from Brenda in Hove, UK: Keep Calm and Play Bridge

3 May. About three years ago I decided to go to the local Adult Education college and learn to play bridge. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. After finally giving up work and living in a town to which I had relatively recently moved, bridge lessons were something I could commit to on a regular basis and I might well meet new friends. I did make new friends, bonded in the forge provided by a very fierce teacher, and I could not have known that the game would get me through many hours of amusement and companionship in the time of Covid-19.

The last time the local Bridge Club met in late March, there was a fearful to-do when the director of the Club discovered that one of the members had just come back from skiing in Northern Italy. She and her partner were summarily thrown out, much to their mortification. All the spraying of the tables, the personal sanitizing of each member’s hands and the use of new packs of cards was thrown into relief by the realization that this was no longer a game to be played in club conditions. The Bridge Club was closed and who knows whether it will ever open again – given its members are largely retirees.

So now a few of us notify one of us who wants to play virtually every day (two sessions) and she lets us know who is playing and at what time. In addition to using an online website, we use group Whatsapp so we can all see and hear each other. It works perfectly. The Whatsapp group is aptly named  “Survivor bridge”.

Recently we moved to a new site (Bridge Base Online) and that site mirrors a bridge club because you get scored against other players online who have been dealt the same hand. It also offers you the chance of playing against the computer – and ranks you against other people playing the same hands. Yesterday I was tired and in need of distraction so I went online. My first game I was ranked 22,840. That was me, gone for the afternoon. I battled my way down to 850 and then 60. Holy mackerel. I will probably never manage that again. I went to bed exhausted!

There is a saying attributed to the Rueful Rabbit, a character created by Victor Mollo: “Bridge is a great comfort in your old age. It also helps you get there faster.”