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Play rubber bridge and use rubber bridge scoring

RUBBER BRIDGE – Play and scoring

Play of the cards

When you and your friends play a casual game of bridge, as you play your cards, you probably toss them into the center until everyone has contributed one card to the trick.  If you win the trick, you (or your partner) gathers the four cards into a small pile and puts it in front of the person from your side keeping the tricks.  Only one player from each side should keep track of the tricks. If the opponents win the trick, they put their pile in front of one of them.  At the end of the hand, you each count up your little piles of tricks and figure out the score.  In the picture at the right, someone has five tricks.  


The score sheet
The scorekeeper should write a big T on a piece of paper.  Over the left sided column, he writes “US” (or “We” or “the good guys” or something to indicate it is his score).  Over the right sided column he writes “THEM” (or “They” or “The bad guys” or the names of the players or something to indicate it is his opponents.)  

Above or below the line? 

The only thing that goes “Below the line” (under the horizontal part of the T) are trick scores.  All other scores go “Above the line. 

When you MAKE your contract (taking at least as many tricks as you contracted to make), the score keeper should write the trick score below the line on the appropriate side.  Overtricks scores are written above the line. Penalties for going down are written on the opponent’s side above the line.  



In rubber bridge, you also get scores for having “Honors”.  If a players holds four of the top five cards in the trump suit he gets 100 honors.  Holding all five of the top cards in the trump suit is worth 150 honors.  If he has all four aces in a notrump contract, it is worth 150 honors.  All scoring for honors goes above the line

How much are tricks worth? 

Ok, so you know the tricks scores go below the line — how much are they worth? It depends on what your contract was.  If you bid:  

Notrump –  40 for the first trick, 30 for each trick after that.

Majors (Spades or Hearts — 30 for each trick

Minors  (Diamonds or Clubs) — 20 for each trick

When your contract is enough to take 100 in trick scores, you have bid GAME.

3NT is game (40 + 30 + 30 = 100)

4Spades or Hearts is game (30 + 30 + 30 + 30 = 120)

Diamonds or Clubs is game (20 + 20 + 20 + 20 + 20 = 100)


You might be able to bid game and make game with a single contract.  More likely, it will take a couple of contracts to make game.  In rubber bridge scoring, all trick scores are written below the line.  When they add up to 100, a line is written below it and each side starts the battle again to add up to 100 in trick scores.  For some examples, your contracts might have been:

1NT, making exactly 1 for 40 points

2S, making 3, you get 60 points below the line and 30 above the line.

Total = 40 + 60 or 100 points.  Write a line below your second score since you now have game!



1C,  making 5 for 20 points below the line and 80 above (you have to BID game to score it!)

3NT, making 3 for 100 points.

Total = 20 + 100 or 120 points.  Write a line below your second score since you now have game!

What if you’re doubled?

When you are doubled and you MAKE your contract, you all scores are doubled, both below and above the line.  You also get a 50 point “insult” bonus. If you don’t make the contract, read on . . .



The penalties for not making your contract are the same when you are playing rubber bridge as when you are playing duplicate.  In duplicate, the vulnerability is marked on the board.  In rubber bridge you are not-vulnerable if you haven’t won a game in this rubber.  Once you’ve won a game, you are vulnerable.

For the scores for penalties, click here.


How do you win?

The first side to score two games wins the rubber.  If you win two games but the opponents have won one game along the way, you get a 500 point rubber bonus added to your score. If you win two games but the opponents have NOT won any games, you get a 700 point bonus added to your score. It is possible to win the rubber but lose the score?  How . . .?  Well, if you bid a lot and go down a lot, the opponents will score every time you go down.

A sample score

In the sample score at the right, the following hands were played:

Hand 1 (ref 1.)  Opponents bid 1N and made one.

Hand 2 (ref 2-4.)  You bid 2S, made 3 and also scored 100 honors since you had AQJ10 of spades.

Hand 3. (ref 5.) The opponents bid 2C and made 2.

Hand 4 (ref 6). You tried to make 2D but went down 2 (the opponents scored 100).

Hand 5. (ref 7.)  You bid 2C but made 3.  The first game goes to you. (Line is added pointing to you.)

Often players will say, “They cut off my leg.”  In this case you cut off your opponents leg — all they needed was 20 points more to make a game.  To score the next game, they will have to start again at zero.

This rubber is still in progress.  You are vulnerable, the opponents are not since you have scored a game and they haven’t. If you win another game before they do, you will score a 700 point rubber bonus. If they win a game next, the rubber bonus will be only 500 points.