With so many excellent textbooks now in circulation, it seems almost

audacious to add another treatise to current card literature. It

happens, however, that the game of Auction, or Auction Bridge, as it is

generally called ("Auction Whist" is perhaps a more appropriate title),

has been so completely and so suddenly revolutionized that books

written upon the subject a few months ago do not treat of Auction of

to-day, but of a game abandoned in the march of progress. Only a small

portion of the change has been due to the development of the game, the

alteration that has taken place in the count having been the main

factor in the transformation. Just as a nation, in the course of a

century, changes its habits, customs, and ideas, so Auction in a few

months has developed surprising innovations, and evolved theories that

only yesterday would have seemed to belong to the heretic or the

fanatic. The expert bidder of last Christmas would find himself a

veritable Rip Van Winkle, should he awake in the midst of a game of


The present tourist along the newly macadamized Auction highway has no

modern signpost to guide him, no milestone to mark his progress. The

old ones, while most excellent when erected, now lead to abandoned and

impassable roads, and contain information that of necessity confuses

and misleads.

Beyond doubt, the present game, like other modern improvements, has

come to stay, and with that belief the following pages are offered as

an aid to the thorough understanding of the new order of things.

Until the latter part of 1911, practically all players used the same

count in Auction that had for years obtained in Bridge; namely,

No-trump, 12; Hearts, 8; Diamonds, 6; Clubs, 4; and Spades, 2. The

change was first suggested by the author, and it, therefore, seems only

appropriate that he, having had the good fortune to conceive a system

which has been endorsed by general adoption, should have the privilege

of giving to the Auction-loving public his views upon the most

advantageous methods of playing the game under the new conditions, and

thus possibly help to allay the confusion created by the introduction

of an innovation so drastic.

In this connection, it may be interesting to recall how this new count,

which is now so universally used that it should be called, not the

"new" count, but "the" count, came to be suggested, and why it met with

popular favor.

When Auction first took the place of Bridge as the paramount game in

the club and social life of the scientific card-player of the United

States (just as Bridge had previously superseded Whist), it was but

natural that the Bridge count should be continued in Auction.

Admitting that these values were the best possible for Bridge (and of

that there is considerable doubt in the mind of the player of to-day),

it, nevertheless, did not mean that for the new and very different game

of Auction they would of necessity be the most suitable. It was soon

found that the No-trump was so much more powerful than any other bid

that competition was almost eliminated. With even unusually strong

suits, only occasionally could a declaration valued at 12 be

successfully combated by one valued at 8 or less, and the vast majority

of hands were, consequently, played without a Trump.

The inherent theory of the game of Auction provides for a bidding in

which each one of the four suits competes with each other, and also

with the No-trump. Using the Bridge count, this does not take place.

The two black suits, by reason of their inconsequential valuation, are

practically eliminated from the sea of competitive bidding. The Diamond

creates only a slight ripple, and even the Heart has to be unusually

strong to resist the strenuous wave of the No-trump.

Players in different parts of the country realized that as long as the

Bridge count was used, five bids could not compete in the race, as, due

to unequal handicapping, the two blacks could barely pass the starter,

while the two reds could not last long in a keen contest.

The desire to make the Spade a potent declaration had appeared in

Bridge; Royal Spades, valued at 10, having been played by some

unfortunates who believed that, whenever they had the deal, the fickle

goddess favored them with an undue proportion of "black beauties." As

competitive bidding is not a part of the game of Bridge, that could not

be offered as a reason for increasing the value of the Spade, and to be

logical, Royal Clubs should also have been created. Naturally, Royal

Spades never received any very large or intelligent Bridge following,

but as making the Spade of value was in line with the obvious need of

Auction, as soon as that game became the popular pastime, Royal Spades

(or Lilies, as they were perhaps foolishly called in some places, the

pseudonym being suggested by the color of the Spade), valued at 11 and

at 10, were accorded a more thorough trial.

They met objection on the ground that three Royals, equally with three

No-trumps, carried a side to game from a love score, and, therefore,

while some continued to experiment with Royals, it cannot be said that

they were anywhere accepted as a conventional part of Auction. Finally,

some clever Bostonians suggested that their value be made nine, and

this proved both more logical and more popular.

With affairs in this state, the author determined that it would

materially improve the game to arrange the count so that the various

bids be as nearly as possible equalized, every suit given a real

rating, and the maximum competition created. After some little

experimentation, the very simple expedient now in vogue was suggested.

It makes the game in reality what it previously was only in name.

In September, 1911, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, the first club to

act upon the subject, incorporated in its club code the count of 10 for

No-trump, 9 for Royal Spades, 8 for Hearts, 7 for Diamonds, 6 for

Clubs, and 2 for Spades. Other clubs in this country and abroad slowly

but surely followed, and the card-playing public in its social game

adopted the new plan as soon as it received a fair trial.

Early in 1912, the Whist Club of New York, a most conservative body,

yielded to the pressure, and accepted the new count. Since then, it has

been universally used.

It has been given various names, such as the "new count," which is, of

course, a title that cannot long be retained; the "Philadelphia count,"

which is now inappropriate, as it is played in all parts of the

country; the "game of Royals," which is grossly incorrect, as it is not

a game of Royals any more than of any other suit, and certainly is not

one-tenth as much a game of Royals as the old count was a game of

No-trumps. One writer, who ably advocates the new count, calls the

present game "Royal Auction Bridge," yet frankly admits that No-trump

is still played more frequently than Royals, and Hearts almost as

often. There can be no question that the number of Diamond and Club

declarations has materially increased, so the only apparent reason for

calling the game Royals is the desire for some name to distinguish the

count now used from its predecessor. That, however, is totally

unnecessary. The old, or Bridge count, is a thing of the past--dead and

almost forgotten. The "new" count is "Auction"--"Auction of To-day" if

you will, but unquestionably the best Auction yet devised, the only

Auction now played, and destined to be Auction for all future time,

unless some system be suggested which will create keener competition in

bidding. It is generally conceded that this is practically impossible.

In this book the author does not attempt to drill the uninitiated

player in the intricacies of the game. The rudiments can be learned far

more satisfactorily by watching a rubber, or by receiving the kindly

instruction of a friend or teacher.

In perusing these pages, the beginner will seek in vain to receive such

information as that the 10 is a higher card than the 9; or that the

Third Hand plays after the Second. The reader is supposed to thoroughly

understand the respective values of the cards, as well as the

underlying principles and the rules of the game.

Neither is this book intended for the player who recognizes himself as

an expert and continuously prates of his own ability. Even should he

condescend to read, he would find either "nothing new," or "nothing new

worth knowing." Why, indeed, should he waste his valuable time

considering the ideas of others, when by his brilliant exposition of

his own inimitable theories, he can inculcate in the minds of his

inferiors a new conception of Auction possibilities? Such a player may

at any time confuse a conscientious partner by making an original bid

without an Ace or King, or by committing some equally atrocious Auction

faux pas, but as even a constant recurrence of such "trifles" will

not disturb his equanimity, why suggest ideas for his guidance?

The real purpose of this little book is to point out to the moderate

player the system of bidding and methods of play now adopted by the

best exponents of the game, and to advise generally how to produce a

satisfactory result at the end of the rubber, sitting, or season.

Much of the success of an Auction player is due to his ability to

concentrate his entire attention upon the game. If it were possible to

make only a single suggestion to a beginner, the most important point

that could be called to his attention would be the necessity for

concentration. From the moment the first bid is made until the last

card is played, the attention of every player should be confined to the

declaration and the play, and during that time no other idea should

enter his mind. This may seem rudimentary, but as a matter of fact, the

loss of tricks is frequently blamed upon various causes, such as

"pulling the wrong card," forgetting that a certain declaration had

been made, or that a certain card has been played, miscounting the

Trumps or the suit in question, etc., when the lack of complete

concentration is the real trouble.

Success in Auction is indeed difficult, and the player who would grasp

every situation, and capture every possible trick, must have the power

to concentrate all his faculties upon the task before him. No matter

how great his capacity, he cannot do thorough justice to any hand, if,

during the declaration or play, his mind wander. Too often do we see a

player, while the play is in progress, thinking of some such subject as

how many more tricks his partner might have made in the last hand;

whether his partner has declared in the manner which he believes to be

sound and conventional; what is going on at some other table; whether

this rubber will be over in time for him to play another, etc.

When this is the mental condition of a player, the best results cannot

be obtained. If a trick has been lost, it is gone. Thinking over it

cannot bring it back, but may very quickly give it one or more

comrades. As soon as each deal is completed, it should be erased from

the mind just as figures from a slate. In that way only can be obtained

the complete and absolute concentration which is essential to perfect

play, and goes a long way toward securing it.

Auction is beyond doubt the most scientific card game that has ever

become popular in this country. The expert has the full measure of

advantage to which his skill entitles him, and yet the game possesses

wonderful fascination for the beginner and player of average ability.

It is doubtless destined to a long term of increasing popularity, and

it is, therefore, most advisable for all who participate that they

thoroughly familiarize themselves with the conventional methods of

bidding and playing, so that they may become intelligent partners, and

a real addition to any table.


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