**********Before starting the lessons, it helps to know some basic bridge terminology and the strategy when bidding.
This handy bidding chart shows the progression of the bids from the lowest opening bid of 1♣ to the highest of 7NT, as well as the number of tricks required to make each contract, the points needed for game levels and some other info. It can be helpful for now as a reference as you read the lessons, but it is not important to memorize it. Eventually, you will get to be quite familiar with the point requirement for each level of bidding.
**********Lessons 1 to 4 explain all the opening bids with simple responses. After reading each lesson, use the quiz to test your knowledge. Answers are given with explanations. Notice that the quizzes and examples show the card hands as a player would actually see them in their hand. Not only is this more realistic, but this makes it easier for visual learners, especially beginners, to visualize their cards and assess them more easily and quickly. Lesson 1 covers the opening bids of 1♠, 1♥, 1♦ or 1♣ (1 of a suit):
**********Lesson 2 covers the opening bid of 1 No Trump.
In 2021, ACBL changed the announcement for transfers. When Opener bids 1NT and Responder uses a transfer, Opener should announce “hearts” in response to 2D or “spades” in response to 2H. If Responder uses 2S to transfer to clubs, Opener announces “clubs.” If Responder uses 2S for either minor, then Opener should Alert it.
Note: For your amusement, I recommend that you read the story, The Courtship of Miss No Trump, which I created to help teach Stayman and Jacoby in a humorous and hopefully memorable way. The article was published in the ACBL Bridge Bulletin, May 2014 edition.
“The Courtship of Miss No Trump“
**********Lesson 3 covers the two opening bids which show a very strong hand.
**********Lesson 4 covers opening with a weak hand when you have a long suit. An opening bid at the 2 Level or higher (except for the two bids mentioned in Lesson 3) indicates fewer than 12 points, a minimum of 6 cards in the suit with 2 of the top 3 honors (recommended). Be aware that experienced players may take risks and bend these rules considerably, but it’s best to stay with the basic, solid rules when you are a beginner.
**********Lessons 1-4 covered all the opening bids. That’s enough to get started. It will take you a bit longer to figure out what to bid next. Here’s a handy flowchart to assist you: Flowchart Finally, here is a summary of the 20 opening bids on one sheet that serves as a handy reference sheet. Notice that the opening bidding requirements may change slightly, based on where you sit in the bidding order (e.g., 3rd seat can open “light” after 2 passes and fewer than 12 pts).
**********Lesson 5 is in two parts. Part 1 gives recommendations for opening leads and some suggestions on what to lead later, once the dummy hand is on the table. If you have been playing, you will have made decisions on the opening lead, with or without any help. If you have been using the Practice Games, you have already been given some standard rules to use when you are “on lead.” Lesson 5 below consolidates that information. Once the contract has been established, the player seated on 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.
Part 2 is optional, but worth reading through now. I recommend that you refer back to it later, and often, as you progress in your knowledge and ability. I would never expect a beginner to understand it all at this stage. As you play more, it will make more sense. It cannot be emphasized enough: Bridge is a partnership game. Together, you and your partner are trying to determine if you have a fit in a suit or whether you should be in a NT contract. You are also trying to calculate how many points your partnership has (based on HCP and distribution), so you can gauge how high to bid and when to stop bidding. In order to do that, you and your partner need to know which bids are forcing and which are not. Good communication between partners is a key element in the ability to reach the best contract and play a competitive bridge game.
**********These 5 lessons should give you enough bidding information so you can open the bidding and start playing the game. Don’t expect to bid everything perfectly or play the hand without making any mistakes. Continue with Step 2 on this website to add to your bridge knowledge and expertise. Good luck! Do you have a bridge group to play with? If not, here are some suggestions on how to start a group: Starting Your Own Bridge Group
Please note that my lessons follow a 5-card major bidding system (ACBL), commonly used by 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. We refer to this as “partnership agreement.” 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, if you wish. I have added three introductory beginner lessons on 2 Over 1 on my website so you can get a sense of how it differs from Standard American Bridge! No matter which system is used, accurate communication between partners, and the ability to play out the hand, whether as declarer or on defence, are keys to success in bridge.You are welcome to copy and share all documents and lessons from this website. Please make sure the name of the website, “ATeacherFirst.com,” remains on them so the website is credited.