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Spades and Bridge

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:21 am
by Joe Andrews
Bridge - An American Pastime -

Bridge, Spades and Whist are in the same card game "family". Many Spades players move up to the game of Bridge. This is a very demanding game, and requires many of years of dedication to reach advanced Life Master levels.

Bridge is one of the classic card games, and is relatively new, having evolved in the early 1900's from the game of Whist. It is also very kindred to Spades, its newest cousin (1937) The "duplicate" concept of Whist was introduced in London in the late 1850s, and was improved by J. Clay, whose early instructional pamphlets also explored rudimentary bidding systems. There is a mention of the “Vienna Coup", which became the term for an advanced Bridge play. By the late 1880s, Whist was second only to Euchre as the most popular game in the United States. In 1896, a very basic form of Bridge - taken from "Biritch", or Russian Whist - became the foundation for the game. Then came the adaptations.

Auction Bridge (the predecessor to the modern game of Contract Bridge, was created in 1905, and featured multiple rounds of bidding with ranked suits, and a no trump option. This was a vast improvement over the system used in Whist, which declared the trump by cutting the deck, or using the bottom card. Two decades later, Ely Culbertson created Contract Bridge and added the premium feature for bidding and making Slams. Another pioneer, Harold Vanderbilt, created the vulnerability option, and improved the scoring system. During the depression years, celebrity Bridge matches were front page news. The Lenz-Culbertson challenge matches of 1931 and 1932 captivated the American public. As time passed pioneers (and household names) such as Charles Goren, George Coffin, Oswald Jacoby, Howard Schenken , Sam Stayman, and E. Blackwood, to name a few, elevated Bridge to its zenith. At one time, Goren was a regular columnist for Sports Illustrated magazine and hosted a weekly television show all about Bridge! The legendary Italian "Blue Team" of the 1960s and the great American Teams (including the "Dallas Aces" of Bermuda Bowl fame) stirred much interest in the Bridge community. The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL in Memphis, TN.) was founded in 1937, and is the official governing body for all Bridge events in North America. Duplicate, or comparison Bridge became the standard for most events, and the basis of the rating system (master points).

Although some of their membership which peaked in the early 1960's, has declined, the ACBL is still an outstanding organization. They organize / coordinate three National events every year (in rotating cities), more than 200 regional / sectional events, and several thousand local Clubs. There lies a treasure trove of information and fun facts! If you like Spades, you will love Bridge!

Re: Spades and Bridge

Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:06 pm
by Dust In The Wind
A common point of interest for Bridge was the daily insert in papers of a famous hand played and is still printed in some papers across the US setting up situations and how it played out to take points.

Always love your history lessons there Joe.


PS - Yep used to read them in the paper. Yeah that thing that some kid used to bring to your house... at one time I was one of those kids in western NY and like the mailman.... rain, sleet, snow, whatever, you got your paper even if I had to bring you another when you lost/misplaced yours.