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Out of the Box

  • £11.99

Card Game, 4 Players, Ages 12+ by Out of the Box Games
Kick back and enjoy an evening with friends and famil... simple, relaxing, and fun. All you need is a deck of aBRIDGEd cards and some refreshments to start the night out right.
aBRIDGEd is a refreshing new take on the game of Bridge - the card game that has been enjoyed around the world for decades. aBRIDGEd plays just like the classic game of Bridge, but without the complex bidding. With the newly designed cards and simple instructions, you'll be playing in no time at all!


3-4 players
designed by Maureen Hiron
reviewed by Kendall Johns

aBRIDGEd is the latest game from Maureen Hiron. Although a prolific games designer, (over 50 published games to her credit), she is not often reviewed in this august journal; probably because Maureen's games are aimed at a more universal audience, rather than specifically Gamers. Possibly her most popular game is Continuo, which, including variants, is still being published after 14 years. O.K., it's not Settlers, but considering the average life of most games, that aint bad.

With this game she returns to her roots - both she and her husband are international Bridge players. It is a Bridge type game for people who don't/can't/won't play Bridge. (This is also ironic, as Bridge is also, not often mentioned in these pages either). Maureen has all but eliminated the bidding system and simplified the scoring. If you are a Bridge Player, you might throw up your hands in horror, for those are among the things which make Bridge what it is - but this game is not for you - it is for those who might feel intimidated by the latest bidding system, convention, etc. While I have played Bridge, albeit not for many moons, I would not call myself a `Bridge player'; however, I hope that, that experience will help me assess this game.

She has also simplified the deck. The four suits are Red, Yellow, Green & Blue, and there are no `Court' cards, instead the suits are numbered from 2-14. (These could also be used for almost any `Ace High' game). The colour fills the card, with a motif in the centre to break up the colour and large white numbers, in the top left and bottom right corners. A slight niggle here - if these had been in all four corners, then this would have been easier for any left-handed players. Perhaps this could be considered for a possible re-print? On the higher value cards, beneath the numerals, are printed some `dots' or `pips':- four on the 14; three on the 13; two on the 12; and one on the 11, (i.e., the equivalent of A; K; Q; & J. - Bridge players will recognise this as part of the basic hand count). Two Decks are supplied.

Firstly, I would like to pay a compliment to the rules - these are extremely clear, concise and precise. They are written assuming that the reader has some experience of trick-taking games, but `technical terms', e.g. Trumps, Hand, Dealer, etc., are asterisked and explained in a later section. Indeed I believe that anyone, even if they had never even seen a pack of cards before, could read these rules and play the game without any problem.

As with Bridge, this is a partnership or team game - 2 teams of two, who sit opposite each other. The first dealer deals out all the cards, (13 each), whilst their partner shuffles the other deck ready for the next hand. The dealer then studies their hand to decide, whether they think that their team could take at least 10 of the 13 tricks; if so, they state ``Play'', otherwise they ``Pass''. If they ``Pass'', then the player to their left has the same option, and this continues until either, one player calls ``Play'', or they all ``Pass''.

If a player decides to ``Play'', they become the Declarer; their partner becomes the Dummy and lays their hand face up on the table. The Declarer studies the Dummy's hand and announces Trumps or, of course, No-Trumps. Starting with the player to the left of the Declarer, each player adds up the `Pips' in their hand and states the total - this is called the Hand Strength; and then, their Colour Count - the number of cards in their longest suit. (In both cases only the number is given, even if there is tie in colours; e.g. if you had 4 red, 4 green, 3 blue and 2 yellow you would merely announce ``4''). This gives you information about the other hands which you would normally glean from the Bidding in Bridge.

When all players ``Pass'', starting with the Dealer, players announce their hand strength - the team with the higher total becomes the Declaring Team. (if a tie then the Dealer's team), the player in that team with the higher count becomes the Declarer, (if a tie then the Dealer, or the player on the Dealer's left). The Dummy's hand goes down. The Declarer studies it and announces, (i) whether their team will take at least ``ten'' or ``seven'' of the tricks, and (ii) the Trump suit; Then the players state their Colour Count, as above.

Either way the game proceeds to the card play, which follows the usual conventions: player to the Declarer's left starts; must follow suit if possible; winner leads to the next trick; and so on. Tricks are kept per team.

At the end of a hand points are scored - only one team will score in each hand. The Declaring Team will only make points if it makes its `contract' - extra points if they take more; the other team will only make points if the Declaring Team fails - the greater the failure, the more points scored. If you declare ``play'', then the rewards are greater than if you declare later, as is declaring ``ten'' rather than ``seven'', but the potential penalties are greater too. Four `hands' make a `game' and three `games' make a `match'. The score sheets supplied each contain spaces for 3 games.

Bridge is undeniably one of the world's great classic games - its longevity and the multiplicity of players would, at the very least, ensure it that title. In common with other classic games, Chess, Scrabble, etc, many of its players will play it and nothing else. Indeed it can be taken so seriously that, as history records, murders have been committed because of games of Bridge and there is the feeling that some `dedicated' players do not suffer beginners gladly, (I have met some gamers like that too!) This perceived exclusivity, (not the murder aspect!), was one of the reasons, which put me off learning Bridge for some time. But, as a games player, I felt that I should give it a go - so I signed up for a series of classes at the local Adult Ed. My, then, girlfriend's mother, was a Bridge player too; so I was also able to test my skills by accompanying her, to her local club. I enjoyed the experience, didn't disgrace myself too badly, (and may I say that the Bridge players I met were all helpful), but I remained a games player rather than a Bridge player.

If I were asked to state one thing which puts Bridge above most other trick-taking games, I would say information. With your own hand, plus the dummy, you can see the position of 50% of the cards and, with experience, and the information gained from the bidding, you should be able work out the probable positions of most of the others. It is this which reduces the inherent chance element of all card games and adds a degree of skill. aBRIDGEd also has this element, although, without the bidding, the call of ``Play'' is still, largely, a leap of faith.

A few years back there was a game published, (I'm sorry I forget the title), which was a simplified form of Chess; played on a 6x6 board and sans the knights. The theory seemed to be; that by removing the most complicated piece, it would be easier to play, and also to up-grade to Chess at a later stage. aBRIDGEd does much the same for Bridge. As stated before, if you are a Bridge player, then you would probably be happier sticking with Bridge. If not, especially if you've ever wondered about Bridge, then this game is an excellent introduction. This is not to say that it does not work as a game in its own right, it does, but it also has the `flavour' of Bridge, and if it gives you the `taste' then, (the assessing of hand strength, playing with the Dummy, etc.), will certainly help if you decided to take up the main game - (which, of course, could also be played with these cards).

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