Bridge – Step 1 for Beginners
Here are five simplified lessons for beginners. Just the basics — enough to get started but not so much to confuse the learner. The first four lessons cover the basic 20 opening bids and the fifth lesson will give you some hints on which card to lead once the bidding has stopped and the play of the cards has started. Five lessons and you’re on your way! I have been told that these lessons are easier to follow than many beginner books.
Mastering these five beginner lessons will not make you a great bridge player – that will take much more time and practice. Once you learn these bids and responses reasonably well, you should feel sufficiently comfortable to play with experienced players and be able to partake in the game at a reasonable level. These lessons should give you some basic strategies to allow you to open the bidding and respond to your partner in simple ways without too much complexity. You will be able to build on this foundation and, with experience, you will improve, but you need to start somewhere.
Don’t be discouraged. Expect to be somewhat confused at the beginning. Eventually, it will all fall into place. You may have some of these Eureka! moments when you say to yourself, “Aha! Now I get it!” As you play and gain more experience, you will understand more and realize that it does make sense! Never give up.
The quizzes are designed to test your understanding and give you confidence.Please note that these lessons follow a 5-card major bidding system (ACBL), commonly used by duplicate bridge players today, but simplified for a beginner. There are many variations in the rules, so be aware that other players may use slightly different and more complex bids and conventions. What is most important is that you and your partner use the same rules in order to communicate accurately with each other. Also, as you acquire more knowledge, your bidding will likely become more complex, but these bids will give you a good, solid base for bidding at a beginner level. The bidding system called “2 Over 1″ is now being used and taught quite extensively. It is my opinion that it is easier for beginners to learn the Standard American Bridge rules to start as there are not quite so many things to remember all at once, and then add the 2 Over 1 system afterwards. I have added some introductory beginner lessons on 2 Over 1 for those who want to venture into that great abyss! No matter what, the most important thing is for you and your partner to understand each other’s bids and be able to communicate well with each other, no matter which system you use.
Before starting the lessons, it is necessary to know some basic bridge terminology:
This bidding chart shows the progression of the bids from the lowest opening bid of 1 Club to the highest of 7 No Trump, as well as the points needed for game levels:
The first four lessons explain the opening bids and simple responses. After reading each lesson, use the quiz to test your knowledge. Answers are given with explanations.
Lesson 1 covers the opening bids of 1 Spade, 1 Heart, 1 Diamond or 1 Club (1 of a suit):
Lesson 2 covers the opening bid of 1 No Trump and responses to it. Possibly the two most difficult concepts you will encounter at the beginner level are the Stayman Convention and Jacoby Transfer. They are extremely valuable to know and may take a little more time to learn, but are well worth the effort. I have explained two different methods of responding to a 1 No Trump opening bid. One method requires the use of Stayman and Jacoby; the other method allows you to bid without them. The second method is simpler, not as effective, but much easier to learn when you first start to bid and play. Because it’s easy to get discouraged at the beginner level, I recommend using the second method (the easier way) to start. Once you have acquired a solid basis and confidence in bidding practices, you should feel confident that you can progress to a higher level of skill in bridge and add those two techniques to your bridge toolkit.
Note: For your amusement, I recommend that you read the story, The Seduction of Miss No Trump, (see link at the bottom) which I created to help teach Stayman and Jacoby in a humorous and hopefully memorable way.
Lesson 3 covers the two opening bids that indicate a very strong hand.
Lesson 4 covers opening with a weak hand. An opening bid at the 2 Level or higher (except for the two bids mentioned in Lesson 3) indicates a weak hand but a good suit.
Lesson 5 is about opening leads. Once the contract has been established, the player sitting to the left-hand side of the Declarer must lead the first card. Often the lead can make a difference in the final outcome of the game; therefore, it requires some thought and strategy.
Finally, here is a summary of the 20 opening bids on one sheet:
To help learn and remember the conventions in response to a No Trump opening bid, here’s a tongue-in-cheek fable featuring Miss No Trump and her suitors, Mr. Stayman and Mr. Jacoby Transfer: