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Now that you can count the total points your hand is worth (and therefore, have an idea of how many tricks you might be able to take), you need to tell partner about your points and the suits you like, and you want to hear what partner has to say about hers. This is done using bids. This is the only way bridge players talk about their hands. The bidding starts with the person who dealt the cards (dealer) and continues in a clockwise rotation. Every person must make a bid when it is their turn until the bidding is over.

One bid is "PASS." It tells everyone (including partner) that you didn't have enough points to be able to afford a different bid in that particular situation. The number of points you need to bid in various situations will be discussed in later lessons. A pass can be made anytime it's your turn to bid. The bidding ends when either all players have passed on their first bid, or three consecutive players have passed.

Another bid consists of two parts: a number ranging from 1 to 7 (the level of the bid), and a suit (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, or no-trump). The level refers to the number of tricks, over six tricks (which is book), your side can take. The suits are given a ranking (from lowest to highest) of Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and No-Trump. Thus, 1 is suggesting that your side can take seven (6+1) tricks with spades as the trump suit. (Trumps and taking tricks are a later lesson.)

There are some limitations on when you can bid with these bids though. If you want to make a bid at the same level as the last non-pass, non-double, or non-redouble bid, you must bid it in a higher ranking suit. That is, if someone has already bid 1, you can bid 1or 1 or 1NT, but NOT 1♣. Clubs is a lower suit than diamonds. If you want to bid a lower ranking suit, you have to bid it at a higher level. Thus, if someone has already bid 1, you CAN bid 2♣. (Same level requires a higher ranking suit. Higher level can be in any suit.) The highest 1-level bid is 1NT. Therefore, the highest bid anyone can make is 7NT (highest level, highest ranking suit).

The other two bids are double ("X" will be used for double in these lessons) and redouble ("XX" will be used for this.) Double can be used after your *opponents* have made the highest bid with any number of intervening passes. Thus, if the opponent sitting on your left (left-hand opponent: LHO) bids 1, your partner passes, and the opponent sitting on your right (right-hand opponent: RHO) passes, (which might be represented 1-P-P-? where the ? refers to your bid), it is possible to double. If your partner bid 1, and the opponent sitting on your right passes, you CANNOT double. The last bid made was by YOUR partnership.

If your opponents have doubled and there have been no passes or passes up to you, you can make the bid XX. Just as with X, you cannot XX if your side was the last one to bid the double.

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