This Handbook is an expression of the concern that the American Bridge Association has for our new players. Our intent is to provide information about duplicate bridge that will make you feel more competent at the bridge table and provide some essential information about the operational aspects of the ABA. This Handbook is dedicated to Mrs. Sara Pearson, past Western Section Vice President, for allowing us to use the materials developed for the Western Section Handbook as basis for this manual. The ABA is a national organization of predominately Afro-American bridge players. To paraphrase Sara: "while we are not a social club, we are a very close group and act like a large extended family. . We welcome you to the ABA family, and hope you enjoy many hours at the table playing duplicate bridge." Gloria Christler Executive Secretary 1988-2001

Duplicate bridge is the form of contract bridge that is played in all major national and international tournaments and is sometimes called Tournament Bridge. It is the form of bridge played in most clubs - country clubs, social clubs and in some people's homes. The game is called "Duplicate" because each hand is played at least twice (but not by the same players) under conditions that are exactly alike, same cards in each hand, same dealer, and same vulnerability. Only the bidding and play, and consequently the score, might vary each time a particular hand is played. The results from each time the board is played are compared with those of the players who held the same cards under the conditions set by each board. If a partnership sits East-West, the results will be compared with other East-West in the field. The same is true for the North-South partnerships. The number of points scored during the play of a given hand is not as important as the number of pairs that are outscored. At duplicate it is possible to score well with a minus score since others may lose more points on a board. Eight players are enough to have a duplicate game at home. (An experienced duplicate player may help you conduct a game. Don't hesitate to ask.) You may wish to purchase your own set of duplicate boards and other equipment from any bridge supply company.

Tournament Bridge for the most part is duplicate bridge. Each hand, instead of being played only once, as would be the case in rubber bridge, is bid and played by two or more different pairs but always under conditions that exactly duplicate the playing conditions; dealer, vulnerability, and exact card-holding in each hand are precisely the same. Only the resulting score might vary due to differences in the play, bidding or both.

The mechanics of duplicate bridge are simple and may be learned as you learn the game itself. The hands are shuffled and dealt, or prepared from hand records, the first time they are to be played. Hands will not be redealt but will be moved as they are from table to table for play by other contestants. The completed hands are put into a numbered duplicate board. This is a tray with four pockets, one for each player's hand (See Figure 1). The board has a printed arrow pointing to a position designated as North. The dealer and vulnerability is shown as well. The word "Dealer" is printed above the pocket of the player so designated. If a side is vulnerable, the abbreviation "VUL" will be shown above the pockets, which hold the cards of the partnership. The pockets will also usually be lined with red. However some duplicate boards may not have red pockets so players must be alert for the written designation. Being vulnerable means that premiums for games and slams will be greater and penalties for undertricks at any contract will be increased. Figure 1. A Duplicate Board The tables being used for a duplicate will have markers placed on them by the Director of the game to show the table numbers and the designated compass directions, North, South, East, and West. I All tables will have the same compass orientation. This is to ensure the proper movement of the players and boards as the game progresses. The player sitting North at each table is responsible for the orientation of the boards and must ensure that the North position on the boards matches the direction designated as North by the table marker. The Director assigns an initial position to the contestants (individual, pair or team) at the start of a session. Unless otherwise directed, the members of each pair or team may select seats, among those assigned to them, by mutual agreement. Having once selected a compass direction (example NORTH or EAST), a player may not change it except on instruction from or with permission of the Director.

Eight players are enough to have a duplicate game at home. (An experienced duplicate player may help you conduct a game. Don't hesitate to ask.) You may wish to purchase your own set of duplicate boards and other equipment from any bridge supply company.

At duplicate bridge other players must play the same hand after you, therefore to prevent mixing up the cards individual bookkeeping is required. Each defender, declarer and dummy when playing to a trick puts his card on the table immediately in front of himself. When all four cards have been played, each player turns his own card over face down and places it along the edge of the table starting on his left. The individual cards are placed so that the narrow edge is parallel to the edge of the table of the side winning the trick (See Figure 2). After the hand has been played out each player will have his thirteen cards face down in front of him along the edge of the table. After both sides have verified the results each player will count his cards to be sure of thirteen and return them face down in his designated pocket of the board played. If you aren't careful in returning your cards you could foul the board, spoiling the results on later rounds, and earning yourself a penalty. Figure 2. Quitted Tricks

The most common form of duplicate bridge scoring is matchpoint. At duplicate scoring honors do not count and since every deal is scored separately there is no carryover of results from previous hands. Trick scoring remains the same, 20 points per trick for minor suits (clubs and diamonds); 30 points per trick for major suits, (hearts and spades); 40 points for the first trick at no trump and 30 points for each subsequent trick at this denomination. In addition to trick scores a bonus or 300 points is given for bidding and making a non-vulnerable game, 500 points for vulnerable game and 50 points for any part score bid and made regardless of vulnerability. Slam bonuses and penalties remain the same as reflected in the following chart. Doubled and redoubled premiums are also shown.

Table 1 lists the total score for each possible contract.  Each board is scored separately. In addition to the trick score, there is a bonus for successfully fulfilling a contract. 

Table 1
    Non-Vulnerable Vulnerable
For making a Grand Slam 1000 1500
  Smal Slam 500 750
  Any Game 300 500
  Any Part Score 50 50


Table 2

      Not Vulnerable Vulnerable
  Doubled Redoubled Doubled Reddoubled
Contracted Tricks score is score is score is score is
  doubled quadrupled doubled quadrupled
Overtricks each 100 200 200 400
Bonus 50 100 50 100

If by chance you fall short of your contract you will be penalized as follows: 

A pick-up slip is made for each round. It records the results of the boards played that round. (The weekly club games usually have Traveling Score Slips which stay with the board, folded and concealed in the North pocket) .It is the responsibility of the North player to enter the accurate score on the pick-up slip or the traveler. The East-West pair has the responsibility for checking the accuracy of traveling score slips as well as pick-up slips. Check the score before you initial it. If the score is correct after you initial the slip, mark an "x" on the back, and return it to the North player. He places it face down under the edge of the table marker. A caddy will come to get it. If the score on a pick-up slip is incorrect ask North to make out a new slip. Don't accept strikeovers. Destroy the incorrect slip. The Director should be called for correction to traveling score slips. 


Pair games are match-pointed. The Director or scorer match points the boards. On each board a pair gets one match point for every pair they beat and 1/2 match point for every pair they tie. In team games, four to six players to a side (only four play at a time) the scoring is more complex. For Open-Team-of-Four matches that are scored board-a-match, a team wins, ties, or loses the board. For Swiss, Knock-out (K/O), and Round Robin (R/R), teams an International Match point (IMP) Scale is required to score the game.

(See Table 2.) Table 2. - International Match-Point Scale

0 to 10 0 320 to 360 8 1300 to 1490 16
20 to 40 1 370 to 420 9 1500 to 1740 17
50 to 80 2 430 to 490 10 1750 to 1990 18
90 to 120 3 500 to 590 11 2000 to 2240 19
130 to 160 4 600 to 740 12 2250 to 2490 20
170 to 210 5 750 to 890 13 2500 to 2990 21
220 to 260 6 900 to 1090 14 3000 to 3490 22
270 to 310 7 1100 to 1290 15 3500 to 3990 23
        4000 or more 24

Teams calculate the difference between their scores at both tables, and use the IMP scale to get their IMP score. For example

At your North-South table (N-S) 620
At your East-West table (E-W)   -170
The difference                          + 450 = +10 IMPs

The score for the opponents will be just the opposite (minus 10 IMPs). Write your plus IMPs in one column and your minus IMPs in another column on the right of your scorecard. Add up each column separately and find the algebraic difference. That's your net score!

If IMPs are to be converted to Victory Points, the Director will inform you of the Victory Point Conversion Scale, since they vary with the number of boards played per round. Here you calculate the IMPs per round and convert them to Victory Points. Add up your Victory Points for each round and that is your score! (See example in Table 3).

Table 3. - 14-Point Victory Point Conversion Scale

0 7 7
1-3 8 6
4-6 9 5
10-12 11 3
13-15 12 2
16-18 13 1
19 or more 14 0

IMP DIFFERENCE VICTORY POINTS Winner Loser 0 7 7 1-3 8 -6 4-6 9-5 10-12 11-3 13-15 12- 2 16-18 13- 1 19 or more 14-0

The outside of your private score is used as a Convention Card (See Figure 3). Your opponents are entitled to know your conventions and special treatments. In other words, they are entitled to know whenever a bid may have an unusual meaning. And, of course, you are entitled to the same information concerning their conventions and treatments. Some conventions (like takeout doubles and Blackwood) are so universal that they are considered standard. Others are so extreme that they are not permitted in organizational pair games. However, a great many conventions are allowed. You occasionally will play against a pair who seems to have a "Book" written on their cards. Don't let this intimidate you. Your opponents are trying to be scrupulously fair, listing all their conventions to make sure you are not misled. 

Eight players are enough to have a duplicate game at home. (An experienced duplicate player may help you conduct a game. Don't hesitate to ask.) You may wish to purchase your own set of duplicate boards and other equipment from any bridge supply company.

Every game or competition needs an umpire. Duplicate bridge has the Tournament Director (TD) who is the technical manager of your tournament and it's his job to maintain discipline and to insure the orderly progress of the game. The Director is bound by the laws of duplicate bridge and by supplementary regulations announced by the sponsoring organization. Call the Director for all infractions. Don't try to solve them yourself. He will rectify any errors or irregularities brought to his attention. Don't feel intimidated if someone calls the Director. The Director administers and interprets laws. He does this over and over again and has most of them committed to memory. If you don't understand what the director is telling you, ask to see it in the book of laws and. Read it for yourself. For a better knowledge of the laws, purchase the ACBL, Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge (Revised! 1987).

Players new to duplicate often misunderstand or are unaware of the somewhat different rules that govern the tournament game. Even experienced players sometimes forget these differences. Whenever a law has been violated or there is a reason to believe that it has, or any irregularity has occurred, the Director must be called. Newcomers should not be upset when a Director is called because failure to summon the Director may result in a forfeit of the rights of any player at that particular table and impact the overall scoring of the game.

Call for the Director in a moderate tone of voice. It is not necessary to yell loudly or display any aggressiveness. Always address the Director by his title and not by name or in any other way by which you may know him. If you disagree with the ruling, simply tell the Director that you wish to appeal the ruling and he will provide you with an appeal application for submission to a committee for review and adjudication.

                                                                        Figure 3. The Convention Card

You may appeal any of the Director's rulings through the Appeals Committee. You must make your protest in writing and submit it within 30 minutes after the conclusion of the session. Give all pertinent information. In fact, let the Director know that you plan to appeal so that he may alert the Appeals Committee. All persons directly involved must attend the Appeals Committee meeting. (Laws 92 & 93)

In Pair games, check your matchpoints after the Recap Sheet has been posted. If there is an error in your score you may apply for correction. Obtain a Score Correction Form from any Director or the Scoring Room. Fill in all pertinent information and return it to the Chief Director or Chief Scorer. Do this immediately! There is an established length of time (protest period) allowed for applications for score correction to be considered (The extent of this period is usually posted on the Recap Sheet.) (Law 79C)

The Director gives instructions as to the proper movement of the players and boards from table to table. The session ends when all the rounds scheduled have been played and all scores have been properly collected and entered.


Director can assess Penalties for: (Law 90)

1. Tardiness
2. Slow play
3. Loud discussion
4. Comparing scores
5. Touching another's cards
6. Misplacing cards in board
7. Failure to comply promptly with Director's instructions
8. Errors in procedure Director's

Power to Suspend (Law 91)
1. In performing his/her duty to maintain order and discipline, the director is specifically empowered to suspend a player for the current session or any part thereof.
2. The director is specifically empowered to disqualify a player, pair or team for cause, subject to approval by the Tournament Committee or sponsoring organization.

  1. Maintain a courteous attitude toward partner and opponents. Avoid remarks that will interfere with the enjoyment of the game.
  2. Do not bid or play with special emphasis, speed or reluctance.
  3. Do not allow partner's hesitation, remark or mannerism to influence your call or play.
  4. Review the auction only for your own information, not for your partner's.
  5. Do not use any bid or play that may have a special meaning to your partnership unless it is noted on your convention card and will be alerted by your partner to the opponents.
  6. Do not detach a card from your hand before it is your turn to play.  Avoid any indication of approval or disapproval of partner's or opponents' bid or play.
  7. Do not make a claim or concession of tricks if there is any doubt about the outcome of the deal.
  8. When dummy, do not exchange hands with your partner before the opening lead or ask him/her to let you see his/her hand. Also, do not look at your opponents' hands while your partner is playing a contract. (Laws 42 & 43)
  9. It is considered unethical to stare at your partner, or your opponent, or to watch them closely for the purpose of determining the position in the hand from which a card is extracted.
  10. Avoid discussing the bidding, play or results of a board so that it may be overheard. This is illegal.
  11. Avoid the touching or handling of cards belonging to another person. After the board has been played and you wish to see another's hand, ask if you may see the hand. That person will hold the cards so that you may see them. Only one hand should be out of the board at a time.
  12. Use only the prescribed language for bids and calls. (A rap on the table does not constitute a legal pass).
  13. Alcoholic beverages Any use of liquor must comply with local laws. The serving of drinks at tables is not specifically prohibited, but if any player at the table objects, such objection must be sustained by the director. Open display of a pocket flask, wine bottle or liquor bottle at the table during the game is not permitted.
  14. The Alert Procedure The partner of a bidder who makes a conventional call or who uses an unusual treatment must bring this to the attention of the opponents by saying, "Alert" before his right-hand opponent makes his call. At this point, right hand opponent has two options: 1) he can make his call without finding out what the unusual call meant, or 2) he can ask the alerter for an explanation.
  15. Checking (Verification) Check the opponents' pair or team number and the board numbers before you begin to play. Check the positions of the players and boards before bidding. There is a stiff penalty for bidding or playing out-of-turn. Check to see which way the card is turned after the trick has been quitted (all 4 persons play to the trick). Count your cards face down before and after play.
  16. Kibitzer 01. Kibitzing (Law 76). A kibitzer is an onlooker at bridge and kibitzing is the act of watching a game from the sidelines. In serious play there are unwritten, as well as written, rules concerning the deportment of the spectator. A kibitzer should not look at the cards of more than one player, except by permission. A kibitzer must not display any reaction to the bidding or play while a hand is in progress. A kibitzer must refrain from mannerisms or remarks of any kind (including conversation with a player) .A kibitzer must not in any way disturb a player. A kibitzer may not call attention to an irregularity or mistake, nor speak on any question of fact or law except by request of the Director. Kibitzers are always welcome, however, kibitzer may be removed at a player's request without cause. The director can remove any kibitzer for cause. All bridge players should condition themselves to kibitzers.
  17. Opponents. Be polite and courteous. Your opponents have the right to know the conventions and treatments used by your partnership. You may question the opponents before the auction begins and only when it's your turn to make a call during the auction. You may also question the bidding after the auction is over and your partner has made his opening lead. You must question only the partner of the player who has made the call.
  18. Partner. The most important person at the tournament is your partner. Negative comments about what your partner does should be made to him in private at the end of the session. If there is a misunderstanding that needs correction take your partner aside. Don't discuss it at the table.
  19. Profanity. Profanity is a serious matter and may be the basis for immediate ejection from the game by an official as well as further action by the organization.
  20. Public Accusation by a Player Any public accusation of unethical conduct against a player by a member of the organization constitutes improper conduct and may subject the offender to disciplinary action.
  21. Skip Bid Warning Whenever you bid at a level higher than necessary to make a sufficient bid, you are doing something unexpected. It is suggested that before you make a jump bid you say, "I'm about to make a skip bid. Please wait."
  22. Slow Play Bridge is a timed event. Many players do not realize that slow play not only is a discourtesy to the opponents of the moment, but also to all the other tables taking part since it can slow down the entire game. Directors have the right to penalize players who are repeatedly guilty of slow play. The director also has the right to monitor slow players by positioning himself/herself near the table to protect the movement of the boards and to see that the round is finished as quickly as possible.
  23. General. If much of the above information is confusing to you, just remember that you will learn through experience. If you realize that you are in organized competition, not just a social pastime, you will better understand and enjoy the game. If you are in doubt, just use the golden rule! 

The national body of the ABA is divided into eight sections covering designated states. They are: (1) Eastern; (2) Great Lakes; (3) Mid-Atlantic; (4) Mid-Western; (5) Southern; (6) Southwestern; (7) Northwestern: and (8)Western.

The sections are divided into units and clubs. Units are composed of local clubs. If there are two clubs within a 35-mile radius, they may elect to form a unit. However, if there are three or more clubs within the 35-mile radius, they must form a unit. For example, in the Western Section there are two units, each having seven clubs and five independent clubs.

Local Clubs holds weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly duplicate games and sponsors tournaments. The Club is the building block for the structure of the ABA. It is the nucleus of the local group. Membership in the ABA is obtained through Clubs. Any individual desiring to affiliate may submit his/her membership through an ABA Club if (s)he resides in the area of its jurisdiction (a 35-mile radius). It is the Club's responsibility to inform individuals of dues obligations. Forward lists of members each year with membership dues and charter fees to the National Secretary, via the Unit Secretary, who prepares the form PSA 404 and submits the same to the ABA National Office and the Section Secretary. The local club(s) promotes the programs of the unit and of the national body. The local club(s) hold business meetings periodically. Some clubs suspend activities during the periods of National and Sectional Tournaments. 

The UNIT is a regional group. It insures that the Section and the national laws and regulations are carried out and adhered to by clubs within its jurisdiction. It promotes Sectional and National programs. A unit may host,the endorsement of its membership, may sponsor regional events, as well as sponsor through its clubs a reasonable number of local and regional contests, a minimum of one per club per year. Programs, fees and playing sites are announced in sufficient time to assure maximum attendance. The unit requires that the Director-in-Charge file accurate game results together with required fees, promptly according to the ABA, Handbook. The unit meets quarterly.

The INDEPENDENT CLUB (where only one club exists) has the same rights and privileges as Units.

The SECTION oversees the business of Units and Independent Clubs within its jurisdiction. The Section Vice-President is the chairperson of the section Committee and is a member of the Executive Board of the ABA. All applications for clubs and unit charters are subject to review by the section Vice-President. The section Vice-President must approve any sanctioned game in the section. The section provides for necessary meetings, conventions, tournaments and membership activity. It is a clearinghouse for tournament schedules within the section to avoid conflicts. It insures the collection, processing, and maintenance of sanctions, fees, schedules and other such data as may be stipulated. It insures implementation and communication of procedures, policies and all decisions affecting the interests of clubs, units and individuals within its jurisdiction. Each year, the Western Section conducts two tournaments (Spring and Fall) at which time the Bi-Annual Open Meetings are held. The section Vice-President is elected at the Spring Sectional every other year (odd year). 

The national officers are the President, Vice-President, National Secretary and Treasurer. The general officers are the eight Section Vice-Presidents. The national and general officers are the Executive Board of the ABA. This board meets at both tournaments. Call meetings are held at other times and places. Much business is conducted through the mail. The election of national officers is held every other year. The election is usually held in the "odd" year with the term of office beginning January 1st of the "even" year.

The Section Vice-Presidents are elected every other year by the respective section. Not all sections hold elections in the same year. The effect is to "stagger" the seating of new board members.

Membership in the American Bridge Association, Inc., (ABA) is open to all persons of good character and repute. You may apply for membership through an affiliated club if residing in an area where there is ABA activity. All others must apply for membership through the respective Section Vice-President or National Secretary as a member-at-large. Each person accepted for membership is assigned a player number. The masterpoint holdings are recorded and the person pays dues.

All members may vote on all matters as may be provided by the By-laws, compete in tournaments, and join any open club. Transfer from one club to another is permissible. A person whose membership has lapsed may be reinstated at the discretion of the ABA. Free membership is available for New Players who complete at least an eight-week course in bridge from an accredited instructor. The unit/club new player's coordinators should contact the their Section Vice President or the National Secretary at the ABA National Office for more information. Dues are payable the first day of January each year and continue in force until the last day of December in the same year.

Any new member joining the ABA for the first time will receive credit for the last three months of the previous calendar year. National dues are paid directly to the National Secretary using membership form PSA 404. Sectional dues and a copy of the form PSA 404 are sent to the Section Vice-President or his/her designee. Dues paid are not returnable or transferable. The NATIONAL BODY is the nationwide organization. It encourages and develops the game of duplicate contract bridge and unites all bridge players into one group using identical laws and procedures for bridge games. It sponsors, supervises and conducts yearly two tournaments, the Spring and Summer nationals. The Annual meeting of the ABA is held at the Summer National. The ABA also holds meetings of the membership at the Spring National.

There are ten categories of player classifications authorized by the ABA regulations. These categories are the direct result of master points earned in ABA sanction tournaments. To receive credit for master points, a player must be a financial member of the ABA during the same year the master points are earned.

Table 4.- Player Classifications


New Players (NP) 0-24      
Master (M) 25-99 Certificate    
Life Master (LM) 100-299 Gold Pin    
Senior Life Master (SLM) 300-599 Certificate    
Ruby Life Master (R) 600-1199 Ruby Pin Certificate  
Diamond Life Master (D) 1200-2499 Diamond Pin Certificate  
Silver Diamond (SD) 2500-4999 Certificate    
Gold Diamond (GD) 5000-9999 Certificate    
Platinum (PD) 10000-19999 Award Certificate  
Grand Master (GM) 20000 and up Medallion Certificate  

You may not play in a field below your classification. Penalties apply! However, you may play in a higher field. There are four (4) categories of "Field Classification" authorized for Championship events. Each field classification is determined by the master point holdings of the majority of the players in the field. Every game (pair, team, individual, etc.) must be classified into one or more of the following, depending on the number of fields in the event.

Stratified Events
In most instances pair games in the ABA are Stratified. This means that players in different field classification play together in the same event. Even though they play against players in different fields, their scores on each board are only match pointed (compared) against players in their own field or National Secretary.

A game can have either two or three Stratas. For example, the game may contain Strata A, Strata B, and Strata C together. The lowest strata must have at least five (5) pairs (2½ tables) in order to pay overall awards. Limitations of each stratum should be established prior to the game. If the game consists of less than the minimum 5 pairs required in the lowest strata, the level of the strata must be increased to the next highest legal strata that includes at least 5 pairs, (for example, a 0-24 game should be increased to a 0-99 game or a 100-300 game.) or you may choose to eliminate the lowest strata. In limited masterpoint games such as 0-24, 0-99 and 100-300, the strata must be eliminated if the strata contains less than 5 pairs. There must be approximately the same number of pairs that sit N/S and E/W in each Stratum, so that the section awards will be equal. This event is like a Flighted Pairs except the flights (now called stratas) are intermixed and play against each other as in an open game. When the scoring is completed, there are multiple rankings and any pair in a lower Strata has the potential to win the greater awards of an upper strata if they legitimately rank there. A strataified game is advantageous to all stratas:

  1. Strata "A" players get ranked on the number of tables in the entire field resulting in additional masterpoints;
  2. Strata  players have the advantage of possibly winning points in the higher strata, based on a greater number of tables which yields more masterpoints;
  3. Strata “C” players are ranked against other Strata “C” pairs, giving them the experience of playing against more skilled players without diminishing their chances of winning.

Also Strata "C" players have the advantage of possibly winning points in the two higher stratas, which yields more masterpoints.

How it works: Here is an example. You want your game to have three Stratas, with C players having 0-299 masterpoints (mps), Strata  players having 300-1199 mps and Strata A players having 1200 mps to infinity. Entries sold to Strata C players are marked C to identify that Strata with less than 300 mps. Entries sold to Strata  players are marked  to indicate that no person has less than 300 mps but not more than 1199 mps. Entries sold to Strata A players are marked with an A to indicate more than 1199 mps. A pair must enter the strata for which the partner with the higher number of masterpoints is eligible. Pairs from each strata are distributed throughout the section(s) as evenly as possible. When the game is over, the entire game (field) is ranked as one. After ranking, the Strata A players with more than 1199 mps are eliminated. The Strata A and Strata C field are now ranked together. After this ranking, players who have more than 299 mps are eliminated, Strata C is now ranked separately. A pair ranking (placing) in Strata A, Strata B and Strata C, will receive the highest masterpoint award. Thus, a Strata “C” pair could win points from the Strata A field or Strata B field, and a Strata C pair could points from the Strata A field. The Strata A pairs can win points only in their own field, but even this is a gain because their masterpoint awards are based on the number of tables in the entire game. Remember, players can always qualify to win points in a higher masterpoint category, but they cannot win points from a lower category.

There are five (4) categories of "Field Classification" authorized for Sectional, Regional, Early Bird, Midnight and Side Games:


FIELD IV +2000 and UP
STRATA 2000-4999
FIELD III 1200-1999
FIELD II 300-1199
STRATA 600-1199
STRATA 300-499
FIELD I 0-299
FIELD 0 100-299
STRATA 25-99

National games offer the highest number of master points to the winners. There are master points for the top scorers in each section, providing the score is not in the overall. Sectional games offer the second highest number of master points. There are points for top section scorers too!

"A" games outrank "B" games and "C" games are lowest on the master point scale of sanctioned events. Those who wish to amass master points in a hurry, NEED TO attend national and sectional events. Your chances for winning master points are greater since these high master-point award events are well attended. When deciding in which events to play, plan to play in those where most master point award is highest.

Table 5.- Basic Master Point Award Schedule 1st Place, One Session
Sectional 12.48 9.36 8.11 6.86. 5.62
Grade A 8.64 6.48 5.62 4.75 3.89
Grade C 4.80 3.60 3.12 2.64 2.16

The table bonuses are not included. As the number of tables increase, the master point award increases. In addition to master points, winners shall receive trophies, scrip, or free play slips).

As you and your partner gain confidence you will want to participate in bigger events with increased competition, so here are the types of tournaments that ABA units and clubs sponsor starting with games that give the fewest points and ending with those that give the highest number of points:

City Games Sponsored By Individual Clubs
Grade C's Sponsored By Individual Clubs and Units
Grade A's Sponsored By Individual Clubs and Units
Sectional Tournaments Sponsored By Units
Spring and Summer Nations Sponsored By ABA

City Games Sponsored by individual clubs Grade C's Sponsored by individual clubs and units Grade B's Sponsored by individual clubs and units Grade A's Sponsored by units Sectional Tournaments Sponsored by Sections Spring and Summer Nationals Sponsored by the ABA

Any of the above tournaments can consist of anyone or a mixture of the following events:

Type Of Event
Individual Players Change Partners for Each Round
Open Pairs Any two people can play together
Mixed Pairs One man and one woman will be partners
Non-Mixed Pairs* Two men as partners or two women
Open Team of Four Any four to six people may comprise a team
Non-Mixed Teams* Two mixed pairs will be a team
Men’s Pairs** Four to six men or four to six women
Women’s Pairs** Two men
Men’s Team Two women
Women’s Teams Four to six men
Swiss Teams*** Four to six people playing short matches
Modified Round Robin Four to six people (teams are flighted according to the average point holding of the top four masterpoint holders on the team)
Full Round Robin Same as Modified Round Robin except that it may be played within a 90-day period

*In Non-Mixed Events pairs or team members must be comprised of only men or women. However these events will have both men and women contestants.
**These events will have only women or men participants.
***A Speedball Swiss allows for five boards to be played in 25 minutes against each opponent. Usually held after the main event of the day.
One-session team events must consist of four Players. All others may consist of 4, 5, or 6 members. Grade "C" games are one session. They are usually held on the regularly scheduled club days or sometimes for special events other than: at the club game: Clubs may have a total of 12 Grade "C"s, one per month, during the year. Units may have a maximum of four (one each quarter) only with a business meeting. Grade "B" games are sponsored individually by clubs or in conjunction with other clubs (a weekend of "B" games) Grade "A" games are sponsored by units, or independent clubs where there are no units.

Table 6. National Events Traditionally Scheduled

Calendar of Special Games - Nationwide Events
January Annual Membership Game

March - First Wednesday

Nationwide Headquarters (Daytime)

Spring National

June - Second Friday

Nationwide Benefit Game
Late July or Early August Summer National


Nationwide Scholarship Game

Last Friday & Saturday Nationwide Scholarship Game (Daytime)

October - Independent Club/Unit-Selects the Date

United Negro College Fund Game

December - Second Friday

per Open Pairs

Other Special Games to Be Scheduled During the Year

ABA Headquarters Fund Game

Bridge Education/Membership/House Acquisition Games

Club/Unit Benefit/Scholarship Games



The ABA Spring tournament begins the Monday after Easter Sunday and continues through Saturday of the same week.

Tournament Bridge for the most part is duplicate bridge. Each hand, instead of being played only once, as would be the case in rubber bridge, is bid and played by two or more different pairs but always under conditions that exactly duplicate the playing conditions; dealer, vulnerability, and exact card-holding in each hand are precisely the same. Only the resulting score might vary due to differences in the play, bidding or both.

Table 7. Sanction Fees Schedule of Sanction Fees

Schedule of Sanction Fees
Game Fee
City Swiss Team (minimum fee $3.00) 10%
Grade C Regional (minimum fee $5.00) 15%
Grade B Regional (except Swiss & Round Robin) 15%
Grade B Regional Swiss & Round Robin 20%

Grade A Regional (except Swiss & Round Robin)

Grade A Regional Swiss & Round Robin 20%
Sectional (except Swiss & Round Robin) 20%
Sectional Swiss, Round Robin and KO Teams 25%
National Event 25%
Annual Membership Game 10%
Benefit Games (except Nationwide Games, Scholarship and Headquarters) 40%
Scholarship & Headquarters Games 50%
Nationwide Benefit, Scholarship and Super Open Pair Games 60%
Special Club Benefit 20%

There are standing committees as there are in any organization. The most important committee in the ABA is called the National Tournament Authority (NTA), which is responsible for all facets of the national tournaments. The next important committee is the National Tournament Committee (NTC) which is responsible for the national tournament schedules, maintaining the master point award schedule, and introducing new rules and games for play.

Another important committee is the Appeals and Ethics Committee, formerly referred to as the Card Committee. This committee is responsible for order and decorum at the national tournaments. Referred to the committee are disputes, which arise in play that cannot be settled by reference to the rules alone. An Appeals and Ethics Committee is formed at all levels of competition (local, unit, section).

In order to support our non-profit status, the ABA conducts special tournament games. These games are called "Benefit", "Scholarship" and "Special Promotion". Proceeds from these games go into special funds in the ABA Charitable and Education Foundation. Through the Foundation yearly contributions are made to various charitable organizations such as the: United Negro College Fund; NAACP; Sickle Cell Foundation; Martin Luther King Center, and Black universities. Additionally, twenty-four (24) scholarships are awarded to worthy students who have successfully completed their first year of college or a business school. Applicants are recommended by the Section Scholarship Chairperson to the National Scholarship Chairperson for selection. For additional information contact the local unit/club coordinator or the Section Vice-President.

Also established is a Merit Award Program for outstanding service at the local, section or national levels. Application must be endorsed by the Section Vice-President.

There is a Life Membership Award for individuals making significant contributions at all levels. An additional criterion is 20 years financial member. Application must be endorsed by Section Vice-President.

Publications included:
The ABA Bulletin
The ABA Flash (published only at nationals)
Section Newsletters (published by the Section Vice President or his/her designee)
Update (published by the National Secretary on an as needed basis to communicate information to clubs/units/sections)

There are on-going classes and programs for New Players and other levels of bridge. Contact the club/unit president for information.

Hopefully, this booklet has given you some insight into duplicate bridge and the ABA. Additional information can be obtained from the club/unit officials, Section Vice-President, or the national officers. The line of communication for obtaining information or resolving problems is:
(1) Your Club
(2) Your Unit
(3) Your Section Vice-President
(4) Your National Officers
(5) Your National Body

The Official ABA Handbook contains additional information on tournaments, etc., and may be purchased from the National Office. Your Section Constitution and By-laws and Roster are distributed separately.

Bridge on the Internet

There are several free and some subscription-based servers available for playing bridge on the Internet. OKbridge is the oldest of the still-running Internet Bridge services; players of all standards, from beginners to world champions may be found playing there. OKbridge is a subscription based club, so it offers premium services such as customer support and ethics reviews. SWAN Games is a more recent competitor. Bridge Base Online is the most populated online bridge club in the world, as it is free to play regular games. The above online clubs offer various features such as options to earn ACBL masterpoints, play in online tournaments, compile lists of friends, purchase software to improve Bridge skills, and earn money playing Bridge. On Bridge Base Online there is also a Vugraph feature where important international events are shown for anyone interested to watch.

ADVANCER           The partner of an overcaller.

ALERT                    A method of drawing the opponent's attention to the fact that a particular bid has a conventional or unusual meaning.

ARTIFICIAL           A bid designed to show a specific holding rather BID than a playable suit.

ANNOUNCEMENT  An explanatory statement made by the partner of the player who has just made a call that is based on a partnership understanding.  The purpose of the announcement is similar to the Alert.  It is made following calls whose meanings are not unusual, but which different partnerships treat differently.

APPEAL                  In a tournament, to appeal is to request that a committee review the ruling made by a director.

AVERAGE              Half of the matchpoints available on a board or for a contest.

BAD HAND            Hands with little honor strength.


BALANCE OF        The concept of calculating which side holds most

STRENGTH            of the high card points.

BALANCING          Reopening the bidding in the "pass out" seat after the opponents stop at a low contract.

BID                         A call by which a player proposes a contract that his side will win at least as many odd tricks (one to seven) as his bid specifies, provided the hand isplayed      at the denomination specified.

BLACKWOOD        A convention which uses 4NT to ask the partner how many aces are held and SNT to indicate that all of the aces are held, while asking for the number of kings.

BOARD                   1) A devise that keeps each player’s cards separate for duplicate bridge

BOTTOM                In tournament play, the lowest matchpoint score on a particular hand.

BOARD-A-MATCH A team event with matchpoint scoring.

CADDY                   An assistant at a bridge tournament, responsible for putting out the boards, etc., at the tournament. Picks up the score slips at the completion of each round.

CALL                      Any bid, double, re-double, or pass.

CONVENTION       Any call or play, which conveys a meaning to a partner that the opponents cannot be, expected to recognize. A call or play that does not carry the standard meaning that the opponents would anticipate.

DIRECTOR             A person designated to supervise a duplicate bridge contest and to apply the Laws.

DOUBLE DUMMY Play of the hand that could be improved upon, as though declarer was looking at all four hands. It can also be used to refer to perfect play by the defenders or declarer.

DUCK                     To play a small card, and surrender a trick, which could be won, with the object of preserving an entry or a tenace position. To protect a card for use as a threat card in subsequent play.

DUMMY                 (1) The declarer's partner after he has placed his cards face up on the table, which is done immediately after the opening lead is made by the opponent on the declarer's left. (2) The cards held by the declarer's partner.

EARLY BIRD          A one-session game held early in the morning, about 9AM, before the main event of the day.

ETHICS                   Fair play. Breaches of ethics are generally are unfair practices that fall just short of deliberate cheating.

FIELD                     All the contestants in a specific event.

FORCING                A series of bids by a partnership that requires the bidding to continue. Some sequences are considered forcing by virtue of the strength of the previous bidding.

FOULED BOARD   A board into which a card or cards have been interchanged or hands have been inserted into incorrect pockets.

FREE BID               A bid made by a player whose partner’s bid has been overcalled by the right hand opponent (RHO)

GRAND SLAM       The bidding for and turning of all thirteen tricks by declarer.

HAND                     A particular deal of 52 cards (4 hands). The thirteen cards held by one player. The term is also used to indicate the order in bidding and play, as in "second hand" or "fourth" hand. I

HANDICAP             A duplicate game in which extra match points are added to the earned match points of lower-ranking players. The lower the ranking, the more match  points added. No handicap matchpoints are added to Diamond level player's score.

HIGH CARD           The points in a given hand from Aces, Kings,

POINTS (HCP)        Queens, and Jacks.

HOLDING               The hand held by a player.

HOLD UP                Not wining a trick when first offered for a tactical reason (see Duck) .

HONOR                   One of the five top cards in a suit of a bridge hand: an ace, king, queen, jack or ten.

INDIVIDUAL         A method of duplicate competition in which each MOVEMENT contestant plays with many different partners.

JUMP SHIFT           A new suit response at a level one higher than necessary, generally to show a very good hand.

KIBITZER               A person who watches the game from the sidelines. Rules apply for kibitzers. (See Law 76)

KNOCK-OUT          A team-of-four event in which the winner of head to head meetings advances to the next round and the loser is eliminated.

LAWS                     Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge, as promulgated in the western hemisphere by the ACBL, prepared under the auspices of the National Laws Commission of the ACBL with input from the Laws Commission of the World Bridge Association. The ABA is governed by these Laws.

LEAD                      The first card played to a trick. LHO Left Hand Opponent MAJOR SUIT Hearts or Spades

MASTER POINT     The unit used to measure bridge achievement in tournament and club play.

MATCH PLAY        A team-of-four contest in which two teams compete against each other playing several boards.

MINOR SUIT          Clubs and Diamonds

MISFIT                   A term used to describe a situation where the hands of a partnership are unbalanced and the suits in one hand are opposite shortness in the other and vice MONSTER A bridge hand of great trick-taking potential whether through high cards or distribution.

OPENER                 The player who makes the first bid in an auction. OPENING LEAD The play to the first trick after the auction is over and the dummy has not been spread. 

OVERCALL            Any bid by the player on the left of the opening bidder. It's nearly always based on a long suit or multi-suited hand.

OVER-RUFF           To trump higher than the right hand opponent after a plain suit lead.

PART SCORE          At duplicate vulnerable or not, the total score for all overtricks won plus the bonus for successfully fulfilling a contract under game.

PART SCORE          In duplicate, vulnerable or not, the 50 points given for fulfilling

BONUS                   a part score contract.

PENALTY               An obligation or restriction imposed upon a side for violation of the Laws.

PENALTY               A card that has been pre-maturely exposed by a defender and

CARD                      must be left face-up on the table until legally played or permitted to be picked up. (See Law 50)

PICK-UP SLIPS       A form devised for the recording of the results on the play of the boards on one round. Information contained on the slip includes identifying numbers of the pairs, the board number, which pair was declarer, the final contract, and by whom.

POINTED SUITS    Spades and diamonds, so called because of their pointed tops.

POST MORTEM     The discussion of bridge hands after the conclusion of the play at any time thereafter. 

PRIVATE                An undisclosed understanding between the

CONVENTION       partnership.  This is strictly illegal!


PROTEST                The time in which appeals for corrections to the PERIOD score will be accepted and changes may be made, whether the error is made by the scorer or by          a PSYCHIC CALL Any bid made primarily to misrepresent your hand, in order to create the illusion of strength, or to conceal a weakness.

QUICK TRICKS      A high card holding that in usual circumstances will win a trick by virtue of the rank of the cards in either offensive, or defensive play. The accepted table of quick tricks: AK of the same suit 2 Quick Tricks, AQ of the same suit,  1-1/2 Quick Tricks A,  or KQ of same suit 1 Quick Trick, Kx 1/2 Quick Trick

QUITTED               All four players have played to the trick and have TRICK turned their cards face down.

RESPONDER          The partner of the opener.

REVERSE               An unforced rebid at the level of two or more in a higher ranking suit than that bid originally.

REVOKE                 Failure to follow suit during play when holding a card of the suit required or failure to lead a suit required by law when holding a card in the specified suit.

RHO                        Right Hand Opponent

ROUNDED SUITS Hearts and clubs, so called because of their rounded tops.

RUFF                       To trump the lead of a plain suit.

SACRIFICE             A bid made knowing that it cannot be fulfilled on (SAVE) the premise that the penalty to be paid will be less than the adverse score were the opponents permitted to play the hand.

SAFETY PLAY       The play of a suit, in such a manner as to protect against an abnormal or bad break in the suit, or to otherwise protect your hand.

SEEDING                The assignment of certain tables to particularly strong contestants to assure there will be no preponderance of strong pairs in direct competition within anyone section.

SET                         The defeat of a contract.

SHOOTING             The art of playing deliberately for an abnormal result

SMALL SLAM        The bidding for and winning of 12 tricks by the declarer.

SPEEDBALL          A partial round robin movement SWISS T/4

 (ZIP Swiss)             wherein 25 minutes are alloted to complete 5 boards against each opponent. There are 5 rounds. (See Swiss T/4).

SQUEEZE               A play which forces an opponent to discard a winner, or a card that protects a winner.

STIFF                      Singleton, generally used in reference to a major honor: ace (A), king (K), Queen (Q) without guards.

STOPPER                A card which may reasonably be expected to stop the run of a suit.

STRAIN                  Either of the five denominations. No trump, spades, hearts, diamonds, or clubs

SWISS T/4               A partial round robin movement when insufficient time is available for a complete round robin. After the first round, winning teams or pairs are pitted against each other, and losers face each other as in a double elimination event, except that all teams continue to play throughout the event. For each succeeding round, new pairings are made on the basis of the records of the matched teams, or pair, but not two teams or pairs may playa second match against each other.

TEAM                     Two pairs playing in different directions at different tables, against the same opponents, but for a common score.

TENACE                 Two cards of an interrupted sequence in the same suit. AQ, KJ, Q10, and J9 are examples. When the highest card in your suit is the highest card not yet played you have a major tenace. When a card or cards higher than yours have yet to be played you have a minor tenace.

TOP                         The maximum match point score on a hand in duplicate.

TRAVELING          The score sheet accompanying a duplicate bridge SCORE SLIP board

UNDERRUFF          To trump with a card lower in value than that which another player has already played to the same trick.

VULNERABLE       A condition of play in which the premiums and penalties are increased. 

How to Play Winning Bridge
By David Bird.
A teaching course and guide to all things bridge, this hard-cover volume includes a history of the game and its champions, a beginner tutorial, sample games, rules and reference sections. It also features tips for intermediate and higher-level players.

Goren's New Bridge Complete
By Charles Goren.
The original "bible" for the Standard American 5-card-major system, this classic was updated in 1985 and remains a solid reference for beginners and advancing players.

Club andDiamond Series-Opening the Bidding Bridge Basics 3: Popular Conventions
By Audrey Grant. "Bidding in the 21st Century" series, which includes updates of instructional books used in American Contract Bridge League teaching programs. The Club Series manual teaches bidding; the Diamond Series teaches play of the hand. Other titles by Audrey Grant are here.

Introduction to Declarer's Play Introduction to Defender's Play
By Eddie Kantar. These popular books feature easy-to-understand "how-to's" on all the basics, from one of the game's best teachers and most readable authors. Both volumes include some advanced material.

Bridge for Dummies
By Eddie Kantar.
An entertaining, detailed introduction to the basics of bidding and play. 1997 Bridge Book of the Year.

Bridge Basics - Five-Card Majors
By Ron Klinger.
Two volumes with succinct lessons that teach the basics of the standard bidding system used by most players in North America.

The Fun Way to Serious Bridge
By Harry Lampert.
Now in its 20th printing, this is a sound introduction to the basics, with lots of illustrations and a pleasant writing style. The tips here are valuable for learners and for party-bridge players who want to make the transition to duplicate bridge.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bridge
By Anthony Medley.
A comprehensive lesson book for learners, with good explanations of the logic behind bridge bidding. Each chapter has many quiz hands.

ABC's of Bridge
By William Root.
Clear descriptions of the basics from this late, award-winning teacher.

Learn Bridge in Five Days Bridge for Bright Beginners
By Terence Reese.
Bidding summaries and fundamentals of offensive and defensive bidding and play.

An Introduction to the Science of Bidding: Bridge with Brian
By Brian Richardson.
A beginner's text that will appeal to those who eventually want to play duplicate bridge. In addition to the basics, the author teaches weak two-bids, Jacoby transfers and other popular conventions.

Bridge in 3 Weeks
By Alan Truscott.
A comprehensive, 21-day course for absolute beginners. The basics are presented in an short, easy steps, with a handy index for quick reference.

Bridge for Beginners & Beyond
By Karen Walker.
The 16th edition of a self-teaching textbook for learners and advancing players who want to tune up their skills. Lessons begin with the bare basics and progress to more advanced topics, including tips on how to add popular conventions to your system. Order direct from the author through this link


  1. The Official ABA Handbook
  2. The Constitution & By-Laws of the ABA ABA WEBSITE

The ABA Website

The ABA Website – is the official website of the American Bridge Association. The site contains information about the history of the ABA, links to section web pages, tournament schedules and results, and links to other bridge resources and organizations.

The Southern Section Website linked to the ABA website, contains the schedule of bridge tournaments and events scheduled in the section. The link also contains a directory of clubs in the Southern Section.  Each club in the section is invited to submit information to post on their club’s page on the section’s website.

The format Handbook was developed from the Western Section Handbook published by Sara Pearson. Mrs. Emelie Boone and Col. Robert Friend. provided special assistance in the development of the original handbook. This Handbook was edited and revised by Gloria Christler, past Executive Secretary, Southern Section Vice President (2008-) All Sections, Clubs and Units are welcome to copy and edit the Manual to meet their needs. Gloria Christler

National President                                 National Vice President

Leola C, Rucker                                      Janice VanBuren

1129 Clear Springs Road                          1010  Thoreau Ct. Unit 102

Virginia Beach, VA  23464                       St. Louis, MO  63146

(757) 424-9840                                       (314) 432-6619


National Secretary                                  Treasurer

Anita Troy                                             George W. Saunders

7612 Fruit Dove Street                             P.O. Box 40582

North Las Vegas, NV  89084                     Memphis, TN  38174

(702) 616-2225                                       (901) 340-2633


                                 Section Vice Presidents


Eastern                           Mid-Atlantic                      Southern

Mr. George Hudson           Jewel Chapman                   Gloria Christler

17210 133rd Ave.  #13G     6906 Sourwood Lane            5090 Erin Rd., SW

Jamaica, NY  11434          Ft. Washington, MD 20744   Atlanta, GA  30331

(718)  712-6446                (301) 686-1498                    (404) 344-9772



Northwest                       Great Lakes                       Midwest

Karen Tillis                      Barbara Hutson                    Betty Markey

2226 70th Ave. West #2      20290 St. Mary’s                 3446 Lesley

Tacoma, WA  98766          Detroit, MI  48235               Indianapolis, IN  46218

(253) 278-9599                 (216) 751-1802                    (317) 546-4215


Southwest                       Western

Dr. Mary Ann Broussard    Dr. Charles W Townsel

3805 Gertin Street             115 East Pslm Lane #C

Houston, TX  77004          (602) 254-2267


                                      ABA National Office

                                      2828 Lakewood Avenue

                                      Atlanta, Georgia  30315

                                      (404) 768-5517

                                      Fax (404) 767-1871