For many, bridge is considered the ultimate partnership card game ever created. Also known as “contract bridge”, it is a game that requires communication, skills and the ability to analyze different patterns and possibilities. Millions of people all around the world play this game at home. There are variations such as the “duplicate bridge”, which is usually played in tournaments and clubs that provide competitiveness and social interaction between its players.
The rules are quite simple. Bridge is played using a standard 52-card deck that is shuffled and dealt equally among four players, so 13 cards per player. The idea is that players should communicate in a coded language to describe their hands to their partners and then play, making the contract. A “trump” means one suit, therefore it led to the expression “playing the trump card”.
The duplicate contract bridge variant, in which each team or player is dealt identical hands under analogous conditions, is the main competitive form, as mentioned.
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Well, where did bridge come from? We can trace the game’s origins to “whist”, a British trick-taking card game from the 1500’s that was very popular during that era. From the 19th century onwards, it developed itself to look like the current game. There are two theories to the game’s name origin. One says it comes from a transliteration of the Russian word “biritch”, which means diplomatic clerk or announcer. The other proposes it came from the Galata Bridge, in Turkey, where many British soldiers during the Crimean War crossed on their way to coffeehouses in which card games were played.
Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, the great-grandson of the railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, is credited to have conceived the modern game of Bridge, as he adapted a few rules and innovated by creating others in order to make it a more competitive and fair game. Some of his changes resulted in the bidding process becoming more challenging and interesting. His rules were established in 1925, and within a few years it became the most played bridge variant.
The game has seen a decline since its peak in the first half of the 20th century, in which according to a survey, was played in 44% of all American households. According to the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), the governing body of the game in North America and member of the World Bridge Federation, there are still more than 25 million contract bridge players in the United States only, showing that the game is still being widely played, especially among senior citizens.
In 1997 the ACBL first started the World Championships Computer Bridge in Albuquerque, New Mexico. OKBridge is the oldest running online bridge website available. However, if you are looking for a modern interface and more variety, you should definitely check out Casimba.