Bridgette

Bridgette is a two-player adaptation of Contract Bridge. The game makes up for the loss of complexity caused by only two cards being played to a trick with the addition of three special cards known as “colons”.

Bridgette was invented in 1960 by Joli Quentin Kansil. Kansil is an game inventor and author, having published 36 games over the course of his lifetime. Of these, Bridgette is the most well-known. Kansil’s company produces a proprietary version of the game including the extra cards, as well as a number of additional props.

Object of Bridgette

The object of Bridgette is to accurately predict the number of tricks in excess of six that you will be able to win.

Setup

Bridgette is played with a 55-card deck formed by adding three distinguishable jokers or other extra cards to the deck. These cards serve as the Grand Colon, the Royal Colon, and the Little Colon. If you’re using a deck of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, the red joker (the one with the dragon) can be the Grand Colon, the black joker (the one with the jester) the Royal Colon, and the Guarantee card (the card with the teal G as the index) can be the Little Colon.

You also need something to keep score with. Compared to full Contract Bridge, Bridgette’s scoring is considerably simplified, and therefore a Bridge scoresheet is not necessary. A simple piece of paper and a pencil will do, or a smartphone, or whatever sort of more elaborate contraption you can come up with.

Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player. Next, place the stub in the center of the table, forming the stock. Then, turn the top card of the stock face up. This card is the upcard.

Game play

Cards rank in their usual order, with aces high. The colons are not considered to rank relative to the other cards. (See below for a description of the colons and their use.)

The exchange

A hand of Bridgette begins with the exchange. This allows the players to receive more cards and discard the weaker ones from their hand. The non-dealer first takes the top two cards of the stock. The number of cards the dealer may exchange is governed by the upcard. If the upcard is a 2–10 or the Little Colon, the dealer draws four cards. With an upcard of a face card or the Royal Colon, the dealer draws eight cards. If the upcard is an ace or the Grand Colon, the dealer draws twelve cards. After drawing, both players discard back down to thirteen cards.

Bidding

The next phase of the hand is bidding. Bids consist of a number, representing the number of odd tricks (tricks in excess of six) that the player will collect during the course of the hand, and either a suit to become trump for the upcoming hand or “no trump”. From lowest to highest, the suits rank clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, no trump. Unlike in Contract Bridge, in Bridgette, the lowest possible bid is 0NT, which is a bid to take six tricks with no trump. The next highest bid is 1♣ (the lowest bid in Contract Bridge), a bid to take seven tricks with clubs as trump. 1♣ would be overcalled by a bid of 1♦, and so on up to 1♠, then 1NT, which would be overcalled by 2♣.

Bids in Bridgette are subject to certain restrictions. A player must have at least two cards in a suit to bid with that suit as trump. A player must have cards in all four suits in order to bid no trump. Also, in order to make a jump bid, a bid higher than necessary to overcall the previous bid, a player must have four cards of the suit bid.

The dealer must make the opening bid. Thereafter, the non-dealer may choose to bid higher or pass. Bidding continues until there are two consecutive passes. That is, if one player passes, the other may continue raising the bid, if desired (subject to the above restrictions).

A player may also double the bid. Doing so keeps the bid the same, but increases the risk and reward of completing the contract. When a bid is doubled, the opponent may make a higher bid, end the bidding immediately by passing, or redouble the bid. Redoubling the bid further increases the risk or reward of the contract and immediately ends the bidding.

When the bidding is completed, the high bidder becomes the declarer for the hand, and their opponent becomes the defender. The declarer’s bid becomes their contract for the hand.

Play of the hand

The declarer leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible; if they cannot, they may play any card, including a trump. Tricks are won by the player who played the highest card of the suit led, or if the trick contains a trump, the highest trump. When a player wins a trick, they place the card they played to it face down to the left of them. When they lose, they place the card face down to the right. The player who wins the trick leads to the next one.

Using the colons

The colons have special rules for when they can be played and when they can win a trick. Each colon represents a portion of the pack. The Grand Colon corresponds to the aces, the Royal Colon to the face cards, and the Little Colon to the 2s–10s.

A player may play a colon to a trick that they didn’t lead, so long as the lead falls into the colon’s range. The colon loses the trick, but the player leading to the next trick must play a card of a different suit than that they just led.

Players may also lead colons, to which the other player may play any card they wish. If the other player responds with a trump or a card falling into the colon’s range, the colon loses the trick. If they instead respond with a non-trump outside the range of the colon, the colon wins the trick.

Scoring

After thirteen tricks have been played, the declarer counts the number of tricks they took. If it is equal to or greater than the number of tricks specified by their contract, they have made their contract. If it is less, they have broken their contract or been set.

When the declarer makes the contract

If the declarer makes their contract, they score according to their bid:

  • 0NT, 1♣♦♥♠: 150 points
  • 1NT, 2♣♦♥♠, 2NT, 3♣♦♥♠, 4♣♦: 250 points
  • 3NT, 4♥♠, 4NT, 5♣♦♥♠: 750 points
  • 5NT, 6♣♦♥♠: 1500 points (a small slam)
  • 6NT, 7♣♦♥♠: 2200 points (a grand slam)
  • 7NT: 2500 points (a super slam)

Successful declarers may also score the following bonuses:

  • Exacto bonus: For bidding the exact number of tricks taken. For bids between 0NT and 5NT, this is worth 250 points; for bids of 6♣♦♥♠ or 6NT, it is worth only 100 points. No exacto bonus is available for bids greater than 6NT.
  • Trifecta bonus: For capturing exactly three overtricks. 350 points. (No overtrick bonus is awarded for any amount other than three overtricks.)
  • For fulfilling a doubled contract: 400 points.
  • For fulfilling a redoubled contract: 1000 points.

When the declarer is set

When the declarer does not make their contract, they score nothing. Instead, the defender scores based on the declarer’s trick deficit:

Tricks down Undoubled Doubled Redoubled
1 100 200 300
2 200 500 700
3 300 800 1100
4 400 1100 1500
5 700 2000 2700
6 or more 1000 3000 4000

Ending the game

The deal passes to the non-dealer on the first hand. Game play continues until six hands have been dealt. Whichever player has the higher score after the sixth hand is the winner. If scores are tied, play a seventh hand to break the tie.

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