aBRIDGEd Review
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Players: 4
Playing Time: About an hour

When the people at the Out of the Box booth at Origins introduced me to their newest game, they asked if I’d ever played Bridge. When I told them I hadn’t, they asked why not.

“It’s always just seemed a bit overwhelming,” I admitted.

“Exactly,” they said.

Designed by Bridge pro Maureen Hiron, aBRIDGEd is a trimmed-down, less overwhelming version of the classic game—and, to make the game even easier to follow, players each get a cheat sheet that summarizes both game play and scoring.

aBRIDGEd is a trump game for beginners. It’s easy to play—though not quite as easy to explain. Players sit around the table, facing their partner. One player deals out all the cards in the deck—numbers 2-14 in each of four colors. Players then decide whether or not their hand is good enough to beat their opponents’ hands. After a round or two of bidding, one player is determined to be the declaring player. The declaring player decides which of the four colors will be trump—and the declaring player’s partner (called the dummy) then sets his or her cards face-up and lets the declaring player play the round. The dummy is then free to get up and top up everyone’s drinks—or shuffle the extra deck of cards that comes with the game, in preparation for the next round.

Rounds are played in tricks—like many other trump games, like Euchre or Hearts. Players take turns playing their cards, and whoever has the highest scoring card wins the trick. At the end of each round, players add up their score (using the scoring side on their cheat sheet). At the end of four rounds, the team with the most points wins the game.

While aBRIDGEd is still an involved game, it’s not a difficult one to learn. If you already know how to play games like Euchre or Hearts, you know the basic game play and strategies—and you won’t have a hard time working through the rest, thanks to the cheat sheet.

I tried out aBRIDGEd on a pretty tough crowd—my parents, my husband, and me. Since we all like different kinds of games with different levels of strategy, it’s rare that all four of us can agree on one game—but we all love aBRIDGEd. It’s not a fast-paced game—since it does require a little thought and strategy—but it’s still interesting (and simple) enough to keep players’ attention for hours. And even Mom, who can usually come up with all kinds of stuff to do instead of playing games, loved it—and she was even eager to play a second game. It took a little while to learn, but once we ran through the rules, we were ready to play. And once we started, we didn’t want to stop.

Even if you’ve shied away from playing Bridge before—for whatever reason—give aBRIDGEd a shot. My family loved it, and yours will, too. Before you know it, you’ll be setting up the card tables—just like your grandparents used to—and having your friends over for your regular aBRIDGEd Night.

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