Playing bridge can lead to adventures to fill a lifetime.
When I accepted my tennis partner’s invitation to play duplicate bridge in her weekly club game, little did I know that one decision would alter the course, and quality, of my life. Through playing bridge games, I have made many lifelong friends and discovered that bridge is not only fun but a very challenging game that can keep you learning and growing for a lifetime.
After that first game, I signed up for lessons at the local bridge center. Learning how to play better bridge propelled me into the adventure of a lifetime. I joined the American Contract Bridge League and established a partnership with a fellow student. We soon became best friends forever. As the slivers of points we earned at our local club started to add up to whole points, we knew we were on our way to bigger things.
My partner and I began a quest to earn enough points to become Life Masters. Our quest led to trips to interesting places to play in tournaments with friends – old and new. We traveled by car to tournaments in nearby cities where we could earn silver points at Sectional meets.
GPS systems were just being added to autos for the first time, so as we learned to use this system there was quite a bit of “recalculating” as we attempted to follow unfamiliar directions. During the long stretches when the GPS guide was silent, we reviewed all the bridge conventions we were supposed to know – Stayman, weak twos, Blackwood, transfers, and other simple ones that had been introduced to us. We got such a kick out of it whenever an opportunity arose and we actually remembered to use the convention.
You Had Me at “Gold”
Our most thrilling tournament was in Boston at the first National Tournament we ever attended. We stayed in my friend’s brother’s condo on the river. We were a team of six. Three of us were rank novices with less than fifty points each. Three others had so many points each that their total put us in a top-ranked category in which to compete.
We survived two rounds before being knocked out in the third round. In those two rounds, we had earned eighteen gold points! We were ecstatic for days. That was more than half the total number of gold points required to earn Life Master status.
We still needed to earn twice as many silver points and red points. These were mostly earned at Sectional meets. Lots of black ones were needed too and these were awarded at local clubs. We had tons of points to earn to achieve our goal of Life Master. Buoyed by our initial success in the “big leagues”, we were up for the challenge.
Love and Adventure
Our continued quest for points led to bridge cruises to exciting places – London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Istanbul, Hawaii; and into interesting experiences — the Louvre, lunch in the Eiffel Tower, a banana boat ride, a private bus ride through Cappadochia, a sailing trip along the Turquoise Coast in a Turkish gulet. My most cherished experience from bridge was meeting Henry, who became my dear and loving companion for nine great years. But that is another story.
And finally, the quest led me to a commitment to continue to learn to play the game, because, as the saying goes, “The more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn about this game.”
Rx for a Happy Life
As we travel through the decades past fifty, we are encouraged by the experts to stay socially involved and in contact with friends and family members; to develop personal relationships and have someone to care about; and to engage in challenging activities that stimulate the brain. For me, continuing to learn to play a better game of bridge fulfills perfectly the prescription for maintaining a happy life.
Playing bridge just might fulfill your prescription for a happy life as well.
Are you a bridge player? Party bridge or Duplicate Bridge? What people have you met or life experiences have you enjoyed as a result of playing bridge? Share your thoughts in the comments!