At its core, bridge is a game of skill played with randomly dealt cards, which makes each deal a game of chance. Despite this, chance can be largely eliminated by comparing pairs’ results in identical situations. This is achievable when there are eight or more players, sitting at several tables, and the deals from each table are preserved and passed to the next table, thereby duplicating them for another 4 (or more) participants to play. At the end of a competition, the scores for each deal are compared against each other, and most points are awarded to the players doing the best with each particular deal. This measures skill despite the initial chance of the deal.
This form of the game is referred to as duplicate bridge and is played in tournaments, which can gather as many as several hundred players. Duplicate bridge is a mind sport, and its popularity gradually became comparable to that of chess, which it is often compared with for its complexity and mental skills required for high-level competition.
The basic premise of duplicate bridge was occasionally used for whist matches, as early as 1857. For some reason, duplicate was not thought to be suitable for bridge, and so it wasn’t until the 1920s that (auction) bridge tournaments became popular.
In 1925 when contract bridge first evolved, bridge tournaments were becoming popular, but the rules were somewhat in flux, and several different organizing bodies were involved in tournament sponsorship: the American Bridge League (formerly the American Auction Bridge League, which changed its name in 1929), the American Whist League, and the United States Bridge Federation. In 1935, the first officially recognized world championship was held. By 1937, however, the American Contract Bridge League had come to power (a union of the ABL and the USBF), and it remains the principal organizing body for bridge tournaments in North America. In 1958, the World Bridge Federation was founded, as bridge had become an international activity.
Today, the ACBL has over 160,000 members and runs 1100 tournaments per year with 3200 officially-associated bridge clubs.
Bidding boxes and bidding screens
In tournaments, “bidding boxes” are frequently used. A bidding box is a box of cards, each bearing the name of one of the legal calls in bridge. A player wishing to make a call displays the appropriate card from the box, rather than making a verbal declaration. This prevents unauthorized information from being conveyed via voice inflection. In top national and international events, “bidding screens” are used. These are diagonal screens which are placed across the table, preventing a player from seeing his partner during the game.
Important Bridge Players
Easley Blackwood Sr.
Helen Sobel Smith
Video: Junior Nationals 2008 Mumbai