Now that I can no longer deny being a senior citizen, I’ve very tentatively started looking into all the activities that are available for "us."
One of these is bridge; the Free Press has a weekly listing of the clubs that operate in town, at all levels of skill and interest. So I gave it a gander.
Eliminated right off the bat were the duplicate clubs. I have just 1/10 of a master point and totally lack the dedication, skill, and ferocity needed to enjoy playing at that level, but there are lots of others listed.
Now I haven’t played regularly for years, so, among other things, my bidding is decades out of date. I thought it best to try one of the clubs that proclaim playing for pleasure. There are a couple in my neighbourhood so I called up the lady in charge and took myself to the Glenwood Community Club at the appointed time.
Bridge, as a game, is much the same as it always has been. Suits, counting points, honest bids, "psychs", remembering what you’ve bid, and grinding your teeth as the opposition endlessly and effortlessly bids and makes games and slams while you count yourself lucky to be able to cash the ace of trumps — all are the same.
What has changed is the procedure by which you actually communicate your bids (apologies to regular players, to whom this is all old hat). There are these cue-cards you use now: you pick a numbered card and the suit, and present them; or pass in disgust, as usual.
The rationale is that doing it this way eliminates all the visual and audible cues you used to use to pass other information to your partner — such as the cheating "convention" that "no bid" means 11 points.
It worked, sort of, and I imagine that in serious games with ‘directors’ it works well. But at this level there are ways to subvert it: several times one person bid and then went "Oh damn! I goofed" and slipped in an explanation which didn’t EXPLICITLY say what she meant but was easily deducible.
Being new I didn’t want to kick up a fuss but I was surprised that nobody else did. But, apart from leading once from my hand instead of the board, I did OK and quite enjoyed myself.
I decided, though, that I wasn’t quite ready for this as regular amusement.
Several of the people were VERY senior citizens and most of the others were pretty sedentary beings. Bridge is an excellent social activity and a great way of keeping your head in gear - but these folk aren’t my demographic — yet!
Peter Lacey is a community correspondent for St. Vital.