A fascinating card game called Bridge.
Bridge is a fascinating and immensely popular card game of skill. Consummate skill and complete knowledge of the game are essential for success in it.
A fascinating card game called Bridge.
Diamonds may break here but not hearts; clubs may but spades do not break here. There is no guarantee what breaks and what doesn’t break here. It is all a matter of percentages and varies every time.
This is no peculiar mine but the Bridge room of our club where motley crowd, of both sexes, assembles every evening to exercise its grey cells. Most of the members come with their hearts left behind at home, and the few who come with their hearts in tow may, at times, be heartless.
Here, I am talking of the popular game of Bridge played all over the world. It’s played by people from all professions but not by all classes. Only the elite play this game or the players consider themselves as an elite group. Bill Gates played in the ‘pairs’ event of the World Championships a couple of years back. He had not won any prizes, but that is not germane to the point.
The game is played with a normal pack of fifty-two cards without jokers. Here again, some players, may play like jokers and fill the void left by the cards, much valued in other card games.
It’s a tricky trick playing game played by four players and one of them, in every deal, is forced to be a dummy. Experts who write about this game use the pseudonym Double Dummy.
It’s a game of skill, a tactical game with inbuilt randomness, imperfect knowledge and restricted communication. In fact, in all tournaments the players are not allowed to speak but to show their bids by displaying the designed markers. Speaking is prohibited for the modulation of the voice, and the way the bids are made may signal to the partner information more than what is in the bid proper.
It’s a game about which many books have been written by experts. Next to chess, it’s the game with the maximum number of books written about. The books, essentially about innumerable bidding systems, explain how to convey to the partner the strength, composition and values in one’s hand. The system are designed to explain in detail: the high cards held, distribution of suits, voids if any, strength, weakness and other values of hand. This is essential to enable the partner to understand the combined strength and weakness before deciding the contract to be played. The system should be transparent and understandable also to the opponents, who have every right to find out the meaning of each bid.
A contract is an assertion to take a certain number of tricks, and when the declarer succeeds in taking that number of tricks, the contract is said to be made and down by the number of tricks when he falls short.
Since all four players are allowed to bid, it needs consummate understanding of each player’s holding to determine the best contract to be played. Each team calculates its gains and losses before bidding the final contract.
It’s no hyperbole to state there are as many bidding systems as there are players.
The vital part of the game is the table play in which the cards are played to make the contract. The declarer tries to make, and the defenders try to break the contract. Here again, many books have been written on the craft of table play. Apart from certain rules formulated, these methods use statistics for calculating the percentages of finding the distribution and cards held by opponents.
The most significant and disturbing part of the game follows after the deal is played. It’s called discussion or debrief, if you will, but often tends to be full of acrimony. The dummy who lays his cards on the table criticizes his partner, the declarer, for any faulty play, and the declarer defends himself. Players, normally, do not play with their spouse as a partner, for many a marriage has floundered on the bridge table. Players calling each other names and coming to blows is not uncommon.
Bridge has some common features with other games: like chess, it is addictive and like golf it produces bridge widows. It’s also played for stakes ranging from a quarter to thousand dollars a point. Omar Sheriff, the Egyptian Hollywood actor, is reported to have lost a fortune in this game.
Several tournaments are conducted at various levels in each country and in different parts of the world. The Bridge World Championships and the Bermuda Bowl are supreme in this regard.
With the growth of the Internet, today one can play the game online. The World Bridge Federation has formulated rules for online game. The only disadvantage is a player will have a partner from any part of the world and no prior understanding of the bidding system used by him. SAB, short for Standard American Bidding system, is the most popular system currently.
Bridge is an immensely popular and fascinating game which exercises the grey cells of players and is recommended to keep diseases like dementia away.