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Culture and Recreation

Games

What is contract bridge?

It’s the game most people play when they play bridge, a card game for four players in two partnerships who bid to name the trump suit. The other kind of bridge is called auction bridge, which was invented in 1904 as a variation on the card game whist (whist had been played since the early sixteenth century, if not longer). Auction bridge differs from contract bridge in that tricks made in excess of the contract are scored toward game; in contract bridge they are not. It’s believed that contract bridge originated in 1926 when railroad heir and yachtsman Harold S. Vanderbilt (1884–1970) invented the variation while on a Caribbean cruise. The game did not catch on until 1930, when Romanian-American contract bridge expert Eli Culbertson defeated Lieut. Colonial W. T. M. Butler in a challenge match at London’s Almack’s Club; the match was highly publicized.



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