Bridge is a card game played by 220 million people worldwide and one in fifteen people in the UK alone. It is one of the world’s favourite pastimes and is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity. In places like China and Poland, it now forms part of the National Curriculum and research suggests that, among many other positive benefits, regular games of bridge help to stave off degenerative diseases as you get older.
There are three main forms of bridge – rubber bridge, Chicago and duplicate bridge.
Rubber bridge is the traditional form of the game and the way it is typically played in homes throughout the land. It is also the way most people start out. The object is to score games and win a rubber (the best of three games). You keep playing with the same partner until either you or your opponents have won the rubber. That can take 10 minutes or much longer – anything up to 45 minutes or more, depending on the luck of the deal and the skill of the players.
Chicago is an increasingly popular way of playing. It is like rubber bridge in many respects, but the scoring is slightly different – game and slam bonuses are awarded as soon as the contract has been made – and instead of playing on until a rubber is score you play four hands with pre-determined vulnerability and then cut again for partners. Chicago was invented by commuters to the famous US city who wanted a game they could easily start and finish on their daily trip into work. (Each round of Chicago typically takes 20 to 25 minutes). But it is also a great way to play a social game at home as well.
Duplicate bridge is the way that competitive bridge in clubs is typically organised in bridge clubs. Hands are pre-dealt and each player has the same cards as the person sitting in the same seat at every other table. At the end of the session (typically around 24 deals lasting about three hours) you and your partner’s score is compared to that of the other pairs holding exactly the same cards. You can then see how your performance compares to the rest of the room.
At Andrew Robson Bridge our approach is to ground every newcomer in the basics of the game, leaving them free to choose how and when they wish to play afterwards – whether that is socially or competitively. We also offer a range of additional courses for those who want to move up to the next level, and/or try their hand at duplicate. Although duplicate bridge is inherently competitive, the way we organise it you do not need to be an expert and it is a good way to meet and play with like-minded friendly people.
Bridge is a game that needs to be learnt but don’t worry: it can be enjoyed from the very outset. Whichever form you play, rubber, Chicago or duplicate, be warned that bridge is hugely stimulating for the brain and also highly addictive! You won’t regret the time you have invested in learning. It will – and should be – fun. You will be acquiring a skill and a source of pleasure for life.