The History and Development of Bridge
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The History and Development of Bridge

Like many card games, Bridge was played in its earliest forms by many different cultures around the world. Modern history dating back to 1800s attributes the game of Bridge to Istanbul. Bridge is said to have derived its name from the Galata Bridge, which connected the European part of Istanbul with the Asian side of the city. People would cross this bridge in order to play the card game with other players. However, there are contrary claims to this, and most people say that Bridge is actually the English pronunciation of the game ‘Biritch’, which was also called the Russian ‘Whist’. The earliest Biritch rulebook appeared in the year 1886, which displays significant similarities to the modern Bridge than it does to the original Whist. These included the dealer or the dealer’s partner choosing the trump suit, a call of no trumps (Biritch) being made, scoring of points above the line, scores could be doubled as well as redoubled, and there were provisions for slam bonuses. This particular game and the variants of Whist known as bridge-whist started to overshadow the long-standing popular game of Whist.

Whist, to which Bridge’s origin is credited, was a dominant trick playing game that was played for many years before it gave shape to the modern day Bridge. The game of bridge began to gain popularity in Britain, after it was introduced to in the early part of the 19th century. After several years, variations of the game were developed, and in 1904, Auction Bridge saw its first light. This was an exciting version, where the players engaged in a competitive auction to establish the contract and the dealer. The object of the game was to make at least the number of the tricks contracted for, with penalties imposed in case of failure to do so.

The departure from the traditional whist took place when Harold Stirling Vanderbilt and others incorporated innovative changes to Whist. The most significant change was that only those tricks were counted below the lines, which were contracted for, towards game and slam. This made the game much more challenging, and made the entire proceedings much more interesting. Another new concept was vulnerability, which made the sacrifice of a win to protect the lead in a rubber more expensive. The scoring pattern of the game was adjusted to bring more balance into the game. These rules were formulated by Vanderbilt in 1925, and since then this new version, called the Contract bridge began to supplant other forms of bridge games in terms of popularity. Four players are supposed to play the game of bridge, with two players forming a team. The objective of a single deal is to score the highest points with the given cards. The contract part of the game is when one partnership declares the least number of tricks that they can definitely make before the actual game commences.

The modern competitive version of the bridge game, such as the duplicate bridge, is the game that can be played in tournaments, hosting any number of players. Players can enter duplicate bridge competitions such as the World Championship Bridge game, and Olympiads. Such competitive bridge games have gained popularity in the recent past, all around the world.
April 30, 2008, 8:30 am

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