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Musing On Bridge

Story ID:3724
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Person:Nancy Kopp
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Musing On Bridge

I learned to play Bridge my Junior year of college, and Iíve played this mid-challenging card game ever sinceóa mere 49 years worth of shuffling, dealing, bidding, and playing the hands.

Some people go to classes to learn to play Bridge, a few sit down and read a book, but I did neither of those things. I watched others playing bridge after dinner in the co-ed dorm lounge and expressed a desire to learn the game. On a cold, rainy fall evening, I sat at the table, 13 cards in my hand, and two men stood next to me, one at each shoulder. They had given me the basics Iíd need to get started, then each one acted as coach/trainer/buddy. They both had 1959 buzz haircuts and wore v-neck sweaters over white shirts, khaki pants and penny loafers--typical college men of that era. By the end of the five hours we played that evening, I had learned how to bid my hand, how to assess my partnerís hand from the way she bid to me, the tactics of playing, and the best leads.
Best of all, I loved the game. More than the luck of having good cards dealt was involved. It took thinking skills, which is why Iíve never stopped playing or became bored and tired of this very old parlor game. I continue to learn more about it all the time.

I played every free moment I had during college, and at times, I created that freedom so that I could pull up to the bridge table. Maybe my grades would have been a little higher the final two years at college if Iíd never learned bridge. It didnít help that my room was next to the lounge during my senior year. Often, while I studied at my desk, I would hear ďNancy, we need a fourth.Ē The words floated clearly from the lounge through my open doorway. And more often than not, Iíd answer the call. But I did learn to limit the time. Getting my degree proved more important than my love of Bridge.

Once out of college, bridge brought me new friends in each community I lived in. The game offered a time of relief from child-rearing and housekeeping, as well as being a social outlet. It kept my mind exercised as I grew into middle-age and beyond. Iíve played in 2 table ladies groups, in marathon bridge groups, in couples bridge groups. Iíve had opportunity to discuss world problems across a bridge table, and yes, to hear some local gossip, as well. Bridge groups offer an avenue to developing close friendships.

Iíve learned that personality traits surface at the bridge table. A psychologist could write a dissertation by what he learned observing bridge players.

So why write all this about a card game? Iím concerned because bridge is dying a slow death. Itís mostly senior citizens who play the game. Young people are busy with careers, raising families and more, but that is not primary in their rejecting the game. They appear to have no interest in playing cards. The video games with fast action are far more to their liking. Planting themselves in front of a TV watching reality shows appeals more than playing a game where mental ability is called for. What will this next generation be like when they reach senior citizens status? Will they still be playing video games and Wii or some variation? Will their minds turn to mush far sooner than my generation? I donít know the answer, but I can say with great enthusiasm that I love to play bridge and Iím glad Iíve chosen a game that gives me a social outlet as well as being mental exercise.