A bridge (game) over troubled waters.

  • Thursday, August 22, 2013

         I was sitting in a surgery waiting room Monday, listening to a taped interview via pink ear buds and making notes on my “laptop” – aka – a small paper notebook. The woman next to me tapped me on the shoulder saying I was wanted on the phone.
         Unplugging myself, I learned Jim’s new knee had been successfully installed and he’d be in recovery for about an hour. I thanked my seat mate, Doris, for getting my attention. She had just heard good news about her husband’s procedure and we began chatting our way through the next waiting period.
She said she was glad I had something totally absorbing to take my mind off the surgery and added that her favorite method of overcoming stress was playing bridge – especially online. Technically challenged as I am, as well as not being a bridge player, I didn’t know such a thing existed. But I was fascinated and wanted to learn more
Doris told me internet bridge was not only a life saver for her – but also a life enhancer. She was introduced to it in 2003 by her daughter who thought it would help her then homebound mother through an illness recovery. Doris was a lifetime bridge player, so this was a perfect prescription.
“There are a lot of bridge sites out there but I began with a Yahoo bridge ‘lounge,’ learning how it worked and entering at the social level,” she told me. Players pick an alias and initially find same-skill partners and begin their games. After a while Doris found she was playing with the same three people and they were all enjoying it. For a long time they remained anonymous except for those aliases.
After several months they shared first names and then found they were all on the east coast. Three years later they decided to meet – in neutral territory – Washington, D.C.
Since that trip to the nation’s capitol, these bridge players have also met in Maine, New Hampshire, Boston, Baltimore, Atlantic City and Charleston, Doris’ own Low Country area. They play bridge wherever they ago. They gather twice a year, in the spring and the fall and their next trip is planned for Savannah All the women in her bridge group still belong to clubs in their hometowns.  And they still play with each other frequently online.
         “We don’t play every day,” Doris laughed, “but we know each other so well now we can message back and forth and see if a particular day or time is convenient and then arrange the game.”
         On researching, I found dozens of bridge lounges. Some are free, some are subscription based. Many feature partnership bidding and/or teaching rooms. You can play money bridge or earn master points. Kibitzing is recommended by some as a way to familiarize yourself with how the systems work. Levels range from social through intermediate to expert.
“We’re all intermediate players and we all love the game and they’re all better than me,” says Doris. (From her enthusiastic game descriptions, I doubt the latter.) Aside from friendships, she likes best the opportunity to visit different places and see what’s available to enjoy in other states.. That initial first bid online, she says, has eased her way through many life challenges as well as giving her some of her most memorable times.
         Sounds like a grand slam all ‘round!

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