from 'No Fear Bridge Notes'

A clear and simple guide to basic Acol bidding ("Standard English").  Suitable for beginners or for anyone who needs to brush up knowledge of the basic bidding sequences.

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When your partner makes a conventional bid you must alert this to the opponents by knocking the table (or displaying the ‘Alert’ card if using bidding boxes)


Another term for the bidding

Balanced Hand

A hand containing no void, no singleton and not more than one doubleton.


When planning your opener's rebid, imagine a ‘barrier’ just above your first suit at the next level up.  A new suit rebid below the barrier shows 12-15 points. A new suit rebid above the barrier shows 16-19 (also known as a reverse)


The final bid in the auction, which determines the trumps suit (or no trumps) and the number of tricks to be won


A conventional bid is a bid that has a special meaning and is not natural.  e.g. A 2¨ bid after a 1NT opening is the ‘Stayman’ convention and does not show length in clubs.  Other conventions include ‘Blackwood’, ‘Gerber’ and ‘Fourth Suit Forcing’.


The first person to speak in the bidding.  In Rubber bridge the dealer deals the cards.  In Duplicate bridge the dealer is specified on the board.


The person who plays the hand.


The Declarer’s opponents i.e. the pair who are not Declarer or dummy.


To throw away a card of a different suit (when you can’t follow suit)

Double for Penalties

If you think the opponents have bid too high and will fail to make their contract you can double for penalties.  This doubles the number of points you will score for each trick they fail by, it also doubles the points they will score if they make the contract.



Two cards in a suit



The Declarer’s partner.  The dummy’s hand gets placed face upwards on the table and is played by the Declarer.


Duplicate Bridge

The form of bridge where the same deal is played by a number of players.  Each of the four hands are put in a board or wallet which is passed from table to table.  Each board is scored in its own right and the objective is to make a higher score on the deal than others who played it.


Following Suit

Playing a card in the same suit as the one led by another player.


Forcing Bid

A bid which tells partner he must bid again.



In Duplicate bridge: A contract that results in a score of 100 or more points.

In Rubber bridge: 100 points below the line.


High Card Points

Ace = 4, King = 3, Queen = 2, Jack = 1



The Ace, King, Queen and Jack are known as honours.  The ten is treated as an honour when making a lead.


Invitational Bid

Invites partner to bid again if he has a maximum hand. 


Limit Bid

Has a small and precise point range including an upper limit to the number of points. A bid that tells everything in one bid.


Major Suits

Hearts and Spades


Minor Suits

Clubs and Diamonds



The first person to bid anything other than ‘Pass’.


Opening Lead

The first card played.  It is always the person on the left of Declarer.



A bid made by the opponents of the player who opens the bidding. 



Points scored by defenders when a contract is defeated.



The partner of the player who started the partnership’s bidding.



Bidding a new suit above the barrier



Failure to play a card of a suit led when it was possible to do so.


Rubber Bridge

The form of bridge that can be played by four players at home. Unlike duplicate bridge, the scoring is cumulative.  Each score for a contract bid and made counts towards a game. The objective is to be the 1st pair to get two games.



To win a trick with a trump (when you can’t follow suit).


Shortage Points

When you have a certain eight card fit, you can count extra points for short suits.      

Void = 5, Singleton = 3, Doubleton = 1


Sign Off Bid

A sign off bid tells partner not to bid again



Only one card in a suit.


Take-out Double

A bid of ‘double’ that is not for penalties but asks partner to bid their longest suit.



Four cards, one from each player, played in clockwise rotation.



No cards in a  suit.



When a pair is vulnerable it affects game and slam bonuses and undertrick scores.  In Duplicate bridge the vulnerability changes on each board.  The pair that are vulnerable are shown in red.   In Rubber bridge a pair becomes vulnerable when they have won a game.