Royal auction bridge is an earlier form of bridge, after auction bridge and before contract bridge. Its bidding and playing are exactly the same as the current contract bridge in the later form, but the scoring differs.

It was developed out of auction bridge in 1910s to address the defects of the scoring which favoured the red suits, by adding a new denomination called royal (alternately called lily), and changed the point counts for the other suits. It was called royal auction bridge to distinguish it from the earlier auction bridge with defective scoring, or alternately called the new count in reference to the modified point values of the denominations.

In the 1920s, royal auction bridge essentially replaced the earlier form of auction bridge, and the term auction bridge was synonymous with royal auction bridge. Also, the rules of bidding were slightly adjusted to what ultimately became today's contract bridge.

As the aim of auction bridge was to win the contract at the lowest level and make it, there were few treatments and almost no conventions in auction bridge. However, card play techniques were exactly the same as the current contract bridge.

Starting from about 1929, contract bridge replaced royal auction bridge as the most popular form of bridge.

Rules of royal auction bridge in 1912 Edit

The following are the simplified description of the rules presented in the book of Royal Auction Bridge, R. F. Foster, adopted by the Whist Club of New York, September 1912.

Differences between the early form in 1913 and the later form in 1922 Edit

  • In 1913, the dealer must open the bidding by calling at least one spade, however, in 1922, the dealer and subsequent players might pass the initial declaration, as in modern contract bridge.
  • In 1913, the original spade suit from auction bridge was retained, and 1 was called the defensive spade, which limited the undertrick penalty to a maximum of 100 points. In 1922, the original spade suit was dropped and spade became the new name of royal.
  • In 1913, the rules of sufficient bid were still based on trick points in the earlier auction bridge, with the level as tie-breaker, however, in 1922, it was based primarily on the level, with the suit as tie-breaker. For example, in 1913, 5 was considered lower than 4, but in 1922, 5 was considered higher than 4.

Scoring Edit

The scoring method is similar to rubber bridge, with odd tricks, game, slam, double, honours and undertricks. The major difference is that, in auction bridge, when a contract is made, all tricks beyond the initial six (called the book) are counted in the odd tricks, which is put below the line and count towards a game, and a slam is also awarded if six or seven odd tricks are taken, regardless of the final contract whenever it is made. The score below the line was called trick score and the score above the line was called honour score.

odd tricks Edit

For a contract made, each odd trick worth 6 points in , 7 in , 8 in , 9 in [1] and 10 in NT. If the contract is doubled, they worth double the initial value; if the contract is redoubled, they worth quadruple the initial value. They are added below the line.

slam Edit

When a contract is made with 6 odd tricks (small slam) taken (regardless with the number of tricks bid), 50 points are added above the line [2]. When 7 odd tricks are taken (grand slam), 100 points are added [3].

undertricks Edit

If the contract is set, each undertrick (trick short of contract) is 50 points to the opponents, 100 points when doubled, and 200 points when redoubled. They are entered above the line.

In the original 1912 rules, if 1 is the final contract, the maximum penalty is limited to 100 points, whether doubled or not unless redoubled.

game Edit

When 30 points are accumulated below the line, a game is finished. A new line is drawn below everything, hence all below-the-line score becomes above-the-line. When a partnership finishes 2 games, they won the rubber and 250 points are awarded.

double Edit

A double bonus, or called an insult, worth 50 points for a doubled contract or 100 points for a redouble contract, is given above the line whenever a doubled or redoubled contract is made. Moreover, each overtrick worth 50 points when doubled, or 100 points when redoubled, and are additional to the value of the odd tricks, but are added above the line.

honours Edit

Honours value are awarded above the line according to the number of honours (A, K, Q, J and 10) held in the partnership.

3 honours in one or two hands 2 tricks
4 honours in two hands 4 tricks
5 honours in two hands 5 tricks[4]
4 honours in one hand 8 tricks
4 honours in one hand and the remaining in partner's hand 9 tricks
5 honours in one hand 10 tricks
3 aces in notrump in two hands 30 points
4 aces in notrump in two hands 40 points
4 aces in notrump in one hand 100 points

In the 1912 rules, a chicane hand worth 3 honours and double chicane worth 4 honours.

This is purely an element of luck. The value is not affected by doubles.

rubber Edit

At the conclusion of a rubber, 250 points are added to the winner.

Common treatments and conventions Edit

  • A 1NT opening must have a little higher than standard strength and three suits guarded. (That little higher strength was roughly equal the strength of a queen)
  • A 1 of a major opening must have 4 offensive and 2 defensive tricks. It is assumed that partner gives two tricks.
  • A 1 of a minor opening must have 2 quick tricks in the suit named. It is an informative opening and does not suggest the final contract.
  • Doubling a major opening indicates a notrump hand, but weak in the doubled suit (takeout double).
  • Doubling 1NT means he has 2NT, which tells partner to bid 2NT if strong enough, or take it out if weak.
  • 2 of a major or above openings are preemptive.
  • Assisting opener requires 3 tricks, since 2 are already assumed.
  • It is better to pass out holding borderline hands at the 4th seat, since only about 5% of partscores would be completed.
  • In the original game, where the 2-point suit was not abolished, [5]
    • 1 meant to pass (as the dealer was forced to bid by the rule);
    • 2 meant to assist a no-trumper with some winning cards in a short suit
    • One royal, for as trump suit.


  1. The is actually called "royal spade", the original spade, which was the lowest suit, worth only 2 and abandoned later.
  2. 20 in the 1912 version
  3. 40 in the 1912 version
  4. only found in 1912 version
  5. Royal auction bridge, R. F. Foster (1912), p. 29

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