It turns out that in 1917, Aleister Crowley came up with an idea to improve the game of Auction Bridge:
“There are […] drawbacks to Auction Bridge. Here they are: 1. Mismated partners. You get a fiend for a partner and can’t shake him off. 2. Mismated hands, The two good heart hands never seem to come together. The good spade partners are opposed to each other, etc., etc. 3. The frequency with which bids are set. In actual practice only nine out of thirteen are successful at auction. […] but I worked hard at it, and suddenly the great idea dawned upon me: Choose your own partner!”
Well, Crowley was a contributor to Vanity Fair at the time, and he presented his crazy idea to Frank Crowninshield, its editor, who loved the idea, helped Crowley develop his ideas, and named it “pirate bridge”. Soon, R. F. Foster, expert on card games, heard of it and worked with Crowley and Crowninshield to codify the laws of the game.
The game attained a level of fashionable popularity for a brief time in bridge circles but has pretty much been forgotten. I’m an enthusiast of both card games and Crowley and here I am, nearly 43 before I encountered it.
I’ve created these pages to explain the basic rules and scoring of Pirate Bridge. These pages assume familiarity with standard Auction or Contract Bridge.