Spades is the highest suit in bridge, followed by hearts, diamonds, and then clubs. ‘No Trumps’, or NT, ranks higher than spades in the bidding but is not a suit – it indicates the absence of a trump suit.
There are only four suits in the pack of 52 cards used in bridge, but there are five different bids: No Trumps – highest in the bidding, but not a suit.
- Spades – the highest suit in bridge.
- Hearts – the second-highest suit in bridge.
- Diamonds – the third-highest suit in bridge.
- Clubs – the lowest suit in bridge.
Spades and hearts are known as the ‘major suits’ and diamonds and clubs are the ‘minor suits’. Within each suit there are 13 cards, with the Ace always highest, followed by the King, Queen, Jack, Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three and two.
A contract in one of the four suits means that that suit will be trumps, which are effectively ‘wild’ cards. This means that the highest trump will always win the trick, even if another suit was led.
A contract in no trumps, however, means there is no trump suit. The high card in the suit led will always win the trick, regardless of what other cards the other players play. For example, the 2 of clubs could win a trick if it were led and the other three players no longer held any clubs and were forced to discard.
The overall ranking of bids is:
|Level||Clubs (low)||Diamonds||Hearts||Spades||NT (high)|
Why Is Suit Ranking Important in Bridge?
Suit ranking is especially important in bridge because it affects how we bid for the contract. Once a bid has been made, opponents (and partner) can no longer bid a lower-ranked suit at the same level – they must bid higher.
For example, if you have opened 1♠, your opponent on your left, who is next to bid, cannot bid 1♣. If they want to show their clubs, they no need to bid at the two-level, which means they have to make an additional trick if they win the contract.
This is what makes 1NT such a powerful opening bid: it prevents anyone else from coming in cheaply at the one-level. This is one of the main reasons some players prefer to play a Weak NT instead of a Strong NT, because it means they get to make the 1NT bid more often (you receive many more 12-14 point hands as you do 15-17 point hands).
Consider the following hand:
This is because the amount of points you get per trick depends on whether you are in a minor, major or NT suit contract. This in turn affects the number of tricks you require to make game. A minor suit (clubs or diamonds) requires 11 tricks, a major suit (hearts or spades) requires 10, and NT requires 9.
Why Do We Use Four-Color Decks in Bridge?
Bridge players often use four colour decks to reduce the chances of a player accidentally making an illegal player (revoking). For this reason, they are sometimes called ‘no-revoke’ decks.
In a standard deck, clubs and spades are black and diamonds and hearts are red. This increases the chance that a player will accidentally play a club as a spade or vice versa (or the same with the red suits).
A four-color deck often has clubs as green, diamonds as orange, hearts as red, and spades as blue, making it very hard to confuse the suits. Another common variant is to have spades and hearts as black and red as normal, but clubs are green and diamonds are blue.