;  AQ combination = 1.5 QTs.  A good opening bid usually contains 2 1/2 quick tricks. Other high-card holdings (queens, jacks and QJ combinations) are often called “slow” tricks.

Playing tricks — the number of tricks that your hand will take through power (assuming equal breaks of the missing cards), if  you buy the contract. The most common way to figure playing tricks is to estimate how many tricks your long suit(s) will take and add that number to your quick tricks in other suits. For example,  ♠AQJ1043  ♥AK43  ♦A  ♣K3  is 9.5 playing tricks — 5 spades and 3 hearts (assuming each of the other three hands holds 3 hearts), plus the 1.5 quick tricks in the short suits.

Losing-Trick Count — another method of hand evaluation that figures potential losers (assuming equal breaks of the missing cards), if you buy the contract. In general, you count 1 loser for each missing ace, king and queen in any 3-card or longer suit; for each missing ace or king in a 2-card suit; for a missing ace in a 1-card suit. For example, the example hand above is a 3-loser hand (counting the spade king, heart queen and club ace as losers).  ♠A543   ♥KQ43   ♦QJ2   ♣Q3  is a 7-loser hand (2 spades, 1 heart, 2 diamonds and 2 clubs).

Stoppers — protected honors you hold in a suit an opponent has bid. Examples are Kx, Qxx, Jxxx. This term refers to their ability to “stop” the opponents from running their suit if you declare a notrump contract.

Controls — holdings that will take the first or second trick if a suit is led. A first-round control is an ace (or a void, for trump contracts); a second-round control is a king or singleton.

Void — to have none of a suit in your hand.

Singleton — a one-card suit.

Doubleton — a two-card suit.

Balanced hand — having no void or singleton suits and (usually) no more than one doubleton. Balanced distributions of your 13 cards are 4-3-3-3 , 4-4-3-2 , 5-3-3-2 (sometimes 5-4-2-2).

Unbalanced (distributional) hand — any hand that doesn’t fit the description of a balanced hand. These include two-suiters (5-5-2-1 or 6-5-2-0, etc.) and other hands with voids, singletons and/or long suits (6+-cards).

Distribution points — a method of hand evaluation in which you also assign points to short suits: 1 pt. for a doubleton, 2 pts. for a singleton, 3 pts. for a void. Add these points to your high-card points to figure total point-count. Distribution points should be counted after you and partner have found a trump fit. In general, don’t add in distribution points when deciding on an opening bid.

Tenace — a broken honor combination in a suit (AQ, KJ, AJ, Q10, etc.). These holdings often allow you to trap the missing honors by taking a finesse.

The Scoring

Trick score — the points awarded for each trick (over book) taken by declarer if the contract is made.

  • Minor-suit contracts (clubs and diamonds) score 20 pts. per trick.
  • Major-suit contracts (hearts and spades) score 30 pts. per trick.
  • Notrump contracts score 40 pts. for the first trick, 30 pts. for each subsequent trick.

Game — a contract whose trick score will add up to at least 100 pts. if declarer makes the bid number of tricks. To score a game on one deal (and receive the game scoring bonus), you must bid up to a level of :

  • At least 3 in notrump (100 pts. — 40 for the first trick, 30 for each of the next two)
  • At least 4 in hearts or spades (120 pts.)
  • At least 5 in clubs or diamonds (100 pts.).

Slam — a contract of six or seven. These contracts award large scoring bonuses.

  • Small slam — any contract of six, in a suit or notrump.
  • Grand slam — any contract of seven, in a suit or notrump.

Partscore — any contract below game level. Trick scores from two or more part scores can be combined to reach 100 pts. and earn the game bonus.

Penalty — a score given to the defenders when declarer fails to make his contract (goes down).

Pass-out — a deal where all four players pass. At rubber bridge, no score is recorded, and the hand is redealt. At duplicate bridge, the hand is scored as 0 for each side, but not redealt.

Honors — a score (100 or 150 pts.) awarded when one player holds 4 or 5 of the top honors in the trump suit or all 4 aces in a notrump contract. These are only counted in rubber-bridge scoring.

Rubber — two games. The partnership that bids and makes the first two games (or whose part scores add up to two games) receives bonus points for winning the rubber.

Vulnerable — having bid and made one game in the current rubber.

Not vulnerable — having no game in the rubber.

Duplicate Bridge

ACBL — American Contract Bridge League, the national organization that sponsors and sanctions duplicate games at clubs and tournaments. ACBL awards masterpoints and keeps point records for members.

Masterpoints — point awards for winning or placing in a duplicate-bridge event sanctioned by ACBL.

Board — the metal or plastic tray that holds the pre-dealt cards. This term also refers to the whole deal itself (“What was our score on Board #4 ?” or “We played 26 boards against Joe’s team.”).

Bidding box — a small, tabletop box that holds pre-printed cards (one for each of the 35 possible bids, plus several Pass, DBL and RDBL cards) used for silent bidding. Bidding boxes are used by many clubs and almost all tournaments.

Matchpoints — a form of scoring used in pairs games. On each board, your score is compared to the scores of the pairs who held your same cards. You receive one matchpoint for every pair you beat and 1/2 matchpoint for every pair you tie. The pair with the most total matchpoints on all the boards in the session wins the game.

Top — the maximum number of matchpoints you can earn on a board. If a board is played eight times in a duplicate session, “top” is 7 because the best you can do is beat the other seven pairs who played it.

Bottom (or zero) — the opposite of a top.

Stratified pairs or teams — events that offer extra, separate masterpoint awards to novice and intermediate players. Players of all skill levels enter the same event, but each pair is classified into a stratum (A, B, C) based on their masterpoint holding. Point awards are given to the top pairs in each stratum.

IMPs (International Match Points) — a form of scoring usually used in team games. On each board, the difference between your score and your opponents’ score is converted to IMPs, which can be positive or negative. The team with the most total positive IMPs on all boards wins the match.

Swiss teams — an event for teams of four players. Each team plays short matches against several other teams and scores the results by IMPs. Masterpoints are awarded for each match won.

Knockout teams — a multi-session team event. In the first session, each team plays a long match against one other team. The loser is eliminated; the winner advances to play another winning team in the next session. Matches continue until there is one winner.