This page should list all the terms used in the game of contract bridge, sorted in alphabetical order. All terms which are too short for an article should be redirected here. No internal links outside this page (except redirects) should point to this page.
In this article, italic terms are internal cross-references.
A variant of Roman key card Blackwood, in which the first step shows 0 or 3 key cards and the second step shows 1 or 4 key cards.
A variant of Roman key card Blackwood, in which the first step shows 1 or 4 key cards and the second step shows 3 or 0 key cards.
The ace card.
The zonal bridge organisation of North America.
- The act of making the intended bid after a transfer bid.
- of an invitational call, e.g. game or slam bid.
The highest card in a suit.
- (n, v) bidding after the overcaller doubles/bids.
- (adj) A bid which is made before the normal situation appears which it is made. For example, an advance cue-bid is one before agreeing trumps; an advance sacrifice is one before the opponents bid game.
An arrow is used to show the direction of North in a duplicate bridge event.
An asking bid is one which requires partner to respond with one of several bids to give more information. Typically the captain makes the asking bids. Stayman and Jacoby 2NT are both common asking bids.
The predecessor to royal auction bridge, with different scoring methods.
In rubber bridge, points that count towards a game.
same as void
A piece of paper which allows players to place calls by writing on it.
- (n) The initial six tricks by the declarer, which is not bid but assumed, and do not count towards the score.
- (n) The tricks by the defenders just before setting the contract. For example, the defenders' book in 3♠ is 4 tricks.
- (v, slang, usually passive) The declarer is said to be "booked" if he has lost the maximum number of tricks just before getting set.
boss suit Edit
(slang) The ♠ suit. See also: royal.
A bust is a very weak hand with a long suit. In particular, when partner opens notrump, the contract is undesirable. A bust hand therefore runs to the long suit where it is safer. This is particularly common with minor suits.
A bidding style that bids short suits before long suits.
Once a player has limited her hand, she becomes the private and her partner becomes the captain. The captain's job is to ask for any more information she needs to determine where the best contract will be, and then to sign off in that bid. She therefore forces the private until she has enough information. Once the captain has made a non-forcing bid, the private should no longer make any free bids.
- The ♣ suit.
- A club in everyday usage.
Contract bridge is a form of trick-taking card game played by two pairs which the aim is to get the highest score by either bidding a contract and making it, or defeating the opponent's contract.
To cross-ruff means to ruff repetitively (usually to play a card from the declarer to the dummy's void, then to play a card from the dummy to the declarer's void, and so on), in order to gain more tricks. For example, when ♥s are trumps:
After drawing trumps, the hand can be claimed to take all remaining tricks by cross-ruffing.
Short for double.
A denomination is one of the four suits, or notrump (NT). The ascending order of the denomination is ♣, ♦, ♥, ♠, and NT.
Short for double even pass odd, used after interference of Blackwood.
The ♦ suit.
The direct seat is the seat directly after the right-hand opponent has bid. An immediate overcall is therefore called a direct overcall, and a number of other terms also inherit this name. The opposite term is balancing.
(verb) To play a card other than trumps when unable to follow suit.
Short for disturbing opponent's no trump, a method for interfering over a 1NT opening.
Short for double zero pass one, used after interference of Blackwood.
A program which finds the optimal line of play when all four hands are known.
To draw trumps means to remove the opponents' trumps.
- Partner of the declarer whose card is played by the declarer.
- The cards lie down on the table by the dummy.
To escape from a contract means that the contract is bad, and a better one is chosen.
To establish a card means to set it up as a winner. For example, the ♦K and ♦Q are said to be established if the ♦A is played when one holds KQ72 in ♦s.
The term flat, as an adjective can have two meanings:
- A board which nearly everyone scores the same.
- A hand with no shape, i.e. 4-3-3-3 distribution. Same as shapeless.
An outside A, K, or Q is typically called a feature. This is used, for instance, in rebids after a 2NT response to a weak two bid.
(slang) Short for fertiliser, an opening used for very weak hands in strong pass systems.
The field is the set of contestants playing the same board. This term only applies to pair duplicate events.
A fit is typically 8 cards in one suit between a partnership. Common shapes for fits are 5-3, 4-4, 5-4, 6-2, etc.
A 7-card fit is called a Moyesian fit.
four triple three Edit
The ♥ suit.
High card points (HCPs) are used in hand evaluation. An ace is 4 points, king is 3 points, queen is 2 points, jacks is 1 point. There are 40 HCPs in a deck.
An ace, king, queen, jack or ten.
The regional bridge organisation of Hong Kong.
International Match Point, a form of scoring in duplicate bridge.
An invitational call is a call which tells the partner to bid game if he holds a non-minimum hand, or a good-fitting hand. For example, 1♥-3♥ is normally played as invitational, which tells the opener to bid 4♥ if holding a non-minimum.
To bid at a level higher than necessary.
The second highest card.
The term level has two related meaning:
- The level of a bid. If used in this way, a number is attached to it. For example, 1♣ to 1NT are called 1-level bids.
- A measure of the bidding space. For example, a bid 3♥ after 1♥ consumes two levels.
the old name of royal
major suit Edit
♠ or ♥, which worth 30 points per odd trick
A system used for ranking the performance of players in the long run.
A form of scoring in duplicate bridge.
minor suit Edit
♣ or ♦, which worth 20 points per odd trick
- Short for matchpoint, a form of scoring in duplicate bridge.
- Short for masterpoint, a system used for ranking players.
A natural call is a call which specifies its literal meaning.
- A natural bid indicates willingness to play in the denomination named.
- A natural double or redouble means to increase the score of the contract.
- A natural pass means not willing to make any other call.
A natural system is a system which is mainly composed of natural calls.
The opposite is artificial.
Notrump, or no trump, means its literal meaning, i.e. without trump suit.
Nullo is a denomination in some variant of bridge (but not in contract bridge proper), which is to lose tricks instead of to win tricks. Nullo ranks lower than notrump, but higher than spades, and scores as the same as notrump. For example, a 1 nullo contract promises to lose at least 7 tricks, while a 7 nullo contract promises to lose all 13 tricks.
Nullo was developed at the time of auction bridge, but was dropped because it is hard to bid.
odd trick Edit
The tricks which are taken beyond the book, and are counted towards the score.
Short for offence to defence ratio, a method of hand evaluation useful in competitive auction.
A convention is said to be off if it can't be activated at that point of the auction. Otherwise, it is said to be on. For example, if Stayman is off when a 1NT opening is interfered by a double, a 2♣ bid by the responder is a natural sign off.
A convention is said to be on if it can be activated at that point of the auction. Otherwise, it is said to be off. For example, if Stayman is on when a 1NT opening is interfered by a double, a 2♣ bid by the responder is Stayman.
(slang) A card is over another card means the card is on the left side of the other card. (See under)
To overruff means to play a higher trump card when unable to follow suit, when a trump card is already in the trick.
Short for pass.
Two players as partnership, one sitting opposite to the other.
A pair event is an event which is entered by pairs. See duplicate bridge for details.
pass out Edit
- (v) To make the fourth consecutive pass when the bidding is not opened. The deal is said to be passed out after such an action and is abandoned.
- (v) To make the third consecutive pass after an action. The contract is then fixed and the play begins.
- (adj) A position which pass ends the auction
pass or correct Edit
- The score awarded to the opponents when the contract is set.
- A score given to the non-offending side when someone violates rules.
plain suit Edit
i.e. side suit
- A number used in scoring, which is to be maximised.
- A number used in hand evaluation, determining the strength of a hand.
To bid at a high level in order to take away the bidding space.
Some conventions only make sense if other conventions are in play. These are called prerequisites.
A call which delibrately misstates one's hand.
(slang) Board which perform the same as others. Same as flat. e.g. This board was a push.
(slang) Queens and Jacks. They are useful when supported but usually useless when unsupported.
Short for redouble.
Short for redouble.
(v) Same as balance.
(adj) Same as balancing.
To bid over partner's bad contract.
Slang for sacrifice
To deliberate bid a contract that cannot be made, hoping that the penalty will be less than the value of the making contract by the opponents.
A sequence is formed by consecutive cards. For example, AKQJ is a 4-card sequence.
The shape of a hand is defined as the number of cards in each suit. If a quantifier is used along the word shape, it refers to the difference in length between the longest and shortest suits. i.e. 4-3-3-3 is no shape, 4-4-3-2 is little shape, 6-2-3-2 is a lot of shape, and 8-4-1-0 is an extreme shape.
A hand which the difference in length between the longest and shortest suits is large, such as 7-4-2-0 shape.
A side is either North-South or East-West.
side suit Edit
A suit other than the trump suit in a suit contract.
A sign off is a bid indicating that partner should pass. Typically, game bids are sign offs. Other instances is when it becomes clear that there is no possibility for game.
A small slam is a 6-level contract; a grand slam is a 7-level contract. As the bonuses for slam is very large, conventions are developed for accurate bidding.
The bonuses for slam:
The ♠ suit.
A level is equivalent to 5 steps.
A suit is considered solid if it contains an unbroken line of honors from the A. Typically, A-K-Q is required to call a suit solid, but this can be generalized to more (i.e. "five solid" would mean A-K-Q-J-T, and so on).
It is useful to show solid suits to confirm a maximum weak two bid.
A suit is nearly solid if it is missing a single low honor from being solid. Thus, A-K-J is nearly solid.
There are 4 suits in the deck: ♣ (club), ♦ (diamond), ♥ (heart), ♠ (spade). ♣ and ♦ are called the minor suits and ♥ and ♠ are called the major suits. A major suit scores 30 per odd trick, a minor suit scores 20 per odd tricks.
As major suit games need one less trick to make, it is generally preferable to place contracts in majors instead of minors.
The boss suit is the spade suit, since it is the highest suit, thus having the ability to take up the whole level and wins competitive biddings.
(slang) A large difference in score. For example, a game swing is the difference between a game and a partscore, while a double game swing is the difference between making games of two sides.
Ten. Used when each card has to be represented by exactly one character.
same as rescue
Some tournament are played in teams. A team is formed by 4 to 6 players, with 4 of them playing, the remaining spare. When team A and B compete, the N-S pair of team A plays with the E-W pair of team B, the E-W pair of team A plays with the N-S pair of team B, and the team result is compared by subtracting the opponents score from the other table, sitting at the same position (or equivalently add the points of the teammates from the other table together). (See also duplicate bridge)
A tenace is a combination of two honours with one missing between them, since as A-Q or K-J. Such combinations are useful for finessing underneath the missing honour held by LHO. Holding high tenaces in the dummy prevents either opponent from leading the missing honour and can therefore shut down the honour even if held by RHO.
A natural call to communicate specific information. Contrast: convention
A trick is formed by all four players playing a card into it in turn.
In contract bridge, the trump suit is decided by the auction.
(slang) A card is under another card means the card is on the right side of the other card. (See over)
To underlead an honour means to lead a card from the suit with the honour.
Victory point, a form of scoring in duplicate bridge.
A vulnerable pair scores more then a non-vulnerable pair if a contract makes, but is also penalised more if it goes down.
weak or strong Edit
A call is called weak or strong if it denotes strength of two distinct ranges (weak or strong). It is not used by strength between the two ranges.
A card which can win a trick when played.
A small card. Used in hand diagrams.
A hand with no honours.