A Brief History
Bridge belongs to the family of trick-taking card games and is a development of Whist. There are many theories as to the derivation of its name, but the Oxford English Dictionary claims that it is the English pronunciation of a game called Biritch, also known as Russian Whist.
In 1904 auction bridge was developed, in which the players bid in a competitive auction to decide the contract and declarer. Contract Bridge, the modern form of the game, was the result of innovations to the scoring of auction bridge made by Harold Vanderbilt and others. All bridge played today is Contract Bridge, now always referred to simply as bridge.
Most of the bridge played today is Duplicate Bridge, which is played at clubs, in tournaments and online. Another variation of bridge, Chicago, though less popular than duplicate, is still played in both homes and clubs.
How does it work?
Bridge requires four players - formed into two partnerships. You sit opposite your partner. All the equipment you need is a pack of cards, which get dealt out round the table so that everyone has thirteen - their HAND. The cards should then be sorted into suits; spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.
There are two stages to Bridge:
(i) The BIDDING, (or AUCTION)
(ii) The PLAYING OUT of the cards, (or DECLARING)
Stage (i) involves the two partnerships bidding in a special bridge language or code (incidentally known as ACOL after the club where it was designed). The language contains only fifteen words - but needs to be learnt, as accuracy is vital. Via this language a goal or CONTRACT is established.
Stage (ii) is reminiscent of Whist, both partnerships trying to take TRICKS (a TRICK is when each player contributes a card, the highest one winning). Two defenders compete against one DECLARER to try and complete or defeat the CONTRACT or target set in stage(i). What happens to the fourth player? They make the tea, get the beer from the fridge or simply kick back and relax.
How do you learn?
Bridge needs to be learnt but is great fun right from the outset. Try a course at the home of British bridge - the world famous Acol Bridge Club. Daytime/ Evening/Learn in a Weekend courses for complete beginners are available throughout the year. Find out more about our courses.