Contract bridge? I believe that there is a mythology surrounding the game that strikes fear into the uninitiated. Have no fear – it is simply whist with bells on. And there is a group (club would be far too grand a claim) that meets every Thursday at 8pm in the Cross Keys. We are largely self taught, and keep it very simple and social.
As to the game itself, the card play is the identical to whist. The bells on aspect refers to the auction which generates the final contract to be made.
Let me explain briefly. The cards having been dealt, each player assesses the strength of their hand and then through the auction process tries to communicate to their partner the nature of their hand. As each bid must be of higher value than the previous, the task of achieving the contract becomes more onerous. In exchange for information you are expected to work harder to make your contract. This transforms whist from just playing the cards you have got with trump suit being in a fixed sequence, to determining the suit that you wish to play in and the number of tricks you intend to win. Of course, you don’t have it all your own way with the opposing pair having a desire to set the trump suit to suit them.
There are many bidding systems that may be used by bridge players to communicate with each other. Some are indeed very complicated but we keep to a very simple but effective system. Strangely, in my eyes, you declare your system to your opponents. Take as much or as little interest in the opposition’s system as you like! Well that is my level of competence so far.
We do have our resident guru, Stuart Thomson, with decades of experience to point us in the right direction. So there is someone with actual expertise to develop our play. Others might be talking out of any convenient orifice.
In recent months we have even ventured out to play competitive matches in Edinburgh and Glasgow and acquitted ourselves well. So we are competitive (otherwise what’s the point?), but primarily social. It’s only a game of cards. It is meant to be fun. So, if you fancy an evening out these long winter nights, pop along to the Cross Keys at 8pm and the members of the Cross Keys Bridge Loose Association of People will make you most welcome.
The accompanying photograph shows members of our club at a recent competitive outing at the St Andrew Bridge Club in Glasgow with members from that club and from the Glasgow Bridge Club, where myself and Sean Kelly had the good fortune (or skill?) to win our section.