Goulash (bridge)

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For a type of food, see Goulash.

Goulash (also Ghoulie) is a style of playing the card game of bridge, normally in friendly play such as rubber bridge, in which the cards are not thoroughly shuffled between consecutive deals. The aim is to create deals where the suits are more unevenly distributed between the players, thus creating "wild" deals in order to make the game more vivid.

Goulash dealing has variations; basically, each player sorts the cards from the previous deal by suits, and all four hands are stacked back in the deck. The deck is then cut once or twice, and cards are then dealt in groups of 4-5-4 or 5-5-3, instead of one at a time as usual.

Some players play a goulash in rubber bridge only when the previous deal was passed out; others play full goulash rubbers. In both cases, at least a game must be bid in the goulash deal, otherwise, the partial (part score) contract is discarded and the goulash redealt.

When goulash dealing is in effect, some players adjust their bidding principles in some or all of the following ways in order to accommodate the anticipated wildness of the deal:

  • Only five-card suits may be bid
  • Weak balanced hands (in 12-15 high card points range) are passed rather than opened
  • Preemptive openings are forbidden; instead, a high-level opening bid denotes the exact number of tricks the hand possesses.
  • Conventions are highly reduced, as opponents will often interfere and break up the subtle information exchange.
  • Doubles behind a bidder are for penalties, where they would usually be for take out.

Others use opening bids to identify aces or two-suited hands, or have other conventional meanings that aid in determining whether to bid or double in competition.

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