Bridge Placemats

Learn to Play Bridge and Solve Puzzles

As a supplement to the notes and lessons on this website, I have created table mats (basically, a handy, on-the-table reference chart for bridge) which can be helpful for some quick learning.

Here are some situations where these table mats are recommended:

  1. A new player is eager to start playing bridge with very few or no lessons. The bridge mats are used as a reference when needed.
  2. A group of social bridge players is missing a fourth player and is willing to have a novice player sit in with them, giving the novice a few pointers here and there, but not wanting the game to be disrupted too much with complicated rules. Experienced players could point to the placemat and say, “Here’s the answer, let’s move on.”
  3. You have visitors for a few days and they’d like to play bridge, but you want to play cards as much as possible and not get bogged down with a lot of instruction.
  4. You wish to introduce a group of people to the game of bridge, just to see if they might like it and might want to continue with more lessons afterwards.

Note: All the lessons and quizzes on my website are free, but I do charge for a few supplemental items. The placemats are $13 if you wish to purchase them. (See info below.)

These placemats are meant to supplement the lessons, but are not a replacement for the lessons. They are especially helpful at the start while beginners need to develop confidence and skill in bidding. If a player is “stuck” and cannot decide what to bid, they can quickly look it up or an experienced player can quickly point it out, so the game progresses at a reasonable speed for everyone. It can take some of the fear out of making a wrong bid. The placemats should not be used for too long, as players need to move on and rely on their own skill and judgement!

You may have seen some older bridge tablecloths that were printed about 25 years ago. Many of the bidding rules have changed considerably since then which makes them obsolete. Be very careful not to confuse players when they are just learning! I have found, through experience, that when a beginner hears the wrong information even just one time, it takes 10 times more effort to unlearn the bad habit. The bridge tablecloth idea was a good one, but the outdated rules are not!

Hard-surfaced tables are best for shuffling and dealing. Bridge players often like to drink coffee while playing. A table cover made of cloth makes spilling coffee more likely to happen unless it’s clamped tightly on all sides. Smaller table mats may be better as a quick and handy reference to assist new bridge players. Some of my beginner groups have used them and I have also used them when we have one novice sitting in with a regular bridge group as a stop-gap measure. I have been told that they are fun to use with young children, to introduce them to the game quickly, but not bore them with complicated rules.

Please note: If a group has different levels of skill and experience, it may be a good idea to ask all players if they will accept the idea of some players using placemats for reference. It can be annoying when someone constantly delays the bidding because they are referring to “help sheets.” The benefit on these mats, compared to other sheets, is that they are on the table and readily accessible.

Each placemat has two sheets (two sides if they are assembled back to back). The topics on Sheet 1 correspond closely with Lesson 1 on this website: Opening Points, Opening Bids (all of them in one chart!), Responding to an Opening Bid (1 of a Suit), Responding to a Major Suit Opening and Responding to a Minor Suit Opening.

The topics on Sheet 2 are: Responding to 1NT Opening Bid (Stayman & Jacoby responses included – Lesson 2), Responding to Opening of 2♣ and 2NT (Very Strong Hands – Lesson 3), Responding to Opening Weak Bids (Lesson 4), an additional chart on how to categorize your hand to assess how high to bid, Approximate Points Needed for Game level and higher, and Blackwood and Gerber Conventions (Lessons 9 & 10).

The rules on these placemats correspond to the rules taught on this website which may vary slightly from some beginner books. For example, I teach my beginners to open the bidding with 12+ pts whereas some beginner books recommend 13+ pts. It should not be a major factor — just ignore the 12 and open only if you have 13, if that’s what you prefer.

The placemats are set up to be printed on two sheets of 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper, so they do not require any special printer. Once printed, there are many options. They can be used separately, taped or glued back to back, mounted on card stock or encased in a plastic sheet protector which is available for a low price at office stores. (See pictures below.) The sheet protector is not required but I always use them as they prevent the sheets from getting smudged. These sheets could be laminated, also.

The placemats are formatted for both landscape and portrait orientation:

#1. Wide (landscape) orientation
Print both sheets separately, then tape or glue them back to back, or place in a sheet protector back to back. One side will show Sheet 1 and the other side Sheet 2.

#2. Tall (portrait) Orientation
Print both sheets, then mount them side-by-side on a larger sheet, 11″ tall by 17″ wide, about the size of a large placemat. Or simply tape the two sheets together at the edges. What’s nice about this format is that all the information can be seen without turning the sheets over.

Here’s a sample showing #1 wide (landscape-oriented) placemats:

Placemat Sample Wide

Please note that the text was deliberately blurred for display purposes.

The picture below shows Sheet 1 and Sheet 2 inside plastic sheet protectors.
This is how the wide orientation sheets could be placed on a bridge table in front of each player.
Sheet 1 is back-to-back with Sheet 2 in the same sheet protector.

Pic Placemat wide 2016
Here is a sample showing #2 tall (portrait-oriented) placemats:

#2 Sample Portrait
(The text has been deliberately blurred for displaying on this website.)
Below is a picture to show how the two sheets of the #2 portrait orientation (tall) sheets can be taped together or glued onto card stock to make one larger mat, measuring 11″ high by 17″ wide:

Pic Placemat tall 2016
The price for both formats is $13 (US). Payment can be made with by credit card.

If you share the cost with a group, the price is quite inexpensive since you can print as many copies as you like.

By having both formats, you will have the option to see which works best for you and for your group. You could try them different ways. The wide sheets could also be taped together, but they may be too wide for your table and that’s why I’ve shown the wide sheets back-to-back. Perhaps just two placemats on each table would be enough for your group. Not every player may need one or want one. There are many options that can be tried once they are printed. Beginners could even make a binder cover with them to study when travelling or commuting!

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