Four players sit around a table with partners opposite one another and bridge is played with two partnerships of two players each.
The compass directions are often used to refer to the four players, aligned with their seating pattern. Thus, South and North form one partnership and East and West form the other.
A session of bridge consists of several deals (also called hands or boards). A hand is dealt, the bidding (or auction) proceeds to a conclusion and then the hand is played. Finally, the hand's result is scored.
The aim of a single deal is to achieve the highest score with given cards. The score is affected by two principal factors: the number of tricks bid in the auction, and the number of tricks taken during play.
The concept of contract, which distinguishes contract bridge from its predecessors, refers to a statement by one partnership that they shall take at least a certain number of tricks, with a given suit as trumps, or without trumps.