Our Game, Our History
The world’s most challenging mental sport, bridge is a game of skill, communication and infinite possibilities. Millions of people worldwide play at home. Many advance to tournament or “duplicate” bridge to enjoy its social and competitive aspects.
Bridge is a partnership game using a standard deck of 52 cards dealt equally among four players. The players bid in a coded language to describe their hands to their partners and then play to make their contract. Generally, one suit is determined as “trump,” leading to the expression, “Play your trump card.” Duplicate contract bridge, in which each competitor or team plays identical hands under similar conditions, is the main form of competitive bridge. The primary goal of members of the ACBL is to achieve the rank of Life Master, requiring 500 masterpoints earned at club and tournament games.
Bridge traces its origins to the British game of whist, first played in the 16th century. It may be named for the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, which British soldiers crossed during the Crimean War of the 19th century to reach a coffeehouse where they played cards. Contract bridge as we know it today began in the 1920s when Harold Vanderbilt came up with the early scoring system.
The American Contract Bridge League was founded in 1937. Today it is the largest bridge organization in the world, with more than 166,000 members living in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda. A not-for-profit organization, the ACBL determines internationally recognized rules of bridge, sanctions clubs and tournament games, and encourages participation at all levels of proficiency and experience.