Keeping Score in Bridge

When using this chart, find the contract in the left-hand column and move your finger across that row and stop under the number of tricks taken. That will show you the score for that game.


Keeping Score — There are many scoring charts on the Internet. If you are using a bidding box, the scores are on the back of each bid. Before too long, you will realize that there is no advantage between bidding a 2♠ contract making 3♠ (9 tricks) compared to bidding a 3♠ contract making 3♠. The score is exactly the same. Of course, there is an advantage if it means you must bid to the 3 level to take the contract away from the opponents. Bidding and making game level gives you bonus points and that is worth striving for. Sometimes you may wish to invite your partner to Game by bidding 3♠, showing some extra points or trick-taking potential, but if you believe there is no possibility of reaching Game level in the bidding, why take it higher and risk going down even 1 trick? Unless the opponents push you up, of course! Bridge is a game of strategy and risk-taking! That’s the fun of it.

Inviting to Game: Here’s a situation that I have seen often. The Opener has 16-17 HCPs and opens 1♠, then Partner responds 2♠. Opener knows that Partner has somewhere in the range of 6-9 pts and has 3-card support. There is a possibility of game if Partner has the top of that range (9 HCPs). So Opener should bid 3♠ to invite. If Partner has only 6-7 points, he should pass, but if he has 8-9 points, he should now raise the contract to 4♠.

Bidding in a minor suit can produce a dilemma. If you have reached a 3 bid, there is no advantage to bidding 4 except to invite your partner to Game or to take the contract away from the opponents. (In a 3 contract, taking 10 tricks gives you the very same score as a 4 contract, taking 10 tricks.) It is only when you can bid to Game (5) or Slam (6 or 7) and take enough tricks to make it, that you receive bonus points.

To help you see this better, I created a simplified bidding score chart for beginners (see above). The left-hand column shows the final bid/contract and the columns to the right show the points you receive based on the number of tricks taken. You can see from this that bidding 1 and taking all 13 tricks nets you a score of only 260 pts. If you bid 7 and take 13 tricks, however, you get 2210 pts. Now that would be unusual to be left at 1 with enough clout to take all 13 tricks, but it does show why it is important to bid to Game or Slam level whenever it is possible.

Vulnerability: Also, you should be aware that, unless you bid to a minimum of Game level, the points you get are the same whether vulnerable or not. However, when you do not make your contract (go down), then vulnerability is very important at any level. This chart does not show what happens when you go down, when you don’t make your contract. These scores are easy to calculate and don’t require a chart — your opponents get 50 pts for each trick down (non-vulnerable) and 100 pts for each trick down (vulnerable). If the contract was doubled and you go down, then the damage is much worse. See the back of the X (double) in the bidding box for those scores. And when the contract was doubled and you make it, well, you will be happy to see those scores! They are shown on the back of each bid in the bidding box under the X (shown in red, usually).

Do you wonder what the XX means? That’s a re-double. So if your opponent doubles you (basically saying to you, “I bet you can’t make that contract!), you can put down the XX card to re-double, saying back to him, “I bet I can make this contract!” If you make a contract that was doubled, and you re-doubled it, you deserve to be a little bit smug!