Billington (1979, 1983, 1990, 1997);
Pearce & and Jobson (2002)
Bridge, a competitive four-person card game, began in the late nineteenth century as a version of partnership whist which incorporated bidding and suit hierarchy. First called bridge-whist, by the turn of the twentieth century its name had been shortened to simply bridge, and was a popular American high-class club game.
Contract bridge, the most commonly played version, was invented by millionaire Harold S. Vanderbilt in 1925—he made technical improvements over a French variety of the game. Soon after this and into the 1930s, bridge became a faddish leisure activity of the upper class in Newport and Southampton.
By the 1950s card games of all kinds were popular forms of leisure that required thinking skills, incorporated competition, encouraged sociability, and demanded little financial outlay. Bridge was no exception and the game became a popular pastime for the upper and upper middle classes. Although daily bridge columns appeared as syndicated features in hundreds of newspapers, most contract bridge players, in fact, tended to be older, better educated, and from higher income brackets than the general population. Through the decades the game continued to be popular and according to the American Contract Bridge League, about 11 million people played bridge in the United States and Canada in 1986.
The game itself was played with two sets of partners who were each dealt 13 cards from a regular deck. The cards ranked from ace high to two low, and the suits were also ranked in the following way, from lowest to highest: clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, and no trump. The bidding, or "auction" before the actual play of the cards determined the "contract"—optimally, the highest possible tricks that could be won by the most deserving hand, and the designated trump suit. This pre-play succession of bids among the players was as important as the play itself, and served also as an opportunity for players to signal to their partners the general makeup of their hands. The play itself required people to be alert, to keep track of cards played, and to continually refine their strategies as tricks were taken, making it an intellectual activity regardless of whether it was "social" or "duplicate" bridge.
Social, or party bridge, was a casual version of the game that allowed people to converse during play, and had more relaxed rules about proper play and etiquette. Very often people would throw bridge parties, popular especially from the 1950s to the 1970s, as a way to show their hospitality but with little obligation to bear the burden of socializing for an entire evening: playing bridge enabled people to engage in small talk while the intellectual requirements of the game gave people an excuse not to converse if they were not so inclined. Other forms of social bridge were practiced by local bridge clubs, informal groups that met once or twice a week and played for small stakes—usually between $1.50 and $3.00 per session. It was common for members of these bridge groups and those who engaged in regular games of party bridge, usually husbands and wives (who often chose not to play as a team in order to avoid marital tension), to alternate their hosting obligations, establishing reciprocal social relations while setting up informal games of competition. People enjoyed this form of entertainment because it was relaxing, enjoyable, somewhat refined, and inexpensive.
While this form of bridge largely had the reputation of being high-class and a bit priggish, with people believing that only rich white older women played the game as they sat around nibbling crustless sandwiches in the shapes of hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds, bridge actually had a large influence on the general population. College students took to playing less exacting forms of the game that also employed bidding systems and suit hierarchies, including hearts, spades, euchre, and pinochle.
In contrast, competitive bridge was more combative. People earning "master points" (basic units by which skill was measured according to the American Contract Bridge League—300 points gained one "Life Master" status) would join tournaments with similarly-minded serious bridge players. The most common form of competitive bridge was "duplicate," a game in which competing players at different tables would play the same hand. In this game it was not enough to just win a hand against one's immediate opponents, but it was also necessary to have played the same hand better than rivals at other tables. Competitive bridge players commonly scoffed at social bridge, deeming it too casual a game that allowed for too much luck and chance.
As with many other forms of leisure activities and hobbies, bridge allowed a vast number of Americans to engage in an enjoyable activity on their own terms. While there were basic rules to bridge that defined it as an identifiable game, people incorporated it into their lives in radically different ways. Social players used the game as an excuse to gather among friends and relatives, making games regular (weekly or monthly) occurrences that encouraged group camaraderie. In contrast, duplicate bridge players who sought out more competitive games, often in the form of tournaments, took the game much more seriously and thought of it as a test of their intellect rather than an innocuous pastime.
Costello, John. "Bridge: Recreation Via Concentration." Nation's Business. Vol. 69, January 1981, 77-79.
Parlett, David. A Dictionary of Card Games. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992.
bridge1 / brij/ • n. 1. a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad, or other obstacle: a bridge across the river a railroad bridge. ∎ something that makes a physical connection between two other things. ∎ something that is intended to reconcile or form a connection between two things: a committee that was formed to create a bridge between rival parties. ∎ a partial denture supported by natural teeth on either side. See also bridgework. ∎ the support formed by the hand for the forward part of a billiard cue. ∎ a long stick with a frame at the end that is used to support a cue for a shot that is otherwise hard to reach. ∎ Mus. an upright piece of wood on a string instrument over which the strings are stretched. ∎ Mus. a bridge passage.2. the elevated platform on a ship from which the captain and officers direct operations.3. the upper bony part of a person's nose: he pushed his spectacles further up the bridge of his nose. ∎ the central part of a pair of glasses, fitting over this: these sunglasses have a special nose bridge for comfort.4. an electric circuit with two branches across which a detector or load is connected.• v. [tr.] be a bridge over (something): a covered walkway that bridged the gardens. ∎ build a bridge over (something): earlier attempts to bridge the channel had failed. ∎ make (a difference between two groups) smaller or less significant: bridging the gap between avant garde art and popular culture.DERIVATIVES: bridge·a·ble adj.bridge2 • n. a card game descended from whist, played by two partnerships of two players who at the beginning of each hand bid for the right to name the trump suit, the highest bid also representing a contract to make a specified number of tricks with a specified suit as trumps.
One of the most popular card games in the world, bridge has been played in one form or another since the sixteenth century. Since modern contract bridge was developed in 1925, bridge has become by far the most organized card game, with bridge clubs and leagues all over the world sponsoring highly competitive tournaments. Though often associated with rich old ladies trading gossip and nibbling delicate snacks between hands, bridge is actually a game of skill and strategy. Its addicts include all sorts of people from college students to business executives.
Although some claim that the game of bridge has its roots in Turkey or Russia, the first real documentation of a bridgelike card game comes from sixteenth-century England. That game, called whist, whisk, triumph, or trump, introduced the "trick," where each player in turn lays a card down, following suit, and the highest ranking card wins the round.
The game went through various developments, but modern contract bridge was invented in 1925 by wealthy American businessman Harold S. Vanderbilt (1884–1970), supposedly to pass the time while cruising through the Panama Canal. Within two years, three major national contract bridge clubs had formed. In 1928, the first national bridge championship tournament was played. The winner of that tournament, Ely Culbertson (1893–1955), went on to popularize bridge nationwide. Culbertson founded Bridge World magazine and wrote the Blue Book laying out rules and strategies for playing the game. In the 1940s, another champion, Charles Goren (1901–1991), became the national bridge expert, writing a daily newspaper column on bridge tactics.
Though bridge is often thought of as an old-fashioned game, it still has a thriving following. As of 2000, the American Contract Bridge League had 180,000 members nationwide, and the Internet (see entry under 1990s—The Way We Lived in volume 5) is also bringing bridge to a wider and younger audience than ever. There are dozens of bridge Web sites where players who are home alone can find partners with whom to play. One of the largest, OKBridge.com, claims it hosts over a thousand players a day.
For More Information
ACBL Online.http://www.acbl.com (accessed January 17, 2002).
"Bridge." Playsite.http://www.playsite.com/games/list.gsp?root=play-site.card.bridge (accessed January 17, 2002).
D'Amato, Brian. "Bridge: The Game People Play." Harper's Bazaar (August 1994): pp. 66–68.
Goodwin, Jude, and Don Ellison. Teach Me to Play: A First Bridge Book. Roswell, GA: Pando Publications, 1988.
Koczela, Catherine. "Bridge, Handed Down; Among High Schoolers, Old Game Gaining New Following." Washington Post (October 16, 1997): p. M1.
Bridge Fraternity from the 12th century, a confraternity of laymen dedicated to the building or maintenance of a bridge, especially one carrying a pilgrimage route over a river. The best-known example of such a fraternity is that of the bridge of Avignon, founded by St-Bénézet in the late 12th century and linking Avignon with Villeneuve on the opposite bank of the Rhone.
bridge of boats a bridge formed by mooring boats side by side across a river; the bridge of boats over the river Rhône at Arles was in use throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries ad.
Bridge of Sighs in Venice, a bridge connecting the Doge's palace with the state prison originally crossed by prisoners on their way to torture or execution.
cross that bridge when one comes to it deal with a problem when and if it arises; from the proverbial saying don't cross the bridge till you come to it (see cross3).
it is good to make a bridge of gold to a flying enemy it is wiser to give passage to an enemy in flight, who may be desperate; the idea is attributed to Aristides (480 bc), who warned Themistocles against destroying the bridge of boats which the Persian king Xerxes had constructed across the Hellespont for the invasion of Greece. The saying is recorded from the late 16th century.
See also everyone speaks well of the bridge that carries him over at speak, water of Chancery.
- Al Sirat fine as razor’s edge, over which all must pass to enter paradise. [Islam: Koran ]
- Amaurote Utopian crossing; means “faintly seen.” [Br. Lit.: Utopia ]
- Bifrost rainbow of water and fire for gods’ passage from Asgard to Midgard. [Norse Myth.: Leach, 139]
- Bridge of San Luis Rey rope bridge in Andes which breaks, killing five people. [Am. Lit.: Bridge of San Luis Rey ]
- Brooklyn Bridge suspension bridge spanning the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn. [Am. Hist.: EB, II: 301]
- Golden Gate Bridge suspension bridge in San Francisco spanning the Golden Gate. [Am. Hist.: EB, IV: 607]
- London Bridge a bridge spanning the Thames at London; (not the Tower Bridge). [Br. Hist.: EB, VI: 311]
- River Kwai Bridge bridge built by British POWs under Japanese orders. [Jap. Hist.: Bridge Over the River Kwai ]
- Xerxes constructed famed pontoon crossing of Hellespont. [Gk. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1169]
Despite the complexity of the unit, and the delay it introduces, large networks almost invariably include bridges since their presence greatly reduces the total network traffic. A bridge may be adaptive, determining the addresses in each region by examining the contents of the address fields of the packets. A bridge may operate as a filtering bridge, with a fixed set of node identities that will be allowed to send packets across the bridge, providing a limited form of safeguard against unwanted attempts to connect to a sensitive system. See also router, firewall.
J. A. Cannon
1. In str. instr., the piece of wood that supports the str. and communicates their vibrations to the belly.
2. A term, usually ‘bridge passage’, in comp., meaning a short section which links together—perhaps by a key change—2 important sections of a large-scale sym. or similar work.