Bridge is a very popular card game
played by two teams of two players each. A common form of the
game played today is called contract bridge.
History of Bridge
Several card games played in England during the 1500s led to the
creation of whist, the forerunner of bridge, the rules of
which were first described in a book written by an English
lawyer named Edward Hoyle, called A Short Treatise on the
Game of Whist in 1742.
Bridge whist developed from whist
somewhere in the 1800s, followed by another version called
auction bridge in the 1900’s.
The next to follow was contract bridge.
There are two main parts to this game, namely the bidding and
the play. Bidding is also called the auction, where each team
competes to name the contract. This refers to the number of
tricks in excess of six the team proposes to win. After the bidding,
the actual play begins in which the team that wins the bid attempts
to fulfill its contract while the opposing team tries to prevent the
team from doing so. Points are scored when the team succeeds in
fulfilling its contract, while failure in doing so results in
International bridge tournaments are organized regularly by the
World Bridge Federation (WBF). World team championships are held on
an annual basis while the world pairs championships are held every
four years. Players receive ratings based on their total number of
points. The lowest rating is that of Junior Master while the highest
is Grand Life Master.
Types of bridge
There are two main types of bridge – Rubber bridge and
Rubber bridge is the most commonly played game and
involves a few main steps. The first step is the deal. Here,
partners sit across the table. The dealer passes one card at a time
to each player from a standard deck of fifty-two cards, till the
entire deck has been distributed. Thus, each player receives
thirteen cards. Next, the players separate their cards into suits
and put them into order, according to their ranks, that is, from the
highest to the lowest – ace, king, queen, jack, ten, nine, eight,
seven, six, five, four, three and two.
The next step is known as Evaluating the hand. The most
popular method of doing this is by point count. Players
estimate the value of their cards before bidding. This is done by
assigning points for higher cards and certain card distributions. A
player very rarely opens the bidding with less than twelve points,
though the value of a hand may change during the bidding.
Professionals use elaborate bidding strategies based on point count.
Bidding is the third step. Here, the partners decide the
playing strength of their hands before naming their best contract. A
bid consists of two words, a number (which indicates how many
odd tricks or tricks in excess of six the bidder proposes to
win) and a denominator (which is the suit the bidder decides
to declare the trump). The dealer starts the bidding and is followed
by the other players in a clockwise manner. A player may bid or
pass, if he decides not to bid in that turn. Each bid must
however be higher than the previous one. A player may double
if he is convinced his opponent cannot make his bid. Bidding
continues till three of the four players pass or all four pass
during the first round of bidding. The last bid becomes the
contract. The person who first named the denomination on the team
that won the bid is called the declarer.
The play - Players may be identified by the positions North
(N), East (E), South (S) and West (W). Play begins, far right, after
the bidding. The declarer attempts to make the contract. The
declarer’s partner is called the dummy, whose cards are
placed face up on the table and played by the declarer. The highest
card in the suit led wins the trick, unless someone plays the card
from the trump suit, in which case, the highest trump wins the
trick. The game continues till all thirteen tricks have been taken.
Scoring - Points are scored when the contract is fulfilled.
The first six tricks the team takes are called a book. Each
trick above this holds a certain number of points, the total of
which is called the trick score. The team that scores a total
of 100 trick points or more is declared the winner. A team may also
gain extra points in a certain number of ways and these points are
called premium scores.
Duplicate bridge is another form of the game in which
all the cards are pre-dealt. Contestants lay each card played in a
pile on the table. After all the cards have been played, the hands
are placed in a tray, called the duplicate board. All
contestants play in the same manner. This game can be used to
directly evaluate the skill of a team. Duplicate bridge is further
subdivided into two types – pairs play and team play.
This game is most commonly played at tournaments.