Bridge is a trick-winning partnership game – with each hand of bridge, your partnership is trying to win more tricks than the opposing partnership. If you’ve played any other tricking-winning card game – like Hearts, Spades, or Euchre – this will be familiar to you.
Let’s look at some examples.
The highest card in the suit will usually win
Looking at the trick below, which card do you think would win?
If you chose the ace, then you are correct! Aces are high and if all the cards played are in the same suit, the highest card will always win.
Whomever wins the trick will get to lead the first card for the next trick.
All players must follow suit if they can
First first card played in any trick is called the lead. The following players must all follow suit – or play the same suit as the lead – if they can.
In this example, your right-hand opponent leads the ♣3. You have a lot of great cards, but you have to follow suit. So, you must play the ♣2.
♠AK84 ♥KJT8 ♦976 ♣2
If you can’t follow suit, you can play any card you like
If you don’t have any cards in the same suit that was lead, you can play any card you like.
In this example, your right-hand opponent leads the ♣3 again, but this time, you don’t have any clubs yourself. So you can play any card you like.
♠AK842 ♥KJT8 ♦976
As you can’t follow suit, you need to decide what card to play. It looks like you have a lot of spades so you decide to discard the ♠2 as you don’t think it will be very helpful to you.
After you play the ♠2, the other two positions follow suit. Which card do you think will win this trick?
Most of the time, the highest card of the suit that was lead will win the trick, in which case the ♣A would win this trick.
A trump suit can beat all the other suits
Sometimes, however, there is a super-suit – a trump suit – which can trump, or beat, all the other suits.
Even the lowest card of the trump suit can beat the highest card of any other suit. So, if Spades are the trump suit in the hand above, even the ♠2 would beat the ♣A.
As you can see, whether or not there is a trump suit will make a huge difference in terms of who will win the most tricks each hand! So, who gets to choose if there is a trump suit and, if so, which suit it will be?
In the next lesson, we’ll learn about the auction and who gets to choose if there is a trump suit.