THE NEXT STEP
Some suggestions for what to do nextREAD
Virtually all bridge players read about the game regularly. Reading about bridge is actually a form of playing, because you can mentally place yourself at the table, consider the problems faced by the participants, make your own decisions, and see how they would have come out. In short, reading simulates playing, and is often almost as much fun; it also helps you improve your understanding and enjoyment of the game, and keeps your bridge skills sharp.
High-quality books for players at all skill levels are plentiful. Proceed at your own pace and read at your current level whenever possible. You will be able to find a virtually unlimited supply of both tutorial and entertaining material, and wide scope for practice. Our bookstore carries a huge selection of bridge books and software titles; click here to see our list of recommended books for beginners.
There are several magazines for serious players and fans of the game. Many newspapers have regular bridge columns.
Bridge offers significant scope for improvement in technique, and enhanced entertainment through reading and lessons. Reading provides not only greater understanding and a convenient opportunity to practice, but also diversion.
There are also many software products which make excellent teaching and practice tools for players of all levels. For beginners, we suggest the "Bridge Master" family of product by Bridge Base. Click here to see our bookstore's list of software products.
Some players enjoy and benefit from taking lessons or attending classes. If you are someone who benefits from formal instruction, you should try to find a good teacher or class. The best way to do this is through recommendations from people in your neighborhood or locality. If that fails to produce useful results, try your local adult school or "Y." The American Bridge Teachers Association is a helpful resource. In many areas, you can arrange for "supervised play" (a small group plays prepared instructional deals that are discussed afterwards) or "playing lessons" (a student is partnered with an expert for a session and an analytical post-mortem) from a local professional. Your local bridge club can probably provide a professional, or information on how to find one.
In any participatory game, the main way to improve, to increase your understanding, and to heighten your enjoyment, is to play. Some beginners feel uncomfortable about playing bridge until they have substantial knowledge about the game; others want to begin playing as soon as they know the rules. Both approaches are fine; pick the one that better suits your personality. But, in any case, plan to play as much as you can. If you can find slightly stronger players willing to play with and against you, so much the better. (Except under professional instruction, don't try to join games that are several skill levels above yours. You are more likely to be confused than assisted, and it would be imposing on the other players.)
Where can you play? Attend a game at someone's home at a bridge club, at a social organization, at your school, or online. Your first efforts should be to try to find a convenient, amiable game where the players are roughly at your skill level or a little higher. One of the nicest things about bridge is that you can go almost anywhere in the world and find a bridge club with a game that will welcome you--and you won't need to know much of the local language to play. For players who become seriously interested, there are tournaments at all levels, from local to international, with prizes, awards, rating systems, championships and, of course, expenses. Hordes of people find the rewards of participating worth the cost.
There are few places in the world without a bridge club. Ask around. Search your phone book, yellow pages, or online for "Bridge" or "Bridge Clubs"... If you need help. get in touch with your national contract bridge organization. ACBL, ABA, WBF.
As you improve, you may want to enter competitions at clubs or at tournaments. You can find both through your National Contract Bridge Organization (see second previous paragraph). To get information about the level of competition and ambience, your best source is local people, preferably those who have played at each club.
When you become an experienced player, it will be likely you will want to join your national organization.
Before you play at a club or tournament, you may want to watch to see what it is like. With rare exceptions, the organizers will be happy to allow you to be a spectator, technically called a kibitzer, at a table in play. To remain a welcome kibitzer, it is vital to follow correct kibitzing etiquette: watch only one hand and do not switch from one player to another; volunteer no comments (it is all right to reply if a player asks you a question, but otherwise silence is expected); avoid showing any reaction or emotion no matter what happens; create no distractions. Most people prefer playing to kibitzing. However, if you should discover that you enjoy the thrill of being at the table to see the action in big-time matches first-hand, here's a tip: At major championships, there is often a need for at-the-table recorders or monitors. If you can convince the sponsoring organization that you can be a well-behaved kibitzer and a reliable transcriber, you can get to be an (sometimes the only) at-the-table spectator at world championships and the late rounds of national knockout events.
(In some world and major national championships, the interest level may preclude at-the-table watching, but in those cases there is usually a free or low-cost exhibition at which you can follow the play on a large board or screen and hear simultaneous expert commentary.)
There are numerous bridge sites and resources on the Internet, including online games and tournaments, discussion groups, publications, lessons, and much more. To start, visit our Bridge Links page, you will find there is plenty of information for improving players available.
As with many games, bridge has it's own unique vocabulary. You are likely to encounter words and phrases which you are not familiar with. The Bridge World's web site provides a Bridge Dictionary of bridge terminology and slang, for easy reference.
10 BEST METHODS TO IMPROVE YOUR GAME
This list was suggested by R. R. Richards in The Bridge World in 1931, and is just as relevant today:
(1) Take instruction from a good teacher.
(2) Join games with stronger players.
(3) Watch good players.
(4) Read articles and books; try to solve bridge problems in magazines and newspapers.
(5) Practice at home by dealing out cards and deciding how you would act as each player.
(6) Cultivate your card memory by practicing remembering one played trick, then two, and so on.
(7) Study the human element; identify patterns of table behavior.
(8) Don't judge by results.
(9) Don't be a slow player, but don't be in a hurry or play at a feverish pace.
(10) Get a good reputation as a reliable partner.
Our learning center web pages are dedicated to teaching the game of bridge. There are lessons for first-time players, as well as for those at the elementary and intermediate levels. You can find the appropriate section, and proceed through the lessons.
BEGINNER: Learn how to play bridge if you have never played before. The beginner lessons here are designed for those who know little or nothing about the game.
ELEMENTARY: If you understand the basics of the game, and are ready to proceed further.
INTERMEDIATE: Here is a collection of intermediate-level problems in bidding, declarer play, and defense for you to practice and improve your game.