Note from the Editor: This is the first in Contributing Author Linda Leighty’s series exploring the energy that active participation in a group brings to the entire community.
by Linda Leighty
A challenging mental sport, bridge is a game of skill, communication and infinite possibilities. It develops friendships locally and all over the country. You can move or visit and have instant friends through playing bridge.
Locally, more than a hundred informal ambassadors for their game, through age 96, come from as far as Weldon-about 80 miles north of Greenville-to play duplicate bridge here.
A dedicated and talented group of American Contract Bridge League certified directors makes local club play possible. Friendly and courteous, they are knowledgeable and able to handle sometimes-`difficult situations with authority.
“Director, please” is the phrase used to summon the director when an irregularity or question occurs. Their responses show mastery of the incredible minutiae of bridge rules and regulations. Even before the play begins, they are busy arranging the technical management of each session: setting up the room, collecting the $4.00 entry fee, deciding the pattern of rotation, and attending to details. Following play, they collect scores, tabulate game results, report them to both the contestants and ACBL, and update the web site.
Want to have fun and challenge yourself? Want to learn more about bridge in general and the bidding and playing techniques? Carole Exum conducts bridge classes for all levels, from beginner through advanced. Her efforts have led to a substantial increase in player participation. Between 50 and 80 students are usually enrolled in her classes offered through Greenville Recreation and Parks Department.
Millions of people worldwide play bridge at home, in clubs, or online. Many advance to tournament or “duplicate” bridge to enjoy its social and competitive aspects.
It is called duplicate because the same bridge deal (i.e. the specific arrangement of the 52 cards into the four hands) is played at each table and scoring is based on relative performance. In this way, every hand, whether strong or weak, is played in competition with others playing the identical cards, and the element of skill is heightened. One valued marker is the accumulation of masterpoints, the yardstick of achievement, partly a measure of skill, but also a measure of experience and longevity. In Greenville games, the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), the largest bridge organization in the world, awards and tracks the masterpoints.
One becomes a Junior Master once 5 masterpoints are awarded, progressing to being a Club Master at 20, a Life Master at 500, and so forth.
In rubber bridge, the more familiar form of contract bridge, partners participate in the game at one table and the objective is to score the most points in the play of several hands.
Rewards from playing duplicate bridge are frequent and many. If you’re wondering if bridge is for you — or if you’ve always wanted to learn but have been afraid it’s too difficult — here are some of the reasons why millions of people around the world are hooked on this fascinating game.
George and Miriam Martin began the Greenville Area Bridge Club more than 50 years ago. Five separate games averaging about 3 1/2 hours are played at the Pitt County Senior Center. The Greenville clubs host a Sectional Tournament every other year, the next will be in April 2013 at the Greenville Country Club. Players come from all over NC and some from other states.
Please visit the web site and join the group!