Always one to try new things, Claire Castle headed along to a Bridge class at the Cambridge Bridge Club recently, to join in with beginners’ lessons.
First, I need to confess that I am not really a card-playing person, with my previous experience listed on the form being last card and snap, the signs were ominous. Also, I was quite knackered when I turned up.
The bridge ladies, Anne and Kim, were totally lovely and patient, and it was just as well. I knew Kim was speaking English, because I recognised the words she was using individually, but the way she was stringing them together made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
Just when I was feeling as though all hope was lost, my eyes scanning for the exit, we played a game of mini-bridge, under the watchful eye of Anne. Smart move, as there was a bit of success there that counterbalanced the utter hopelessness that was taking over (well it was for me, anyway). The highlight of that, for me, was getting to be the “dummy” – putting my hand down on the table and having my partner make all the decisions. Perfect and fitting for my level of comprehension.
Contract Bridge is quite a formal sort of game, with “please-ing” and “thank you-ing” all over the place, and apparently it was invented by Harold Vanderbilt in 1925, an American with some free time on a cruise ship (taking time off from being an evil genius, I suspect).
Despite being utterly confused, all in all it was quite fun. It’s not something you can dip in and out of, however, and if you are in you need to go all in. I’m sure if you have played whist, which bridge apparently originated from, or five hundred, you will probably have much more of an idea about what was going on. And do the homework, that appears to be essential.
The 10-week beginners’ lessons at the Cambridge Contract Club on Fort St are free to attend, with a $7 contribution required for the supplied guidebook- I’m positive that if you stick with it, bridge would be an interesting pastime.