The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Random Bridge Variant

When reading Mikko about FinnCon, the following line struck me:

We did play a 19th century version of Hombre (as described in Parlett’s book). This game introduced bidding to trick-taking games in the 17th centure and was a big hit for few centuries (take that, Dominion). It has few unnecessary complications (reverse ranking for numeral cards in red suits is the worst offender),

It occurs to me that if you played Bridge with the exact same rules except that you reversed the order of the trump suit, (2 is high, ace is low) it could be interesting. Hand values would swing wildly. I’m not sure it would work (sacrificing would be powerful), but it would be interesting.


Written by taogaming

July 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Bridge, Variants

3 Responses

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  1. I’ve played dozens of bridge variants, and this one doesn’t strike me as particularly good. In general, changing the order of the cards has the main effect of massively slowing down play and causing huge numbers of mistakes. Obviously, the key here is that the trump suit is chosen by the bidding; in contrast, just having the red suits reversed order is pointless. Ignoring the mechanical part; this will have the effect that players will tend to bid more, because double game swings will be much more common. It won’t really change the offensive value of hands, but it will destroy defensive values, making saves cheaper. I’d make doubled undertricks cost more, maybe 2,5,8,11 at each paint. Non-vul saves will be ridiculously cheap otherwise.

    Among my favorite variants that do major change: “The Mighty Deuce:” a deuce will beat an ace if in the same suit and played on the trick subsequent to the ace. Very tough game—game should probably be a trick lower. “Deuces Wild:” you must follow suit or play a deuce. You cannot make a grand without the trump 2. Solid suits are not so solid anymore. The trump 2 is clearly a key card for ace asking in that game.

    There’s a game here that plays a variant that seems almost trivial, but has a substantial effect on the game: “Overtricks don’t count.” It’s played duplicate at IMPs, and you’d be amazed at how much it changes basic everyday decisions. Balance over 1C? When my equity is -70? I’d better have a pretty good hand. 4H or 3NT? Pay an IMP to play 3NT? No, thanks.


    July 24, 2010 at 10:15 am

  2. This wouldn’t make double game swings more likely or sacrificing more powerful on average, it would just increase the variance on such actions and make it harder to judge competitive auctions. For every AK that becomes more offensively oriented, there is the corresponding 23 opposite xx which becomes more defensively oriented.


    July 24, 2010 at 4:31 pm

  3. The 32 vs xx hands just become low-scoring hands; someone just goes down a little bit. The AK vs. xx become high offense hands for both sides, so someone sacs.


    July 24, 2010 at 8:55 pm

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