Three Handed Chicago

The game is for three players (or two games with six players, three with nine etc.)

Three hands are played simultaneously in postal terms, though for scoring hands happen in order.


Each player is sent three bridge hands. The player order is determined randomly and told to players. In Variable Pig genuine random hands dealt with physical cards were used, with the caveat that no hand should be an obvious "chuck-in" and each player should have at least one bidabble hand. Alternatively, manufactured hands or interesting deals from newspapers could be used.

First Bidding Round

Each player submits one bid in an attempt to secure the contract opposite an unknown dummy hand. This may be an absolute bid e.g. "4S" or a preference list of bids can be used, e.g. "3NT, 4S, 5S". Conditional orders such as "bid 3D if no-one else has bid the suit" are not permitted. Also, doubles are not allowed on the first round. The highest bid is carried forward - if two or more players share the highest bid it goes round the table, so South gets his bid in before West, and West gets his bid in before North...

Second Bidding Round

For each bid made in the first round, the GM supplies natural (no conventions) responses from the dummy. These are not actual bids in the auction, they are just to give information to players. For example facing a 1S opening bid, if dummy has four spades and 7 points it would reply 2S.

For each hand, there is a second chance to bid using the same rules as the first except doubles are now available.

Example 1: Bid 4S, double winning bid if it is hearts, redouble if my 4S is doubled.
Example 2: Do not bid a contract, double winning bid if it is 5 or higher.

Third Bidding Round (optional)

The winning bidder from the previous round is fixed as declarer, but further bids are possible:

Note that the jury's out on the value of this extra round. Tried once in VP it didn't add much to the game, but it certainly could if a slam is in the offing.

First Play Round

Seating positions are adjusted so that the winning bidder is opposite the dummy (with a third bidding round, this repositioning will already have happened.

LHO must choose a lead explicitly.

Second Play Round

Opening lead and dummy are revealed and all players, declarer and defenders must lay out their play strategy - this can include conditionals within reason. Declarer and defenders also can call "computer" in which case Easy Bridge will play for them (opening lead stands).

The GM must then play the hand on his computer, applying orders as best he can.


I will be using this version of the Chicago rules (basically 300 / 500 game V/NV, 50 for part score, part scores not carried forward). Penalty points for failed contracts are awarded in full to both defenders.

Example Hand

Alice (S)Bertie (W)Caroline (N)Dummy (E)
J 9 2
Q 7
A 10 9 8 6 5 2
K 7
5 4 3
A J 10 6 2
J 7 4
A Q 8 4
A K 9 2
K 9 4 3
10 6 5 3
J 10 8 7 6
8 6
Q 3

First bidding round, Alice goes for a pre-emptive 3, Bertie bids a light 1 (allows him to bid next round) and Caroline has a tricky choice and goes with a preference "2, 2, 3, 3".

So going into the second bidding round, Caroline has the top bid with 3.

In the turn report the GM reports dummy's (natural) responses:
To 3 - pass
To 1 - pass
To 3 - 4 (showing weak hand with trump support)

The vulnerability factor comes into play here - being not vulnerable Alice tries 4. Nobody has bid diamonds but Bertie doesn't feel lucky and passes. Caroline decides to have a pop at 4, and also says she will double 4 or 5 or more in any denomination, due to the strength of her hand.

For the play Bertie and Caroline swap seats and it's Bertie to lead against 4 (without seeing dummy).

If Alice has A then K, 7->A, ruff spade, cash DA defeats the contract. But Alice bid a pre-emptive 3 suggesting a 7-card suit and modest HCP so probably doesn't have A. A trump would be neutral but Alice may be hoping to ruff. Might she have K? Then a low diamond could be profitable. What about clubs? There are probably only 3 enemy clubs so if declarer has Ax and dummy x it would not work well. Bertie eventually (this is a postal game so he gets 3 weeks to decide) plumps for 5.

Down goes dummy...

Caroline would have liked more high card points but the five hearts means the contract has a sporting chance of success. Her orders are "win the first trick and attempt to draw trumps in three rounds (leave outstanding trump if 4-0). If on lead, or if not as soon as lead is recovered play A then small spade". So she is eschewing the finesse because she thinks Bertie is more likely to hold K from the bidding.

Neither defender has a cunning plan so they both decide to allow the computer to do its best / worst. The result? 4 scrapes home.