Session 1.1 : Discovering the game without dummy
To avoid any useless bustle, try and prepare the room before pupils’ arrival: each two tables are placed side by side and covered with a mat with four chairs around. Some of you may be lucky enough to work in the school’s foyer, but in most cases, you will only have a mere classroom. It is therefore important that the pupils feel, as soon as they arrive that they are not here to listen to just another class! Don’t prepare a nice speech! Children haven’t come to listen to you talk; they’ve come to play, and to play now! Keep in mind that you don’t need to explain what they are going to do, but to make them do it all the while explaining what they’re doing.
- Forming the teams: they’ll play with a partner
- Cards ranking, the notion of trick
- The basic rule: follow suit
- How is a hand played out: who leads, who wins, who leads again?
- Bridge is played by four players, two against two.
- To make it easier, each player is called by a cardinal point. North is associated with South and the two players constitute the North-South pair. Their opponents at the table form the East-West pair.
- A standard 52-card pack is used.
Don’t place them in an awkward position and don’t lose any time asking them to calculate how many cards each player will have! They will understand soon enough that at bridge you need to know how to count, so don’t discourage them from the very start
And then they must start playing.
How will the first hand be played out?
Place a pack of card on each table – and not a board containing the pack
Ask each North player to deal the cards one by one clockwise.
Invite the pupils to count their cards (there we are, 52 divided by 4 is 13!!), to sort them by "family" , what we call at bridge the suits, and to order them alternating reds and blacks. Club and Diamonds are the minor suits, Hearts and Spades the major suits. Most of them will start with making four packs in front of them; at the beginning, holding thirteen cards as a fan in one single hand when you are eleven is a rather difficult exercise!
Then explain the cards hierarchy,
"It is same as with beggar-my-neighbor, the highest is the Ace, then the King, the Queen, the Jack, 10, .............down to 2 ".
High cards: Ace – King – Queen – Jack - 10 (the highest being the Ace).
Low cards: 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 - 2 (the lowest being the 2).
Don’t give them the honors value.
You will thus avoid a confusion in the objectives so that they won’t want to « charge » (give points to the partner), to win points as in Tarot when the partner has taken the trick with an Ace, for example.
Ask the pupils to play the hand using very simplified rules: in No Trump but without a dummy, like some kind of two against two beggar-my-neighbor game.
And as there has been no bidding, there is no declarer.
Arbitrarily ask South to lead.
The other players must, one after the other, play a card from the same suit (they have to follow to the suit) either a higher one, or a lower one, but it is the highest that will win the trick (once the four cards have been played).
It is the player who has taken the trick who leads for the next trick. The player is allowed change the suit, if he so wishes.
As soon as one of the players has no cards left in the lead suit, he has to play a card from another suit (to discard); in no case, will he be allowed to win the trick.
At the end of the play:
The partners (North-South on the one hand, East-West on the other hand) have to put their tricks in common and count them
The winning team is the one that made the greatest number of tricks.
At bridge, the only thing that counts is the number of tricks you have won. The content of each individual trick is of no avail.
Each player has thirteen cards; therefore only a maximum of thirteen tricks can be won.
They have discovered many things with this first hand! But they have not yet acquired them; you will need to do it again for the whole length of the session.
Some teachers could think that it is not necessary and that they should go on. But be careful not to be blinded by those who talk and be therefore tempted to cut corners.
“Do you know how many Spades have been played?”, “is your 10 of Hearts now a winner? why?”
This will make the second hand even more interesting for them, while their buddy with the bare Queen of Clubs will be torturing himself wondering what card to play on the opponents’ King of Clubs; he has at least memorized the cards hierarchy, but might have no problem revoking to save his Queen!
The two, three or four following hands