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Basic Bridge Terms

Auction: The part of the game where the partnerships bid to play in a contract. The dealer opens the auction.

Balanced hand: A hand which contains no voids, singletons and no more than one doubleton. Possible card distributions for a balanced hand are: 4-3-3-3 (the so-called"flat" hand), 4-4-3-2 and 5-3-3-2.

Bid: The nominating of a suit plus the number of tricks in excess of six that a player believes he and partner can make with the named suit as trumps. Thus a bid of 4 hearts means that the bidder expects to win 10 tricks with hearts as trumps. The bid may also be in no trumps.

Cash: To play a card that is currently the highest in the suit, thought certain to succeed, or to take all available winners in a suit one after the other.

Chicago: A variation of rubber bridge for four players where each session is just four deals. Chicago is reputed to have been devised by a group of commuters who played bridge on daily train journeys, where the time available for play was limited by the length of the trip.

Contract: The final bid of the auction. A bid becomes the contract when it is followed by three passes.

Convention: An artificial bid whose meaning is not necessarily related to the strength or denomination of the bid. The most well-known conventions are Stayman (used to find a major suit match after partner's opening bid of no trumps) and Blackwood (used, when investigating the possibility of a slam, to find out how many Aces partner possesses).

Cover: To play a card higher than the previous one.

Cross-ruff: A playing technique in trump contracts, where declarer makes tricks by ruffing in both hands alternately.

Cue-bid: an artificial, strength-showing bid of an opponent's suit (e.g. 1? by your left-hand-opponent, 2? by you). The term "cue-bid" is also used to describe a high-level bid that shows control in that suit.

Declarer: The player who is the first to bid the suit (or no trump) of the final contract.

Defender: The opponents of the declarer are called defenders and must try to stop the declarer from making the contract.

Discard: The play of a card (other than a trump) of a different suit from the one led.

Distribution: The way in which the 13 cards in a hand are divided among the four suits. Hands can be described as balanced or unbalanced according to the distribution.

Double: a special bid that can be made only over an opponent's bid that uses up no space in the auction. A double usually has one of two meanings, depending on the previous auction: [i] Penalty double - this type of double is made when you expect the opponents' contract to go down. [ii] Takeout double - this type of double shows strength and at least moderate length in all unbid suits. It asks partner to "take it out" of the auction by bidding his longest suit.

Doubleton: An original holding of two of a suit.

Duck: A card-playing technique in which a player does not immediately play a card that might take a trick, but plays a lower card instead.

Dummy: Declarer's partner. Dummy does not participate in the play. After the bidding is completed and the opening lead is made, dummy places his cards face-up on the table, sorted into suits, and they are played by declarer.

Duplicate bridge: A type of bridge tournament where the same cards are played at more than one table. Your scores are then compared with those of the other players playing in the same direction as you.

Entry: A winner in one of the partnership's hands that can be used to get the lead into that hand.

Finesse: A play that attempts to win a trick with a certain card, even though the opponents hold a higher card in the suit, by taking advantage of the position of the particular cards.

Forcing bid: A bid that obliges partner to ensure the forcing bidder will get another chance to bid. This means that after a forcing bid and a pass of the opponent, partner has to make a bid other than pass.

Game: A contract, bid and made, where the tricks are worth 100 points or more. The game contracts are 3NT (40 for the first trick + 30 each subsequent trick); 4? and 4? in the majors (4 tricks × 30 points per trick); 5? and 5? in the minors (5 tricks × 20 points per trick). The pair bidding and making the game is awarded a bonus of either 300 or 500 points, depending on the vulnerability.

Grand slam: A contract of seven, in a suit or no trump.

Hand: either [i] one of the players or [ii] the cards held by a player.

HCP: High Card Points. The most common hand evaluation system is one where an Ace is worth 4 points, a King 3, a Queen 2, and a Jack 1.

Honour: Ace, King, Queen or Jack (and sometimes ten).

Lead: The first card played in a trick, which dictates the suit that others must play if able to do so.

Major suit: Hearts and spades.

Minor suit: Clubs and diamonds.

No trump: the highest-ranking denomination in the bidding, in which the play proceeds with no trump suit.

Opener: The first person to make a bid (not a pass).

Overcall: A bid made after an opponent has opened the bidding.

Overruff: To ruff a trick with a higher trump than has already been played.

Part score: A contract, bid and made, where the tricks are worth less than 100 points, e.g. 1NT, 2?, 3?. A pair bidding and making a part-score contract is awarded a bonus of 50 points.

Rebid: Any subsequent bid made by a player who has already opened, responded or overcalled in an auction.

Responder: Opener's partner.

Revoke: To fail to follow suit when holding a card of the suit led.

Ruff: To play a trump onto a trick, usually in order to try to win the trick.

Singleton: An original holding of just one of a suit.

Slam: Six bids are small slams; seven bids are grand slams.

Trick: Four cards, one contributed by each player in turn (clockwise around the table). The highest card of the suit led (or the highest trump) wins the trick. The player who wins the trick chooses the card to lead to the next trick. There are 13 tricks in each deal.

Squeeze: a play that forces an opponent to part with a needed card.

Stopper: a protected honour in a suit. Examples are A, Kx, Qxx, Jxxx. The term refers to its ability to "stop" the opponents from running a suit (especially in a no trump contract).

Tenace: A broken sequence of (often) honour cards, such as ?AQ or ?KJ.

Trump: A card that belongs to the suit that has been chosen to have the highest value in a particular game; a trump can take any card of any other suit.

Void: Suit with no cards in it.

Vulnerability: A scoring condition assigned to each pair in advance of a deal where there is a bonus for making a game contract and an increased penalty for failing to do so.

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