Solitaire Bridge

Also known as 'Bridge for Bachelors'. Developed and contributed by Stephen Rogers , who writes:

I like to play Bridge; I find it a challenging game with the potential for good social interaction. The trouble I have with it (with most games in general, actually) is that none of the people with whom I socialize also enjoy playing it; far from looking for a fourth, I find myself also in need of a third and a second. Lately, though, I had the opportunity to explore the development of a solitaire version of Bridge, inspired by the mechanism that Natty Bumppo used for Euchre Solitaire. I've spent some time refining the rules of play (given that the deck is, by design, pretty lousy about defending a contract on its own), and I've come up with a game that plays at least reasonably close to Honeymoon Bridge. I'm not sold on its value as a teaching tool just yet, but as a game in its own right I find it rather enjoyable.


EQUIPMENT: One standard 54-card deck with French suits, including two jokers. 

RANK AND VALUE OF THE CARDS: The cards are valued the same as they ordinarily are in Contract Bridge; cards in each suit are ranked from high to low AKQT98765432 (T=10). One suit during play is selected to be "trump", and cards of that suit rank higher than the other suits. The Jokers have special functions during game play; they otherwise have no value.

THE DEAL: After shuffling the deck, the player deals a stack of seven cards face-down. The player then deals themselves another thirteen cards face-up. From the face-up cards, the player must select six cards; these cards will be added to the seven face-down cards in order to form the player's hand. The player is not allowed to look at the seven face-down cards until they've made their card selections. If a joker is dealt face-up, it must be among the player's selections; the player must take both jokers if both are face-up. The remaining pack forms the "stock", which will act as the player’s opponent. The seven face-up cards that were not selected are discarded in a face up pile and are not used in the play. The player is welcome to either hold their cards in their hand or lay them out on whatever playing surface they are using by suit and rank. If laid out, jokers should be kept separate from any of the suits.

THE BID: Once the player has had an opportunity to evaluate their hand, they must make a decision whether to bid or defend.

As in Bridge, the contract consists of a level from 1 to 7 and a denomination. The level is the number of tricks in excess of 6 that the player undertakes to win and the denomination is the suit which will be trumps or No Trumps. The stock bids first, then the player.

The Stock's Bid. First calculate the number of tricks in the player's hand; the Quick Tricks method is suggested for making this determination. This number is subtracted from six and the result, if greater than zero, is the level of the stock's bid. If the result is zero or less, the stock passes. If the stock bids, the suit of the bid is the player's shortest suit; if they have more than one shortest suit of the same length, the stock bids the highest ranking of those equally short suits in Bridge order (clubs<diamonds<hearts<spades).

The Player's Bid. If the stock passes the player must bid a contract. If the stock bids the player may choose to overcall (bid at a higher level or the same level in a higher denomination) or to pass and defend against the stock's bid. The player is allowed to bid a No Trump contract only if the player's final distribution is 4-3-3-3, 3-3-3-3-★ or 3-3-3-2-★-★, where ★ represents a Joker.

Whether the player is bidding or defending, the presence of a Joker in their hand doubles the final contract; the presence of both Jokers redoubles the final contract.

THE PLAY: Play is in tricks as in Contract Bridge. If the player has bid, the stock leads to the first trick. If the player is defending the player leads to the first trick. The highest trump played wins the trick, or if no trump card was played, the highest card of the suit led wins. The winner of each trick leads to the next. A full hand consists of thirteen tricks

Rules for the player: When leading to a trick the player may play any card. When the stock leads the player must follow suit if able, if not, they may play any other card.

Rules for the Stock: When the stock must lead to a trick, its top card is turned face up and played. When the player leads to the trick, the stock must either follow suit or trump or play a joker. In a trump contract cards are drawn from the top of the stock until either a valid card (either a trump card or a card of the suit led or a joker) is found or the stock runs out of cards. Any other cards drawn in the process are considered part of the trick, but only the final card determines whether the trick is won by the player or the stock.
In a No Trump contract when the player leads, up to four cards are drawn from the stock, ending when a card of the suit that was led or a joker is found. If no such card is found, the player wins the trick, since the fourth card is not a card of the suit that was led.

A hand ordinarily ends after thirteen tricks (i.e. after the player's hand is exhausted). If the stock is exhausted before the player runs out of cards in their hand, the final card of the stock becomes the card played to the trick in which it runs out. Any cards still in the player’s hand when the stock is exhausted count as tricks for the player, except for Jokers, which count as tricks for the stock.

Jokers: Jokers may be played if the player cannot follow suit; if a joker is led to the trick by the stock, the player may play any card of their choosing to the trick. A joker played to a trick always wins the trick for the stock, except in the case where the player plays a joker in response to a joker led by the stock; in that case the player wins the trick.

SCORING: The player may score the hand as in any form of Bridge they prefer. The game was play-tested using standard scoring rules for Contract Bridge.

Another description of Solitaire Bridge, including some example deals and variants, can be found on the Denexa Games site.

Last updated: 18th May 2018