2 May

How to Play Bridge – Scoring and Winning (Part 2)

How to Play Bridge Scoring and WinningScoring in Bridge is a complicated system based on a multitude of attributing factors. For that reason, we’ve chosen to write this as a separate section, detailing the complete scoring system. For all other rules, please see Part 1: How to Play Bridge – Rules and Game Play.

You may also be interested in reading our other segments on this popular Canadian card game:

Bridge Strategy
Bridge History

How to Play Bridge – Scoring and Winning

Scoring will vary depending on how far players are into a game, which team is trailing, and whether doubling or re-doubling has been applied. For that reason, we’ll break up this section into various categories.

Bridge Scoring PadScore is taken on a piece of paper by one player in the group. That player, and their partner, are known as the “WE” team. The other partnership is the “THEY” team. The score keeper will prepare by writing WE and THEY at the top of the score sheet, separated by a long, vertical line down the middle. Next, a horizontal line is drawn well below the team names, about halfway down. This line will separate the contract scores and bonus scores. See example to the right.

Contract scores are recorded below the line, and will determine the winners of each game. The first team to achieve 100 points below the line wins that game. Then a new game begins.

The official title, Rubber Bridge, indicates that the game is played in 3 rubbers. This means the teams must play 3 rubbers (100 point games) before the game is officially over.

Bonus scores are recorded above the line. Once three rubbers are complete, contract scores will be bonus scores for a complete total. Even if a team wins 2 or more rubbers, they can still lose the game if the total scores (above and below) are lower than the total of the other team.

The team with the highest total score, after three rubbers, wins.

Contract Scoring

Contracts are scored when the declaring team captures the number of tricks bid by the declarer. If a team bids 2 tricks (plus the required 6), and captures 8, they will score for 8 contracts. If they capture more than 8, the extras are overtricks, scored above the line as bonus points. They will not be recorded here. All contract scores go below the line, bonus scores above.

The chosen trump will determine the value of the contract score. “No Trump” is the most valuable, worth 40 points for the first trick, and 30 for all others. Spades and Hearts are worth 30 points per contract. Diamonds and Clubs are worth 30 points per contract.

Trump Declared Points per Contract
No Trump 40 for first trick, 30 for all others
Spades / Hearts 30
Diamonds / Clubs 20

Double / Re-double Contract Scoring

If the bid was doubled, or re-doubled, the scoring will be as follows:

Trump Declared Points per Doubled Contract (x2)
No Trump 80 for first trick, 60 for all others
Spades / Hearts 60
Diamonds / Clubs 40
Trump Declared Points per Re-Doubled Contract (x4)
No Trump 160 for first trick, 120 for all others
Spades / Hearts 120
Diamonds / Clubs 80

Bonus Scoring

There are many ways to gain bonus score points (above the line). A team’s vulnerability will also effect the number of bonus points awarded.

A team who has already won a rubber is vulnerable. This team will be awarded higher bonus points, and receive higher penalties. A team who has not yet won a rubber is not vulnerable. This team will receive standard bonuses and penalties. Where applicable, we’ll detail the difference in scoring for vulnerable and not vulnerable teams.

Doubling & Re-Doubling: If the Declarer succeeds in completing a doubled contract, an additional 50 bonus points is scored above the line. A successful Re-Doubled Contract awards 100 bonus points above the line. This is referred to as “50/100 for the insult”.

Slam Bonus: A contract to make 12 tricks is a ‘Small Slam‘. A 13 trick contract is a ‘Grand Slam‘. The bonus points for a successful slam, by vulnerability, are shown below.

Slam Bonus Small Slam Grand Slam
Vulnerable 700 1500
Not vulnerable 500 1000


Overtricks: Overtricks are any additional tricks captured above the contract bid. If a team bids 2 (plus the required 6), and catches 10 tricks, they have 8 contracts and 2 overtricks. The standard bonus score for overtricks follows the same scoring method by declared Trump, regardless of vulnerability.

Trump Suit Bonus Scoring per Overtick
No Trump 30
Spades / Hearts 30
Diamonds / Clubs 20

If, however, the bid was doubled or re-doubled, overtricks will score differently. The trump suit is irrelevant, but vulnerability is not.

Score per Overtrick Doubled Re-Doubled
Vulnerable 200 400
Not vulnerable 100 2000

Undertricks: Likewise, declaring teams are penalized for failing to capture enough contracts. If the declaring team does not capture enough contracts, neither team will score below the line. The opposing team will receive the declarer’s penalty as bonus points, recorded above the line. These points are based on vulnerability, doubling and re-doubling.

Undertrick Penalty Vulnerable Not Vulnerable
Standard 100 50
Doubled – 1st Trick 200 100
Doubled – 2nd & 3rd Tricks 300 each 200 each
Double 4th+ tricks 300 each 300 each
Re-Doubled – 1st Trick 400 200
Re-Doubled – 2nd & 3rd Tricks 600 each 400 each
Re-Double 4th+ tricks 600 each 600 each

For a better understanding of how to score Rubbers Bridge, have a look at Alex Kemeny’s video tutorial. Mr. Kimeny works at the Trumps Bridge Centre in NSW, Australia. He’s an expert on the subject, and does not rush through the tutorial whatsoever. I highly recommend it!

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