By John Fergusson
‘John, come and make up a four.’ My mother called from downstairs.
In our Victorian vicarage in a sleepy English village, I was already cozy in bed.
My parents had planned a game of bridge with friends, and one hadn’t showed.
‘I don’t know how.’ I loved card games, but bridge was for adults—I was only twelve.
That didn’t wash. Mother stalked up the stairs and grabbed my arm. ‘You’ll pick it up. You can be dummy.’
‘Gee, thanks.’ I threw on my dressing-gown.
My parents had set up a card table in the drawing room in front of the fire. A miasma of whisky and cigarette smoke filled the air. Tumblers clinked.
‘Ah, John,’ said Tristram, my parents’ friend. ‘Take a seat. Now here’s what you do. It’s easy.’
I received a five-minute crash course, and picked up my thirteen cards with shaking hands. I don’t remember if we won that night, but it launched me on a journey of discovery, new friends, and the most fascinating card game in the world.
After I married, I taught my wife, and we joined the local club. Our skills improved. We joined a second club. We wouldn’t have admitted we were addicted.
Skiing in the Alps one winter, someone in the chalet shouted, ‘Anyone play bridge?’ We sat and learned the French words for No Trumps, Jacks, and Kings.
On a mission in Buenos Aires, we played in Spanish. Wherever we traveled, bridge opened doors.
Located in the heart of Pukekohe, Franklin Bridge Club has been attracting players, including several who have played for New Zealand, for over seventy years.
The club caters for all skill levels. Played before but rusty? Come along to Supervised Play on Thursday evenings, where more experienced players look over your shoulder.
Have that competitive spirit? Mondays draws intermediate and stronger players to tussle over challenging hands.
Looking to make friends? Wednesday evenings and Friday daytimes offer more relaxed play, with time to chat.
“But John, aren’t all bridge players ancient?”
The game is addictive, and many continue to play successfully into their eighties and nineties. Unlike other sports, age is not a limiting factor. But yes, the world’s top players have younger brains.
Bridge is easy to learn, but takes a lifetime to master. If you’ve played five hundred or euchre, you’ll understand the basics already. Why not give it a try? Without doubt, it has helped my memory, and I’ve made some great friends.
We sit among exalted company. Apparently, her Majesty the Queen is a regular player of the game. Did I say addictive?