How to Play Bridge at the Monday Night Game

Jump to a section:

  1. Getting started — buying your entry
  2. ACBL membership
  3. Beginning the game
  4. Starting the Bridgemates
  5. Playing and recording scores
  6. Continuing to the next round
  7. Timing of rounds
  8. Calling the director
  9. About good behavior
  10. At the end of the game
  11. Postmortem

Getting started — buying your entry

The BridgeMojo club will operate in a way that's similar to tournament play. (A bridge club is really just a small version of a bridge tournament.)

When you arrive at the site, there will be a desk selling entries. Visit this desk and pay the card fees. At my games, you can also buy multi-game tickets that will get a punch for each visit.

Card fees for the BridgeMojo game

  • $10 per player for a single game
  • $45 for a five-game ticket (10% discount)
  • $85 for two five-game tickets (15% discount)

Card fees are paid per partnership, so you may want to arrive with your partner, or wait until a partnership has been arranged before buying an entry.

After paying together with your partner, you will receive an entry slip that will assign you to a section, table number, and direction, e.g., Section B, table 3, E-W. You should be in your assigned seats at game time.

At BridgeMojo, you can pay with cash, check, or credit card.

ACBL membership

Being an ACBL member is not required to play at any bridge club, but these are ACBL-sanctioned games. Members will have records of their attendance and masterpoints recorded with their ACBL player number. (Members also receive the monthly Bridge Bulletin and other benefits.)

If you are not an ACBL member, the director will create a temporary player number for you based on the last four digits of your telephone number. You will be able to use this number to identify yourself to the scoring system.

Instant ACBL memberships, including a player number, will be for sale at the game for the first-year discount rate of $39.

Beginning the game

At game time, the director will bring bridge boards to each table. When the boards arrive, they are ready to play. Do not shuffle the cards! The hands have already been dealt by a program named Big Deal which generates truly random bridge deals, and is capable of generating all of the possible bridge deals (quite a remarkable feat).

The player sitting at North is generally in charge of the table. North will be responsible for managing the boards and recording the scores. North may request and receive assistance from other players at the table, but is ultimately responsible.

Starting the Bridgemates

At each table, near North, there will be a small wireless device about the size of an old-style calculator. These are Bridgemates, and they are used for recording and reporting scores for your table.

At the beginning of the game, while you may be playing the first hand, the director will be setting up the scoring software with the configuration and movement being used for the game. Once this is done, he will usually announce that "Your Bridgemates have been activated." This means the electronic scoring system is ready for use.

Before recording scores, each Bridgemate needs to identify the table and the players who are beginning the game at each table. North activates the Bridgemate by pressing the "OK" button. It will ask for the section letter and table number. Press OK after each response.

Once the section and table have been recorded, the Bridgemate will ask for the player number of each player at the table, starting with North. Usually North will enter his player number, pass the Bridgemate to South who will enter theirs, and so on around the table. After the numbers have been entered, the system will display the players' names for confirmation. This only needs to be done once at the beginning of the game. (Non-ACBL members will use their assigned BridgeMojo player number, usually the last four digits of your telephone number.)

This needs to be done only at the start of the game. For the remainder of the game, the Bridgemates will know which players and which boards are expected at each table.

Playing and recording scores

North is responsible for recording scores at the table using the Bridgemates, but they may delegate that to another player. (It's a great idea to let other players practice score entry.)

At the end of each board, when the trick count has been agreed upon, North will record the score in the Bridgemate, as follows:

  1. Press "OK" to wake up the Bridgemate.
  2. Confirm the correct board being scored, and press "OK."
  3. Enter the contract with the keypad. For example, five clubs doubled by west, down two: press 5♣X (five clubs doubled) Press the E/W button twice, so "W" appears as the declarer, press "OK," press -2, and press "OK" again. The score will be shown, and the screen will instruct you to have an E/W player confirm.
  4. Pass the Bridgemate to either E/W player, who should confirm that the correct contract and result has been recorded, then press the Accept button at the top.

If the score needs to be corrected, press CANCEL before accepting the result, and you will be able to back up through the entry and fix it.

If the wrong score has been accepted, call the director. The director will erase the incorrect score so you can enter the correct one. No big deal.

Continuing to the next round

Most games will be played using a Mitchell movement, in which N/S players remain at their assigned table, and E/W players change to the next higher table at each round. North will be responsible for moving the boards to the next lower table.

For smaller games of three or four tables, all or nearly all players will change seats for each round (a Howell movement). The director and the table markers will help guide you to the next playing position.

At the beginning of each round, North can use the Bridgemates to confirm that the boards and players are correct. When you press "OK" on the Bridgemate, it will display the round number, pair numbers, board numbers, and the names of the players expected for the next round of play.

Timing of rounds

In a formal duplicate bridge game, players do not have infinite time to complete playing a hand. Much like a golf game, there are always players behind you waiting to continue on with their game.

There will be a clearly visible clock on display that shows the time remaining in the current round. We always give an average time of around seven minutes per board to bid and play. (A two-board round gets 15 minutes, three boards get 21 minutes.)

That does not mean that play ceases when the round is called. You should continue playing and finish the board you are on (borrowing time from the following round and the players waiting to come to the table). Once a round is called, however, no new board may be started.

For more information, it's worth visiting the ACBL's Active Ethics page on the subject of slow play.

Calling the director

This is a formal bridge game, sanctioned by the ACBL, and awarding masterpoints.

The director is there to smooth the way through any situation that might happen at the table. The director organizes the game and sees to its orderly progression. You may call the director to the table to help with anything regarding the progression of the game.

You should also call the director for any bridge irregularity that should be handled.

Some examples:

  • The wrong player leads to a trick
  • The wrong player makes a call during the auction
  • A player failed to follow suit to a trick during the play (known as a "revoke")
  • Someone makes a bid that is insufficient or otherwise incorrect
  • Anything else that doesn't seem to be correct about bidding or play

The director will investigate and apply any adjustment called for to retain equity in the game, as proscribed by the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. He's there to be a referee, and has official authority for the game.

A bridge game without irregularities are about as rare as a basketball game without fouls! Having a good director can really keep the game running smoothly and correctly. Don't be shy, and don't be alarmed. Everyone has slips!

You may be able to summon the director by pressing the "TD" button (Tournament Director) on your Bridgemate, or by saying "Director, please!" and raising your hand so he can find you.

About good behavior

The BridgeMojo club is a Zero Tolerance club regarding bad behavior. From the ACBL's Zero Tolerance web page:

The following list are examples of behavior that will not be tolerated:

  • Badgering, rudeness, insinuations, intimidation, profanity, threats or violence.
  • Negative comments concerning opponents’ or partner’s play or bidding.
  • Constant and gratuitous lessons and analyses at the table.
  • Loud and disruptive arguing with a director’s ruling.

In most cases, the director will be closely monitoring for instances of bad behavior, and it should not be necessary to call the director to the table. But if not, don't hesitate to call "Director, please!"

First violations will be given immediate score penalties. Repeated violations will call for stricter disciplinary penalties. The director has final judgment in all such instances, and there will be no warnings given.

At the end of the game

With all scores recorded in the scoring system, the director will immediately be able to display a list of players who achieved good results during the game.

The full results, with every hand played, and every contract and result, will be posted online at


After each game, our plan is to convene a roundtable discussion of what happened during the game.

While playing, you might come across a hand that leaves you wondering how to bid, play, or defend. If you are keeping a private score, this is a good time to mark a particular board number with a star or a question mark.

Besides discussing individual hands, our plan is to present topics such as:

  • How to read a hand record with "double dummy analysis"
  • The mechanics of scoring the game for matchpoints
  • How to read and interpret game results
  • Various topics from the Laws of Duplicate Bridge
  • Good habits, proprieties, and conduct
  • Funny stuff that happened!

The postmortem is always optional, has no specific time limit, and meant to be fun and educational.