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<   No. 5018   2023-07-26   >

Comic #5018

1 Higgs: So, Miss Wendy, ye be spendin’ all night playin’ A Bridge Too Far with the cap’n and the British cap’n?
2 Wendy: Aye, Bosun Higgs.
3 Higgs: And what be ye learnin’ from the experience?
4 Wendy: The British not even be good at bein’ dummies.

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Sorry, it's not possible to make jokes about the game of bridge without referring to dummies.

For those not familiar with the game of bridge, it's a card game played by two teams of two players each, seated opposite their team-mates. A full standard deck of 52 cards is shuffled and dealt out, 13 cards per player.

The goal is to win as many tricks as possible; a trick is a set of four cards, played one at a time by successive players around the table. Each player must play a card of the same suit as the first card in the trick, unless they have no cards of that suit in their hand, in which case they may play any card. A trick is won by the player who played the highest value card of the same suit as the first card played, or if there is a declared trump suit, the highest card of the trump suit. Thus there is strategy in deciding what cards to play in what order, to attempt to maximise your team's chance of winning each trick.

Before the trick-taking is played out, though, there is a bidding phase. In this phase, players take turns making a bid, which is declaring how many tricks you think your team can win. When making a bid you can also specify a desired trump suit, which can be chosen to maximise your chances (by seeing what suit you have lots of cards of in your hand). Once a bid is made, other players may only bid higher bids (like an auction), indicating either more tricks or a higher valued suit, or both. Eventually the bidding war ends and the team who made the highest bid attempts to win their bid number of tricks, with their declared trump suit (if any; you can also bid "no trumps" if you wish).

When it's time to play tricks, one member of the bid-winning team (the one who did not first bid the eventual winning trump suit) lays down their entire hand face-up on the table so all players can see it. That player then sits out the trick-taking phase and makes no decisions, while their team-mate plays both their own (hidden) hand and the face-up hand. The opposing team members both play their own (concealed) hands individually, without conferring. The player who sits out is called the dummy.

If the bid-winning team makes their declared number of tricks, they score points, if they fail, they lose points. The point values are higher for higher numbers of bid tricks, not won tricks, so there is a strong incentive to try to bid as many as you possibly can, without bidding too high. This leads to a lot of strategy in deciding what bids to make, and interpreting the bids of your partner (and your opponents) to try to estimate the strengths of each player's hand.

After the tricks are completed, the cards are reshuffled and dealt for another hand, and the game continues for several hands, accumulating points for each team until some specified winning condition, which may vary at the agreement of the players prior to playing.

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