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About the game

What IS duplicate bridge?  

How it works

It is possible that when you and your friends gather to play bridge, it is a casual game and you play rubber bridge and use rubber bridge scoring.

When there are several tables of players, they often play duplicate bridge.  Instead of dealing the cards each hand, the players take their cards from a duplicate board.  As a card is played, they don’t toss it in the center but each player puts his card face down in front of himself so he can later return his entire hand, intact, back to the board for the next table to play.  It’s easier to understand with some pictures!

How long is a game?

You will play anywhere from two to five hands against the same opponent during a round.  At the end of the round, you will move to a different table to meet new opponents and the boards will move on to be played by other competitors. A session of duplicate usually lasts about three hours.

Duplicate scoring

Your final score is a result of how many other pairs in your direction that you managed to beat or tie. On each hand, you get one point for every pair you did better than and a half point for every pair who had the same result as you did.  If you are in 3N and make exactly nine tricks, but everyone else was in 3N and made ten or more tricks, you will get a zero on the board — even though you bid and made a game!  Several players have asked how can you check your scores in a tournament.  Click to find out.

One nice thing about duplicate is:  It doesn’t matter how bad (or good) your cards are!  Everyone gets the same cards.  What does matter is how well you did with the cards you were dealt.

Team Games

A team consists of two pairs. One pair plays North-South for a designated number of boards and the other plays East-West for the same boards at a different table. Then the scores are compared

  • Knockout Teams. This is a team event in which one team plays an entire session against one other team. The winning team from each match advances to play the next round and the defeated team is eliminated.
  • Swiss Teams. Each team will play approximately 6 to 9 board matches against a number of other teams during the event. Matches are arranged by pairing teams with approximately equal records.

How team scoring differs from regular duplicate.

In a Team Game, each time you meet a new opponent, it is called a match. At the same time as you are playing your hands, at another table, your teammates are also playing the same hands — but they will be playing them in a different direction at another table.  If you are sitting North and South at your table, your teammates should be sitting East and West at the other table.  The teammates of the people at your table will, likewise, be sitting in the opposite direction at the other table.  There are no travelers;  each player must keep track of the results of the boards. Usually, before you leave your opponents, you verify that you have all recorded the same results.

At the end of each match, you and your teammates will compare scores.  On each board, you add up the total amount of points your team won (or lost).  If you bid 3N and made exactly 9 tricks, you would score 400 (600,  if you were vulnerable).  Meanwhile, at the other table, your opponents playing the same hand bid 3N but made 10 tricks for -430 (or -630) for your teammates.  Your total score on the hand would be -30.  You would then look at the bottom of your score card and using the IMP (International Match Point) scale, convert that to IMPS.  That is the score you will get on the hand. When the score is within 10, you get zero IMPS (this is a tie or push board).  After you have converted all your scores to IMPS, you add up the total wins and losses.  That becomes the result of the match — you won or lost by so many IMPS (or tied). 

At the end of each match, the results are given to the director who then decides which teams will play against each other in the next match  — or in a Knockout match, which team will move on and which team is now out of the event.  In Swiss teams, if there are enough teams in play, the director will try to match a winning team against another winning team and a losing team against another team who has lost.   


In Team Games, it is important to bid and make your games.  If you have a sure way to make your contract, take it!  Risking everything to try for an overtrick (a not uncommon matchpoint or duplicate strategy) is a losing proposition in a team game.  Whatever your opponent’s contract is, you should usually stand on your head to try to beat it.  An overtrick is worth virtually nothing — one IMP or so but beating a contract is often worth a lot.  In our example hand, let’s say your teammates allowed their opponents to make an overtrick (you lose 1 IMP) but, if the cards had been distributed a little differently, they would have beaten them (worth 10 or 12 IMPS).  Certainly worth the risk!

Master Points

One way the American Contract Bridge League rates its member’s progress is through the master point plan. From the ACBL site:

“Generally, the more masterpoints a member has, the more experienced and skilled he or she is assumed to be.”

If you want to know more about the master point levels, click here.

Want to earn master points more quickly?  Club games pay 0.10 per pair sitting your way or overall. For example, if there are 10 tables, first place will pay 1.0 masterpoint.  In a 5-table Howell, where you play four other pairs, first place your way pays 0.5. Sectional tournaments and some special games pay triple that! It can be well worth you while to attend these special events.

Types of Tournaments: 

  •  North American Bridge Championship.   (NABC or �the Nationals�) � any of three  major national championships run each year by the ACBL. These are held in the spring, summer, and fall and are rotated around the United States and Canada.  They usually run 11 days and include many special events. Platinum, gold, red, and black points are awarded.
  • Regionals � Points may be gold, red, or black. Sanctioned by the ACBL to each of the 25 Districts. A regional tournament usually runs from four to seven days. Since they attract hundreds or even thousands of people from many states, they are usually held in a hotel or convention center. They offer games for all levels of players. Our district usually has a regional tournament in late summer.
  • Sectionals � sanctioned by the ACBL to each of the 300+ units. Sectionals usually run from three to five days. Silver masterpoints are awarded. Unit 140 has several sectional tournaments every year. :

Special Events at the Nationals

 Grand National Teams (GNT).  A major team championship conducted with district and sometimes unit qualifying rounds that lead to a final round held in conjunction with the Summer NACB. The type of qualification rounds varies from district to district.  The ACBL does not offer any subsidies to the Grand National Team district finalists. Some districts and units offer financial support to their district team representatives.

National American Open Pairs Event. Winners at the club NAOP Qualifying game qualify to play in Unit Finals. Winners of the Unit Finals qualify to play in District Finals. Winners in the District Finals qualify to play in the NAOP game at the Spring Nationals.

1st Place in District Finals wins airfare and hotel paid to attend the Nationals. 

2nd Place in District Finals wins supersaver air fare and hotel at the Nationals

At the Nationals, these Games are flighted, with masterpoint determination made as of June 1 of the year of the contest.

  • Flight A is unlimited and open to all members
  • Flight B is for players with under 2000 masterpoints
  • Flight C is for non-Life Masters with fewer than 500 masterpoints.

North American Bridge Championship.   (NABC or �Nationals�) � any of 3 major national championships run each year by the ACBL. These are held in the spring, summer, and fall and are rotated around the United States and Canada.  They usually run 11 days and include many special events. Gold, red, and black points are awarded.

  • Blue Ribbon Pairs – contested once a year at the Fall NABC. To qualify, you must be 1st or 2nd in regionally rated events.
  • Red Ribbon Pairs – run at the Summer NABC. To qualify, you must place 1st or 2nd in regionally rated Flight B events.
  • Silver Ribbon Pairs – takes place at the Spring NABC. To qualify, you must place 1st or 2nd in regionally rated Senior events.

Regionals � sanctioned by the ACBL to each of the 25 Districts: A regional tournament usually runs from four to seven days, attracting people from many states, and offers games for all levels of players. Points awarded are approximately double a club game and may be gold, red, or black.

Sectionals � sanctioned by the ACBL to each of the 300+ units. Sectionals usually run from three to five days. Silver and black masterpoints are awarded. For the sectionals in Unit 140, check out the NJBL web site.

Special Games Held at Local Clubs

ACBL Charity � Awards are approximately 70% of a sectional tournament. ACBL overall wins 20 bonus pts; District overall wins 10 pts.  The extra fee is donated to the ACBL charity.

ACBL-wide Senior Pairs. Senior Sectional rating. The same hands are played at all sites. Hand Records with analysis. Held in February.

Club Appreciation Game � Masterpoint awards are calculated at 85% of sectional rating. Run at local clubs during October.

Club Championship � Points awarded are approximately 70% of a sectional game. Clubs may run four per year per weekly game.

Club Charity (Local Charity) – Pays approximately 70% of a sectional tournament.  Extra fee is donated to a local charity.

Instant Matchpoint Game � Sectionally rated (half red, half black) with One Gold Point to those topping the field either direction at their local club. Game will be scored locally as well as across the Americas. Annual ACBL-wide game held at clubs each September.  Players are given their matchpoint score on each board immediately after playing each deal

International Fund Games  – Sectionally Rated if predealt hands with hand records are used; otherwise points awarded are 85% of those given at a sectional. ACBL offers one of these games at each of the NABCs and ACBL-wide at clubs in January, May, and July to raise funds to defray the expense of North American participation in international (WBF) competition. Plus each weekly sanctioned club game may hold an annual one-session IFG club championship

Junior Fund GamesJunior Fund Games held in February are sectionally rated. Other JFGs award 70% of sectional rating. These games benefit the ACBL Junior Fund which supports playing and social activities for players between the ages of 16 and 25. It is designed to develop a corps of dedicated younger players and ensure a future for bridge

Membership Game – Point awarded are based on sectional rating. Open games receive full sectional rating, invitational or restricted games receive 80% of sectional rating, and newcomer games receive 50% of sectional rating. Only Life Masters and paid-up ACBL members are eligible to play in membership games. Must be a one-session event and usually is an open pairs contest. Offered once per year.

NAOP Qualifying Game.  Sectionally Rated.  Whether you come in or not, if you score 50% or better, you qualify go on to the next level � Unit, District, or Nationals.   Multiple games take place at clubs in June, July, and August.

NAOP Unit Final.  Sectionally rated with fractional gold points in each flight. Invitational � only players who scored 50% or better in NAOP Qualifying Game may play. Qualifiers at the Unit level may move onto the District Final. Qualifiers at the District level are invited to play in the NAOP at the Nationals in Spring the following year. Strats: Non-Life Master, 0-2000, and Open.

Note!  1st Place in District Finals gets airfare and hotel paid at Nationals. –  2nd Place in District Finals gets supersaver airfare paid to the Nationals

Pro-Am Games � Sectional rating if held during Bridge Week in January. Otherwise, they pay 80% of the masterpoints awarded for open events. Pairs consist of one �Pro� player (experienced player) with an established number of points (e.g., over 300) partnering one �Am� player (novice) with fewer points. Frequently run at clubs as part of a Mentoring Program.

Unit Extended Team GamesAnnual, sectionally-rated round robin or knockout team-of-four events. These events must be three or more sessions to qualify as �extended.�

Unit-Wide Championship – A game with unit championship rating is held simultaneously at three or more locations within the unit boundaries with a minimum of five tables at each site. Hand records are used and the event is ranked overall.

World-Wide Bridge Contest.- Sectionally-rated masterpoint awards are half black, half red. Will be scored locally as well as across the world. Top two pairs from each district will receive bonus masterpoint awards Held in June. Predealt hands � analysis booklet available after the game.


  • Flighted. Event where contestants play only against opponents within the same point range. For example, if Flight C is 0-200 masterpoints, no player with more than 200 masterpoints may be included in the group. A player may always play up in flighted events (enter Flight A or Flight B) if the player wishes. The higher the flight, the more difficult the competition and the more masterpoints are awarded to the winners.
  • Stratified. Type of game movement where all players are assigned to a group (strat) based on their current masterpoint holdings. Each contestant plays against players of all point ranges. Masterpoints are awarded to leaders of each strat. If a Strat C player scored better than one of the leaders in Strat B (a higher ranked strat), the C player will be awarded the points for Strat B.
  • Stratiflighted. An event which is a combination of flighted and stratified. The upper level strat has no masterpoint restriction and is played as a separate game. The other players are subdivided into two or three strats with specific lower and upper masterpoint limits. Participants may enter either the unrestricted (�play alone�) group or the stratified group with a masterpoint restriction for which they are eligible.