The Bridge to summer

Monday, Aug 07, 2023 - Posted by Monika GRUENWALD
Card games

As you know, our team members are intelligent and dedicated software engineers. Apart from their work, though, they have other talents: Toni Vidovic, one of our younger team members, has recently represented Croatia in the Youth World Bridge Championship, which was held in Eindhoven/NL from the end of July until the 7th of August 2023. Bridge is considered the mother of all card games, with more than 100 million players worldwide, and is considered a thorough brain fitness training (and sorry, but the header sounded just appropriate).

This international tournament happens every two years, and every continent can send a certain number of teams to participate. The year before such an event, the European Championships are being held and the top 8 teams qualify for the World Championship. As it happens, teams may cancel and even if you're below the top 8, you might slide up and get in - as it was the case with Toni's team.

According to Toni, the rules are not too complicated, but if you mind reading them, well... it's probably easier to have someone explain you this game in detail and take you by the hand.

You will need a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, of which each player is handed out 13. You also need a lot of thinking and concentration, and that's where the definition of 'playing well' comes in. You can play it at home just for fun however you prefer, but bridge tournaments are usually played in teams of 4. A machine shuffles the cards to identically mixed decks which go on separate tables, so you are directly compared with others who are in the same situation as you, card wise. So, it's not how many points you score in total, it's how many points you score more than your opponents on the other table that matters. In this way, a lot of the usual 'you got lucky with good cards' is avoided.

It's not an easy game, albeit the rules are quickly read. As Toni puts it: "the most important proof that it's really complex is that AI is really bad at it". You need a calculating mind (literally!), and the fact that you play in teams doesn't alleviate the complexity a bit. Bridge players play often and train often, which means that during 3-4 hours, your brain is going at high speed. And then you grab a beer, to lessen the tension a bit.