Sign up for Updates from Bicycle

Enter your email below and we'll keep you up to date with the latest news.

Sign Up

Duplicate Bridge

Game Type
Trick Taking
Kids, Adults
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Game History:
Duplicate Bridge is the only form of Bridge played in tournaments, but it is equally adapted to play in homes and clubs. It is considered the supreme test of skill among card games for the "luck of the deal" is eliminated to the extent that all of the competitors get to play the same cards.
Number of Players
Eight or more people may play a standard duplicate pair game, or an individual game, or a team-of-four match. (Four players in two partnerships may play Replay Duplicate, and the rules for this game follow on page 32.) There are four players to a full table, and the number of tables in a major tournament reach into the hundreds. For a local tournament, 20 to 25 tables (80 to 100 players) is fairly common. 
A "duplicate board" with one standard 52-card pack is needed for each table of four players. Each board (or "tray") is a device for holding intact the four hands of a deal so that once the hand is played, the cards can be used again in the next round with four other players playing the same duplicate hands. Each board is an aluminum or plastic tray about 11 inches long and 5 inches wide. (See illustration next page). It has four pockets, corresponding to the compass points, which are for holding the hands of the respective players. The face of each board is marked with an arrow pointing toward the "North" pocket, and the other three hands are marked East, South and West. The dealer (the player who gets the first turn to call) is also indicated, as well as whether a side is vulnerable or not vulnerable. When a set of two to four boards is to be played by the four players at a table, they must orient the boards so that they all point North, and usually one of the four walls in the room is designated as North.
There should be at least 16 boards, and each set of 16 is numbered consecutively, with the dealer and vulnerability marked as follows:
Boards numbered 17 to 32, 33 to 48, and so on, are marked the same as boards 1 to 16, except for the numbers themselves. Generally, the number of boards played by each pair is 24 to 30, and perhaps as many as 40 in a championship event.
Shuffle and Deal
Any player, in the presence of an opponent or the tournament director, prepares a board by thoroughly shuffling the pack of cards and dealing it, one card at a time face down, into four packets, each of which the player inserts in a pocket of the duplicate board.
The Bidding
Each player takes the hand from the pocket nearest him, and counts the cards to make sure there are thirteen. The player designated Dealer on the Duplicate tray calls first, and the auction proceeds as in standard Contract Bridge until the contract is determined. The only exception is that there is no redeal when a hand is passed out.
The Play
The opening lead, exposure of dummy, and subsequent play are the same as standard Contract Bridge except that after a trick is completed, it is not gathered in. Instead, each player retains possession of his card and places it face down on the table directly in front of him, pointed lengthwise toward the partners who won the trick. The declarer plays dummy's cards by naming them, and the dummy player takes the card to show that it has been played and then turns it face down in front of him, also pointed lengthwise toward the side winning the trick. At the end of play, once the score is agreed on, each hand is carefully returned to its pocket in the tray, so the hand can be played again by other partners.
The score of each board is independent of the scores of the other boards, and trick points scored on one board do not count toward game on a subsequent board. Thus, no rubber bonus is scored. Instead, the following premiums are used by the declarer's side when a contract is made:
Not Vulnerable Vulnerable
For making a contract of less than game 50 50
For bidding and making a game contract 300 500
For making a doubled contract 50 50
For making a redoubled contract 100 100
There is no premium for holding honors in one hand.
In other respects, the scoring of each board follows standard Contract Bridge, including the scoring change of 1993 which states that a side setting the contract doubled and not vulnerable, four or more tricks receives 100 extra points for the fourth and each subsequent undertrick, and 200 extra points for the fourth and each subsequent undertrick, if the contract is redoubled. This new scoring feature was added to prevent the non-vulnerable side from making ridiculously high sacrifice bids. Now such bids, when doubled or redoubled, earn a more reasonable undertrick penalty.
Determining the Winner
Match-point scoring is always used in individual games, is often used in pair games, and may be used in team-of-four games or replay games. Cumulative (or "total point") scoring may be used in pair games and team-of-four games. 
(For complete Duplicate Bridge laws it is recommended that players refer to The Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge by the American Contract Bridge League.)
Duplicate Bridge for Homes and Clubs
Replay Duplicate (for Four Players)
Replay Duplicate is a contest between two pairs of players. It is played in two sessions, called the original play and the replay. The players take places, one being designated North. The boards are shuffled and are played with the arrows pointing North. Any number of boards is feasible. 
A separate score slip is kept for each board, and at the close of the session the boards and score slips are set aside where they will be undisturbed. At some later time, the same four players take the same relative positions about the table. The boards are replayed but with the arrows now pointing East. Again, a separate score slip is kept for each board.
The scoring may be by match points or total points. If the match-point method is used, each deal is treated as a separate match. The pair having the better net score on a deal is credited with 1 point. The final scores are the totals of these match points.
If total-point scoring is employed, the two slips for each deal are compared, and the pair having the net plus score is credited with that amount. The net scores for all deals so determined are totaled, and the pair having the larger net total wins.
Replay Duplicate is popular as a home game among foursomes who meet weekly for social Bridge. It can easily be played in a continuous series of sessions; half the time in each session is devoted to original play of new boards, and half to the replay of old boards.
However, the game tends to become a test of memory rather than of Bridge skill. To check this tendency, the following measures are recommended:
Participants should not play the boards in consecutive order. They should choose the board to be played next at random from the stack.
Comment of any sort about the deal after its original play should be avoided.
At least a week should be allowed to elapse between the original play and the replay.
Some people prefer to make the game a test of skill in the play alone. In that case, the bidding during the original play is recorded, and for the replay the same bidding is read to fix the contract and declarer.
Individual Tournament Bridge (for Eight or Twelve Players)
In an individual game, each player plays once with every other person as a partner, and twice against every other person as an opponent. 
The initial seating of the players in games for two or three tables is shown below:
The game may be conducted without any guide cards as follows:
Players take places at random. The North position at Table 1 is reserved for the supervisor. This player is "anchor," retaining his seat throughout the game.
After the players are seated, each player is informed of his number and told who is the player of the next lower number.
After each round, all players except the anchor, progress by taking the seat vacated by the player with the next-lower number. (Player 1 stays, and all other players move as above.)
A new set of boards is played in each round. The set is played at all tables, the boards being circulated at convenience. The eight-player game requires seven rounds, with a total of 14, 21, or 28 boards. The twelve-player game requires eleven rounds, and the only feasible number of boards is 33.
Team-of-Four Contest (for Eight Players)
The Team-of-Four match between two teams has long been recognized as the best test of Bridge skill. The scoring is generally by International Match Points, which is described in the next section. 
Two tables are provided, in different rooms if possible. One pair of Team 1 sits North-South at Table 1, and the other pair sits East-West at Table 2. The members of Team 2 take the remaining positions, its East-West pair playing at Table 1 and its North-South pair at Table 2.
The number of boards to be played should be a multiple of four. From 60 to 90 minutes are usually required for the play of 12 boards. The first fourth of the boards are placed on Table 1, and the second fourth on Table 2. These boards are shuffled, dealt, played, and scored.
The two tables then exchange boards, each replaying the ones played at the other table. Care must be taken to see that in every case the arrow points toward the North player. When the boards have been replayed, the two pairs of Team 2 exchange places, retaining the same partners but playing against the other pair of opponents. The remaining boards are divided equally between the two tables, to be shuffled, dealt, played, scored, exchanged, and replayed as explained above.
When all the boards have been replayed, the team whose members have a net plus score is the winner.
Team-of-Four contests for world and national championships are scored by "international match points" (IMP). On each deal, a team's net score is determined and is translated into international match points by the following schedule.
International Match Points (IMP)
0-10 0 320-360 8 1300-1490 16
20-40 1 370-420 9 1500-1740 17
50-80 2 430-490 10 1750-1990 18
90-120 3 500-590 11 2000-2240 19
130-160 4 600-740 12 2250-2490 20
170-210 5 750-890 13 2500-2990 21
220-260 6 900-1090 14 3000-3490 22
270-310 7 1100-1290 15 3500-3990 23
4000 & up 24