Modern bridge (known as "contract bridge" in its most typical form) began to be played in the 1920s when Harold Vanderbilt developed its early system of scoring. Since then, bridge has spread to every continent on the globe, with millions of players and thousands of clubs worldwide. It has even inspired the creation of the American Contract Bridge League, which sanctions clubs and tournaments and establishes internationally-recognized rules. While there are no bridge games designed especially for beginners, neophytes can still enjoy a number of variations of bridge, each with its own unique characteristics.
Standard or Contract Bridge
Contract bridge is a trick-taking game in which two teams of two players each play a series of hands, with the highest bidding (auctioning) team in each hand attempting to take enough tricks to meet their bid. The game is won by the first team to earn 100 points. The first team to win two games wins the "rubber." For this reason, contract bridge is also known as "rubber bridge."
Duplicate bridge attempts to eliminate the element of luck from the game by having each set of players play the same hands several times, with different players successively playing different hands. The game requires eight players, who may play in pairs or as a team of four. The game ends when each player has had the opportunity to play every hand, with the best performing pair or team (those winning the tricks) declared the winner.
Chicago bridge, or "four deal bridge," is a variation that shortens the game considerably as compared to contract bridge by limiting the play to only four hands. The rules of the game are the same in terms of auctioning and playing, but the team with the highest number of points at the end of four hands is declared the winner (rather than competing until one team wins two games).
Chicago Bridge with Duplicate Scoring
This variation of bridge combines aspects of both Chicago and duplicate bridge. The game may be played in four hands or in any multiple of four hands, but the scoring system is altered as with duplicate bridge. There is no scoring of part scores or games from deal to deal as there is with contract bridge--scoring is instead based upon which team was in the most vulnerable position for each hand.
Chicago Bridge with Russian Scoring
This version of bridge is played in the same way that traditional Chicago bridge is, except that the scoring is based upon cards taken rather than upon tricks taken. For each hand, there is a "target" score to reach, based on the number of high card points each team accumulates, counting aces as four points, kings as three points, queens as two points and jacks as one point. The winner is the team to reach its target score based upon whether it was "vulnerable" or not.
Mike Andrews is a freelance writer and serial entrepreneur focused on small-business and entrepreneurship for average people. He holds a bachelor's degree in biblical studies and a master's degree in theology and has appeared in a wide array of print and online periodicals including "HiCall," "Mature Living" and "Caregivers Home Companion."