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A common misconception about the game of bridge is that it is too tough, too complicated. Only experts can really enjoy playing — or so the story goes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The vast majority of the estimated 100 million people who play bridge around the world do so for its social aspects — and just for fun. That doesn't mean you can't aspire to expert status or that you can't strive for greatness. Who knows, you might be the next prodigy laying claim to a world championship in just a few short years. None of that is necessary, however, for you to find a lifetime of enjoyment in what many consider to be the world's greatest card game.

Consider that only a miniscule percentage of the world's golfers have a legitimate shot at a major championship such as the Masters. That doesn't keep them from hitting the links and having a great time doing it. Similarly, you can have fun at bridge without threatening a reigning world champion.

The big problem with golf — and most other physical sports — is that at some point your body is going to interfere with your desire to keep playing. With bridge, as long as your mind works, you can keep going practically your entire life.

Many people take up bridge semi-seriously at retirement, but there are thousands of young people learning bridge in schools all over North America as you read this passage. Most bridge clubs now use bidding boxes for silent bidding, making bridge the ideal game for the hearing-impaired. There is almost no physical handicap that could prevent a person from enjoying bridge.

The long and the short of it is that if you can count to thirteen, you are a hot prospect for learning the best card game there is. The language of the game, the bidding, can be quite complex if that is your cup of tea. If not, you can reap hours and hours of pleasure from bridge in its simplest forms.

If you enjoy a more competitive but still friendly environment, you may venture out into the world of duplicate bridge, where there are regular games at bridge clubs and tournaments every week of the year. If you become familiar with duplicate, you will be welcome at clubs all over the world, from Europe to the Far East to South America. You won't even have to speak the native language to play — the language of the bidding is truly universal.

With the advent of bridge play on the Internet, you can play day and night from the comfort of your home. You can sit in on world championships from all over the world — or watch experts as they practice online. Spectators, known in the bridge world as kibitzers, are always welcome.

You can use the Internet yourself to practice with your partner before you meet at a tournament. You can find new partners online, visit any of the dozens of websites with teaching and information about the game, most of them free.

Every bridge hand is new. You could play bridge all day every day for 1,000 years and still never see the same deal twice. Experience will help you make the right choices in familiar situations, but the cards change every time you pick up a new hand.

As you advance, plays you thought were only for experts will become clear, and you will know the exhilaration of days when it seems you can do no wrong at the table. Lest you get too cocky, the game also has a way of bringing you back down to earth, but if you approach bridge with the attitude that it's wonderful to lose yourself in a session of strategy and mental acuity, you will always know that you are getting the most from an incredibly interesting form of recreation.

This is your starting point. You are about to take up a sport you can play the same at 90 as you did at 25, maybe even better.

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  2. Bridge
  3. Introduction
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