Contract bridge, or simply bridge, is a trick-taking game using a standard 52-card deck. It is played by four players at a table, with partners sitting opposite each other.
The game of bridge has two main parts: the Bidding (also called the Auction) and the Play. One of the players deals all of the cards, 13 to each player, in clockwise rotation, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. In this day and age, many clubs deal the hands automatically and before the start of a session, with a special dealing machine linked to a computer. This also enables clubs to print out the hands to distribute at the end of play so players can study how to play hands better and improve their game.
In bridge there are four suits, and they are ranked: spades (highest), hearts, diamonds and clubs (lowest). The ranking is for bidding purposes only. In the play all suits are equal, unless one suit has been named as trumps, then it beats all the others. Suits are sometimes shown as symbols, or abbreviated: S, H, D, C. The game is very similar to 500 except the suit ranks are different and there are no bowers.
The cards of each suit are ranked from the ace (highest) through the two (lowest). The exact order using common abbreviations: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Note that the ace is always high.
The object in bridge play is to win tricks for your side. A trick consists of four cards, one from each player in turn, clockwise around the table. Hence, there are 13 tricks to be won on each deal. The first card played to each trick is called the lead. The bidding determines who will be the declarer, which suit (if any) will be trumps, and the number of tricks declarer must win.
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