The card game auction bridge, the third step in the evolution of the general game of bridge, was developed from straight bridge in 1904. The precursor to contract bridge, its predecessors were whist and bridge whist.
The main difference between auction bridge and contract bridge is that in auction bridge a game is scored whenever the required number of tricks (9 in No Trump, 10 in Hearts or Spades, 11 in Clubs or Diamonds) is scored, and in contract bridge the number of points from tricks taken past the bid do not count towards making a game. Because of this, accurate bidding becomes much more important in contract bridge: partners have to use the bidding to tell each other what their suits and strengths are, so a judgement can be made as to what the chances are of making a game.
It is not certain to whom auction bridge should be credited. A letter in The Times (London), January 16, 1905, signed by Oswald Crawford, describes auction bridge as first played in 1904, while a book by "John Doe" (F. Roe), published in Alláhábád, India, in 1889, puts forward auction bridge as an invention of three members of the Indian Civil Service stationed at an isolated community, designed a three-handed form of bridge to compensate the lack of a fourth player. Their key contribution was the concept of competitive bidding for the declaration.
The bidding, play and laws are the same as contract bridge.
- Odd-tricks: no trumps are worth 10; spades 9; hearts 8; diamonds 7; clubs 6.
- Game was 30 points, and only odd-tricks counted towards game. The first side to win two games won the rubber and scored a 250 point bonus.
- Each under-trick was worth 50 points to the opponents.
- Small slam was worth 50 points; grand slam was worth 100 points.
- Honours were scored as follows: 4 trump honours in one hand 80; 5 trump honours or 4 aces in no trumps in one hand 100. For an addition honour in partner's hand, or for 3 or more honours divided between both hands 10 each.
- Contracts could be doubled and redoubled, which doubled or quadrupled the odd-trick and under-trick amounts. In addition there was a bonus of 50 points for making a doubled contract and for each over-trick, this was doubled if the contract was redoubled.
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