Bernie Block: The Bridge of Opportunity Only Knocks Once

 "I love the game of bridge," Jerimiah said while attending a meet-the-neighbor's party at my 55+ condo, "Especially Auction Bridge."  "Did you know that millions of people play bridge worldwide in clubs, tournaments, online and with friends at home? Seniors love the game particularly. Do you play?"

     "No, but tell me a little about it," his next door neighbor replied.

     "It seems to have started around the 1880s when the oldest known British rule book was written, although the Russian community in Constantinople played a game called 'Solo Whist' and a lot of bridge-like developments where the dealer chose the trump suit, or nominated his partner to do so. In 1904 'auction bridge' was developed in which players decide the contract through bidding, and if they make it are awarded points.

      "The game became very popular when Harold Vanderbilt and others made new scoring techniques. Today, there are an estimated 25 million seniors playing it at home or in club tournaments.

     "Most of the games played in America are called 'duplicate bridge'. Basically, bridge is a game of skill played with randomly dealt cards, which makes it also a game of chance, or more exactly, a tactical game with inbuilt randomness, imperfect knowledge and restricted communication, according to a definition found in the Internet's Wikipedia. It further states that it is a mind sport, and its popularity gradually became comparable to that of chess. The game has the American Bridge League organizing tournaments, and the World Bridge Federation offers bridge tournaments worldwide.

     "Basically, you and your partner contract to make so many tricks by bidding to reveal what you have in your hand. The bidding system is complex and I really can't simplify this procedure in a few words. It would take hours to explain the bidding portion of the game."

     "That's what I've heard from other bridge players in our condo," the neighbor stated.

     Jerimiah continued with his spiel. "Past the bidding portion, next comes the playing to make tricks your bid indicated. That's another whole afternoon to cover how it works.  Bridge players love statistics, and the game produces thousands of discussions into the insight of playing. There are 128+ billions, billions and billions of different ways to bid after cards have been dealt. By the way, a 52-card deck is used, with four suits (Spades, Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds) from two to ace are dealt to the four players in a game, each ending up with 13 cards. The ace is the highest card and a deuce the lowest, of course.

     "If you have a lot of one suit in your hand you would bid it. For example, let's say you have six high spades and a few high ones in each of the other suits, you have a choice of bidding (2 spades, or you could even say 2 No Trump". That's just a simple example. By the way, 'trump' means if someone plays out a diamond and you have none, you can win the trick by trumping. Understand?"   

    "I've watched some bridge players in our card room so I know a little of what's happening."

     "Confusing, wasn't it?" 

     A little, but I get the gist of the game."

     "Bridge play in tournaments to get points to obtain various titles from Rookie up through Grand Life Master, all of which provide you with some recognition to other bridge players. I've got enough points at the moment to be known as a Diamond Life Master, or 6,000 awarded points," Jerimiah replied, "And it's partly a measure of skill, but some players regard it as a measure of experience and longevity.

     "I'm playing in a tournament tomorrow afternoon, why don't you come and watch for a while; you'll learn a little by watching Master Players compete."

     "I might,” said his neighbor.                      

     The following day the neighbor went into the condo's card room and found Jerimiah in the far end of the room and walked over to watch. He had been watching for about an hour, when I saw Jerimiah clutch his heart area on his chest, and then collapse to the floor. Someone yelled out to call for 911.

     After about ten minutes two men in white, wheeling a stretcher came in and headed for the group of people at the end of the room.

     Shortly thereafter, one of the men stood up and said, "Too late, he's gone."

     They put Jeremiah on the stretcher and pushed the whole contraption out of the room.

     His neighbor was very nervous, and felt very sorry for his family. But he was curious, and turned to one of the players where Jerimiah had been playing and asked, "What happened?"

     One of the players said, "Do you know a little about bridge?"

     "Well, Jerimiah and I had a discussion just yesterday afternoon since I didn't know the game that much."

     "I'll tell you, " this players said, "You know what the perfect game is in Bridge? I'll give you an example. You're dealt the 13 cards for the hand. If you get, let's say, the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9 and 8 of spades, three other aces with their kings, you have a hand at seven No Trump, or one of the best hands from the billions available since you can take every trick. That's what he was dealt."

     “I stated, "I guess that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was too much for Jerimiah. That gives me a good reason not to learn how to play!!!!



     Value of Massage for Caregivers...Has become a vital part of healthcare practices worldwide. It is a holistic therapy that has shown positive effects on physical and mental health in addition to enhancing medical treatments...By Kristine Dwyer, Caregiver, Issue #938 (Today's Caregiver Column,) 7.2.16.


SENIOR ONE-LINER HUMOR: I'm walking more to the bathroom...and enjoying it less.

Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.


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