What is Bridge:
A Quick Guide to the Game
Bridge is not only one of the oldest card games in the world, it’s also one of the most complex. In fact, when it comes to skill, strategy and logic, bridge is up there with poker. Naturally, whenever you combine mathematics, timing and a smattering of luck, anything can happen.
However, if you really want to succeed in bridge, you need to know the basics and more. With this in mind, our virtual hub will take you through the finer points of the game. From its history and its place in the gaming world to the ways you play and how you can improve, this portal should give you a solid foundation to crossover into the world of bridge.
The Basics of Bridge
To kick things off, let’s quickly define the game of bridge. After this, we’ll tell you where you can play and, importantly, what its advantages and disadvantages are. The simplest way to describe the game of bridge is:
Two teams of two players compete to make the best hand in a round (known as a trick) and the team that wins the most tricks is declared the overall winner.
Although we’ll go into more detail about how to play bridge in another section, the game typically flows in the following way:
- After setting the teams, the dealer will deal 13 cards (from a standard deck of 52) to each player in a clockwise direction
- Once each player has their cards, the first card is laid (known as the lead)
- At this point, the next player (to the leader’s left) must follow suit i.e. the card they lay must be the same suit as the lead card. But if a player can’t follow suit, they can lay any card of any suit/value they wish
- When all four players have laid, the card matching the lead suit and boasting the highest value wins the trick. After the trick is complete, the next round gets under way and the winner is the team that hits a pre-determined number of wins
Although there are additional features such as dummy players, declarers and trump cards you need to know before you play bridge, the above steps cover the main points of the game.
Some Useful Resources
Naturally, we can’t turn you into the best bridge player the world has ever known. Fortunately, there are tons for resources out there that can help you become a more advanced player. If you’re a complete beginner, there is a useful introduction to the game written by Richard Pavlicek. His site takes you through 12 lessons, with reviews and quizzes that will test your understanding of the game.
Additionally, the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) also has online tutorials for beginners and intermediates. These mini-courses are written by Fred Gitelman and take you through example hands and outline which moves are best in each scenario. As you work through the tutorials, you’ll learn the American system of bidding. If, however, you’re in the UK, the English Bridge Union has information on the ACOL bidding system (used in the UK).
Winston Churchill played bridge
Where can I play Bridge?
OK, so at this stage, you should have a basic idea of bridge and how it’s played. The next thing we want to get into is where you can play. Indeed, by the time you’ve read through our site and learned the fundamentals of the game, you’ll probably be chomping at the bit to test your newfound skills in some sort of competitive environment. If that’s the case, you can play in the following ways:
Perhaps the easiest and most relaxed way to play, all you need to set up a home game is a standard deck of cards and three friends who know how to play. Simple.
AT YOUR LOCAL CLUB
Bridge is an international game and there are clubs around the world. Whether it’s the UK, the US or beyond, you’ll find a venue that offers games for all skill levels. As you’d expect, the larger clubs are found in major cities, but even small village halls are hotbeds of bridge action. As well as offering competitive action, clubs also offer classes for beginners. If you’re in the UK, the best way to find your local club is to use the English Bridge Union’s database. If you’re in the US, try the American Contract Bridge League’s site.
Just as the internet has spawned a wealth of online poker and casino sites, bridge has also entered the online arena in the last decade. What’s great about online bridge is that you can join the action for free in many instances and, moreover, you don’t need your own team. In fact, you can join the action as a lone newbie, pair up with someone online and play.
The largest site in the industry is Bridge Base Online and here you can play and watch the experts. Moreover, you can access tutorials and other educational resources. Additionally, you’ll find online assistants that can help you get into the action and start playing your very first games.
THE ADVANTAGES OF PLAYING
As you’ve probably guessed, we’re fans of online bridge and not just because we’re a website that focuses on the game. For us, the best reason to play online if you’re a newbie is that the games are free and there’s almost zero pressure.
Because you’re anonymous, you don’t have to feel conscious that you’re going to look stupid sitting down alongside a pro. This is something that’s true in the online poker and casino worlds and it’s no less true when it comes to bridge. Beyond this benefit, online bridge offers the following advantages:
Whether you use your desktop or mobile, online bridge is easily accessible. Regardless of where you are, how much you’ve got to spend or the skills you possess, the leading online sites have plenty of ways you to play anytime, anywhere.
Play in a Way that Suits You
When you join a bridge club or competition, you typically have to play at set times and for a minimum number of deals. In general, the average live bridge session will last for at least three hours. In contrast, if you play online, you can grind for as long as you like. Whether it’s 15 minutes or half a day, there are always games running and you can dip in and out as you wish.
If you’re not enjoying a game online, you can change at your leisure. In fact, one of the characteristics of online bridge is that players constantly switch tables. In you play live, you’re usually required to play with your starting partner for the entire session.
When you play at a local club, it’s customary to wait for every other table to finish before you start a new game. In the online world, this isn’t the case. Moreover, online software doesn’t get tired, make mistakes or take time to shuffle the cards. When you piece all of this together, the action ticks over at a fairly rapid pace online.
THE DOWNSIDE OF PLAYING BRIDGE ONLINE
Although online bridge is a fantastic way to play, that doesn’t mean you should never step into the live arena. In fact, it can be argued that there’s a lack of personal interaction. When you play via your desktop or mobile, the social element is lost to some degree. Chatting is done by typing, which naturally reduces the amount of banter you can have. For those who prefer a more social game, live action might suit you a little more.