The game German Bridge is not at all similar to traditional Bridge, and has some very specific rules. It can be played by three to seven people, but is most enjoyable when only four to six players participate. It requires only a standard deck of playing cards and a method of keeping track of points – usually a notepad and paper. A scorekeeper is selected before the game, and is obliged to note all significant scores and bids.
The object of the game is for each player to bid the number of tricks they think they can take from each hand, and take exactly that many – no more and no less. There is no passing allowed during the bidding process in German Bridge, but a player may bid zero and aim to lose each trick they play.
A game of German Bridge recognizes the suit rank of the deck as aces high and twos low. Each game is played as a series of hands, and the number of cards dealt out in each hand will vary according to the number of players in the game. The deal table is as follows:
- 3 to 5 players receive 10 cards each
- 6 players receive 8 cards each
- 7 players receive 7 cards each
To begin playing, the dealer will hand out the appropriate number of cards as indicated in the table above. The remainder of the deck is laid face down in the center of the table, and the top card is overturned and placed atop the pile. The suit of this card determines the trump suit for the trick.
The player to the left of the dealer leads the trick and may play any suit. Each player is obliged to follow suit if possible, otherwise they can play any other card – including trump. The player with the highest trump card played in the trick is the winner, but if no trump appears it is the player with the highest lead suit who wins. This is the player who leads the next trick.
Play continues until all tricks are completed. This is the point when scoring occurs, but German Bridge does not have a “hard and fast” rule about scoring. Currently, there are two ways that most players determine scores. The first is quite simple and rewards the player who won the exact number of tricks as they bid with ten points in addition to a single point for each trick won. This method also gives no points to players who did not meet their bids.
The other approach to scoring is to simply give a single point to the player for each trick that they won, plus ten bonus points if they met their bid. This is often done to make the game more competitive as it encourages players to win as many tricks as possible because they will still be gaining points.
There are many other and far more complicated variations for scoring games of German Bridge, but the two above are the simplest and most common.
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