Pirate Bridge: Bidding

We’re going to show how bidding in Pirate Bridge differs from standard Auction (or Contract) Bridge. Here’s the rules:

Your basic choice:

  1. Whenever it is your turn to bid, you have two choices:
    • you may pass,
    • or you may place a higher bid than the current contract (if any).

Contracts must be accepted:

  1. Any bid other than Double or Redouble requires another player to accept it in order to become the current contract.
  2. The option to accept a bid starts at the bidder’s left.
  3. If one of the other players accepts a bid, the original bidder is the Declarer, and the accepting player is the Acceptor, and the bid is now the current contract.
  4. If all three other players decline a bid, it is rejected, and for the purposes of ending the auction, it is as if the bidder had passed.

Doubling and Redoubling:

  1. Doubling and Redoubling count as higher bids, and require no other players’ agreement to count as the new contract, but they cannot be bid against a bid not yet accepted as a contract.
  2. Only a player who is neither the Declarer or Acceptor of a currently undoubled contract may bid Double.
  3. Only a player who is the Declarer or Acceptor of a currently doubled contract may bid Redouble.

The next player to bid:

  1. After a bid is accepted as a contract, the player to the left of the Acceptor is next to bid.
  2. After a contract is Doubled or Redoubled, the player to the left of the Doubler or Redoubler is next to bid.

When the auction ends:

  1. When all three players following a bid being accepted, or following a Double or a Redouble, have passed or had bids rejected, the auction ends and play begins.
  2. If at the beginning of the auction, all four players pass or have their bids rejected with no bids accepted, the hand is thrown in and the next dealer deals the next hand.

Our example table is, going clockwise, Alan, Dave, Gracie, and Mike. (The compass directions are so boring.)

Example 1:

  1. Alan dealt and is therefore first to bid.  He passes.
  2. Dave bids 1♠.
  3. Gracie is to Dave’s left, and therefore must either say “I accept”, or “I decline” or “pass” or something to that effect.  Those are her only choices at this moment.
  4. If Gracie accepts, Dave is now the Declarer of the 1♠ contract, which is the one pending for the hand, and Gracie is the Acceptor, who will be his dummy partner.
  5. If Gracie declines, Mike now has the choice to accept or decline as well; if he also declines, Alan has that choice.
  6. If all three of the other players decline, then Dave’s 1♠ has been rejected, and bidding proceeds as if Dave passed in the first place; in other words, Gracie is next.

Example 2:

  1. Dave bids 1♠. Gracie accepts.
  2. Gracie’s acceptance means that Dave’s opponents, for now, are Mike and Alan.
  3. Mike is next.  He has two options: he can pass, or he can place a higher bid.  His higher bid could be to double Dave’s contract.
  4. If Mike passes, Alan has the same two options.
  5. If Alan also passes, Dave has the same two options, except that he cannot Double his own contract; if he wants to place a higher bid, it must be for a new contract.
  6. If Dave also passes, the auction ends, because that means all three players after the Acceptor have passed. So the contract for the hand is 1♠ with Dave declaring and Gracie as dummy.

Note that the Declarer gets to overcall their own contract, but the Acceptor does not (it doesn’t come back round to the Acceptor) unless someone Doubles it.

Why is this fair?  Because when Dave proposes 1♠, he doesn’t get to pick who his partner will be.  Maybe he doesn’t want Gracie’s help, because she has too many points, or because he doesn’t think she’s a good player, or whatever. But when Gracie accepted Dave’s bid, she did know who her partner would be.  If she didn’t like Dave for a partner, she could have waited her turn to propose a bid of her own, or accepted one from Mike or Alan.

Example 3:

  1. Dave bids 1♠. Gracie accepts.
  2. Gracie’s acceptance means that Dave’s opponents, for now, are Mike and Alan.
  3. Mike is next.  He chooses to Double. The contract is now 1♠ Doubled.

Since Mike has changed the contract, the other three players will all have a chance to bid higher on their turn, which means Gracie is now free to propose a contract of her own when her turn comes: she is no longer bound to her acceptance of Dave’s 1♠.  Remember: when Mike decides to Double, he is implicitly accepting that he will work with Alan as his co-defender if the contract sticks.  And if Alan, on his turn, decides to place a new bid, he is not necessarily going to remain partnered with Mike: Dave and Gracie both get the chance to accept Alan’s new bid before Mike does.

Example 4:

  1. Dave bids 1♠. Gracie accepts.
  2. Gracie’s acceptance means that Dave’s opponents, tentatively, are Mike and Alan.
  3. Mike is next.  He chooses to Double. The contract is now 1♠ Doubled.
  4. Alan passes.
  5. Dave may choose to pass, or to bid higher than 1♠ Doubled, and since he is the Declarer, he can choose to Redouble.
  6. If Dave passes, Gracie may choose to pass (ending the auction), or to Redouble (since she is the Acceptor), or to bid an entirely new contract higher than 1♠.

Example 5:

  1. Alan opens the auction, and bids 2NT.
  2. Dave, Gracie, and Mike all reject Alan’s bid.  It is now Dave’s turn to bid.
  3. Dave is permitted to bid 1♣ even though it’s lower than Alan’s 2NT, because since the 2NT was rejected, there is no current contract which must be outbid.