Cambs & Hunts Contract Bridge Association
Promoting Bridge in Cambridgeshire
Release 2.19q
Learn to Play

What is Bridge?

Who plays bridge?

Why do people play bridge?

Bridge is a sport based on skill, not luck.

The health and well-being benefits of bridge.

The Educational Advantages of Bridge.

“Many games provide fun, but bridge grips you. It exercises your mind. Your mind can rust, you know, but bridge prevents the rust from forming.”   Omar Sharif

“Bridge is such a sensational game that I wouldn't mind being in jail if I had three cellmates who were decent players and who were willing to keep the game going 24 hours a day.”  Warren Buffett

“No matter where I go, I can always make new friends at the bridge table.”- Martina Navratilova

“Bridge is the king of all card games.”  Bill Gates

What Is Bridge?

Bridge is recognised as a mind sport, and is a partnership trick-taking card game of skill.  It is played by four players who form two partnerships; the partners sit opposite each other at a table.  There is an auction (often called bidding) and then the play, after which the hand is scored. The more tricks a partnership correctly predicts they will make the better their score - but if they do not make as many as they predict their opponents score points instead. In competitions the same hands are played at each table so you can compare your scores with the other partnerships and work out who did best with what they were dealt, thus almost eliminating the 'luck' aspect that exists in games such as poker.

These videos The Game of Bridge or Learn to Play Bridge in 5 minutes will give an overview of the basics of the game.

Playing bridge is one of the most enduring and popular pastimes in the world and for over 100 years it has fascinated people of all types and from all walks of life.

Who Plays Bridge?

In these days of people becoming lost in electronic entertainment, such as box sets and social media, more and more people are returning to board and card games as families see the value of learning and playing together in a more social, interactive environment. Many couples attend classes together, because bridge is a great inexpensive activity and it’s a wonderful way to make new acquaintances. Bridge is prominent throughout the celebrity and political world: from Bill Gates to Winston Churchill, and Omar Sharif to members of the band, Blur! Sharif is quoted as stating that, “Acting is my living, but bridge is my passion”, and Gates is a self-confessed bridge-obsessive:

Why do people play bridge?

First and foremost, people play because they enjoy it. Playing bridge is a fun activity which you can enjoy with friends and family of any age, anywhere in the world. All you need is a pack of cards, a table, and some like-minded people. Bridge players love the mental challenge. Each game played will offer a unique challenge of problems and solutions. Every single deal is different; every deal poses a new problem and the challenge of finding the solution is a great source of enjoyment - even more so if you find the answer!

The American Jazz composer Duke Ellington famously said, “a problem is your chance to do your best", and it won’t come as a surprise to know that bridge players soon develop special skills in problem solving! It’s frustrating for players when they don’t rise to the challenge, but tremendous when they are successful – whether through finding great technical play, by outwitting their opponents, or by co-operating really well to achieve success with their partner. Secondly, bridge is an excellent social game and can be played by everyone - players can meet new people, make new friends, take on new challenges and learn the game through the many bridge clubs and teachers. Like participating in any sport - be it a 'physical sport', or a 'mind sport' - playing bridge is good for you mentally and physiologically. Finally, you can play bridge anywhere! You can play locally and nationally; there are open, women’s and mixed; senior and junior events throughout the year. Next time it could be you! There is so much potential to play this wonderful game!

Bridge is a sport based on skill, not luck

Unlike many other activities involving cards, it is only good play, and not good cards, which means you will win.

The health and well-being benefits of Bridge

Recent academic work has shown a link between mental activity and maintenance - or even improvements - in mental health and wellbeing. Research has found that Bridge is also an important contributor to socialisation, with many people enjoying the 'community spirit' that exists within a bridge club.  Recent research has found that those taking up new activities involving other people, are more likely to see an increase in their 'well being' than those who start solo pursuits.

The Educational Advantages of Bridge

Experience shows that bridge teaches:

  • Sorting into groups - For young children the idea of grouping items is central to early learning in mathematics. In Mini Bridge and bridge cards have to be sorted into the four suits (♠ , , ,♣ , which, in turn, have a hierarchy and then into ranks within suits. This requires knowledge of the ranks (ace, king, queen and jack rank above 10, 9... 3, 2).
  • Aids to numeracy - Counting points In Mini Bridge , adding the point count of the partnership hands to decide whether to try for part-score or game Counting suits as the cards are played. This is a very difficult concept for all but the best bridge players. At an elementary level it is only practical to count one suit (usually the trump suit) Calculating the score after each hand has been played.
  • Probability - There is opportunity to use probability at all levels of the game Knowledge of how cards split (with 5 cards out the likely split of 3-2 is 68%, 4-1 split is 28%, 5-0 split is 4%) Knowledge that a finesse is an evens chance, in the absence of other information.
  • Deduction - Know from the allocation of points in Mini Bridge or by listening to the auction of opponents in bridge that one line of play may be superior over another Deduce that a finesse is a better line of play by using the opponents auction, even though numerically it may appear inferior.
  • Rule following - Bidding and playing in turn Knowing that the absolute rule of card play is to follow suit when you can Keeping a `poker face' and not letting your emotions give away vital information.
  • Developing Strategy - Planning the play of the hand before playing a card to the first trick by using a SWOT analysis. In bridge this takes the form of Strengths: Counting your top winners Weaknesses: How many tricks you are short of your target Opportunities: Which suits offer the prospect of generating the additional tricks you need Threats: What can your opponents do to thwart your plans; what steps can you take to avoid danger Learning that in the bidding you must plan the way you will describe your hand.
  • Team Building - Unlike chess, which is a single player game, bridge is a partnership game You have to work as a team understanding that bidding is a dialogue between partners aiming to reach the best contract Understanding that defence is a partnership activity.
  • Mental capacity - Bridge requires concentration. You have to think about what you are doing, who bid what and who played which card.