Bridge

Modern Bridge, more precisely Contract Bridge, but the ‘Contract’ has for long been dropped, was developed out of Auction Bridge and introduced to card players in the early 1920s.   It took firm root quickly, and made rapid progress, to become the most popular game in the whole history of card-playing.   To-day, half a century after its debut, it is played by millions, rich and poor, from peers to peasants, and it has attracted to itself a vast literature in most European languages.

            Bridge is played by four players, two playing in partnership against the other two, and with a standard pack of fifty-two cards. The cards rank in the order Ace (high) to 2 (low), and the Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten of a suit are known as the honor cards.   The suits rank in the order Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, clubs; the Spade and Heart suits are known as the major suits: the Diamond and Club suits as the minor suits.   Although only one pack of cards is necessary, it is customary to use two, of different design or color, and while one is being dealt the other is shuffled by the partner of the deler, in readiness for the next dealer.
            To determine partners, a pack is spread-eagled on the table.   The four players draw cards from it, and the two who draw the two highest cards play in partnership poker against the other two.   If two players draw cards of equal rank, precedence is determined by the rank of the suits.   The player who draws the highest card has choice of seats and cards, and deals first.   Thereafter the deal passes round the table clockwise.   His partner sits opposite to him; the other two partners sit one on each side of him.

            It is convenient to divide the game into two periods.   The bidding, during which the two partnerships compare against each other to establish which suit shall be made trumps or whether the hand shall be played without a trump suit.   The playing, during which the player who has won the contract strives to make it, playing his own hand and that of his partner exposed on the table, against the other partnership striving to prevent him.

            The dealer bids first, and the bidding continues round the table clockwise.   When a player bids he states the number of tricks in excess of six that he undertakes to win, and in the denomination that he undertakes to play.   The lowest bid, therefore, is a bid of One ( a contract to win seven tricks) and the highest is a bid of Seven (a contract to win all thirteen tricks). As No-Trumps takes precedence over the suits, and the suits rank in the descending order Spades, Heads, Diamonds, clubs, the lowest possible bid is one Club, and the ascending scale is: One club, One Diamond, One Heart, One Spade, One No-Trump, Two clubs, Two Diamonds.. Seven Hearts, Seven Spades, Seven No-Trumps. A contract of Seven (to win all thirteen tricks ) is called a small slam; a contract of Seven (to win all thirteen tricks) is called a grand slam.

            In turn each bid must name either  a greater number of tricks than the previous one, or an equal number of tricks in a higher denomination.   If a poker player has no wish to contract to win tricks he says ‘No Bid’, and if all four players do so, the hand is thrown in and the deal passes.
            In his turn any player may double a bid made by an opponent.   The effect of a double is to increase the score whether the contract succeeds or fails:  and the partnership whose contract has been doubled may redouble thereby increasing the score, win or lose, still further.   Doubling and redoubling, however, do not increase the size of a contract: e.g. a bid of Four Clubs is inferior to a bid of Four Diamonds and remains inferior to it even though it may have been doubled and redoubled.
            The bidding period continues until the last and highest bid has been followed by three passes.   The player who first mentioned the denomination in the final contract then becomes the declarer.

            It is usual to denote the four players by the cardinal points of the compass, and if we assume that South deals, a sequence of bidding to illustrate some of the points mentioned might be:

South

West

North

East

1

No bid

1 ♥

1 ♠

1 No-Trump

2♠

3

No Bid

3 No-Trumps

Double

No Bid

No Bid

4

No Bid

5

Double

Redouble

No Bid

No Bid

No Bid

            The final contract, therefore, is Five Diamonds, and the poker hand will be played by South, because he was the first on his side to mention Diamonds as the trump suit.
            The playing period begins by the player on the left of the declarer leading to the first trick.   As soon as he has done so, the partner of the declarer places his cards face upwards on the table as dummy.   He takes no further part in the play except that he has a right to draw his partner’s attention to certain irregularities, such as asking him if he has none of a suit when he fails to follow suit, and warning him against leading out of the wrong hand.   The declare plays the dummy hands well as his own.

            The play follows the normal routine of trick-taking games: if a player is able to do so he must follow suit to the card led; otherwise he may either discard or trump.   The trick is won by the player who plays the highest card of the suit led, or the highest trump.   The player who wins a trick leads to the next.   Plate 13 shows the playing period of the poker game in progress.
            When all thirteen tricks have been played, the players record their scores, and those of their oppoents, on a marker, or sheet of paper, as shown in the accompanying diagram.