History of Contract Bridge

1880's Bridge Developed from Whilst

The card game Bridge is part of the genre of trick taking games and is an offshoot of the card game Whist. Whist was popular in Europe for several hundred years. One form of Whist was Russian Whist that was also known as Biritch. Biritch pronounced in English is Bridge and that is where the name Bridge comes from.

Bridge's predecessor Biritch shared many similar aspects of game play with the modern Bridge game.

  • Trump suit chosen by dealer or told partner to pick the trump suit
  • No trump option
  • Dummy hand is the Dealer's partner
  • Score Doubling and Redoubling
  • Points scored above the line and below the line
  • 3NT | 4H | 5D Game
  • Slam Bonuses
The first Bridge Rule Book is dated 1886. Bridge took off in the 1890's throughout America overtaking the popularity of Whist. Similarly in Europe, the United Kingdom was leading the European transition into Bridge becoming the most popular card game.

1900's Auction Bridge

With the development of Auction Bridge in 1904 the game took on new levels of complexity and excitement. Players bidding each hand against the other pair to decide the declarer and the contract adding a whole new dimension to the game. Auction Bridge made the game's objective to fulfill the contract. Penalties for failing to fulfill the contract were added to the game's scoring.

1920's Bridge Scoring Changes

Auction Bridge added an exciting wrinkle to Bridge and Harold Stirling Vanderbilt took it a step further by creating a standard set of rules for Contract Bridge. Along with the help of others, Vanderbilt rule changes in 1925 made a huge impact on the game:
  • Only tricks contracted for were scored below the line for a game bonus or slam bonus
  • Vulnerability was developed which made it more costly to sacrifice in order to protect a lead in a rubber
  • Scoring changes made for a more balanced game for both sides
duplicate bridge

2000's Duplicate Bridge

Duplicate Bridge has become the game of choice throughout the United States and Australia and its popularity is increasingly in Europe and the United Kingdom. Duplicate Bridge is available for people to play online, at tournaments and at many clubs. Though Rubber Bridge is still widely played, the interest for Duplicate Bridge has made the ability to compare the greatest Bridge pairs in an equally fair competition a fascinating dramatic aspect to the current Bridge tournament events.

The History of Bridge has seen exciting development added to the game. Major international Bridge events are being held monthly around the world and interest in the game seems to increasing as Bridge is introduced to the next generation of players.

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