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 heart  club  BID FAIR  diamond  spade 

Number of Players: Two.

The Deck: 24 Cards (strip out 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

The Deal: Twelve cards are dealt to each player.

The Crib: Out of these twelve cards, four are removed and put aside by each player: they are combined to make a crib of eight cards.1 This crib is to be used later.

The Bidding: The non-dealer either takes one card from his hand and places it, face up or face down, to the middle of the table on his left, or "passes". If played, the rank and the suit of this card are significant - the rank signifies the high rank of the deal2 and the contract value for his opponent if the dealer accepts this bid - if face down this constitutes "no bid". The dealer then can place a card on his left - he can top a bid with a higher-ranked card (suits are irrelevant), discard face down (no bid), oblige the non-dealer with an initial bid, or pass. The higher bid sets up high rank and has a contract value (see table below). The successful bidder, that is the one who bade the higher-ranked card, locks his opponent into the role of contract holder.

If there is no contract (both players not bidding) then Kings are the highest rank (Aces are special, see below).

If both players pass then the cards are collected for an immediate redeal.

Trumps: The crib is then shuffled and cut, and the cut card is placed, face up, between the two bid cards. The suit of this card determines the trump suit for this deal (there is always a trump suit in Bid Fair). If the trump suit matches the suit of either player’s bid, then that player immediately receives 60 points.

The middle of the table should now look something like this:

heart    club

(Face Down -
No bid)

diamond    spade

heart    club


diamond    spade

heart    club

unsuccessful bid
(Face Down -
No bid)

diamond    spade

The Exchange: The contract holder (that is, the player that had the lower bid) then has the option to exchange his hand with the crib. There is no penalty for doing so. If there is no contract then this is not an option for either player.

The Contract: The contract bid locks the contract holder into making a certain amount of points from tricks collected:

Rank of bid cardHigh Rank in dealValue of Contract

The Play: The contract holder then leads. If there is no contract then the non-dealer leads. Players must follow suit if possible, otherwise they may trump or discard. Highest ranking card of suit led (ace is low when led, high when played second, or stipulated as high rank in the contract) takes trick unless trumped by trump suit. Winner leads to next trick.

The Scoring: Aces captured in tricks score one. Picture cards in tricks captured score ten. Tens and nines captured score face value. Points are claimed by both players.

If there is an active contract, then the points collected by the contract holder needs to equal or exceed its value. If this is the case, then the difference between the two player’s scores is added to the score of the holder. If all three cards on the table are face up (ie both players bade for their opponent’s contract) then any difference in the score is doubled. If there is no contract, then only the scores from tricks are claimed.

If the contract holder made contract, then his opponent receives a reward of 180 points.3 This reward cannot be doubled.

The player leading on the scorecard deals the next hand, and play begins again until the game is decided. If scores are level then the deal alternates.

To Win: The highest score past 1000 points wins the game.


  1. For example, the crib could be used to discard weaker cards, or to stack with a long suit for that suit to come up trumps. The latter play could give the contract holder an idea of the content of the crib.
  2. "Beats a King" - for example if Jack is high rank then the order is (A)-J-K-Q-10-9-(A). If Ace is high rank then the order is A-K-Q-J-10-9.
  3. There is quite an incentive to encourage the contract holder to make contract - however points from all tricks are counted, and the larger contracts with two bids means higher points for the contract holder. On the other hand if the hand dealt is stronger, it is viable to deny your opponent the contract and play for individual points.

© Matthew Shields 2005

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Last updated: 18th June 2005