Rubber Bridge

Rubber Bridge Know How

contributed by Peter Farley

In rubber bridge the cards are dealt by hand by the players at the table.  The luck of the deal means that different bidding tactics are used and that novices can quite possibly beat much more experienced players.  Knowing how the scoring works is pivotal.


Each player is responsible to keep score. Both of you must know your side’s score at the beginning of a deal because you may not draw attention of partner to the score, nor tell them what it is during bidding.  Scores may be compared and brought up to date at the end of each hand but no comments should be made as to future tactics in bidding to take account of the score.

If you have a situation where a director would normally be called and you can’t agree on what should happen then you can telephone a director below who can help you.


The only systems allowed are those played in Junior Tournaments.

·        Natural systems must be used (standard Acol, standard 5 card majors and simple Precision)

·        Opening two bids must be either strong or, if weak, they must be single suited.

·        Not allowed are Multi 2’s, Tartan twos or any other opening two bid which shows more than one suit.

·        Any conventional agreement, which is game forcing is permitted.

·        Stayman, Baron and transfers may be used opposite NT bids

·        There is no restriction on the use of doubles

·        There is no restriction on defensive measures, once an opponent has opened the bidding. Thus the unusual NT and Michaels cue bids are allowed as are the various conventions used over a 1NT opening.

·        Gerber and Blackwood may be used, including modified forms

·        The following Precision opening bids and standard responses are allowed:

o   1♣ (with 1♦ response);

o   1♦ (with no limits on diamond length);

o   2♣ (with 2♦ one-round forcing response).  

·        2NT opening must show a strong hand with no singleton or void 

·        2♦ opening must have at least 5 diamonds.



·        Minors score 20 per trick

·        Majors score 30 per trick

·        No Trumps score 40 for the first trick and 30 for each subsequent trick

Game scores

·        To make game in a minor you need to bid and make 5 (5x20 = 100)

·        To make game in a major you need to bid and make 4 (4x30 = 120)

·        To make game in No Trumps you need to bid and make 3 (40+2x30 = 100)

Rubber scores

The first pair to win two games wins a rubber. The win of a rubber earns a large bonus

·        700 if you win two straight games

·        500 if you win two out of three games

Note that the bonus for winning an unfinished rubber is 300 if you have a game but 100 if you only have a part score.

Scores below the line and above the line

Below the line is the score for a contract bid and made.  This score goes towards achieving game.  Above the line indicates overtricks, bonuses or penalty scores and these scores do not contribute towards achieving game.  Further bonuses can be scored for slams and for holding “honours”:

·        Small slams earn a bonus of 500 (nv) or 750 (v)

·        Grand slams earn a bonus of 1000 (nv) or 1500 (v)

·        If a suit is bid and one hand holds 4 honours out of the possible 5 (AKQJT) this earns an honour bonus of 100

·        If a suit is bid and one hand hold all 5 honours this earns 150

·        If NT is bid and one hand holds all 4 Aces this earns 150

·        Bonuses for making doubled contracts can be seen from the scoring table - as for duplicate bridge.

NB Honours must be claimed before either side has made a call on the next deal.


Vulnerability is relevant for penalties. When a new rubber starts, neither side is vulnerable. Once one pair wins a game, they become vulnerable for the remainder of the rubber.  Vulnerability does not affect trick points or game points. But if you go light the penalties are exactly the same as in duplicate bridge, namely:

·        Not doubled, NV: 50 per undertrick

·        Not doubled, V: 100 per undertrick

·        Doubled, NV: 100 for the first undertrick, 200 for the second and third undertricks then 300 thereafter

·        Doubled, V: 200 for the first undertrick, then 300 thereafter.

Guidelines and tactics

It is important to keep track of the scores below the line so you know how far you need to bid to reach a game and whether it will pay to push your opponents to keep them from achieving game. There are times to push and times not to push:

·        Don’t push to game unless you have to, even if you know it is there e.g. if you only need 1NT to complete the rubber do not push on unless you think slam is on.

·        Don’t push the opposition when you are vulnerable and ahead just for the sake of keeping them out of a part score. Doubled sacrifices when vulnerable can be very expensive.

·        Do push when not vulnerable and you can afford to give something away to prevent the opponents getting a rubber, especially a 700 rubber.

·        Play safe to make your contract; overtricks are nowhere near as important as they are in duplicate bridge.

·        In difficult contracts take risks to make it. An extra undertrick is relatively unimportant if not doubled.

·        In defence, take risks to defeat the contract. If you give them an overtrick it is relatively unimportant.


Full details of the rules for the NZ Rubber competition are in the NZ Bridge Manual

D6 - D9.



Rubber Bridge Tactics

Contributed by Peter Farley

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