ACBL Unit 503

Types of Bridge Games

BAM Teams

Board-A-Match team events are an unusual cross between matchpoint pairs and team events. The concept is similar to a Swiss (see below), but instead of using an IMP scale, a team's score on each board is either zero, one, or one-half. The strategy more closely resembles matchpoints, since making an overtrick can be the difference between a zero and a one. Sometimes the event is organized like a Swiss, and sometimes like a pairs event.


A barometer game is a style of duplicate in which all tables play the same board during the same round. After each round, the director posts the results. Partnerships can keep a running total of their scores, so they know how well (or how poorly) they are doing. Some people find this kind of game distracting, but many like the immediate feedback. If you are among the leaders, the finish can be exciting, like a close horse race.

Bracketed Knockout

A bracketed knockout (KO) is formed when too many teams enter an event to allow it to be completed in the given number of rounds (usually four). The teams are divided into two or more brackets based on their level, usually calculated by adding the masterpoint totals of the top two team members. Thus, if 64 teams sign up for a KO, it is divided into four brackets: the top 16 teams are in bracket 1, the next 16 are in bracket 2, and so on.


A charity game is one in which the extra fee (usually a dollar) charged goes directly to a charity. The game has higher masterpoint awards. Local clubs and the Unit may sometimes designate other beneficiaries for a charity game.

Club Championship

A club championship game is special club game with higher masterpoint awards.


In a flighted event, players are segregated in their own masterpoint range. E.g., C players compete only against other C players.

Knockout (KO)

A knockout event is a single-elimination tournament. The winning team advances to the next round; the loser is eliminated. Despite the risk of elimination with each match, they are also more relaxing, in some ways, than other forms of bridge competition--you play against the same pair with the same system one entire session, with little or no time pressure to hurry your bidding and play. Knockout matches are often 24 boards.


In a limited game, all players must be below the stated limit unless the game allows the average of two players to be below the limit.


Membership games are club games limited to players who are members of the local Unit.


North American Open Pairs ("NAOP") is a grass-roots tournament sponsored by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). Club players who play in this event qualify to play at the next level by doing better than half the other pairs. Winners of the entire district qualify to enter to a national competition.

Non-Life Master (Non-LM)

A Non-LM game is limited to players who are not Life Masters, which is 300 masterpoints with a certain amount of colored ones. Games which are listed as "open/strat" or "open/newcomer" are open, but will be stratified for the benefit of players with a lesser level of bridge experience.

Newcomer Game

A Newcomer game is limited to beginning players, usually those with under 50 or 100 masterpoints.

Open Game

An open game is one in which everyone can play, no matter the level of bridge ability.


The ACBL sponsors the Sectional Tournaments At Clubs ("STAC") to encourage players to play at local clubs. The incentive is silver point awards. A STAC is the only opportunity that players have to earn silver points at a club level event. Players need at least 50 silver points (plus other colors) to become Life Master of the game of bridge.


In a stratified event, all players play in the same group. Although participants may have as little as no points to as many as 5000 or more, your scores are compared only against those in the same strata. For example, Strata C (the higher the letter, the lower the masterpoint limit) might be for pairs in which each player have fewer than 300 masterpoints, B might be pairs with 0-750 masterpoints and A players are typically unimited.

The pair who does better than all the other C's in the group will place first in C, even if they don't do very well relative to the A's and B's in the group. However, if a C pair does well, they can also place in B or even in A.

At tournaments, strata are usually pre-determined. At club games, stratifications are determined by the director and are typically established in an attempt to have close to the same number of players in each strata.


In a stratiflighted event, the format is the same as a stratified game, except Flight A is unlimited and separate from the rest of the players. The remaining players play in a stratified B/C or B/C/D game.

Swiss Teams

Swiss events consist of teams of four, where your team's north-south plays against the opposition's east-west and vice versa. Each round is typically seven boards and a caddy trades them for you as you play. At the end, you rejoin your teammates and compare the north-south scores to the east-west scores and tally the difference. For example, north-south making a vulnerable 4H game is worth +620 points, but if east-west defeated the opponents two tricks for +200, it gives the team +820. Then the team uses a scale called "IMPs" (for "international match points") scoring which appears on the back of all convention cards to assign a value to the score. Often IMPS are then converted to Victory Points according to a scale also found on the score cards.

After each round, the director pairs teams with similar records. So, winners are paired with other winners, and losers with losers. Therefore after the third match a team with two wins and one loss would play a team with the same win-loss record.

One usually effective Swiss team strategy is to avoid jeopardizing game contracts for an overtrick and to bid all marginal vulnerable games and slams, because the rewards for success are higher than the penalties for failure.