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Help - Hand Layout, Syntax & Notation

 View the hands from above

Bridge hands are illustrated using the typical North, East, South, West orientation from an overhead viewpoint with the South hand at the bottom of the screen.  Here is a example of the "strip and endplay":



Here's an example of the Bridge hands

  K 7 5 4 2
A 8
K 10 5
9 8 7
A 9 8
Q J 10 9
Q 9 7 6
3 2
Declarer: South

 Contact: 4S

K 7 6 3 2
4 3 2
Q J 6 5 4
  Q J 10 6 3
5 4
A J 8
A K 10


Here's the explanation of the line of play

West leads the HQ, ducked by South anticipating a possible strip and endplay. Continuing Hearts, dummy wins the HA.  Declarer plays a Spade, ducked twice and won on the third round by West's SA. Next, Declarer plays 3 rounds of Clubs, throwing East in the lead with the CJ.  Using the strip and endplay, declarer does not need to guess how to finesse the SQ (two-way possible finesse here).  East either finesses West or allows Declarer to use a sluff and ruff.


Each card has a blank space to separate adjacent cards and are bolded to improve readability.  The 10 spot card uses the number 10 as opposed to the abbreviation T.

 Colors help you follow the line of play

BridgeHands often uses multiple colors to illustrate the sequence of play.  This allows the reader to easily focus and cross-reference between the explanation and the cards in each player's hand.

 Two bidding formats

For bidding examples, two formats are commonly used: Non-competitive and competitive bidding.

Non-competitive sequence use left-right orientation

Non-competitive bidding typically shows the opener's bid on the left and the responder's bid to the right.  Here's an excerpt from "Fourth Suit Forcing":

1H - 1S;
2C - 2D;


Competitive sequences use parenthesis for opponent bidding


Detailed rebids use tables to illustrate choices

Competitive bidding typically shows bidding by all four players with opponents' bidding shown using parenthesis, as the "Western Cuebid":

(1C)  -  1D  -  (P)  -  1H;
(2C)  -  2D  -  (P)  -  3C;

Unless otherwise specified, the compass layouts assigned to bidding is:
West   North   East   South

More complex bidding scenarios, such as "Lebensohl" use tables to show possible rebid sequences:

1N - (2D) - ?




Penalty (however many advanced players now play this as a  Negative Double for "takeout")


5+ card suit, to play


Forces opener to bid 3C

After 1N - (2D) - 2N - (P);
          3C -  (P)  - ?

Pass, to play showing 5+ Clubs

3D (cuebid) is game forcing with Diamond stopper ("slow shows") and a 4 card major

3H/S, 5 card suit and invitational hand

3N, "to play" with stopper in Diamonds ("slow shows")    More...



BridgeHands uses suit symbols (internal "GIFs") to the left of each suit on a Bridge hand.  This approach avoid problems associated with custom fonts not found on a user's computer.  For the accompanying text, suit abbreviations (S=Spade, H=Heart, D=Diamond, C=Club) are used, followed by the suit value - see above; this method allow the user to search for a bid or series of bids using a search engine.  To improve readability, suit rank/denomination abbreviations use bold fonts.  Inconsequential spot cards use the letter "x" as three little cards are shown as:  x x x


While the Bridge syntax is fairly ubiquitous, some terms vary by authorship.   BridgeHands adheres to the following guidelines:

BridgeHands usage:

Others sometime use:


No trumps, Notrumps

3N (3 Notrump, unless the book name specifically uses this syntax)


Defense (unless the book name specifically uses Defence)





2/1 (unless the book name specifically uses Two Over One)

Two Over One


Odd Even Discard (etc, hyphens are omitted)

Odd-Even Discard

10 (for 10 spot card)







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