What’s Bridge?

I’ve heard of Bridge but what is it ???

“Bridge is the most diverting and intelligent card game that the wit of man has so far devised. I would have children taught it as a matter of course, …you can play bridge so long as you can sit up at a table and tell one card from another … when all else fails – sport, love, ambition – Bridge remains a solace and an entertainment.” W. Somerset Maugham

It is played by more than 50 million people in over 100 countries and probably the most popular card game in western cultures. The above quote from the acclaimed author, W. Somerset Maugham, is extremely astute. It is a game for all ages and there is no doubt, those who learn to play early on in life, have a distinct advantage. However, age is no barrier and at our club, the oldest player is 95 with the youngest being late teens.

At the Wagga Wagga Bridge Club, bridge provides mental stimulation and wonderful social contacts in a friendly atmosphere.

The game can be played socially or more usually, as organised competitions. It is played in pairs or teams but always 4 players per table arranged as pairs opposite each other. There many aspects which make it a unique game and a challenging one.

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First and foremost is the fact that it is played as a partnership where each partner is expected to have a very good understanding of the others’ style of play.

Another unique feature is that one of the partners in the ‘attacking’ pair must place their cards on the table for everyone to see and then can only play the card that the partner asks to be played. In effect, this player plays both hands across the table, thus acting like a bridge – hence the name.

There are many more features of bridge that are unique twists which make it all the more challenging among card games.

Bridge traces its origins to the British game of whist (a call for silence), first played in the 16th century.  The game was popular by the middle of the 17th century, but it was not until 1742 that the first book devoted to whist appeared.

Bridge replaced whist as England’s most popular card game and was first played in London at the Portland Club in 1894.  The rules gradually changed and, in 1904, the game had developed into auction bridge.

The modern game of contract bridge was the result of innovations to the scoring of auction bridge made by Harold Stirling Vanderbilt and others. The most significant changes were to the scoring. That made bidding much more challenging and interesting.  Vanderbilt set out his rules in 1925, and within a few years contract bridge had so supplanted other forms of the game that “bridge” became synonymous with “contract bridge.”