Novices Bridge
  1. Welcome
  2. Duplicate Bridge
  3. Table Manners
  4. Bidding Guide
  5. Books for further study

    Trick by Trick - Key map
    Solo Bidding - Solo Play

Lessons | 1a | 1b | 1c | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | ??     Lesson Deals - Practice Deals

Bidding Guide   Contents page   Bidding Strategy   Score Calculator  

Indirect Finesse - Direct Finesse - Handling a Trump suit - Losing Trick Count - Articles

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Intro 1 - Welcome

Michael Furstner

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 the basics of the Standard American system.
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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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.

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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.


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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Intro 4 - Novices Bidding Guide

I have included a Beginners Bridge Bidding Guide

Print out all pages of the Contract Bridge Bidding Guide listed below.
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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Intro 5 - 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.
(Highly recommended titles are shown in red.)

Bidding Systems

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

  2. Basic to Intermediate level
    A Guide to Better Bridge (Standard Bidding version, 3rd Edition 2012) - by Ron Klinger
    Publ. by Modern Bridge Publications, PO Box 140, Northbridge, NSW Australia

  3. 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

Card Play Technique

  1. Both Declarer Play and Defence
    Card Play Technique - by Victor Mollo & Nico Gardener
    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. Opening Leads
    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

  3. Both Declarer Play and Defence
    Guide to Better Card Play - by Ron Klinger
    Winner of the 1991 Book of the Year award of the American Bridge Teachers' Association.
    Publ. by Cassell, The Orion Publishing Group, 5 Upper Saint Martins Lane, London

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© 2016 Michael Furstner