Duplicate Bridge a popular game at Riderwood

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Residents Beth Baker and Bob Stewart compete in a weekly bridge game. (Photo by Bob Phillips)

By Almeda Girod

Resident Writer

Many have the misperception that Riderwood Duplicate Bridge is intense. There is a quiet atmosphere during the game, but the six to nine tables of players who meet four times a week are very friendly and supportive.

The history of contract bridge, one of the world’s most popular partnership card games, may be dated to the 16th century invention of trick-taking games such as whist. Bridge as it evolved was popular in the United States and UK in the 1890’s.

Duplicate bridge is the most widely used variation of contract bridge in club and tournament play. It is called duplicate since the same bridge deal (i.e. the specific arrangement of the 52 cards into four hands) is played at each table and scoring is based on relative performance. In this way, every hand, whether weak or strong, is played in competition with others playing the identical hands. The element of skill is heightened while that of chance is reduced.

Those who learned to play in young adulthood may relate to Charlie Dyer, who says, “I played bridge at Georgetown when I should have been studying.” Rena Brewrink adds, “My husband and I learned bridge from his parents after we were married in 1952. I have been working at it ever since.” Diana Glockner, who has played bridge for only five years, has pursued classes, reading, and practice; and is often among the top contenders.

Sage Bassett compares bridge to entering a foreign country and learning a new language. The vocabulary can be either simple or complex. If one wants to only give a casual greeting, one learns the basics. He adds, “To really become fluent, one must practice and study the game.”

Mike Shapiro quotes bridge champion Larry Cohen, who has listed 100 Bridge Rules, as saying, “Number One rule is do not play with your spouse, and Rule 100 is remember Rule Number One.” There are only four married couples at Riderwood that play together (Ed and Joan Anania, Ron and Peggy Mentzer, Patrick and Julia Pei, and Bob and Ginny Stewart). Susan Docktor comments that she has chosen to not have her husband John as her bridge partner and thereby has preserved their 52 year marriage. She avoids being a “bridge widow” by playing social bridge when he is playing duplicate. Margaret Phillips admits that she treasures the time when her husband Bob is playing to pursue her own pastimes.

Cornelia Proctor, at age 99, is the most senior of the players and along with nine other Riderwood residents is a member of the American Bridge Association (ABA), which was established in 1932 as a direct consequence of segregation policies of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL).

Beth Baker comments, “It is poor bridge manners to criticize your partner. It can undermine their confidence, and you may discover that you share the blame.”

If you would like more information about this game of congenial competition, please contact one of the directors, Bob Krebs, Micky Siegel, or Bob Stewart (see directory for their contact information). New players are welcome.

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