History of contract bridge

Bridge is a member of the family of trick-taking games and is a development of Whist, which had become the dominant such game enjoying a loyal following for centuries. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Bridge is the English pronunciation of a game called Biritch, which was also known as Russian Whist. The oldest known Biritch rule book[20] dated 1886 is by John Collinson. It and his subsequent letter to The Saturday Review dated May 28, 1906, document the origin of Biritch as from the Russian community in Constantinople[21] and having some features in common with Solo Whist. The game had many significant bridge-like developments: dealer chose the trump suit, or nominated his partner to do so; there was a call of notrumps (biritch); dealer's partner's hand became dummy; points were scored above and below the line; game was 3NT, 4H and 5D (although 8 club odd tricks and 15 spade odd tricks were needed); the score could be doubled and redoubled; and there were slam bonuses. This game, and variants of it known as bridge[22] and bridge-whist,[23] became popular in the United States and the UK in the 1890s despite the long-established dominance of whist.[24] In 1904 auction bridge was developed, in which the players bid in a competitive auction to decide the contract and declarer. The object became to make at least as many tricks as were contracted for and penalties were introduced for failing to do so. The modern game of contract bridge was the result of innovations to the scoring of auction bridge made by Harold Stirling Vanderbilt and others. The most significant change was that only the tricks contracted for were scored below the line toward game or a slam bonus, a change that resulted in bidding becoming much more challenging and interest ng. Also new was the concept of vulnerability, making sacrifices to protect the lead in a rubber more expensive, and the various scores were adjusted to produce a more balanced game. Vanderbilt set out his rules in 1925, and within a few years contract bridge had so supplanted other forms of the game that "bridge" became synonymous with "contract bridge." In the USA, most of the bridge played today is duplicate bridge, which is played at clubs, in tournaments [4] and online [5]. In the UK, rubber bridge is still popular in both homes and clubs, as is duplicate bridge. The number of people playing contract bridge has declined since its peak in 1940s, when a survey found it was played in 44% of US households. The game is still played, especially amongst retirees, and in 2005 the ACBL estimated there were 25 million players in the US. A trick-taking game is a card game or tile-based game in which play of a "hand" centers on a series of finite rounds or units of play, called tricks, which are each evaluated to determine a winner or "taker" of that trick. The object of such games then may be closely tied to the number of tricks taken, as in plain-trick games such as Whist, Contract Bridge, Spades, Napoleon, Rowboat, and Spoil Five, or on the value of the cards contained in taken tricks, as in point-trick games such as Pinochle, the Tarot family, Rook, All Fours, Manille, Briscola, and most "evasion" games like Hearts.[1] The domino game Texas 42 is an example of a trick-taking game that is not a card game. Trick-and-draw games are trick-taking games in which the players can fill up their hands after each trick. Typically players are free to play any card into a trick in the first phase of the game, but must follow suit as soon as the score is depleted.