A unit of play in bridge is called a rubber. To win a rubber you and your partner have to score two games. This will earn you a rubber bonus of 700 if you opponents have not yet scored a game, or 500 if they have.

After you have scored your first game you are said to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable will increase you scores for the second game, but also raise the penalties for not fulfilling a contract.

Trick scores

If you and your partner make a contract you get a trick score for each trick you win after the first six. The amount of points depends on the strain: So, if you make two notrump, you would get a trick score of 70, two hearts would get you 60 and two diamonds with two overtricks would earn you 80.

Games

In order to score a game you have to score at least 100 points in one deal ore more. Only tricks contracted for during the bidding counts toward the game score (this is to promote good bidding). Overtricks will still count towards your total score but not towards the 100 points you need.

It's pretty obvious that it's good to score your games as fast as possible. In order to score a game in one deal, you have to bid and make at least three notrump, four hearts, four spades, five diamonds or five clubs. These are called game contracts.

Slams

If you bid and make a contract of six of any strain, you have a small slam. This will earn you a bonus of 500 if you are non-vulnerable and 750 if you are vulnerable. A contract of seven is a grand slam and gives a bonus of 1000 and 1500 respectively.

This slam bonus is not affected by doubling or redoubling.

Doubling and redoubling

If you make a contract that has been doubled, the trick score is doubled. This counts towards the 100 points you need to score a game (i.e. a contract of two spades is enough since it would earn you 120 points). You also get a bonus of 50 points. Overtricks are worth 100 points regardless of strain; if you are vulnerable they are worth 200 points.

If you make a redoubled contract the bonuses are doubled yet again. Needless to say, this will result in a quite heavy score if you make the contract.

Penalties

If you do not make the contract, you will get penalized. That is, you will get no points, but your opponents will get a score which depends on the number of tricks you failed to win, if you are vulnerable and if the contract was doubled or redoubled.
  • Not vulnerable - 50 points per trick.
  • Vulnerable - 100 points per trick.
  • Not vulnerable doubled - 100 points for the first trick, 200 for the rest.
  • Vulnerable doubled - 200 points for the first trick, 300 for the rest.
  • Not vulnerable redoubled - 200 points for the first trick, 400 for the rest.
  • Vulnerable redoubled - 400 points for the first trick, 600 for the rest.
So, if you bid four hearts (vulnerable) but only manage to win eight tricks (you need ten), your opponents would get 200 points, or 500 if the contract had been doubled.

Honor Bonus

You get an extra bonus of 100 points if you hold four of the honors (ace, king, queen, jack or ten) in trumps. If you have all five the bonus is increased to 150. In the same manner a player who holds all four aces when the contract is notrump earns a bonus of 150 points. These bonuses do not count toward the 100 points you need to score a game.

Notes

In tournament play it's more common to play for International Match Points (IMP) instead of rubbers. You get no bonuses for honors or rubbers but instead get a bonus when you score a match. Also, it is ofter pretermined which deals are vulnerable and which are not.

Changes to Contract Bridge scoring:

Two changes have been made to the scoring.

The first change is that the bonus for making a redoubled contract is 100 instead of 50. This was done to preserve the idea that redoubling when a contract is destined to make should be worth more than making a higher bid in the same denomination (superseding the previous bid as well as the double).

Specifically, suppose your side is not vulnerable. You bid 5 Clubs or 5 Diamonds (expecting to take at least 11 tricks), the opponents double, and your side redoubles, and you subsequently take twelve tricks. Your score (under the old scoring) is:

  • 400 points (below the line) for the trick score (20 per trick in a minor suit x 5 odd-tricks x 4 for being redoubled)
  • 400 points (above the line) for one redoubled overtrick
  • 50 points (above the line) for making a doubled or redoubled contract

for a total of 850 points, plus the rubber bonus. Under the new scoring this is increased to 900 points. This difference seems negligible, but compare what you would score if, instead of redoubling, you decided to bid 6 Clubs or 6 Diamonds. Your score now is:

  • 120 points (below the line) for the trick score (20 per trick in a minor suit x 6 odd-tricks)
  • 750 points (above the line) for bidding and making a small slam

for a total of 870 points plus the rubber bonus. So the common-sense idea that you should get a better score for redoubling and making the redoubled contract, rather than bidding on, is preserved. This relatively minor scoring change is more important in matchpointed duplicate bridge.

The other, more important, change is the penalties for failing to make a contract were revised in 1993. The penalties are now:

  • for the first undertrick, 100 points.
  • for the second and third undertrick, 200 points each.
  • for the fourth and subsequent undertricks, 300 points each.

This scoring change was introduced because of the abundance of ludicrously wild sacrifice bids by a non-vulnerable side against vulnerable opponents.

Suppose your side is not vulnerable, and the vulnerable opponents bid 6 Hearts. If they make it, they will score:

  • 180 points for tricks
  • 750 points for bidding and making a small slam
  • 700 points for winning the rubber

This is a total of 1630 points for the hand. However, if you see no hope of setting the contract, you may, instead, decide to bid 6 Spades. Under the old scoring, in order to get a better score than they would have made for their slam, they must defeat you by nine tricks! In other words, your sacrifice bid of 6 Spades will be succeessful if you succeed in taking a mere four tricks with your chosen trump suit. Under the new scoring, a eight-trick defeat would cost 2000 points. Much better.

Modifications for Duplicate Contract Bridge:

Duplicate bridge is a very popular form of the game of Contract Bridge. Instead of being played in rubbers, though, each deal is completely self-contained. There is no above-the-line or below-the-line scoring; there is simply a score for each deal; part scores do not carry over. Vulnerability is pre-determined on each deal, instead of being based on whether a side has made a game or not.

The score on a deal is the same as for rubber bridge, with the following exceptions:

  • There are no bonuses for honors
  • A side that bids and makes a game contract scores
    • 500 points if vulnerable
    • 300 points if not-vulnerable
  • A side that bids and makes a part-score contract scores 50 points.

Rarely are these scores used to determine the winner of a bridge match or tournament. Normally, the score on each deal is used as a raw score for match points or International Match Points.

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