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Subject: Was I actually playing Bridge? rss

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D S
United Kingdom
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I was surprised by the shared view of some positive and negative reviews on this site that Bridge had a high bar to entry: and I'm wondering if this is just because the version I played was a sufficiently bastardised version not to really be the game!

I used to play lots of Bridge, using the complete rules except for Honours bonuses for having good hands (which seem just to double down on good luck) and different scores for 'vulnerable' hands, which I think we just never got round to.

I think the real break with others' experience was in the bidding. We started just with 'impressionistic' bidding, but soon introduced the basic points system of 4/3/2/1 for A/K/Q/J, 2 for a void and 1 for a singleton. Then you need 12ish to bid, 16 to bid two, and a few other details (if you want to change suit you have to raise by more than the minimal raise, otherwise it's taken as support for their bid).

Having adopted this, we stopped. Our focus was on playing, and clever bidding within those limits, rather than improving the system.

This was really, really fun. And made it accessible: lots of people have played Whist-like games, and you can introduce people by playing 13-card Whist, then partnered Whist without bidding if they need step by step.

So: I can definitely recommend this. One of the best games I've played: tense, big variance in terms of luck but then have to make the most of it rather than coasting to victory, and great chances to build up a rapport with a partner. But when I recommend it, and when I rank Bridge as my #1 game: am I really recommending Bridge? Or some sort of 'contract whist' that real Bridge players wouldn't recognise?
 
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david landes
United States
oak hill
Virginia
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It's definitely bridge, but simplified for beginners. The sheer volume of conventions by which partners communicate is mind-boggling.. so your recommendation perhaps doesn;t do full justice to the intricacies that constitute that "high bar" that some people see.

As an example, freshman year in college, my roommate and I went to a local duplicate bridge club, having played a fair amount with others in our room. We were thrashed rather badly. However, after 6 months of further playing and actually studying the game a little, we were able to begin to consistently score rating points (top 40% for the night). The bridge we had been playing in our room versus the bridge we began to play at the club were vastly different in terms of underlying knowledge and competitiveness.

Cheers
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Dave Eisen
United States
Redwood City
California
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It absolutely is bridge and it sounds like you're having a lot of fun with it. Great. Bridge is an excellent game.

The problem, and the reason there is even a question here, arises if you go beyond your current group and play with people who are already bridge players. They are going to assume a level of knowledge of "standard bidding" you do not have and it will be very difficult, and an exercise in frustration for all, for you to all be at the same table.

The previous poster referred to the many conventions in play. I want to put on my pedant hat for a moment and clarify that conventions are not the problem. A convention is an *artificial* agreement so that, for instance, in a certain situation when you bid 2 Diamonds you are actually showing Hearts. That's a convention and is not the gap.

The gap is standard agreements so that, for instance, when you bid 2 Diamonds it means Diamonds but also means specific other information such as hand strength, expectations on partner, and perhaps guaranteeing that you will bid again next time when it is your turn.

You can get by in mixed company if you know exactly 2 conventions that are commonly played. It is the large number of standard agreements which people will expect and you will not which will cause the problem.

None of that changes the basic point: you emphatically are playing bridge.
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D S
United Kingdom
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Cheers for both answers! I certainly enjoy it: simplified as it no doubt is, I actually find it enjoyable because it can be genuinely challenging and interesting (particularly in unusual hands, no-trumps bids etc: some hands are almost automatic).

Sadly, I don't play it that much any more, as I now regularly see precisely two other people from the group I used to play with. We know others who know the rules, but they're less into at and as a result end up getting bored and making ridiculous bids which take the tension/fun/interest out of the game...
 
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qper none
Ireland
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"Impressionistic bidding", lol! love the concept
 
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