Playing cards have been used for nearly a thousand years and were invented in China. One of the most strategically complex of all card games is Bridge. Players must bid and take certain tricks in certain orders to ensure victory. One variation on Bridge is a game called Military Bridge or Back Alley. This game follows similar bridge rules but has many variations, including capturing flags to score points.
Each team has four players per team. One player on the team is called the captain, while the rest are considered scouts. Each game has one large fort flag and nine smaller flags. Each team receives one flag at the start of the game. These flags are captured during the game for points. Each game of military bridge has 10 rounds, with each won round winning one flag. A scheduling sheet made ahead of time by the leader of the game indicates the trump of each round as well where the scout for each team must move each round. The captain never moves from his starting table. The scouts move off to the table or “nation” to play against the captain there for his flag. One scout stays at the table during each game to play with the captain. The cards are dealt out equally to each player and trump is announced before the game begins. Once everyone is seated at the proper table and dealt their cards, the game begins.
The captains are the dealer of each hand. He deals all the cards equally, announces the trump and lays the first card. Unlike other bridge games, there is no dummy hand nor is there any bidding. The player with the highest card of the suit wins the hand. He and his teammate must try to get at least seven tricks per hand. The captain is teamed with his remaining scout while the other team’s scouts are on the same team. However, trump cards will beat the highest card of any suit when it is played. Trumps can only be played if the player has no card of the played suit. Higher trumps beat lower trumps when played. During no trump rounds, players only concentrate on getting the highest card of each suit. If the attacking team wins seven tricks, they take the other team's flag back to their home base. If they do not win, they go back to their original table. At the end of the game, a short tournament is played among all the teams to win the large flag. The highest and lowest scoring teams play against each other, with all the other teams pairing up in the same way. The last two teams left in the tournament fight to win the large flag.
Players don’t earn points by scoring hands or tricks. Instead, they score points for each flag earned. Each small flag is worth one point. The large flag is worth five points. However, players only score points for the flags they have at the end of the game. This means players must carefully hold onto their flags throughout the game in order to win at the end.
Eric Benac began writing professionally in 2001. After working as an editor at Alpena Community College in Michigan and receiving his Associate of Journalism, he received a Bachelor of Science in English and a Master of Arts in writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.