By Ma Zhao Yu (17S06F) and Wittmann Goh (17S06F), Bridge Club EXCO
For those unfamiliar with bridge, it may seem to belong to a large group of card games that are purely luck-based, require no skill and are played late at night during sleepovers or at school camps. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While this may be true of the version of bridge played casually, which is also known as floating bridge, contract bridge is a unique blend of communication, strategy and sometimes calculated risk-taking that is offered by no other mind sport. This is what we, RI Bridge Club, are all about.
A basic introduction to bridge: bridge is what is known as a trick-taking game. Each round, each person plays out a card in clockwise order, and the highest-valued card wins, and takes the trick.
Unlike floating bridge, where you do not know the partnership until the card called at the end of bidding is played, contract bridge has fixed partnerships, and partners sit opposite each other at a bridge table. Each game of contract bridge involves two phases: a bidding phase, where each pair tries to reach the optimum contract given their combined holding of cards, and the declaring phase, where the declarer tries to make the bidded contract. However, each partner only knows his/her own hand, and direct communication is forbidden during a game of bridge. Hence, partners convey information about their hands through “bids”. The player with the highest bid wins the contract and is the “declarer”, and his partner is the “dummy”. The declarer’s aim is to make the contract by taking enough tricks. The other pair are “defenders”, who try to take down the contract by preventing them from taking the required number of tricks.
The element of luck is greatly reduced in contract bridge, while skill and strategy is essential in order to perform well. This is because the same combination of cards are played by several pairs, and scores are compared amongst those who played the same hands. Contract bridge is hence often regarded as the competitive form of bridge, as it tests the player’s skill in bidding, declaring, and defending. Players who seek to excel must master all three aspects of contract bridge.
Our weekly sessions are on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, from 2.30pm to 6.30pm. Training sessions are often conducted by external trainers, or by seniors. Important bridge techniques such as “finesses” and “squeezes” are taught, along with bidding conventions.The rest of the sessions are spent playing casual tournaments, where members will get to put what they learnt into practice.
For additional practice, members can head to the Singapore Contract Bridge Association (SCBA), which is located close to RI, at Bishan Community Center. Games are held there several times a week. There are also a few bridge competitions hosted every year, which include the National Inter-schools Bridges Tournament, Hwa Chong Cup, and our very own Raffles Pairs.
Joining our club will expose you to the vast and exciting world of contract bridge, and it will definitely be a decision you won’t regret.