Getting Started

Whether you want to teach others to play Handz (perhaps for the purpose of creating new bridge players) or whether you and some friends want to try this simple, painless way to learn the fascination of card play in contract bridge, here we provide you with all the items that you will need.


Often one or two persons involved in learning Handz knows a little too much. On the other hand, if half of the group knows a little about bidding, it is probably worthwhile to skip a few levels and begin with the introduction of notrump/majors/minors as having different requirement for game and different scores. There is no requirement that players need to go through every level. Use the knowledge of those who know something about bridge to advantage and encourage them to help explain suit hierarchy.

Bridge References

To emphasize that this is an easy way to learn bridge can be unhelpful. For those who know that Handz is a lot like bridge, point out that the play of the cards in bridge is a wonderful game in itself and Handz takes advantage of that aspect of bridge. But also, there are strategies in the later development of Handz that are enjoyable though entirely outside of anything comparable in bridge.

For instance, in level 8, players get to choose whether to share the strength and distribution of their hand (“reveal”), bid, or pass. Say a player opens the auction with 4. The opponents can each decide to bid on, double, or pass, but either may also reveal hcp and shape, leaving the final decision to partner. The risk, of course, is that the revealer might be giving declarer a road map to the successful play of the hand.


It is our intention to provide many, short videos with hints about play. When using Handz in a school setting, put fun before lessons or proficiency. If players make absurd decisions, ignore most of them and make comments only if certain that the player will not feel discouraged or humiliated. Ask the group, “Would you all like to learn how to finesse a high card and deny your opponent a trick?” Add the lesson when everyone yells, “Yes!”


On the web page “Handz documents,” are all the documents required to teach or learn 10 levels of Handz play. The first level is the most detailed because it contains many new concepts for persons unfamiliar with trick-taking card games—trick, lead, following suit, trump, ruff, dummy, declarer, defense, and so forth. The brief attachment is a quick overview of what is explained on each level:
Levels brief


To play Handz at the table, we have provided many handy templates on the page “Handz documents,” found under the “Handz” menu, above. The table marker helps players keep track of who is the dealer and, at level 6 and above, keep track of who is vulnerable.

Fact sheets for all players can be printed and used for recording hand strength and distribution. Our game provides double sided Fact Sheets and dry-erase markers with erasers attached. For those who wish to make their own, we recommend using high-gloss photo paper with grease pencil or dry erase markers, if these allow quick erasure and reuse (most photo paper does not erase easily). If the printed fact sheets do not easily clean with dry erase markers or if you want to print on plain paper, it is possible to put them into clear plastic sandwich bags, which normally work with the markers. Here are some markers we like:
SafariScreenSnapz064  These are odorless and the colors are popular with children. If left unretracted for 20 minutes or more, they tend to dry our, but will come back to life if retracted for a short time. These can also be purchased in black.

pJkyM  Dixon Phano Peel-Off China Marker Pencils, Thin, Black are about 50¢ in quantity, less than half the cost of the Expo markers. They do cannot dry out and wipe with only a little more effort than dry erase. These are what we ship with a boxed game.

y4Jv6  Listo 1620 Marking Pencil, Box of 12 come in colors and are more easily extended as they wear. The cost is more closely associated with dry erase markers.

Grease pencils were once popular, but they are hard to find in office supply stores.

3YcAW  There are many sources for standard, 52-card decks, but they should be labeled “Bridge Size.” Poker size are wider and harder for small hands to manage 13 cards in one hand.

PhPCu  Young children and players with hand injuries can benefit from various styles of card holders.

Please feel free to leave comments.

36 thoughts on “Getting Started

    • Thank you for pointing our my sloth. I have added several template files that are up-to-date. Many of these were intended to be printed with duplex, double-sided printer (optional).

      If you are going to try this program, I would like to converse via email. If you are going to use this in a public school, The Center for Bridge Education is eager to give you support.

  1. Hi Richard,
    This seems like a great system and I am anxious to introduce my 6 and 9 year old grandsons to Handz this summer. When printing off the Instruction sheets, several sentences are cut off at the top and bottom of many pages. Is it possible to make wider top and bottom margins to make printing more accurate? I can see the sentences on the computer, which I have handwritten into my printed sheets, but changing the margins would be helpful.
    Thanks for all your work on this.

    • Hi Marcia,
      We are eager to learn of how your grandsons like the game.
      The reason that the documents come out so long (Instructions and Tipz) is that we print them as a booklet using a printer that has thin margins at the edge. If you put in a “scale” of about 90%, that should reduce the image enough to fit. I can help you with both booklets and laminated fact sheets. Watch for an email with “Handz” in the subject line.

  2. This year I will start my 4th year teaching bridge to 4th or 5th graders in a public school. I usually have two 1 hr. lessons each week, and I teach the entire school year. Handz may be a good way to start the year.

    Will keep you posted via email.

    • Hello Marge,
      If you teach in public school, I will be happy to send you a copy of the game with the materials you need to host two tables for free. The Center for Bridge Education is a non-profit charity whose purpose it is to encourage bridge in school. You will get an email from me asking for an address if you would like a copy of the game.

  3. I would like to buy the game/booklet/ whatever, to teach my grandchildren ….. How do I do this. Pat Mannix

    • If you only need printed materials (not cards are markers), I will send them to you at no charge. Please watch for an email with the subject “Handz” in which I will ask for your address.

  4. I teach adults beginners/ some intermediates. I believe this will help them grasp the concepts. Please add me to your e-mail list.
    I have volunteered for a bridge youth camp last year in North Carolina. I will send your website link to my friend who teaches bridge in NC.
    Thank you.

    Just received a request to teach a 3 year old prodigy, who had learned chess and grandmother wants him to learn bridge. I will send your link to her also.

  5. I teach bridge to 50 3rd grade students at Hunter Elementary School and approx. 12 students in their after school program. See bulletin article Aug.2015 and will have another Sept.2016. I would like to try Handz with my new students this Sept. we teach 4 hours of in school instruction with 12 students each hour. and 2 hours after school. Any help would be appreciated. Thank You, Judy

  6. Like Pat Mannix (above), I too would like to teach my grandson (age 11) and would like to buy the game/booklet whatever. I read in one of your links a referral to the “boxed game”. How can I purchase that? Thank you! Tina Iffland

  7. Please advise as to how I can buy the game/booklet that you refer to as the “boxed game”. Thank you. Tina iffland

    • Hi Jane. We may indeed have a class this summer. We have one planned for incarcerated youth, but I am going out on a limb to assume that would be inappropriate for your child. We currently have a program at a public school in the Mission district each week, intended for pupils of that school, but I presume that any child could attend. If those options are not convenient, there are school programs that will start this fall. I will email you separately (for privacy reasons) about which school your child attends. We have steady programs at some private schools for children that age.

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