Minibridge is an adaption of bridge and it allows an easier entry into this complex game. Minibridge bypasses the bidding stage of the game (as described in ‘What is Bridge?’) and instead the attackers and defenders are decided by the number of ‘high card points’ each player holds, often simply referred to as ‘points’. High cards tend to win tricks for your side so we assign a value to the 4 highest cards in the deck, as follows:
Ace = 4 points
King = 3 points
Queen = 2 points
Jack = 1 point
Counting up the points
In bridge points mean prizes, so the player with most points tends to win the most tricks for their side so they are at a natural advantage. Minibridge (and ‘full’ bridge!) use these points totals to evaluate how good your hand is. You then add your total of points to your partner’s and you will get a total for your team, the more points the better! Whichever side has the most points becomes the attackers, with the player on that team with the highest number of points being the declarer. The partner of the declarer is the dummy and puts their hand down on the table face up for all to see. The other two players are the defenders and their job is to try to stop the declarer from winning the number of tricks required.
How many tricks?
In normal bridge, the bidding is also used to work out how many tricks declarer requires to succeed. For Minibridge we use a sliding scale to dictate the number of tricks needed. Simply put: the more points your side has, the more tricks you need to make to score points. This gives the defenders a better chance because they need fewer tricks to defeat the attackers and as they have very few points to work with, it is more difficult to win tricks. Once the number of tricks the declarer needs to make to succeed is decided, the defenders then know their target. For example, if the declarer needs 8 tricks then if the defenders get 6 tricks or more this does not leave enough tricks for the attackers to win and so the defenders will have won in this case. Please see the sliding scale for points to tricks below:
You will see that the number of tricks starts at 7. This is because 7 tricks is just over the halfway point, and as a declarer with your side having more points than the defenders you are expected to take at least half the tricks!
Which suit is trumps?
The declarer gets to decide what suit, if any, will be trumps for the play of the hand. This normally gets decided by the bidding but in Minibridge the declarer first sees their dummy (their partner’s hand) and then chooses what suit they would like as trumps. The key here for declarer is to choose quantity over quality. If the declarer has 8 or more cards combined in any suit then this is a considerable numerical advantage and this suit should be chosen as trumps. The more trumps you have, the more likely it is you will make your trick target. Beware though, there is a catch to choosing a trump suit which is that if you do elect a suit to be trumps, your trick target increases by one. So, for example, if your side had 25 points combined then you would usually need 9 tricks to score points (see above table), but if you choose a trump suit this would increase to a target of 10 tricks required. This is another way of balancing the game to make it fairer for the defenders because attackers usually choose a trump suit that benefits their side! It should be said though, that choosing a trump suit is still a good idea for the declarer as long as they have 8 or more cards in that suit between their two hands. With a trump suit the play is as normal until the hand is over, and it is then revealed if the declarer made sufficient tricks to score points for the attackers or if the defenders stopped the declarer from making their contract, in which case the defenders instead score points.