Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Barbu? Really?

Some of you may have noticed a new blogger called Neil Trentham. Neil will be blogging about Barbu. Barbu is a real card game (unlike poker it is about card playing and not just betting). Many years ago when I started to play bridge all of us got into many card games (and even other games like Battleships if you believe it).

One of our favorites was Kings. If you are unfamiliar with Kings it is a game that has eight rounds. Each round is a different game including hearts (don’t take any), last two (definitely don’t take either of the last two tricks), tricks (avoid taking any tricks at all) and then whist with the dealer calling the trump suit (take tricks, lots of them). A variation of Kings which we called “Roll Your Own Kings” meant that the dealer could call any round they wanted based on the potential of their hand. By the time the game ended they had to have call all of the possible rounds.

Then we graduated to Barbu. Barbu has the same kind of approach as Roll Your Own Kings. The dealer picks the game and the other players can double or redouble. I will let Neil explain exactly how it works in his next few blogs. The doubling aspect adds a lot of strategy. For a while now there has been an online Barbu site which allows you to set up games and even play duplicate Barbu. Again we are sure to hear more about that from Neil. Here is a quote from Neil about how the strategy of Barbu can work.

“But all rivalry and one upmanship goes out the window when there is an opportunity to earn a few extra points. My favorite recent deal involves the three of us working together to trap the fourth player, who had unwisely doubled all three of us at no king of hearts.

If you are on Facebook, you can read about this deal in the “Golden rule” thread on the discussion page in Shireen’s “Online Barbu Players” group. I would guess that one of the most rewarding situations in bridge is when you get on exactly the same wavelength as your partner and produce an intricate defense. On this deal *three* players had to be on the same wavelength.”

Many bridge players also play Barbu. Among the more famous ones are Kit and Sally Woolsey and Lew and Joanna Stansby.

Neil describes himself as follows:

By profession I am a research astronomer, which is completely different from other sciences in that you cannot do experiments and so have to piece together a picture of the Universe from a large number of tenuous measurements, each on its own fairly insignificant. As a result, astronomers have to work with data that is limited and a good deal of effort is spent in assigning probabilities that each result is meaningful. Many of my colleagues are also mathematicians and computer scientists.

When I am not doing astronomy or playing barbu, I try to spend my time understanding voice recognition software (I am an MS patient and cannot use the mouse).  So far, I can play barbu and do some astronomical computations and data work by voice, but there are certainly improvements that can be made.

I could talk for hours about why I enjoy barbu so much.  Presumably it has something to do with the astronomers’ thing of piecing together an unknown distribution of the remaining cards from limited information.

I am trying to convince Neil to try bridge because i do think he would like the card play but he is worried about the effort in learning a bidding system.

Although Barbu is not bridge I think it will appeal to many of our readers.  So just like any other blog enjoy it if you are interested and skip over it if you are not.  I watched a session of Barbu at Shireen’s house in London and I plan to give it a go (and probably blog about it) but not for a while yet.

So welcome Neil!

1 Comment

Neil TrenthamSeptember 21st, 2010 at 6:57 am

Thanks for the introduction. Over the next few days I will describe the rules of the game, how to join an online game, and then describe some strategies for playing.


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