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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 history of card-playing.  To-day, half a century after its debut, it is player by millions, rich and poor, from peers to peasants, and it has attracted to itself a vast literature in most European languages.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS

Bridge is a game for four players, two playing in partnership against the other two, players sitting opposite each other.

CARDS

The full pack of 52 cards is used.  Although only one pack of cards is necessary, it is customary to use two, of different design or colour, and while one is being dealt the other is shuffled by the partner of the dealer, in readiness for the next dealer.

The cards rank in the other Ace (high) to 2 (low), and the Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 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.

To determine partners, a pack is spread on the table.  The four players draw cards from it, and the two who draw the two highest cards play in partnership 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 usual to denote the four players by the cardinal points of the compass.

BIDDING

During the bidding, which the two partnerships compete against each other to establish which suit shall be made trumps or whether the poker hand shall be played without a trump suit.

The dealer bids first, and the bidding continues round the table clock-wise.  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 all 13 tricks).  As no-trumps takes precedence over the suits, 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 Six (to win 12 tricks ) is called a small slam; a contract of Seven (to win all 13 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 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 poker score sheet, 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.

Bridge is not a difficult game unless a player makes it so by ill-advised bidding.  Its most important feature is that a player scores towards game only for the tricks that he has contracted to win, and, by a logical extension, he scores the big bonuses  for slams only if the necessary amount of tricks has been contracted for.

It follows that it is of paramount importance for the partners to estimate the trick taking power of their combined hands, and not only must a online poker player estimate as accurately as possible the position of the adverse high cards and distribution (as revealed by his bidding as much information as possible to his partner.  In short, bidding may be defined as a conversation between the partners, and both must speak the same language.

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