Surrey Bridge Notation

Surrey Bridge Notation is a formalized way of presenting bridge bidding system and the play of hands.  I use it throughout my literature to reduce clutter and to make the notes consistent and easy to follow.

Bidding

Bidding sequences are always shown in tables.  Opener is always South, responder is always North their bids are entered into column headed S and N.  If there are bids by the opponents then E and W columns are also added for east and west.  Other columns are often added for Points, Length is the bids suit and Description.  Some bids are marked with symbols after them as follows...

means an artificial bid. Artificial means it does not show length (four or more cards) in the bid suit or does not show a balanced hand when the bid is in NT.

means the bid is forcing. This means partner should not pass the bid.

g means the bid is game forcing. This means neither player should pass until we bid a game contract.

() round brackets mean it's an opponent's bid.

Examples

Here we are showing the options for responder on their first bid.

S

N

Points

Length

Description

1♦

Pass

0-10

4+



1♥♠ f

0+

4+

You can respond on no points to attempt to improve the contract


1NT

0-10


Must hold four or more clubs by default


2♣♦ f

11+

4+


When there is opposing bidding the table is split with two sets of headings as follows...

S

W

N

E

2♣ five hearts 7-11

(X)

Pass

(Pass) five clubs denies three hearts

2♦

(Pass)



N

Points

Length

Description

Pass

0-14

3+

Some diamonds

2♥

0-14

2

Denies four diamonds

2♠

0-14

5

55 in spades and clubs

3♣

0-14

6+

Short in hearts and diamonds

The preceding auction is put in the first part of the table and the continuations the second part.  The position of the continuing bidder is put in the first heading of the second table, here the continuations are for North.  This means there are never more than four columns when the opponents intervene.

The + symbol in the length or points column means that the suit is at least this length, - means its at most that length and no symbol means it's exactly that length.  Ranges are shown with a dash such as 5-6.

Hand Shapes

In Surrey Bridge Notation suit lengths are shows using the “shape” convention. (4333) shows the exact suit lengths in order due to the brackets, here it shows four spades, three hearts, three diamonds and three clubs. 4333 without the brackets means in any suit order, so it could be (4333) , (3433), (3343) and (3334). You can add + or – to show minimum and maximum lengths, so (4+3-33) would show at least five spades and at most three hearts. x show any length is allowed so 54xx means 54 in any two suits and the length of the other two suits is irrelevant. “54xx in Spades” means spades is the five card suit and any other four card suit.

Bidding sequences are shown in tables where the initial bidding sequence is on the top line and the continuation options are shows in each successive line. Each continuation bid is shown with the total point range, the suit length range (if any) and a description of any other useful information.

HCP and Total Points

HCP stands for high card points and is the sum of all your card's points as follows: A=4, K=3, Q=2, J=1 anything else 0.

HCP on its own is not very accurate the true value of the hand depends on lots of other factors. When we have taken into account all the factors the corrected value is called “Total Points”.  In Surrey Bridge Notation when we talk of “points” I mean Total Points not HCP.  Since SEA use HCP our points vary slightly from their original definitions. Using Total Points makes describing the system much easier because we don't have to list off all the things we are choosing to correct for.

The Play Of Hands

The play of a hands is always shown in the same way in Surrey Bridge Notation.  Card symbols are shown with the suit first so that in explanatory text they are not confused with bids.  There are always 7 columns, South is always declarer and is always in the middle, shown only once.  West on lead is always the first column.  The cards are shows from left to right in the order they are played.  So on the first trick West led and North (dummy) won the trick.  The second trick therefore starts with North.  For players with two columns the lead starts from their left hand column so that tricks never roll around the table (if you don't know what I mean, that's good!).

W

N

E

S

W

N

E

♥K

♥A

♥2

♥5





♥Q

♥3

♥7

♥8