Sven's Glossary of Bridge Terms

Please note that the table shown below is my plain English attempt to define a number of terms I use in my Bridge tools. It is by no means an official glossary of Bridge terms, but I trust it might still be useful.

TERM
DEFINITION
Above the Line The area on the Rubber Bridge scoresheet immediately above a horizontal line drawn in the middle of the scoresheet. Points listed in this area for each partnership include point scores for overtricks, bonuses and penalties.
Alerting Making the opponents aware (by saying "Alert", encircling the bid on the bidding pad, or otherwise drawing the attention of the opponents) that your partner has just made a bid that has a special meaning in your partnership. Only then may Opponents request clarification.
Average Hand A hand containing 12-19 High Card Points (HCPs).
Auction The first phase in a game of Bridge, wherein the players make one or more bids in a clockwise sequence in an effort to earn the right to declare a contract. If all players Pass, the auction is abandoned and cards are re-dealt.
Balanced Hand A hand containing no Voids, no Singletons and at the most one Doubleton.
Below the Line The area on the Rubber Bridge scoresheet immediately below a horizontal line drawn in the middle of the scoresheet. Points listed in this area for each partnership include point scores for tricks taken in contracts won. Such points count towards winning a game or a rubber.
Bid An announcement made by a player as part of a Bridge auction. Usually includes a number and a Suit or No Trump. See also Pass, Double and Re-double.
Blackwood Convention A convention of bidding (4NT and 5NT) designed to investigate the possibility of winning a Slam in a Suit contract.
Blocking a Suit An undesirable condition in which a trick winning card cannot be reached because no entry card into the hand is available.
Bridge The name given to what is arguably the world's most intellectually satisfying card game. Just like a physical bridge, the game of Bridge is a connection between two sides (you and your Partner).
Call An all inclusive term for Bid, Pass, Double and Re-Double. Whilst this term is used in more advanced Bridge literature, the term is not used in the context of this document.
Certain Trick A trick that can be taken without your partnership losing the lead.
Contract Final challenge in the bidding, determining the goal of the Declarer.
Closing Off An implicit message to say that you or your partner prefers bidding to go no further.
Convention An agreement between the two players of a partnership as to what a given bid is supposed to mean.
Deal The distribution of 52 cards into 4 hands of 13 cards each, given to the players by the dealer.
Dealer The player who deals the 52 cards to be used next. For this the Dealer earns the priviledge of being the first player to deliver a bid.
Decision Table A construct widely used in mathematics and Boolean algebra to facilitate decision-making. In the context of the Bridge BG and Bridge BPG apps, decision tables are used extensively in recommending bids a partnership may choose to apply or ignore.
Declarer The player who made the first bid of what later turns out to become the denomination of the contract.
Defenders The two players of a partnership defending themselves from Declarer's partnership winning the contract.
Distribution Points Also known as "Shortage Points". A measure of additional strength, usually relevant only after finding or anticipating a Fit. Distribution points are calculated as follows:
Void = 5, Singleton = 3, Doubleton = 1.
Double A bid designed to either communicate strength or potential, or double the stakes.
(1) A bid of Double made in the first round of bidding is sometimes called a "Takeout Double" because it is usually not meant to stand, i.e. the bid is expected to be "taken out" by a subsequent bid.
(2). A different kind of Double usually made in later rounds of bidding (sometimes described as a "Penalty Double") is meant to double the stakes, i.e. if the contract is won, the gain is doubled, but if the contract is lost the penalties are doubled. See also Re-Double.
Doubleton A suit in which the player holds two cards only.
DPs Short for Distribution Points, also known as "Shortage Points". A measure of additional strength, usually relevant only after finding or anticipating a Fit. Distribution points are calculated as follows:
Void = 5, Singleton = 3, Doubleton = 1.
Dummy Hand belonging to Declarer's partner placed open on the table after the Opening Lead has been played. The Declarer decides all cards to be played from own holding as well as all cards to be played from Dummy's holding. The Dummy helps in each trick to play the card indicated by Declarer and has time to keep a watchful eye to ensure that no mistakes occur.
Entry A card that will win a trick when the suit is played, thereby enabling the transfer control to partner's hand.
Finesse A method of winning a trick with a certain chance of success (usually 50%), depending on actual placement of honour cards.
Finessing Attempting to take a trick by playing a Finesse.
First Seat Since the Dealer is always the first player to start the bidding process, the position of the Dealer aropund the Bridge table is often referred to as First Seat. However, for purposes of discussion and logistics in my Bridge apps and documentation, I prefer the term First Seat to mean the position of the player who opens the bidding (perhaps after 0, 1 or 2 Passes from the other players).
Fit A holding by the partnership on two hands of at least 8 of the 13 cards in a particular suit. Once a Fit is discovered through the bidding, both partners can recalculate the strength of their respective hands by adding their High Card Points (HCPs) to their Distribution Points (DPs) to arrive at their respective Total Point (TP count). TPs = HCPs + DPs
Five-Card Major A bidding system favouring Major suits over Minor suits, because it is easier to make 10 tricks than it is to make 11 tricks, and also because the winning scores are higher. Also referred to as Standard American 5-Card Major.
Fourth Highest Card The fourth highest card in a long suit on your hand (e.g. the 3 in AT732).
Fourth Seat The player to the right of the Opener (see comments under First Seat).
Game The achievement of a partnership in winning a deal and, in doing so, accumulating a score of 100 or more points below the Line on the score sheet. The first Game won by a partnership moves that partnership into a status of vulnerability changing all subsequent scoring for that partnership. The partnership winning two Games also wins the Rubber.
Game Points The goal of winning 100 or more points to be scored below the Line on the score sheet.
Gerber Convention A convention of bidding (4C and 5C) designed to investigate the possibility of Slam in a No Trump contract.
Grand Slam A contract declared at the 7-level with the intention of winning all 13 tricks, for which there will be a substantial bonus.
Hand The thirteen cards held by a player just after the cards have been dealt.
HCPs Short for High Card Points, an initial measure of hand strength.
Ace = 4, King = 3, Queen = 2, Jack = 1
High Card Points Initial measure of hand strength.
Ace = 4, King = 3, Queen = 2, Jack = 1
Honour Cards Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten.
Jacoby Convention A convention of bidding following a 1NT opening designed to prevent strong hand from becoming Dummy. Sometimes also referred to as "transfer" bids. It is believed that Oswald Jacoby pronounced his last name "JACK-uh-bee", with the emphasis on the first syllable.
Long Suit Tricks Tricks that may be won by one or more cards in a long suit held by you or partner. Even small cards in a long suit may take a trick once the higher cards in that suit are gone.
Major Suits Hearts and Spades.
Minor Suits Clubs and Diamonds.
No Trump Highest ranked type of bid.
No Trump Contract Type of contract in which there is no trump suit. Each tricks is won by the highest card played to that trick.
Opener Player making the first bid other than Pass.
Opening Bid First bid other than Pass.
Opening Lead First card played to the first trick by player to the left of Declarer. The card lead to the first trick often determines whether the contract is won or lost.
Overcall First non-Pass bid made by the opposition following the Opening bid.
Overtrick A trick taken by Declarer in excess of the number of tricks required to win the current contract. For this the partnership of the Declarer receives a trick score above the line.
Pass An announcement by a player as part of a Bridge auction to indicate that the player does not want to make a higher bid (sometimes, a little misleading, also known as "No Bid").
Partner Player sitting on the opposite side of the table.
Partnership The single most important concept you need to embrace when playing Bridge. You are not on your own, rather you are in a Partnership. Accordingly, the bidding is a matter of communicating, conveying and advising between the two partners in your partnership. Winning scores are awarded to both partners of a partrnership, whereas penalty scores for losing are awarded to both partners of the opposing partnership.
Partscore A trick score of less than 100 points awarded for winning the current contract. For this the winning partnership receives points scored below the line counting towards Game. When a partnership accumulates Game Points, any partscore accumnulated by the opposition no longer counts towards Game for that partnership, but it does count towards the overall final score.
Penalty Double A bid of Double made with the intention of doubling the stakes (penalties) should the opponents go down. Were that to happen, Declarer will be punished for losing the contract. Conversely, if Declarer wins the contract the winning scores are doubled.
Player One of four people participating in playing the game of Bridge.
Pre-Emptive Four A type of suit opening bid at the 4-level, making it very hard for the opposition to bid. This kind of opening bid promises a good 8-card suit, but in a hand that has only 6-11 High Card Points (HCPs)
Pre-Emptive Three A type of suit opening bid at the 3-level, making it hard for the opposition to bid. This kind of opening bid promises a good 7-card suit, but in a hand that has only 6-11 High Card Points (HCPs).
Promoting Honours A method of forcing the opponents' higher honours to be played early, thereby increasing the likelihood that one of your other honour cards might take a trick later.
Pulling Trumps Playing tricks in the trump suit until opponents have few or none left. The trap to avoid is not to do this too early, before ruffing opportunities have been investigated.
QTPs Short for Quick Trick Points.
Quick Trick Points When making a pre-emptive opening bid Opener usually expects partner to be able to take 2 of the 13 tricks. Quick Tricks are sometimes also called "Playing Tricks". Quick Trick Points (QTPs) is a measure of additional strength in Partner's hand resulting from honour cards in outside suits (suits other than opened suit). If your QTP count adds up to 2 or more, you may consider raising opened suit. QTPs are counted as follows
AKQ=3, AKJ/AQJ=2.5, AK/AQT/KQJ=2, AQ/AJx/KQx/KJT=1.5, A/KQ/KJ/KTx/QJx=1, Kx/Qxx/JTx=0.5
Ranking of bids Ranking of bids, from highest to lowest: No Trump, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.
Ranking of suits Ranking of suits, from highest to lowest: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs.
Re-Double A bid designed to re-double the stakes. Made in later rounds of bidding as a Penalty Double after opponents have Doubled. If the contract is won, the gains or penalties are 4 times higher than they it would otherwise have been.
Response A bid made in response to an earlier bid from partner.
RHO Short for Right Hand Opponent.
Right Hand Opponent Player on your right.
Rubber The final scoring status of a match in which a partnership has won two Games, thereby preventing the opposing partnership to do so. Winning a Rubber entitles the winning partnership to substantial bonuses.
Ruffing Taking a trick using a trump card in a void suit.
Rule of Eleven A way of calculating exactly how many higher cards the three other players have in their hands in a given suit. Select your 4th best card in the suit (e.g. a 3). Then subtract its value 3 from 11 (11 - 3 = 8) to determine how many cards the three other players have altogether (in this case 8).
Rule of Seven A way of calculating how many times to refrain from taking a trick in order to eventually gain control of a given suit in which you have a weakness because you have only one stopper. For that suit, subtract the total number of cards held by you and Dummy from 7. The result is the number of times you should "duck" the trick before taking the next trick in that suit.
Rule of Twenty A rule of thumb, providing guidance on whether or not to open the bidding in First or Second Seat (as Dealer or if Dealer passes). If the sum total of HCPs plus the lengths of your two longest suits comes to 20, it is usually safe to open the bidding.
Singleton A suit in which the player holds one card only.
Second Hand Play The card played by the second player after the lead. Often, but not always, the second hand plays low to give partner a chance to win the trick.
Second Seat The seat to the left of the Opener (see comments under First Seat).
Slam Declaring and winning 12 tricks (Small Slam) or 13 tricks (Grand Slam).
Stayman Convention The "Stayman Convention" is a method of bidding, following a 1NT or 2NT opening, designed to investigate the possibility of finding a Fit in a Major suit (rather than heading for a No Trump contract). Essentially the recommended bidding allows the partnership to determine whether or not there is a Fit in a Major suit and, if so, which one.
Strong Hand A hand containing 20-37 High Card Points (HCPs).
Strong Two An opening bid of 2C designed to show strength (20+ HCPs) and requiring partner to bid at least once.
Suit Thirteen cards of the same kind: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds or Clubs.
Suit Contract Type of contract in which the cards of a selected suit have become trumps cards capable of winning a trick in a suit in which the player has no more cards left.
Takeout Double An informative bid of Double, usually made in the first round of bidding to conserve bidding space, by providing information without raising the level of bidding. This kind of Double is not meant to stay (as in Penalty Double), rather it will normally be "taken out" by a subsequent bidder.
Third Hand Play The card played by the third player after the lead. Often, but not always, the third hand plays high.
Third Seat The seat opposite the Opener (see comments under First Seat).
Total Points The sum total of High Card Points (HCPs) and Distribution Points (DPs). TPs = HCPs + DPs
TPs Short for Total Points.
Trick Four cards, one from each player. The strongest card wins the trick. Altogether there are 13 tricks in a deal.
Trump Split The ratio of trumps held in each of the Opponent's hands. An unfortunate trump split, e.g. 0-4, often makes it hard for Declarer to win the contract.
Unbalanced Hand A hand containing a Void, a Singleton and/or more than one Doubleton.
Unblocking a Suit The overtaking of a trick already won by partner by playing a higher card in order to gain control. This overcomes a situation in which one or more trick winning card(s) cannot be reached because no entry into the hand is available.
Undertrick A trick causing Declarer to lose the current contract by not taking the number of tricks required to win it. For this Declarer is given a penalty scored above the line in favour of the opposing partnership.
Void A suit in which the player holds no cards.
Vulnerability A scoring consequence of a partnership winning a Game by achieving 100 or more points scored below the line. By becoming vulnerable a partnership becomes eligible to win higher scores than previously provided by the scoring table. The downside of becoming vulnerable is that losing a contract attracts higher penalties in favour of the opposition.
Weak Hand A hand containing 6-11 High Card Points (HCPs). Depending on partner's holding, the hand may not be weak at all.
Weak Two A type of opening bid at the 2-level designed to annoy the opposition. This kind of opening bid promises a good 6-card suit other than Clubs in a hand that has only 6-11 High Card Points (HCPs).