A New Adventure – North American Pairs Bridge Championships, St. Louis, 2013
Blog #1 How did this happen?
I started playing bridge when I attended the University of Manitoba many years ago. At times, I found playing bridge more enjoyable than going to classes! Over the years, my buddies and I have played casual bridge on many fishing trips and on a rare occasion at home.
All that changed a little more than a year ago when a long-time friend of my mom and dad, Dave Cullen, asked me if I would like to join the club he organized on Thursday evenings. My lifetime friend, Jeff, was considering retirement and I thought this might be an opportunity to transition and spend some fun time together. He was up for the challenge and soon we found ourselves most Thursday evenings playing cards with a wonderful group of seniors.
The first couple of evenings were quite stressful. We were extremely nervous. For those unaware, bridge is a card game which requires bidding and playing of the cards. It is an amazing game which can challenge anyone. No matter how much you learn about bridge, there is always more to learn. We knew very little but we enjoyed the games and the mental challenge that came by playing.
We were playing duplicate bridge, a variation of the game where everyone in the room plays the identical cards. It does not matter how well or poorly you bid and play a hand – it matters how you do in comparison to the other players. That is the challenge. You need to maximize every trick you can.
In duplicate bridge, there is very little talking. Even the bids are made by placing the appropriate card on the table, not by speaking out loud. 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours with little talking is something that you need to become accustomed to.
We eventually heard of other bridge clubs affiliated with the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). The Tuxedo Bridge Club in Winnipeg has become our primary home. The interesting aspect of this affiliated club is that you receive records of the hands you played that day. You can go home and look at all the cards and determine where you played well and where you could improve. Jeff and I found this fascinating.
The St. Louis journey began when we entered a tournament at our local club and placed second. Little did we know that players in Manitoba, Ontario and the Bahamas (don’t ask me why) were all playing the same cards that had been dealt by computer. We were informed that we had come second within our entire district and had won the right to represent our section at the North American Bridge Championships in St. Louis.
We were floored. How could this have happened? Surely, we were not ready for such a challenge. For the past three months, we have been preparing. And here is the wonderful news. Jeff and I have shared an amazing experience that has brought us closer together. Two of our other life-time friends, Brian and Dave, have joined the club and we can share the excitement of playing bridge together, a game we have always enjoyed. Dave has even decided to come with us to St. Louis to share in the experience.
And we have met many new people along the way. More about that next time!
John Hindle, The Contact Hitter