Bridge, a game of cards, developed out of the game of whist. The country of its origin is unknown. A similar game is said to have been played in Denmark in the middle of the 19th century. A game in all respects the same as bridge, except that in "no trumps" each trick counted ten instead of twelve, was played in England about 1884 under the name of Dutch whist. Some connect it with Turkey and Egypt under the name of "Khedive," or with a Russian game called "Yeralash." It was in Turkey that it first won a share of popular favour. Under the synonyms of "Biritch," "Bridge," or "Russian whist," it found its way to the London clubs about 1894, from which date its popularity rapidly increased.
Bridge, in its ordinary form, differs from whist in the following respects: - Although there are four players, yet in each hand the partner of the dealer takes no part in the play of that particular hand. After the first lead his cards are placed on the table exposed, and are played by the dealer as at dummy whist; nevertheless the dealer's partner is interested in the result of the hand equally with the dealer. The trump suit is not determined by the last card dealt, but is selected by the dealer or his partner without consultation, the former having the first option. It is further open to them to play without a trump suit. The value of tricks and honours varies with the suit declared as trumps. Honours are reckoned differently from whist, and on a scale which is somewhat involved. The score for honours does not count towards winning or losing the rubber, but is added afterwards to the trick score in order to determine the value of the rubber. There are also scores for holding no trumps ("chicane"), and for winning all the tricks or all but one ("slam").
The score has to be kept on paper. It is usual for the scoring block to have two vertical columns divided halfway by a horizontal line. The left column is for the scorers' side, and the right for the opponents'. Honours are scored above the horizontal line, and tricks below. The drawback to this arrangement is that, since the scores for each hand are not kept separately, it is generally impossible to trace an error in the score without going through the whole series of hands. A better plan, it seems, is to have four columns ruled, the inner two being assigned to tricks, the outer ones to honours. By this method a line can be reserved for each hand, and any discrepancy in the scores at once rectified.
The Portland Club, London, drew up a code of laws in 1895, and this code, with a few amendments, was in July 1895 adopted by a joint committee of the Turf and Portland Clubs. A revised code came into force in January 1905, the provisions of which are here summarized.
Each trick above 6 counts 2 points in a spade declaration, 4 in a club, 6 in a diamond, 8 in a heart, 12 in a no-trump declaration. The game consists of 30 points made by tricks alone. When one side has won two games the rubber is ended. The winners are entitled to add 100 points to their score. Honours consist of ace, king, queen, knave, ten, in a suit declaration. If a player and his partner conjointly hold 3 (or "simple") honours they score twice the value of a trick; if 4 honours, 4 times; if 5 honours, 5 times. If a player in his own hand hold 4 honours he is entitled to score 4 honours in addition to the score for conjoint honours; thus, if one player hold 4 honours and his partner the other their total score is 9 by honours. Similarly if a player hold 5 honours in his own hand he is entitled to score 10 by honours. If in a no-trump hand the partners conjointly hold 3 aces, they score 30 for honours; if 4 aces, 40 for honours. 4 aces in 1 hand count 100. On the same footing as the score for honours are the following: chicane, if a player hold no trump, in amount equal to simple honours; grand slam, if one side win all the tricks, 40 points; little slam, if they win 12 tricks, 20 points.
At the end of the rubber the total scores, whether made by tricks, honours, chicane, slam, or rubber points, are added together, and the difference between the two totals is the number of points won.
At the opening of play, partners are arranged and the cards are shuffled, cut and dealt (the last card not being turned) as at whist; but the dealer cannot lose the deal by misdealing. After the deal is completed, the dealer makes the trump or no-trump (sans atout) declaration, or passes the choice to his partner without remark. If the dealer's partner make the declaration out of his turn, the adversary on the dealer's left may, without consultation, claim a fresh deal. If an adversary make a declaration, the dealer may claim a fresh deal or disregard the declaration. Then after the declaration, either adversary may double, the leader having first option. The effect of doubling is that each trick is worth twice as many points as before; but the scores for honours, chicane and slam are unaltered. If a declaration is doubled, the dealer and his partner have the right of redoubling, thus making each trick worth four times as much as at first. The declarer has the first option. The other side can again redouble, and so on; but the value of a trick is limited to 100 points.
In the play of the hand the laws are nearly the same as the laws of whist, except that the dealer may expose his cards and lead out of turn without penalty; after the second hand has played, however, he can only correct this lead out of turn with the permission of the adversaries. Dummy cannot revoke. The dealer's partner may take no part in the play of the hand beyond guarding the dealer against revoking.