Bridge Jargon Explained
    last updated on 13 Feb 2007
Acol  (1) A system which Dutch players claim to play, it's a strong NoTrump and a 4-card major is hardly ever opened.
Acol  (2) A street in north london where a group of players came up with the notion of a pre-emptive 1NT with a flat hand.
Acol  (3) A system in which the integral ingrediant is the concept of opening 1/♠ with maybe 4 cards so that partner has no idea whether or not to support with 3 cards.
Bath Coup Getting to use the tub before your roommate.
Blackwood  (1) A convention designed to tell partner that you have a vague suspicion there could be a slam in the offing but aren't quite sure how to investigate it
Blackwood  (2)
Variations include Roman Key Card Blackwood which is the same but carries the additional inference to the opposition that you know what you are doing and are not to be trifled with, and Byzantine Blackwood which is designed to tell the opposition that you are a real expert and they double you at their peril
Claim Where declarer lays his hand down because it looks like he should be able to make the rest but can't be bothered to work out the entries.


A contract which should have made, but didn't.

Competitive Bid

Any excessive or unsound bid in an auction where both partnerships are bidding.


In actual play, that member of a partnership who was most persistent in rebidding his suit. In books, a synonym for South.

DONT (1)

My wife's favourite word.

DONT (2) A convention used when you do not wish to collect the penalty for opponents going down in 1NT doubled.


4,000 pounds.


Your Partner.

Double Dummy   (1)

A 4,000 pound partner?

Double Dummy   (2)

A pair of ‘experts'

Experienced Player

Someone who simply knows that 4 major, made but not bid, is +170 without even looking at the back of the bidding card.

Finesse   (1)

A female bridge player from Finland .

Finesse   (2)


A specific type of card play used by declarer to secure an overtrick or to avoid blame in a contract doomed to failure. Should a game or slam contract go off, a declarer who took at least one finesse during play is entitled to claim it to be a Good Contract  (qv).

Finesse   (3)


A refined gesture or articulation incorporating a delicacy of manipulation. If one doesn't understand that, under no attempt to have it explained by bridge players

Finesse   (4)

A finesse usually consists of playing a small card towards a tenace (although a jackace or queenace are equally suitable).


That rare occurrence when partner has more than a singleton in your good suit. Also, colloquially, what you have if you discover he has raised you with a singleton.

Forcing for one round. The term used for a bid (such as a reverse or a forcing 1NT) that is not forcing for one round, but just for one bid.

Free Bid

All of them, once you pay your entry fee.

Game Plan   (1)

In bridge books, puzzles etc., a strategy, devised by declarer at trick one, to secure the one additional trick (over and above his off-the-top winners) necessary to make the contract.

Game Plan   (2) In actual play, a strategy, devised by declarer at trick one, to secure the five additional tricks (over and above his off-the-top winners) necessary to make the contract.


A convention used to justify bidding no-trump slams with an insufficient point count.

Gerber Convention

Annual meeting of baby-food manufacturers.


A system of two suited overcalls designed to exercise partner's memory to breaking point and, frequently, beyond. The name is actually a corruption of the original, rather unwieldy, title of the convention: "I've got two suits now you've got to guess dem."

Good Contract

A contract which went off, but might not have had it been played better or the distribution been more favourable. Also, occasionally, a game contract where the slam which is bid and made by the rest of the room could have been defeated given some obscure and unlikely distribution of the defenders' cards.

Good Double

A double of any defeated contract, or of a contract which might have been defeated had you been able to play it double dummy.

Jack denies

Headlines about Marilyn Monroe's relationship with J.F.K

Law of Total Tricks

Recent Las Vegas ordinance to reduce prostitution.

Loser Count

A method of hand evaluation which can be used to justify bidding major suit games with no points.


A large North American animal. In bridge it's a big hand.

Need the Rest

These days, you may hear declarer use the phrase "I need the rest" in its erroneous sense of "I cannot afford to lose any further tricks". Originally, though, it meant any awkward situation calling for unusual technique, the expression being borrowed from the game of snooker.

No Trump

A fall-back denomination for use when you can't find a fit or, in a pairs tournament, when your only fit is in a minor.


Position of any honour which has to be finessed in order to make your contract.


Position of any honour which may be finessed to secure an overtrick in an undefeatable contract.

Optional Double The term used for a penalty double when partner passes it and they make an overtrick.


Of the three opponents at bridge, the one who sits opposite you.

Post Mortem

A time set aside for relief of frustration by blaming partner for your mistakes.


A bidding system which utilizes the 1 opener as a conventional gauntlet to the opposition, challenging them to see if they dare bid 2 before you and partner have had a chance to discuss suits.


A charitable device designed to keep opponents out of a Good Contract  (qv) or any excessive or unsound bid in an uncontested auction (cf.  Competitive Bid )


A branch of mathematics designed to lend respectability to guessing. Almost by definition, it is a dubious science. For example, according to probability theory, every time you pick up a bridge hand you should hurl your cards at dealer and accuse him of being a cheat. The probability that he should deal you that precise selection of 13 cards by pure chance can be shown to be so infinitesimally small as to be, to all practical purposes, impossible.


A bid designed to dupe your left hand opponent into thinking you hold the hand he previously thought he had himself. If you play loser counts and have masochistic tendencies, a psyche can also be used as invitation to partner to land you in four of your singleton major.

Quick Tricks

Last-minute scurry by hookers to beat the Law of Total Tricks.

Roman Discards

Caesar's trash.

Roman Key Card Blackwood

An ingenious convention that allows you to get to a grand slam off the ace of trumps.

Philomachus pugnax. A European wading bird.


Following a competitive auction, any contract which subsequently fails to make.

Short Club

A private organization for midgets (sorry, I mean little people).

Splinter Bid

The only recognized way to become declarer with a singleton trump in each hand.

Sputnik (or Negative) Double

A conventional invitation to partner to rebid his opening suit.


A strategy in play where declarer, at a loss as to how to make his contract, simply plays off his winners and then, inexplicably, finds himself making the last trick.

Standard English

An attempt by the EBU to persuade the rank and file that Acol needs renaming in order to give the illusion of progress. (In practice, the very small percentage who have actually heard of Standard English aren't fooled and everyone continues to claim to be playing Acol regardless.)


A bidding system which enables you, whenever you get bored, to ensure that you get to be declarer simply by opening 1NT.

Texas  Transfer

Relocation to a branch office in Dallas .


Total Number of Tricks. A system of logic which is useful should you need to blind partner with science when he challenges your decision to sacrifice over a doomed contract.

Trump Coup

Triumph of Ivana's attorneys in securing a huge alimony.

Trump Echo

A brand new casino in Atlantic City .

Trump Reduction and Elimination Ultimate result when Donald says, “You're fired!”

Vienna Coup

The mating sound of Austrian doves.

Wolff Sign-off

The ending of Little Red Riding Hood.



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