History of Bridge

November 5, 2015

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A pastime that has been traced back to the 16th century, Bridge is a card game with quite a history! Traces of Bridge-like card games were said to begin in the 16th century in Britain and it was called ‘Whist.’ The first book devoted to learning the game, rules and trumps was written in 1742 and was called the ‘Edmond Hoyle’s Short Treatise.’ It was a bestseller and the game of Whist continued to gain popularity around the world as other card games developed. In 1857, the first game of duplicate Whist was played in London and the systems used eliminated much of the luck involved in which card each player was dealt, serving as a forerunner of modern duplicate bridge. In the late 19th century, as migration toward the New World drastically increased, pastimes of card games were carried along as well. Bridge was introduced to the United States in the 1890’s.

The rules of the game underwent many changes made by its players, who have in the time since become the pioneers and forerunners of the game of Bridge. Mr. Harold Vanderbilt did much to perfect a system in 1925. He introduced rules, principles, treatments and even a scoring table. Mr. Vanderbilt recommended that only the tricks bid and made would count toward making a game. Overtricks would count as a bonus. His established rules became so popular that his game of Contract Bridge was adopted by the majority of players. England continued to colonize the world and the Commonwealth grew. In the early 1900’s British civil servants, who always follow any Army took along the developed systems of this evolving game and actually developed the Bidding System. In this manner, a Trump Suit was introduced to the game. They introduced the term Auction Bridge.

Fun Fact about Bridge: Did you know in 1953, President Eisenhower played bridge regularly on Saturday nights with top experts and he even attended national bridge tournaments when possible. He enjoyed bridge as much as golf and he was considered an excellent player?! Now let’s get into the details about what exactly bridge is and its’ relevance in today’s world.

Bridge, the ultimate partnership game, is a game of skill, communication and infinite possibilities. Millions of people worldwide play and enjoy the competitive aspects of tournament or “duplicate” bridge. In duplicate bridge, the same hands are played by the field, eliminating much of the luck of the deal.

Bridge is played using a standard deck of 52 cards dealt equally among four players. The players bid in a coded language to describe their hands to their partners and then play to make their contract. Generally, one suit is determined as “trump,” leading to the expression, “Play your trump card.” Duplicate contract bridge, in which each competitor or team plays identical hands under similar conditions, is the main form of competitive bridge.

The increased popularity of contract bridge eventually formed a merging league of American bridge groups called the ‘American Contract Bridge League’ in the 1930’s. ACBL membership has grown spectacularly in the past 50+ years and currently stands at 167,000 nationwide and growing!

We hope you will go and learn bridge, if you don’t know how to already! It is a very stimulating and strategic game that is suitable for all ages and stages of life. Many retirement communities offer weekly bridge, and one thing’s for sure, you will get addicted to this worldwide craze of a game!

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