I have been asked a number of times if the rook game is similar to the game bridge. And if they are similar, how so? Well, the truth is, I grew up playing bridge and didn’t even touch rook cards until later on in life. But when I was first tought about the rook card game, I immediately stated, oh, this is very similar to playing bridge. Here’s why:
Similarities Between Rook and Bridge
- Set Partners - There are a number of games that involve set partner. But rook and bridge are both primarily a two person team.
- Bidding to control trump – As with bridge, there is a lot of power when taking a bid. You have the power to decide what color to go as trump. Even though you are not at the advantage of knowing what color your partner was bidding, you do have the option to choose the best color based on what you see in your hand.
- Value in Voids - As with bridge, there is power in not having any of a certain color. If this color is not trump, you are quickly at liberty to jump in and trump a powerful point hand causing some real headaches to your opponents.
- Many of One Suit/Color = Good – As expected, a lot of one color/suit, even if they are low can mean a lot for winning a hand. By simply having more trump cards than your opponents, you are guarunteeing a significant amount of power in the round.
- A powerful hand often consists of high cards – Even though there is no need to add up the total amount of high cards for point value reference in rook, merely having a lot of high cards is always good. Played correctly, you can often be in conrol of a round to either make a bid, or set your opponent.
- Works well for Tournaments – Due to the team nature of both bridge and rook, making a night for playing out a tournament is a blast. So call your friends and break out the music, cause these tournaments can last all night.
- Stopping a team from making their bids – Both rook and bridge encourage teams to be defensive. So even when they have not taken a bid, they are paying attention to the entire hand to do their best to stop the opponent from doing what they are trying to do.
Differences Between Rook and Bridge
While there are many similarities between rook and bridge, there are some important differences which call for very different strategies.
- Points, not tricks – Bridge is one of the ultimate in strategic team games. Every card is important because you never know when you are throwing away a winner. Yes, there are times in rook where each card laid is important, but when there are no point cards on the board, your strategy as the final player to act is not to try and take the trick, rather your strategy is likely to get rid of a worthless card. Remembering that acting last on any trick is a strong advantage in rook can sometimes help to make close bids.
- The Kitty – The kitty is why I sometimes love, and sometimes hate rook. In bridge, you can see your entire hand. There is never a possibility that you will improve or ruin your hand by picking up an unknown set of 5 cards and adding them to your hand. This is what makes getting the kitty more of a gamble rather than a skillful understanding of what is going on during the bidding phases. The kitty makes the game exciting as a hand that players will expect to win can turn into a dud, while a hand that a player expects to lose can turn into a monster. The only downfall to the kitty is that it takes away from some of the strategic play and can often lead to a significant amount of luck.
- 52 cards compared to 57 cards – Typcial bridge games are played with a regular deck of cards. The rook game does vary depending on who you play with. Some people take out the 2s, 3s, and 4s, making a 45 card deck while the normal rook deck is composed of 57 cards. Do remember this when you are playing the hands because it means there are a lot more trumps to take into account.
- Bidding with Colors – In bridge, there is some significant knowledge you gain from your partner’s bid. You can often tell how powerful their hand is but in addtion, you know what suit they are most powerful in. This is very important to gauge how similar your partner’s hand is to yours.
- The Bird – Having the bird as an automatic trump and worth added value to a round is ultimately why rook keeps so popular. The bird is constantly on everyone’s mind. Has it been played? Does the person who bid on the round have it in his hand? Does my partner have it? Will we be able to set our partner by just this one bird card? Playing with the extra rook card is a special game. If you are a bridge player and have not yet given rook a try, you must just for the possibility of setting your opponents on a sneaky rook steal.