Pocklington Bridge Club

Bridge Scoring

This page will try to explain one aspect of bridge that has many people baffled - how the scores are worked out, and how to read the score cards.

The two sections are:

  1. Basic scoring
  2. Travellers and Matchcards

Basic scoring

Please note that the scoring described here is for duplicate bridge. If you play rubber bridge, the scoring system is slightly different.

There are two types of scores: the good ones and the bad ones. The good scores (positive scores) are for making a contract - getting at least as many tricks as you bid - and for defeating a contract - not allowing the opposing pair to make as many tricks as they bid. The bad scores (negative scores) are for losing a contract or for allowing the opposing pair to make one.

Positive scores

For scoring purposes as for bidding purposes, it is assumed that you will make more than six tricks if you are bidding - so winning seven tricks counts as "1", winning eight tricks counts as "2" and so on.

If you make your contract - or better - your score is 50 points plus ...

Example: 2♣ making 8 tricks - that counts as 2 tricks at 20 point each plus 50 = 90 points

Example: 1NT making 8 tricks - that counts as 2 tricks at 30 points each, plus 10 bonus, plus 50 = 120 points

Game scores

If you bid and make a score of over 100 (not including the basic 50 points you get for making a score), you get a "game" bonus.

Example: 3NT (Not vul) making 9 tricks - that counts as three tricks at 30 points each, plus 10 bonus = 100, so you get a game bonus of 300 = 400 points

Example: 4 (Vul) making 12 tricks - that counts as six tricks at 30 points each = 180, so you get a game bonus of 500 = 680 points

Example: 3♣ making 11 tricks - this is not a game score because you only bid to 3, which in clubs only gives you 60 points, not enough for a game bonus, so you just score 150.

Slam bonuses

If you bid and make a slam (a contract of 6 or 7 - ie, 12 or 13 tricks), you get a slam bonus on top of your game score:

Example: 6♣ making 12 tricks (Not vul) - 20 points per trick (= 20×6) + 300 for a non-vulnerable game + 500 for a non-vulnerable small slam = 920 points

Example: 7NT making 13 tricks (Vul) - 30 points per trick plus 10 (= 30×7 + 10) + 500 for a vulnerable game + 1500 for a vulnerable small slam = 2220 points

Example: 6 making 13 tricks (Not vul) = 30 points per trick (= 30×7) + 300 for a non-vulnerable game + 500 for a non-vulnerable small slam (because you only bid to 6) = 1010 points

Negative scores

If you fail to make your contract, your opponents get points.

Doubled scores

Doubled scores can be positive or negative. If you are fairly certain that your opponents can't make their contract, you can double it, and this puts the stakes up - if they go down, you get more points … but if they make it, they get more points.

If your opponents are sure they can make their contract, they can re-double - this puts the stakes up even higher!

Not making the contract

If you don't make a contract that has been doubled, then instead of 50/100 points per trick, you give away:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Not vulnerable 100 300 500 800 1100 1400 1700 2000 2300
Vulnerable 200 500 800 1100 1400 1700 2000 2300 2600

Penalty points in a re-doubled contract are simply twice the penalty points for the contract doubled

Making the contract

Now this bit is complicated …

For every trick that you bid and make, you get double the points you would normally get.

If this gives you 100 or more, you get a game bonus (as normal); if it is less than 100, you get 50 points for a part score.

You get an automatic 50 point bonus for making a doubled contract

For every overtrick you make, you get 100 (not vulnerable) or 200 (vulnerable)

If you bid and make a slam, you get the normal slam bonus

Example: 1NT doubled making 7 tricks - 80 points for the basic contract (= 2×40, the normal score for 1NT) + 50 for a part score + 50 bonus for making a doubled contract = 180 points

Example: 3♣ making 10 tricks (Vul) - 120 points for the basic contract (= 2×60, the normal score for 3♣) + 500 for a vulnerable game (although 3♣ isn't usually game, it is when you are doubled!) + 200 points for an overtrick + 50 bonus for making a doubled contract = 870 points

Example: 4♠ making 10 tricks (Not vul) - 240 points for the basic contract (= 2×120, the normal score for 4♠) + 300 for a vulnerable game + 50 bonus for making a doubled contract = 590 points

Travellers and Matchcards

There are two different types of match, Pairs and Teams

Pairs

In a pairs match, it is the two of you against everyone else. At the end of the evening, your score on every hand is compared to everybody else's.

The traveller (scorecard) for a board will look something like this:

N/S Vul Board 12
NS EW Contract By Lead Result NS + NS -    
1                  
2 7 1NT E xH 8   120    
3                  
4                  
5 12 3D W KC 8 50      
6 1 2C N AD -2   200    
7                  
8 4 1NT E xH +2   150    
9 10 2C * N QD 6   500    
10                  
11 3 2D W xS 8   90    
12                  

So what does this tell us?

We'll start by just looking at a single row:

NS EW Contract By Lead Result NS + NS -    
2 7 1NT E xH 8       120    

Or a different row:

NS EW Contract By Lead Result NS + NS -    
6 1 2C N AD -2       200    

Notice that some people have written in the number of tricks made (e.g. 8) and some have written in whether the contract made overtricks or undertricks (e.g. +2). Either method is usually acceptable, although the director may prefer you to use one method or the other

How is the match scored?

The score you get is decided by order, and nothing else. It doesn't matter if you win (or lose!) by 10 points or 1000, you get the same score. The first thing to do is to look at the score that each N/S pair got, and the score that each E/W pair got:

N/S pair Score E/W pair Score
2 -120 7 +120
5 +50 12 -50
6 +200 1 -200
8 -150 4 +150
9 -500 10 +500
11 -90 3 +90

Now we have to put the scores in order. If we look at the N/S pairs, 6 did the best, with a score of +200, and 9 did the worst, with a score of -500. Conversely, out of the E/W pairs, 10 did best with +500, and 1 did worst with -200

Twelve pairs played this hand, so there is a maximum score of 10 points (the number of pairs played, minus 2) for the best pair in each direction, down through 8, 6, 4, 2 to 0 for the worst pairs

PlaceN/S pair Score E/W pair Score Points
1st 6 +200 10 +500 10
2nd 5 +50 4 +150 8
3rd 11 -90 7 +120 6
4th 2 -120 3 +90 4
5th 8 -150 12 -50 2
6th 9 -500 1 -200 0

Once this has been done for all the boards, just add up the points, to get your pair's total

This total is then usually converted to a percentage, based on getting the maximum possible score on each hand. (Note that with some movements, some boards may get played more times than others, so may have different maximum scores). The percentages will always have a mean average of 50%

What happens if two pairs score the same?

If two pairs score the same over the whole match then they score the same, as simple as that.

If two pairs (or more) score the same on one hand, the points available are shared between them. In the example below:

N/S Vul Board 5
NS EW Contract By Lead Result NS + NS -    
2 7 1NT E xH 8   120    
5 12 3D W KC 8 50      
6 1 2C N AD -2   200    
8 4 1NT E xH +2   150    
9 10 2C * N QD 6   500    
11 3 3D W xS 8 50      

pairs 5 and 11 came joint 2nd, so they share the points for 2nd (8) and 3rd (6), and score 7 each.

Teams

In a teams match, you are playing each board against just one other team. If you are sitting N/S, you have a partner pair who are sitting E/W. So if you play board 6 against Team 3 (E/W), your partner pair will - at some point in the evening - play board 6 against Team 3 (N/S).

The score is decided by the difference between how well you did and how well your partner pair did

Usually in a teams match, you will play four boards against each team, and each of these sets of four will be scored separately, first of all

We'll start off by looking at just the first such set on your scorecard (you are playing North-South)

Hand Vul Vs Team Contract By Lead Tricks Plus Minus Match Points
1 5 2S E xH 8   110    
2 NS 5 3NT N xC 9 600      
3 EW 5 3NT E xS -1 100      
4 ALL 5 4S S AH -2   200    

On another table, you partner pair, sitting East-West, filled this on their scorecard:

Hand Vul Vs Team Contract By Lead Tricks Plus Minus Match Points
1 5 2S E QH 8 110      
2 NS 5 3NT N xC 8 100      
3 EW 5 3NT E xS -2   200    
4 ALL 5 3D W AS 9 110      

Now you add the scores together, and use the table at the bottom of the scoresheet to convert this to IMPs (below)

0 - 10 = 0 IMP 270 - 310 = 7 IMP 750 - 890 = 13 IMP 2000-2240 = 19 IMP
20 - 40 = 1 IMP 320 - 360 = 8 IMP 900 -1090 = 14 IMP 2250-2490 = 20 IMP
50 - 80 = 2 IMP 370 - 420 = 9 IMP 1100-1290 = 15 IMP 2500-2990 = 21 IMP
90 - 120 = 3 IMP 430 - 490 = 10 IMP 1300-1490 = 16 IMP 3000-3490 = 22 IMP
130 - 160 = 4 IMP 500 - 590 = 11 IMP 1500-1740 = 17 IMP 2500-3990 = 23 IMP
170 - 210 = 5 IMP 600 - 740 = 12 IMP 1750-1990 = 18 IMP 4000 and up = 24 IMP
220 - 260 = 6 IMP
Add them together? I thought we were looking for the difference!

Yes, add them together. The way it works is this:

Hand 1 - Neither team did any better. On both tables, EW made 110 points, so the hand was "flat". Add together +110 and -110 and you get a total of 0 - no difference at all. So zero points gives zero IMPs

Hand 2 - NS made their game contract, but EW defeated the same contract, so as a team we have done well on both tables. Add the scores of +600 and +100 giving a total of +700, which we use the table to convert to +12 IMPs

Hand 3 - NS defeated the contract by one trick, but EW gave away an extra trick when they played it, so overall we haven't done as well. Add the scores of +100 and -200 to give a total of -100, which converts to -3 IMPs

Hand 4 - NS failed to make their contract, giving away 200; EW did make a contract, but it was only for 110, so our net score here is -90, which converts to -3 IMPs. Notice here that if NS hadn't been vulnerable, their score would have been -100, so our total for the hand would have been -100 + 110 = +10, making the hand "flat"

Now we add up these scores to see how we did against Team 5: 0 + 12 - 3 - 3 = +6.

Victory Points

In some clubs, you just add up all these scores, and whoever has the biggest number is the winner. At Pocklington Bridge Club, we use the Victory Point system, which is designed to stop one very large swing deciding the entire match. Yes, if a team does manage to score 24 IMPs on a couple of boards, they have done very well, but there are still over twenty more boards in the game, and if a team have only scored highly on those two boards, they do not necessarily deserve to win - which +48 IMPs on two boards makes very likely

Victory Points are awarded for each set of four boards - i.e., for the match you play against each team. The conversion scale is shown below:

- IMP +
5 0 5
4 1 - 2 6
3 3 - 5 7
2 6 - 9 8
1 10-13 9
0 14 + 10

In our match against Team 5, we scored +6, which is in the 6-9 band. We got a positive score, so we get 8 VP. Team 5 on the same set got -6, so they get 2 VP.

The VP that you and your opponents get for any set always adds up to 10

Now you can add up your Victory Points, and whoever has the most wins the match!

Note: Even if you have the highest IMP score, you haven't necessarily won. If you get a positive score on all your matches, you haven't necessarily won

Note: If two teams have the same Victory Point score, the team with more IMPs wins. If the teams have the same IMP score as well then the match is tied

Note: The Victory Point scale shown here is for 4-board rounds. If you are playing more or fewer boards in each round, a different scale applies